Winners for the fifth time in six games on Saturday night, the Fresno Grizzlies (34-23) moved a season-best 11 games over .500 with a 5-2 victory over the homestanding Albuquerque Isotopes (29-28). Now 17-11 on the road in 2018, the win coupled with Tacoma's loss extended Fresno's Pacific Northern Division lead to a season-high six games as well. A three-homer attack paced the Grizzlies, the third time in four days they've homered at least three times in a game.
The Grizzlies, who are 23-5 this season when scoring first, exploded out to a 3-0 lead in the top of the first. A night after hitting for the cycle, Derek Fisher was hit with the second pitch of the ballgame, setting the table for Kyle Tucker's eighth home run of the season to the left field alley. It was Tucker's third homer of the series, he's driven in nine runs in Albuquerque since Wednesday, and leads the club with 46 RBI over 51 games played.
A batter later Tyler White (2-for-4) drilled a solo shot to left that nearly exited Isotopes Park entirely, the fourth time this season Fresno has hit back-to-back home runs. It was White's ninth homer of the season, tying him with Jon Kemmer for second on the club, one behind AJ Reed, who were both on a day off. It was the second time this season Tucker and White had gone back-to-back; they also did it in the sixth inning of the second game of the season on April 6 at Reno.
After the rough beginning, Albuquerque left-hander Sam Howard (3-4) did not allow another run in the remainder of his outing. In five innings he allowed just four hits and two walks, with a strikeout. The three runs against him were earned.
The Isotopes broke up the shutout in the sixth on a Mike Tauchman RBI single, the PCL's leading hitter. It was the only noticeable damage on Grizz starter Trent Thornton (4-3), who worked six innings of four-hit baseball, striking out six with zero walks. The lone run against Thornton was earned.
Fresno quickly took the run back in the seventh, when Eduardo de Oleo doubled to the right field gap, and scored two batters later on a Alejandro Garcia triple to the same spot, for a 4-1 lead. It was 5-1 in the eighth after White's second homer of the game, a solo shot lined to left field. Tauchman (3-for-4) added his second RBI knock of the night in the home eighth, trimming Fresno's lead back to three runs, which set up a save opportunity for James Hoyt. Hoyt cruised through a 1-2-3 ninth, ending the game with a strikeout, his fourth save.
With the win the Grizzlies improved to 33-7 when scoring three or more runs, and 16-6 when allowing three or fewer runs. Saturday's victory clinched Fresno's ninth series win in 14 this season (two tied). The finale of this five-game set will be Sunday afternoon, a 12:35 p.m. PT first pitch (1:35 p.m. MT) at Isotopes Park. Probable starters are RHP Rogelio Armenteros (3-0, 3.72) for Fresno and RHP Yency Almonte (1-3, 7.71) for Albuquerque. The Grizzlies are 8-1 this season when Armenteros starts, and 17-2 in his 19 career Triple-A starts dating back to July 2017.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.