FRESNO- On the night that the Fresno Grizzlies announced the extension of their Player Development Contract with the Giants, it seemed they were just one big hit shy of breaking the game open. It took until they fell behind late, but Fresno finally got that hit on Jesus Guzman's two-out, two-run, bases-loaded single, pushing the Grizzlies on to a 4-3, come-from-behind victory over Colorado Springs on Monday night at Chukchansi Park.
Coupled with Sacramento's 13-5 defeat at the hands of Las Vegas, the Grizzlies (62-48) move 2.0 games ahead of the rival River Cats with 34 games remaining in the regular season.
The Grizzlies announced the two-year extension of their Player Development Contract with the Giants in the middle of the third inning of Monday night's game, as Giants Managing General Partner Bill Neukom and Grizzlies Managing Partner Chris Cummings signed the contract on the field in front of the fans.
Fresno had been just 1-for-11 with runners in scoring through the first six innings and had stranded seven baserunners, six of them in scoring position. All those wasted opportunities seemed like they would come back to haunt the Grizzlies, as Colorado Springs (48-61) did what Fresno couldn't, coming through with some clutch hitting in the top of the eighth.
With Brad Eldred sitting at third and two outs in a 1-1 game, Travis Metcalf singled to center off Brandon Medders (1-1) to bring him home as the go-ahead run, with Metcalf moving up to second when Tyler Graham could not corral the ball in center field. Mike McKenry followed with an infield single to shortstop to put runners at the corners, and Chris Frey dropped a dying quail into right field to score Metcalf, making it 3-1.
Tyler Graham led off the bottom of the frame with a single, extending his hitting streak to 13 games. Joe Borchard followed with a solid single to right-center, moving Graham around to third and chasing Rogers from the game. Andrew Johnston (3-2) came on to face Pill, who hit a towering fly ball deep to left-center, scoring Graham on a sacrifice fly. After Ben Copeland flew out to the track in center, Ryan Rohlinger singled through the hole and Steve Holm followed with a broken bat dribbler for infield single to load the bases for pinch-hitter Jesus Guzman. After battling through an eight-pitch at-bat, Guzman pulled a single through the hole at short, scoring Borchard and Rohlinger to put the Grizzlies on top, 4-3.
Grizzlies closer Geno Espineli came on to close out the game, allowing two hits but getting Chris Nelson to ground out to short to end the game, earning his team-high 10th save.
Brett Pill hit the first pitch he saw in the bottom of the second inning on a rope over the left-field bleachers to give Fresno an early 1-0 lead. Fresno also got a runner into scoring position in each of the first three innings, but failed to score any of them.
Fresno loaded the bases with one out in the fifth inning, but Graham lined out to shallow right and Borchard struck out to end the inning. It was the third straight at-bat in which Borchard made an out to end an inning, as he alone stranded five runners.
Matt Yourkin was nearly flawless through his six innings of work, but gave up a two-out, solo home run to Brad Eldred in the top of the sixth that tied the game at 1-1. It was Eldred's 24th of the season, and his second in as many games. Yourkin finished the night with just the one run allowed on five hits, walking two and striking out three as he did not factor in the decision.
Equally as impressive was Sky Sox starter Esmil Rogers, who spent most of the night pitching his way in and out of trouble. He left after 7.0+ innings of work, allowing three runs on nine hits, with two of the three scoring as inherited runs in the fateful eighth inning.
These two teams will meet for the final game of the four-game series and eight-game homestand, with Fresno sending right-hander Daryl Maday (1-3) against Colorado Springs righty Alan Johnson (9-6) at 7:05pm.
WP: Medders (1-1); Johnston (3-2); S: Espineli: (10); HR: Pill (12), Eldred (24)
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.