Anthony Vasquez’s string of dominant outings ended Tuesday night.
In the Tacoma left-hander’s first three starts of the season, he had been close to unhittable.
Vasquez entered the game against Fresno with a 0.87 earned-run average – second-best in the Pacific Coast League. When he left after the fourth inning, it had ballooned to 2.92 and the Grizzlies rolled to an 11-5 win at Cheney Stadium.
“Fresno didn’t swing at the pitches out of the zone,” Tacoma manager Daren Brown said, “and they didn’t miss mistakes.”
In four innings, Vasquez allowed more hits (10) than he had in his three previous starts (nine). He also gave up six earned runs and three walks, while striking out two.
The 25-year-old worked out of a jam in the second inning. After walking Brock Bond, which loaded the bases with no outs, he fanned Eli Whiteside and got the next two batters to fly out, ending Fresno’s threat.
Vasquez wasn’t as fortunate in the third.
Fresno (15-5) tagged him for six hits, including two doubles and a triple that came with two outs, building a 5-0 lead.
In the four-game series against the Grizzlies, none of Tacoma’s starting pitchers have thrown more than five innings.
“We didn’t pitch very well in this series,” Brown said. “We’re just going to have to do a better job. That’s what’s expected, that’s what I expect. It will get better.”
Tacoma (8-12) chipped away at the Grizzlies’ lead over the next few innings.
Second baseman Luis Rodriguez hit a solo home run to right field in the bottom of the third. And shortstop Carlos Triunfel blasted a two-run home run, making the score 6-3 in the fourth.
Tacoma added another run in the fifth, trimming the margin to 6-4, when first baseman Scott Savastano led off with a single and scored on third baseman Vinnie Catricala’s fielder’s choice, chasing Fresno starter Yusmeiro Petit from the game.
“The last couple nights I thought we swung the bats better,” he said. “A couple guys, Catricala and Triunfel, are starting to come around a bit.”
Fresno’s offense came alive again in the seventh, ending Tacoma’s come-back threat.
The Grizzlies shelled reliever Josh Kinney, piling up four runs off five hits, for an 11-5 lead.
Tacoma is off today and will begin a 12-game road trip Thursday at Las Vegas. The Rainiers will follow with games at Tucson and Reno.
Outfielder Mike Carp, on a rehab assignment from the Mariners, has missed three of the past four games but will accompany Tacoma on the road trip.
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