A collapse by the bullpen cost Fresno a sweep of their four-game series against the Sidewinders Monday. After carrying a 3-1 lead into the eighth inning, the Grizzlies surrendered eight runs over the final two frames.
Former big-leaguer Kevin Gryboski took the brunt of the damage, surrendering six runs while securing just one out. The former big-leaguer was tagged for four doubles among the five hits and a walk he gave up. After missing much of last season with an arm injury in the Pirates organization, Gryboski signed a minor league deal with the Giants in the offseason. He hadn't surrendered an earned run through his first three appearances of the year, but saw his ERA spike to 12.46 before Monday's contest was over.
Lost in the bullpen's woes was Matt Palmer's first quality start of the season. The 29-year-old righty gave up just one earned run on two hits over six innings, striking out eight – his best total since last June - in the process. While the Sidewinders had trouble hitting him, Palmer didn't exactly cruise, issuing four walks and hitting a pair of batters as just 56% of his pitches went for strikes. Over 15 innings of work this year, the hard-thrower has 20 strikeouts, but has also walked 10.
Scott McClain, who had appeared exclusively at first base for the Grizzlies this year, made his first appearance of the year at third, replacing Justin Leone. The active minor-league home run leader went 1-for-3 with an RBI double in the first which snapped an 0-for-11 stretch for the 35-year-old.
Portland tops Defenders 5-4
The Defenders were in a different city Monday, but they got the same result as the Sea Dogs overcame a late Connecticut rally and walked off with the victory in 11 innings.
Adam Cowart suffered through his first struggles of the season, giving up nine hits and a walk while working just three-plus innings. The righty was charged with four runs, three earned, but was spared after reliever Steve Palazzolo came on and stranded a leadoff triple in the fourth. After the Cowart surrendered just two hits against the Sea Dogs in his last outing, hitters clearly had a much easier time picking the ball up out of his unique delivery Monday. While Cowart normally gets opponents to top the ball and pound it into the ground, he recorded just three groundball outs in his shortest start as a professional.
Palazzolo, 26, continued his strong return to affiliated baseball with four strikeouts over two more scoreless innings of work. Through four games, the huge righty has given up just two singles while striking out nine in seven innings. While he continues to fight his mechanics a bit– he has walked six so far – the Massachusetts native continues to impress with his stuff. After going undrafted out of college, Palazollo spent two years in the independent leagues before getting a shot in the Milwaukee organization in 2006. When they released him, he returned to the CanAm League where he posted a 2.14 ERA and struck out 63 in 54 innings for Nashua last season.
Third baseman David Maroul made top Red Sox prospect Justin Masterson pay for a pair of leadoff walks in the second by driving a double to left-center to push across his first RBI of the season. The right-handed hitter opened the year in a slump that carried over from his experience in Hawaii Winter Baseball, but has now hit in three straight games after getting just one hit in his first 21 at-bats. The University of Texas product has whiffed 13 times already this year, well ahead of his pace when he struck out 114 times for San Jose last season.
San Jose tops Ports 4-2
The Giants kept up their hot start at home, riding another strong start by Kevin Pucetas and Stockton's generosity to a victory in the series opener.
Pucetas, 23, gave up two earned runs on four hits – all singles - over six innings, striking out four and walking just one. The righty has now gone 14 straight innings without allowing a free pass, a streak he matched or bettered four times last season for Augusta. Righties, who produced just a .219 average against him last season, have been completely overmatched so far in the Cal League, batting just .156 with four singles.
Starting in center for the struggling Mike McBryde, Tyler Graham picked up two hits for the fourth straight game. The former Oregon State Beaver also swiped a pair of bases and managed to go from first to third on a sacrifice bunt before scoring the final run of the game. Graham started cold, opening the year just 2-for-18, but has reached base 13 times in the last six games. He and Matt Downs are the only Giants who have walked more than they have struck out. After playing all but two of his games for Augusta in left field last year, the 24-year-old has already appeared at all three outfield spots for the Giants.
Augusta gets past Legends 2-1
A night after the GreenJackets offense broke out for their strongest performance of the year, the club had to rely on a great start by Craig Clark to make a pair of early runs hold up for a series sweep in Lexington.
Clark, making his first start as part of the GreenJackets' planned six-man rotation, struck out a career-high eight batters, surrendering his only run on a leadoff homer. The lefty allowed just one more runner in the contest on a one-out walk in the second before retiring the final 11 hitters he faced. After the game, Clark and T.J. Brewer were procedurally transferred back to extended spring training to activate Steven Callicut and Oliver Odle for their starts this week. The Giants will continue to shuttle pitchers on and off the roster through the early part of the year, though the players are not actually leaving the team.
Brock Bond, making his third start of the year at second base with Nick Noonan in the DH slot, drove in the game's decisive run with his second hit of the game. The switch-hitting infielder, who hit .342 for Salem-Keizer after the Giants took him in the 24th round last year, now has five multiple-hit games already on the year to prop up a .370 average. The University of Missouri alum has been especially effective with men in scoring position, going 5-for-10 with five RBIs in those situations.
Daniel Turpen picked up his second save in as many opportunities by working two more scoreless frames. The 21-year-old reliever has not given up a run over five appearances and has notched 11 strikeouts against just one walk in 10.1 innings. An eighth-round pick in last year's draft, the tall righty now owns a 0.91 ERA as a professional.