The Fresno Grizzlies completed their 2016 regular-season home schedule Sunday evening with the finale of a five-game set against the Sacramento River Cats, suffering an 8-6 loss. Despite the setback and dropping three of five to the 'Cats on the final homestand, the Grizzlies are 8-4 this year against Sacramento and 19-9 against them in two seasons as an Astros affiliate.
The final three games of the series also marked the best-attended three-day stretch at Chukchansi Park this season. 10,734 fans paid for the privilege on Sunday, the 10th five-digit crowd in Fresno in 2016, the third five-digit crowd in a row, a season-first, and the fifth five-digit crowd in the final seven home games. In total Friday through Sunday, 32,366 fans clicked the turnstiles at Chukchansi Park, easily the most this year for any consecutive three games.
Fresno jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the second inning, when Max Stassi (2-for-4) crushed his seventh homer of the season to left field with two out, after Danny Worth (double) and Alejandro Garcia (single) set the table. San Francisco Giants top prospect Austin Slater then homered for the seventh time in nine games in the third inning, his solo shot and 13th dinger with Sacramento made it a 3-1 game.
The Grizzlies surged ahead 6-1 in the fourth, when Worth led the inning with a double for the second time in as many at bats. He scored on Garcia's RBI single, and Garcia scored Stassi's fourth RBI, a run-scoring single.
Going 3-for-4 with two doubles and two runs, Danny Worth raised his average to .343 in 76 games in Triple-A this season, and is now batting .349 with two homers, nine doubles and seven RBI since returning to the Fresno lineup August 1 after appearing in 16 Major League games with the Astros.
With a 2-for-4 night with an RBI, walk and a pair of runs scored, Alejandro Garcia continued his torrid Triple-A debut. Garcia has hit safely in all seven of his starts with the Grizzlies thus far, and is 12-for-29 overall (.414) in eight games with three RBI and five runs scored. His five-game hit streak is the current club-high.
The Grizzlies would allow seven unanswered Cat runs from there however, beginning with a two-run homer by former Grizz Juan Ciriaco in the fifth, his fourth of the year, cutting the lead to 6-3. It was 7-6 after a nine-batter, four-run sixth; five River Cat hits put the visitors ahead for good. A two-run homer by Miguel Olivo (his 10th), and a two-run single by Kelby Tomlinson were the big blows. Ciriaco also doubled off the left field wall and scored in the inning.
In a bullpen day for the River Cats, the Grizzlies touched Sacramento starter Tyler Rogers for seven hits and six earned runs in 3.1 innings. Matt Reynolds (1-0) earned the win with two scoreless innings of relief after that, and former Grizz Jean Machi picked up his 12th save by allowing just one hit over the final 1.2 innings.
Fresno starter Keegan Yuhl went 5.1 innings but would not factor into the decision, allowing six earned runs on nine hits, with eight strikeouts (zero walks). Aaron West (0-2) took the loss, getting the final two outs of the sixth.
Unfortunately, Sunday's game equaled the largest lead (five runs) relinquished by Fresno this season in a loss. They led at Reno 5-0 on July 31, and lost 12-7, before losing a 6-1 advantage against Sacramento on Sunday.
One final road trip in 2016 now beckons for the Grizzlies. They'll travel to division leader Tacoma for four games Monday through Thursday, before finishing the regular season slate with four at Sacramento over the long holiday weekend, September 2-5. On Monday Fresno will send RHP Brady Rodgers (12-4, 2.91) to the mound, against RHP Zach Lee (7-12, 5.88) for the home-standing Tacoma Rainiers in the series-opener at 7:05. Rodgers is in a race to the finish for the PCL ERA title, with Round Rock's Michael Roth (2.93).
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.