The Salt Lake Bees returned home from an eight-game road trip, had a day off to prepare for the ice-cold Fresno Grizzlies, and played in front of an impressive non-fireworks crowd of 8,142 fans on Friday night.
It had all the makings of an explosive night for Salt Lake. Instead, the Bees surprisingly had little life against a team that has almost no hope of reaching the postseason.
Salt Lake managed just six hits in a sluggish 6-1 loss to Fresno at Franklin Covey Field. It was the Bees' second consecutive defeat.
"We just didn't swing the bats very well," said Bees manager Bobby Mitchell. "Their pitchers every one of them shut us down. We couldn't get anything going."
All signs pointed to the Bees putting together a solid offensive game. They were facing a below-.500 starting pitcher in Matt Palmer, who entered Friday's game with a 5-9 record and a 4.26 earned-run average. The Grizzlies had dropped eight of their previous nine games and allowed an average of nearly nine runs per contest during that stretch.
But after an encouraging start in the first inning, the Bees were blanked in the game's final eight innings. Brandon Wood was the only Salt Lake player to have a good night at the plate, as he went 3-for-3 with three singles. Kendry Morales drove in the Bees' lone run of the game. It came on a sacrifice fly to left field in the first inning.
Mitchell said he wasn't sure why his team struggled at the plate so badly. But he was disappointed that the Bees didn't give their home crowd much to cheer for on Friday night.
"It seems like sometimes we don't play very well at home, or in front of big crowds," he said. "There were what 8,000 fans here? We didn't do anything."
Despite the Bees' lethargic performance at the plate, they would have had the chance to win Friday's game if they would have been able to keep Fresno catcher Eli Whiteside in check. He went 2-for-3 and drove in four runs. His two-run home run in the seventh gave the Grizzlies a 5-1 lead.NOTE: The Los Angeles Angels on Friday optioned catcher Ryan Budde to Salt Lake. Budde, 28, has appeared in six games for the Angels, including one start in Baltimore on July 27. He has appeared in 37 games for the Bees this season, hitting .200 with six doubles, two triples, two home runs and 19 RBI.