The baseball shot off the bat of Fresno’s Conor Gillaspie in the second inning, slicing down the right-field line.
Tacoma Rainiers right fielder Chih-Hsien Chiang gave chase, but relented and watched the ball drop behind the fence near the 40-foot high yellow foul pole Sunday at Cheney Stadium.
Fair or foul?
Home plate umpire Shaun Francis twirled his hand, signaling a home run for Gillaspie that helped key a 10-3 Grizzlies win and bringing Tacoma manager Daren Brown out of the dugout in a full-on sprint.
Brown pointed emphatically at the pole and Francis, but the umpire didn’t budge. Finally, after Brown returned to the dugout, Francis ejected him, which brought Brown back on the field to get in a last word.
With the rest of the game to cool off after being ejected for arguing the call with Francis, Brown was diplomatic about the judgment call.
“I trust what I see; his job is to trust what he sees, too,” Brown said. “Those things happen sometimes.”
Even if Francis had ruled the ball foul, it might not have made much of a difference in the final result.
By then, Fresno led 4-0 and Tacoma starter Mauricio Robles was struggling. Before Gillaspie’s home run, Robles (0-2) had walked three batters, hit another and given up a three-run double.
Brown, who watched the rest of the game via an in-house television feed in his clubhouse office, was disappointed with Robles’ lack of command. In 3 innings, he gave up seven earned runs, six walks, four hits and struck out three.
“Wasn’t good at all, wasn’t very sharp,” Brown said. “He’ll get better. Last couple outings have been good, today wasn’t as good. We’ve still got things to work on with him. He gave us some positives the last couple times to work on. Today was a step back.”
Tacoma’s hitting woes continued, too. Catcher Brandon Bantz ended the Rainiers’ 17-inning scoreless streak when he launched a solo home run in the sixth inning. It was also Bantz’s first hit in Triple-A.
Brown said the 25-year-old will see more playing time because catcher Adam Moore underwent knee surgery Thursday, but Guillermo Quiroz remains the starter.
“We’ll give Bantz an opportunity,” Brown said. “He came here as our third (catcher). With Adam out, he’ll be in there a couple, three times a week.”
Luis Jimenez hit his fourth home run of the season, a solo shot, in the ninth inning.
Fresno starter Eric Hacker didn’t allow a baserunner until the fifth inning. The right-hander improved to 4-0, scattering three hits, three walks, six strikeouts and two earned runs over 62/3 innings.
Tacoma continues its series with Fresno at 7:05 p.m. Rainiers right-hander Forrest Snow (0-2, 6.43 ERA) will face right-hander Andrew Kown (2-0, 2.20).
Doug Pacey: 253-597-8271 firstname.lastname@example.org