RENO — As Pacific Coast League debuts go, Matt Koch’s was very encouraging.
Koch, who just got called up from Double-A Mobile by Reno, allowed just two earned runs in 6.2 innings, but received no offensive help in the Aces’ 4-1 loss to the Fresno Grizzlies before a crowd of 4,837 Tuesday night at Greater Nevada Field.
The loss was Reno’s second straight. The Aces have a five-game four-day trip at Salt Lake which started Wednesday.
It was Koch’s third consecutive quality start. In his last two starts at Mobile, he had allowed just three earned runs and four hits over 12 innings.
“I thought it went well,” said the right-hander. “It’s too bad we couldn’t have scored a couple more runs. I was able to keep the ball down. I’m mixing my pitches better. I was a little nervous. I tried to have the mindset that it was just another start.”
His effort impressed Aces manager Phil Nevin.
“I thought he threw the ball great,” Nevin said. “A lot of young guys come here and hear horror stories about pitching in Reno. I hadn’t seen any of his Mobile starts, but I was told that I needed to make sure that he threw his change-up and breaking ball. I thought (Dan) Rohlfing did a good job calling the game.”
Koch definitely pitched well enough to win, but his teammates couldn’t do anything against Fresno right-hander Mike Hauschild, who picked up his second win of the season against Reno. On July 7, he threw eight shutout innings in a 14-0 win.
Hauschild allowed just four hits, and got key outs the couple of times Reno got runners in scoring position.
“Hauschild gave it to us,” Nevin said.
“He kept us off balance, and he’s really good against right-handers, and were right-handed heavy. Three of the four hits we got off him were by left-handers.”
Reno scored its only run in the first, and it should have been more.
The Aces loaded the bases on a single by Ildemaro Vargas, a double off the third-base bag by Socrates Brito and a walk to Mitch Haniger. Kyle Jensen, however, grounded into a double play, scoring Vargas. Hauschild retired Zach Borenstein to end the inning.
The Grizzlies evened the game in the third off Koch.
With Tony Kemp at first and Nolan Fontana at third, Jon Kemmer hit a one-hopper to Jensen at first. Jensen tagged first for the second out, and Kemp was caught in a rundown between first and second, which allowed Fontana to score.
The Aces wasted a lead-off double by Borenstein in the fourth when Fresno centerfielder Andrew Aplin robbed Ed Lucas of a base hit with a diving grab for the third out.
Reno returned the favor in the fifth when Haniger threw out Tyler Heineman at third. Heineman was trying to go from first to third on Fontana’s single.
Koch allowed a solo homer to Kemmer in the sixth and a run-scoring single to Heineman in the seventh before departing with two outs.
A passed ball by Rohlfing allowed Aplin to get into scoring position. Daniel Gibson closed out the inning without any further damage.
Reno threatened in the eighth against reliever Brandon McCurry, putting runners on first and second with two outs, but McCurry fanned Borenstein to end the Aces’ final threat.
Reno reliever Matt Capps allowed a solo homer to Aplin in the ninth.
Wednesday began eight straight games against Salt Lake — the first four on the road and then four at home. Zack Greinke makes a rehab start against Chris Jones (3-9, 7.38). On Thursday, Shelby Miller (2-0, 5.09) faces off against Troy Scribner (1-0, 0.00). John Omahen (1-2, 7.94) is Reno’s starter on Friday, and lefty Edwin Escobar (5-2, 4.60) faces Kyle McGowin (4-9, 6.67) Saturday.
Utility player Mike Freeman was claimed by Seattle after being designated for assignment by Arizona.
Freeman went 2-for-4 in his only game thus far with Tacoma. He led the Aces with 33 multi-hit games, 28 of them two-hit games. He was hitting around .320 when the Diamondbacks called him up.
“I am happy for him; happy he got picked up,” Nevin said. “I hope he gets the opportunity to play. I’m not happy he’s in Tacoma. I’m not surprised he got picked up. He’s a versatile guy. He can play all four infield positions and all three outfield positions.”
The Aces are currently chasing Tacoma for the division title.
Borenstein and Carlos Rivero have excelled at the plate on the homestand.
Borenstein is hitting .500 on the homestand with a homer, triple, four doubles and five RBI. Rivero is hitting .444 on the homestand with a homer, two doubles and five RBI.
Because the Astros are an American League team, designated hitters are being used by both teams.
It’s nice for the Aces because they can get both Jensen and Peter O’Brien in the lineup.