Fresno Grizzlies, minus biggest bat, suffer sweep by Omaha

The Fresno BeeJune 14, 2014 

Grizzlies pitcher Jason Berken pitches in the fourth inning with an Omaha Storm Chaser runner on second in the first game of a doubleheader Saturday in Fresno.

ERIC PAUL ZAMORA — THE FRESNO BEE Buy Photo

The Fresno Grizzlies tried to generate enough offense to get through a doubleheader without their best power hitter.

Third baseman Adam Duvall didn't even attend Saturday's games as a precaution after he came down with strep throat, and his status for Sunday remains unclear.

As expected, the Grizzlies weren't nearly as productive, held to 10 hits -- with just two going for extras -- as they were swept 3-2 and 5-0 by Omaha before an announced crowd of 5,991 at Chukchansi Park.

"We just didn't have good at-bats, really," Grizzlies manager Bob Mariano said. "Yeah, we're better with Duvall in the lineup. He helps our offense. But we've still got other guys who swing the bat pretty good and they did not take good at-bats tonight."

The Grizzlies have been outscored 58-72 while going 5-6 in games without Duvall.

The right-handed-hitting slugger leads all of Triple-A baseball with 20 home runs and is second with 60 RBIs to go with a .296 average.

Paulo Orlando hit a two-run homer off Fresno starter Jason Berken to help Omaha win the opener.

Storm Chasers left-hander Ryan Verdugo (4-1), a former San Francisco Giants farmhand dealt away in the November 2011 deal with Kansas City that netted Melky Cabrera, then struck out nine in 6 2/3 scoreless innings to highlight the game 2 win.

"We didn't swing the bats well at all," Mariano said. "When you're not getting much offense and guys aren't doing their jobs when they're on base, it's tough for pitchers to throw a shutout. You need some offense. We didn't make any adjustments on offense, either."

Juan Ciriaco started at third in Duvall's absence and went 1 for 2 with a run while batting ninth in the first game. Travis Ishikawa played Duvall's other position at first base and batted cleanup while going 0 for 4.

In Game 2, Ciriaco was 2 for 2 with a double. Mark Minicozzi moved from designated hitter to first base and went 0 for 3.

The Grizzlies needed help to score their lone runs on the night, with an error and an infield single bringing in two in the fifth inning of game 1. The rally was short-circuited when leadoff hitter Gary Brown was caught on a delayed steal and Joe Panik struck out to end the inning.

Brown was taken out of the game for the final two innings for missing a sign, Mariano said. Brown did not play in the nightcap, but he was a scheduled to get a breather.

The Grizzlies still had a chance to take the opener, putting the tying run on second and the winning run on first in the seventh. But Brown's replacement, Brett Krill, struck out swinging to end the game.

"You miss a sign and it's June 15?," Mariano said. "He was given the hold sign. It killed that rally. You've got to be able to think in this game. If you can't do it here, you sure as heck aren't going to do it in the big leagues."

The Grizzlies tinkered with their rotation for game 2, sending reliever Brett Bochy out for his first career start. Grizzlies starter Mike Kickham was bumped back for Sunday's series finale to keep him on his usual five-days rest.

Bochy, a right-hander who entered 2-2 with a 2.64 ERA and 30 strikeouts in 30 2-3 innings, didn't last long. He was one of four relievers in all employed for the patchwork approach.

Bochy loaded the bases in the second inning, gave up two runs and didn't return for the third.

Jose De Paula, who has made five starts in his eight appearances this season, came on and served up a homer to Omaha's Justin Maxwell -- the ball clearing the left-field wall. He allowed three runs in the third before his outing came to a quick end.

The reporter can be reached at (559) 441-6362, bjanteola@fresnobee.com or @Banteola_TheBee on Twitter.

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