Even in the bad innings we were able to minimize the damage and get a ground ball or make a big pitch. Those are the types of things we need to do in order to win ballgames. —Bees manager Keith Johnson
SALT LAKE CITY — It wasn't entirely pretty, but the Salt Lake Bees climbed back to .500 with a 6-4 victory over Fresno in the final game of their series at Spring Mobile Ballpark Sunday afternoon.
In a rough start, pitcher Jarrett Grube hit three batters in 3 2/3 innings on the mound, tying a team record he now shares with six other pitchers. Coincidentally, three of the other six pitchers also reached that mark against Fresno.
“He had some stiffness in his upper back,” manager Keith Johnson said of Grube’s unusual performance. “It was a little out of character for him to be that erratic. We were looking at (his back), and then in that third inning we had to take him out because of it.”
In four of his last five starts, Grube had gone at least five innings and never gave up more than two earned runs in those outings. Sunday, he finished with two strikeouts and gave up three hits and two earned runs in a no decision.
“Hopefully it’s something that’s just a one-day thing and it’ll clear itself up by the time of his next start,” Johnson added.
Backing up the starter was a compilation of four more pitchers — Chad Cordero, Jeremy Berg, Fernando Cabrera, and David Carpenter — who allowed just two more runs and struck out five batters to secure the victory. Cabrera was ultimately credited with his first win of the season.
“Our bullpen got used a little bit earlier than they probably expected today,” Johnson said. “The guys came in and did a good job of limiting the damage. We didn’t give up any real big innings.”
The Bees allowed just one run in the second and fourth innings and another two in the fifth on a total of eight hits.
“Even in the bad innings we were able to minimize the damage and get a ground ball or make a big pitch,” the manager continued. “Those are the types of things we need to do in order to win ballgames.”
On the offensive side, center fielder Kole Calhoun went 2 for 3 with a double, a home run, two RBIs and two runs scored while catcher John Hester finished 2 for 4 with one RBI.
The Bees now travel to Colorado Springs with an overall record of 32-32. After a tough opening loss last Thursday, Salt Lake rallied and won the series against Fresno, 3-1.
“With all the injuries that we’ve had and all the movement that we’ve had, I knew that if we hung around .500 long enough, that when everybody got healthy, we would be in a situation where we could make a run,” Johnson said. “Right now our major league team is getting healthy (and) the healthier the major league team gets, the healthier we are. Our No. 1 objective is to get guys ready to contribute to them winning up at the major league level.”
Sarah Thomas is a graduate of the University of Utah and has been covering sports for the Deseret News since 2008. EMAIL: firstname.lastname@example.org