I thought we did a really good job of expanding (the ninth) and making their closer throw a lot of pitches. I think our guys did a good job all night regardless of the score in putting together good at-bats. We just weren't able to put up some zeroes when we needed to. —Kevin Johnson, Bees manager
SALT LAKE CITY — Last June, Salt Lake starting pitcher Jose Alvarez took the mound for the Detroit Tigers in his first major league start. The left-hander pitched extremely well in six innings, giving up one run on three hits and shutting down a Cleveland offense that finished sixth in the majors in runs scored.
That debut was one of the few bright spots for Alvarez in 2013, however, as he struggled to a 1-5 record and a 5.82 ERA. Now with a new organization, those struggles have continued.
On Wednesday, Alvarez gave up seven runs in five innings, including a first-inning grand slam, as Salt Lake fell to Fresno 10-7 in front of 3,782 at Smith's Ballpark.
Grizzly center fielder Gary Brown hit a leadoff double in the first inning that started an early offensive explosion. Fresno scored seven runs in the first three innings, highlighted by Adam Duvall's home run to dead center field with the bases loaded.
"Obviously, he doesn't want to go out there and throw like he has in the last couple outings, but if you look at the whole body of work, there was some good sprinkled in there," Bees manager Kevin Johnson said. "We have to find a way for him to finish his innings. A lot of the damage was done with two outs, so it isn't necessarily a matter of him being bad, it's a matter of him finding a way to finish his innings."
Down 9-1 heading into the bottom of the sixth, the Bees got back within striking distance. With the bases loaded, C.J. Cron blasted a first pitch fastball over the left-field fence for a grand slam to cap off a five-run inning for Salt Lake.
"We were out of the game pretty big and we needed something to kind of get back in it," Cron said. "I got a good pitch to hit and put a good swing on it."
The Bees made it interesting in the ninth, getting two on for Grant Green. With two outs, Green sent one deep into center, but the ball died at the warning track and fell harmlessly into Brown's glove to end the game.
"I thought we did a really good job of expanding (the ninth) and making their closer throw a lot of pitches," Johnson said. "I think our guys did a good job all night regardless of the score in putting together good at-bats. We just weren't able to put up some zeroes when we needed to."
With the loss, the Bees drop to 4-3 on the season.