Gem by Grizzlies pitcher Mike Kickham helps ease voids from call-ups

The Fresno BeeJune 26, 2014 

Grizzlies starting pitcher Mike Kickham

FRESNO GRIZZLIES

The Fresno Grizzlies lost their two top hitters since they last played at Chukchansi Park.

Mike Kickham, however, made the absence of Joe Panik and Adam Duvall irrelevant Thursday night.

The left-handed Kickham pitched 81/3 two-hit, shutout innings as the Grizzlies opened a brief four-game homestand with an 8-0 Pacific Coast League victory over Salt Lake.

"I just trusted my catcher," Kickham said of Andrew Susac. "I wasn't too efficient early on, and he helped me calm down. I just had to stay within myself. Sometimes I try to muscle up too much."

Kickham (6-5) walked three and struck out a season-high nine in the best performance of the season for the 20th-rated prospect in the San Francisco Giants organization, according to Baseball America. He might have carried a no-hitter into the ninth, but Luis Jimenez's sinking blooper to right field in the first inning fell inches in front of Brett Krill, who was battling the sun, and went for a triple.

Kickham was lifted for Erik Cordier after allowing J.B. Shuck's one-out double in the ninth. Cordier then got Jimenez to ground out and Brennan Boesch to pop out to end the game.

"The bullpen I threw (before the game) wasn't great," said Kickham, whose previous best outing this season was eight five-hit, shutout innings on April 24. "But some of my best games have been after a not-so-great bullpen."

Offense actually wasn't a problem for the Grizzlies, either, even though Panik and Duvall are now wearing Giants uniforms after having been promoted during the Grizzlies' 3-5 road trip.

The Grizzlies had 11 hits — including five against rehabbing Los Angeles Angels starter Tyler Skaggs —to help minimize the impact of the loss of a duo who combined to hit .309 with 24 doubles, seven triples, 28 home runs and 112 RBIs while scoring 23% (98 of 404) of the Grizzlies' runs.

Duvall, who has played third and first base, was leading the PCL in home runs (23) and total bases (163), and was second in slugging percentage (.620) and RBIs (67) before his call-up Wednesday.

Panik, a second baseman, was leading the league in hits (94) and was tied for second in runs (50) and 10th in batting average (.321) before getting the call Saturday.

Chris Dominguez entered Thursday as the most productive hitter remaining on the Grizzlies' roster with nine home runs and 42 RBIs.

And he helped pick up the offensive slack along with Nick Noonan and Darren Ford, each delivering a run-scoring hit during a five-run first-inning against Skaggs.

Next game

Salt Lake at Grizzlies, 7:05 tonight.

The reporter can be reached at (559) 441-6103, nickg@fresnobee.com or @NickG_FB on Twitter.

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