Marcus Walden experienced the good and bad of coming home Monday night at Chukchansi Park.
The Sacramento River Cats right-handed pitcher and former Central High and Fresno City College standout pitched six strong innings in front of an estimated 400-500 family, friends and supporters.
But Walden was tagged for four runs, three earned, before getting chased with two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning as the Fresno Grizzlies downed Sacramento 5-2 in a Pacific Coast League game.
"I thought I threw the ball well," Walden said. "But that's the way it goes sometimes."
The 6-foot, 195-pounder yielded only Adam Duvall's solo home run through six innings. Walden set the side down in order in the second, third and sixth innings, and pitched around a leadoff double and one-out walk in the first.
But in the seventh, Walden gave up a leadoff walk to Travis Ishikawa before getting Chris Dominguez to fly out to center.
Nick Noonan singled to put runners at first and second, then Juan Ciriaco delivered his second winning hit in as many days for the Grizzlies when he laced a run-scoring single down the left-field line. Trevor Brown followed with an RBI single and Mark Minicozzi's two-out, run-scoring infield single ended Walden's night.
Brown would score on a wild pitch by reliever Dan Runzler as Walden's final line went 62/3 innings pitched, five runs, four earned on six hits and four walks.
Walden was coming off a start against Albuquerque on May 28 when he allowed two earned runs on six hits and three walks over six innings.
Because he was starting, Walden had to wait until after his first professional start in his hometown to greet his many well-wishers.
"It's good to play at home, but as a starter, it's your one day to perform. It's my day to do work," Walden said. "(Visiting with family and friends) is what's for after the game. That's the hard part of coming home."
The only other time Walden has pitched at Chukchansi Park was in the City/County All-Star baseball game in 2006.
"This has been crazy," Walden said. "Getting to come home and pitch in Fresno is a dream."
Walden was making his ninth start for Sacramento after being released by the Toronto Blue Jays organization. He had been a reliever while with the Blue Jays. He entered Monday's start 2-1 with a 4.89 ERA on the season.
"It's been a little different here," Walden said. "With Toronto I was coming out of the pen and I was told to get groundball outs. Now I'm a starter and throwing more pitches.
"I feel I'm getting closer. I've just got to hit my location and keep the ball down."
"It's good to play at home, but as a starter, it's your one day to perform. It's my day to do work. (Visiting with family and friends) is what's for after the game. That's the hard part of coming home." — Marcus Walden, Sacramento pitcher and former Central and Fresno City standout
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