Aiming to avoid a fourth straight loss for the first time in 2018, the Fresno Grizzlies (64-48) found all the offense that was missing in a three game sweep at Nashville (scored five total runs), in a nine-run outburst on Saturday night at Memphis. The 9-3 victory over the Redbirds (70-42) improved Fresno to 20-9 this season in series openers (10-5 on the road), and 8-1 on road Saturdays. The Grizzlies are 31-25 overall on the road this season after notching their first win of this trip; which is now matching up the two winningest clubs in the PCL through 112 games this season.
Fresno struck first in the visitor second. Jack Mayfield led the inning by dropping a fly ball just fair down the right field line, in the middle of three Memphis defenders, and never stopped running for a double. He scored when Nick Tanielu (2-for-4) stroked a one-out double to the gap in left.
Still leading 1-0 in the third, the Grizzlies loaded the bases with Derek Fisher (walk), Kyle Tucker (single) and Mayfield (walk), before Yordan Alvarez whacked a grand slam to right field; his two-out screaming line drive made it 5-0 Fresno. It was the fifth Triple-A home run for Alvarez, and the third Grizz grand slam this season. The two others were hit by men on base; Mayfield's slam was April 7 at Reno, Fisher did it on July 19 at home vs. Sacramento in a pair of Fresno victories.
The Grizzlies blew the game wide open in the fourth, scoring in a third consecutive inning. Alex De Goti (single) and Myles Straw (walk) each reached with one out, before a Fisher (2-for-3) RBI single and a two-run single from Tucker (2-for-5), making the score 8-0. Memphis broke up the shutout moments later, when Wilfredo Tovar led off the home fourth with a double, eventually scoring on an Adolis Garcia RBI groundout.
It was De Goti's first Triple-A game this season, after appearing five times for Fresno in August 2017. De Goti (2-for-4) was summoned from Double-A Corpus Christi (Texas League) earlier in the day.
Redbirds starter Kevin Herget (8-8) lasted five innings, allowing eight (earned) runs on eight hits and a walk. The right-hander struck out three.
Memphis trimmed the lead to 8-2 in the home side of the fifth, on a Lane Thomas (2-for-4) RBI double.
Grizzles starter Trent Thornton (8-7) spun a quality start by scattering seven hits over seven innings, allowing two (earned) runs. He walked one and struck out one in the workman-like performance. Thornton and Herget entered Saturday's action walking the fewest batters per nine innings among all qualified PCL starters.
Fresno tacked on another run in the eighth in an abundance of caution, when Garrett Stubbs' RBI liner scored Tanielu after he led off with a double. Justin Williams (2-for-4) cranked his first home run for the Redbirds this season to right field in the home eighth for Memphis. That settled the evening's final score at 9-3.
Game two of the four-game set is scheduled for Sunday afternoon at AutoZone Park, at 2:05 p.m. CT / 12:05 p.m. PT. Probable starters are RHP Josh James (5-4, 3.28) for Fresno and RHP Connor Jones (0-0, 0.00) for Memphis.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.