Ace hurt as home struggles continue – Fresno Grizzlies ace Brady Rodgers was limited to just four innings after he was hit by a comebacker off his foot and left the game as the Omaha Storm Chasers picked up a 4-3 victory Wednesday before an announced crowd of 4,274 at Chukchansi Park. Rodgers, who entered the day with the best ERA in the Pacific Coast League, was hit at the start of the fourth inning and fell to the ground. He went on to finish the inning but did not return for the fifth. The Arizona State product gave up two runs off six hits and one walk. The Grizzlies, meanwhile, hit 3 for 16 with runners in scoring position. Fresno newcomer Yulieski Gurriel, who went 3 for 4 with a home run during his Triple-A debut Tuesday, finished 0 for 4 with two strikeouts Wednesday. Colin Moran highlighted Fresno’s offensive production, batting 2 for 4 with one run. Jon Singleton had an RBI. The Grizzlies (66-58) have lost five straight and are just 1-5 to start off this home stand.
Up next – Fresno hosts Omaha for the third of a four-game series at 7:05 p.m. Thursday at Chukchansi Park. Grizzlies RH Cesar Valdez (11-1, 3.40 ERA) is set to oppose Storm Chasers LH Jonathan Dziedzic (5-8, 4.13). Valdez has been one of the most successful pitchers in all of baseball over his past 10 starts, going 8-0 with a 2.83 ERA and 48 strikeouts in 60 1/3 innings.
Tuesday recap – Yulieski Gurriel busted out of his minor league slump, going 3 for 4 with a home run and two RBIs in his Triple-A debut, but it was not enough as Fresno pitching got battered all night and Omaha won 12-5 before an announced crowd of 5,007 at Chukchansi Park. Gurriel, considered Cuba’s best player before defecting from the communist country earlier this year, signed a five-year $47.5 million contract with the Houston Astros last month. The idea was to fast-track him to the majors, but he went 2 for 17 in Double-A (after going 6 for 14 in Class-A ball) ahead of his stint with the Grizzlies. Fresno starter Keegan Yuhl left the game in the middle of the fourth after he was hit by a line drive on his wrist, with the ball bouncing and hitting his chin. Omaha’s Whit Merrifield launched a grand slam off Chris Cotton immediately after Yuhl’s removal. Yuhl was charged with nine runs (seven earned on seven hits and a pair of walks in 3 1/3 innings.
Wanna taco? – The Grizzlies again will become the Fresno Tacos for a day – complete with themed jerseys and hats – for Thursday’s Taco Truck Throwdown 6, an event desiged to decide supremacy among the trucks in the central San Joaquin Valley. Last’s year’s Throwdown drew the largest crowd in Chukchansi Park history, with 16,916 fans purchasing more than 38,000 tacos. This year’s event has expanded to host trucks on H Street in addition to those inside the ballpark complex.
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Last few chances – After Friday’s series finale against Omaha, the defending Triple-A champion Grizzlies will have five regular-season games left at Chukchansi Park, Aug. 24-28 against Sacramento. Fresno entered Wednesday 4 1/2 games behind Pacific Coast League Pacific Northern Division-leading Tacoma.
The Fresno Bee