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Brady Rodgers fires first career complete game shutout

Grizzlies smother Reno 2-0 behind fifth-year pro's 4-hit, 9-strikeout gem
May 4, 2016

The Fresno Grizzlies scored two runs Wednesday night in their win at home over Reno. 

It turned out to be twice as many as they needed.

A Matt Duffy double down the left field line to lead off the home third eventually scored on a Tony Kemp RBI single to right, for a 1-0 Grizzlies lead. Fresno made it 2-0 an inning later, when A.J. Reed led the fourth with his team-leading sixth home run, an alley shot to right-center, also good for his club-leading 19th RBI.

With that out of the way, let's get to Brady Rodgers. 

The right-hander fired a complete-game shutout Wednesday, handcuffing Reno batters to the tune of facing just four over the minimum, allowing just four singles. Rodgers did not walk a batter, and struck out nine in his first career complete game as a professional. The fifth-year pro needed just 86 pitches to finish the game, with a somewhat stunning 70 strikes. 

Rodgers came into the night second in the Pacific Coast League in walks issued per nine innings, handing out just 0.86 free passes per nine. Wednesday evening he lowered that number to 0.60, his walk-free performance adding up to just two walks in 30 innings pitched this season, in five starts.

Rodgers became the first Grizzlies' starter to last into the eighth inning this season, let alone the first complete game. His nine punchouts equaled the individual efforts this season of teammates Brad Peacock (4/26 at Reno) and Asher Wojciechowski (5/3 vs. Reno), for most strikeouts in a game from a Fresno pitcher.

For Rodgers, it was his first nine-strikeout regular season game since August 30, 2013, the final game of the season for the Class A-Advanced Lancaster JetHawks of the California League. In that game, he struck out nine in six innings.

Wednesday marked Fresno's first complete game shutout since Chris Heston, August 22, 2014 at Nashville. It was the first Houston Astros Triple-A complete game shutout since Jake Buchanan on May 20, 2014 for Oklahoma City at New Orleans. Rodgers was the first Grizzlies pitcher to toss a home complete game shutout at Chukchansi Park since Heston, on June 13, 2013 against Tucson. 

Wednesday's win was also the 10th consecutive game Fresno has alternated wins and losses. If the Grizzlies can break that pattern in the series finale with Reno on Thursday, they'll be 13-13 on the year, the same record they had a season ago through 26 games, and the last time they were .500 or worse in 2015. From there Fresno finished 71-46 on their way to a PCL title and national championship.  

Rodgers' counterpart Matt Buschmann suffered a tough-luck defeat with a solid start of his own. He went seven innings, scattering just five hits with two walks and five strikeouts. Both runs allowed were earned. The game was played in just one hour and 57 minutes, the shortest game of the season by three minutes, after the Grizzlies' 3-0 win over El Paso on Saturday took just two hours. The Grizz have played three games on this homestand 2:20 or faster.  

Now 8-7 at home this season and 4-3 on this homestand, the Grizzlies will look to take three of four in a series for the first time in 2016 as the homestand concludes with a 12:05 p.m. game on Thursday. Right-hander Tyler Wagner (0-3, 3.45) is the scheduled starter for Reno, opposite fellow righty Mike Hauschild (2-2, 4.50) for Fresno.