This would have been a much bigger story if the home team had won, but I still find it fascinating that Fresno entered the bottom of the ninth inning on Saturday trailing New Orleans 14-1 before putting eight on the scoreboard and almost making a game of it.
The Zephyrs dominated early, building a 13-0 lead by the middle of the fifth. Five players had two or more hits, led by rightfielder Brett Carroll (4-5, 2 HR, 6 RBI, 3B, 3 RS – not often that somebody misses the cycle by a double), starting pitcher Willie Collazo and reliever Brett Sinkbeil combined for eight innings of one-run, three-hit ball, and it looked like one of those nights that, if you’re associated with the Grizzlies, you write off as a loss and focus on the next one.
Then Carlos Vazquez replaced Sinkbeil to start the ninth. He walked the first two batters he faced, the third reached on an error to load the bases, and the fourth, Jesus Guzman, hit a grand slam to centerfield to make it 14-5. Vazquez walked the next batter before finally recording an out via strikeout, then gave up another homerun, to Matt Downs, to make it a 14-7 ball game.
That’s where it was decided that perhaps this just wasn’t Carlos Vazquez’s day. He was pulled in favor of Chris Mobley, who promptly allowed a single and a double to put two men in scoring position with still just one out. A visit to the mound settled him down, however, as he got Clay Timpner to ground out for the second out (as the inning’s seventh run scored). A single made the score 14-9, but with a runner on first and two down, the rally was just about dead even before Nate Schierholtz lined out to short to end the game.
One good inning doesn’t erase eight bad ones for the Grizzlies, but at least they ended the day with something positive to fall back on.