Welcome home – Playing for the first time at Chukchansi Park in two weeks, Fresno defeated the Iowa Cubs 8-4 to kick off an eight-game homestand Friday. Cesar Valdez allowed nine hits but surrendered just one run over six innings and Chan Moon and Derek Fisher each homered before the announced crowd of 9,862 – the sixth largest home count this season. The Grizzlies improved to 21-10 in series openers this season and 49-18 overall over the past two years. Valdez, the Grizzlies’ oldest player at 31, moved to 11-1 with a 3.40 ERA and 90 strikeouts in 116.2 innings. The Grizzlies’ roster looked quite different since they were last in town, with 10 of 25 players having spent the majority of the season having played elsewhere.
Up next – Fresno RH Edison Frias (1-1, 8.22 ERA) faces Iowa LH Rob Zastryzny (6-3, 4.03) as the teams play Game 2 of their four-game series at 7:05 p.m. Saturday at Chukchansi Park. Frias has alternated bad and solid starts through his first three appearances since joining the team in late July from Double-A Corpus Christi. He bounced back from a six-run debut to allow two runs on five hits in six innings on Aug. 1 at Reno, but five days later was charged with eight runs (six earned) on 10 hits in 3 1/3 innings at Las Vegas. Triple-A left-handers are hitting Frias at a .364 clip. He had gone 4-1 with a 2.44 ERA in 15 games (10 starts) in the Texas League. Zastryzny, 24, a second-round pick by the Chicago Cubs out of Missouri in the 2013 draft, has allowed 61 hits and struck out 68 while walking 30 in 76 innings at Iowa.
Hernandez promoted – Grizzlies major league parent club Houston purchased the contract of OF Teoscar Hernandez. The 23-year-old hit .313 (45 for 144) with four home runs and 23 RBIs in 38 games with the Grizzlies while improving his strike-zone recognition. The 6-foot-2, 180-pounder also had a .365 on-base and .500 slugging percentage . Hernandez started the season at Double-A Corpus Christi, where he hit .305 with six homers and 30 RBIs . For the season, he has 34 steals in 49 attempts . Hernandez’s promotion coincides with former Grizzly Preston Tucker landing on the disabled list and fellow outfielder Jake Marisnick considered day-to-day with a groin injury.
Pivotal stretch – With Fresno’s win Friday and a Tacoma loss, the Grizzlies (66-53) moved within three games of the Pacific Coast League Pacific Northern-leading Rainiers with 24 to play. Fresno is 35-25 at Chukchansi Park this season. The Rainiers on Friday began an eight-game road trip, where Tacoma is 30-29.