Was it great hitting or shaky pitching on display Tuesday night at Isotopes Park?
Yes on both counts.
Fresno narrowly won in both departments, coming from behind to take a 10-9 victory over the ‘Topes in the opener of a four-game series. The Grizzlies outhit Albuquerque 14-12 and got the edge in bullpen performance.
Four Albuquerque relievers surrendered five runs on six hits and five walks over the final four innings. Three Fresno relievers allowed three runs on four hits with one walk over the final three frames.
In the end, Tony Kemp’s eighth-inning, two-run double off Isotopes reliever Carlos Estevez (0-2) proved the difference.
It took a little of the luster off a monster night by Albuquerque’s Tom Murphy, who went 3-for-5 with five RBIs. Murphy’s two-run triple tied the game at 8, and he scored the go-ahead run on Mike Tauchman’s single in the bottom of the seventh.
Asked about Albuquerque’s up-and-down pitching performance (‘Topes pitchers combined to strike out 13), Murphy shrugged.
“I think it was a little bit of both,” he said, “our pitching and their hitting. When we executed our pitches, we did pretty well. When we missed, they hit it hard and made us pay.”
Murphy, on an injury rehab assignment from the Colorado Rockies, pointed out how well the Isotopes bullpen performed for the season’s first two months.
“Over the course of the season you’re going to have ups and downs,” he said. “There’s a lot of ability in this bullpen. They’re on a down turn but they’ll fight through it.”
Tauchman finished 2-for-5 with a triple and three RBIs for the Isotopes. Kemp and Colin Moran had three hits apiece for Fresno.
HILL SUSPENDED: Hitting coach Darin Everson managed the Isotopes on Tuesday and will again tonight because manager Glenallen Hill is serving a two-game suspension. Hill was ejected from the ‘Topes’ June 8 game against El Paso to draw the suspension.
DEEP TROUBLE: Colin Moran’s two-run homer to right-center field in the first inning did not exactly rate as a surprise. Moran has hit six home runs in his last 16 games.
What’s more, Fresno clubbed 11 bombs in its previous series in El Paso.
The ‘Topes, meanwhile, have allowed 37 long balls in their last 20 games. Sunday’s contest in Salt Lake was the only game during that span in which Isotopes pitchers did not allow a home run. Albuquerque ranks second in the PCL with 76 homers allowed.
MAKE IT A TRIPLE: Tauchman and Murphy delivered triples on Tuesday to keep the Isotopes ahead of the pack in that category. Albuquerque leads both the minors and the majors with 35 triples this season.
TIP OF THE, UM, CAP: The Isotopes and Grizzlies combined for 26 hits Tuesday but Max Stassi did not join the party. The Fresno catcher struck out in each of his four plate appearances, twice looking and twice swinging, to earn the dreaded “golden sombrero.”
Stassi was denied the opportunity to go for five strikeouts — the mythical “platinum sombrero” — when Reid Brignac struck out to end the ninth with Stassi on deck. It was Brignac’s third whiff of the game, completing the relatively common “hat trick.”