Shane Loux has pitched in 237 games at the Triple-A level, and he's not sure he's faced a better lineup than what the Sky Sox put against him Monday.
That makes Loux's complete-game three-hitter in an 8-1 victory all the more impressive as Fresno snapped Colorado Springs' five-game winning streak.
"It's one of the best lineups I've faced in this league," said Loux, 33, a second-round pick with Detroit in 1997. "One of the best for sure. Guys with power, who can hit the other way, guys who can hit breaking balls, guys who can drive the ball - they've got a little bit of everything."
The Sky Sox scored 28 runs in the first three games of the series but were baffled by Loux.
After being retired in order through the first three innings it looked like they might have figured him out when Corey Dickerson drove a ball to the warning track and Josh Rutledge doubled to start the second time through the order in the fourth inning. But Loux stopped the momentum quickly and, with the exception of a Hernan Iribarren pinch-hit triple that led to a run in the sixth, there was never much of a scoring threat.
"I figured if I could keep them off-balanced, get them out on the front foot a little and keep them from getting the barrel on it, that's what it would take," Loux said. "I don't have the fastball to throw it by guys anymore, but I can take some off with the best of them."
Two errors led to two unearned runs against Sky Sox starting pitcher Jeff Manship in the first inning. Tony Abreu lost his grip of the bat on a swing-and-a-miss and nearly everybody in the stadium was watching as it flew into the stands. Sky Sox catcher Lars Davis tried to use the opportunity to pick off Roger Kieschnick from second, but his infielders were also watching the bat and no one was covering the base.
"I was watching the bat, too," Kieschnick said. "Then I saw Lars kind of get up like he was going to throw to second. So I got back and I was facing the other way and I kind of see a ball go by me into center. So I started running. "
Kieschnick scored afrom second on the play.
After two more runs in the second, Fresno scored three in the third thanks to a perfectly placed popup from Gary Brown that fell between Rutledge at second base and rightfielder Matt McBride.
Fresno allowed Loux to finish what he started, marking the first complete game for an opposing pitcher at Security Service Field in nearly three years. The rested bullpen will come in handy for the Grizzlies, who saw Tuesday's scheduled starter Michael Kickham called up by San Francisco before the game.
"I'm the oldest guy here and I'm a free agent guy," said Loux, who threw 107 pitches. "If I can't throw 110 pitches, I don't see much value in me being here. I kind of take pride in knowing I can go deep and throw a lot of pitches and show guys that you don't necessarily have to have Michael Kickham's stuff to get guys out."