The Express have fallen into the same rut every game they’ve played against the Fresno Grizzlies this season.
Round Rock didn’t get its first hit until the sixth inning Tuesday night and lost to the Astros’ affiliate 5-3 to lose all four games in the series. The Express waited until at least the fourth inning to get the first hit in three of the four games.
“You’ve got to tip your cap to them sometimes to them, but not that many times,” Express shortstop Nick Noonan said. “They did a good job of throwing a lot of strikes and off-speed when they needed to. That seemed to kind of be the theme and unfortunately, not many fell.”
Making his third spot start of the season, Dolis Guerra (2-2, 5.90 ERA) allowed no runs and three hits with three strikeouts in 2.2 innings. Jeff Springs (0-1, 7.36 ERA) took the loss in his second Round Rock appearance, allowing three runs on three hits with three strikeouts in 1.1 innings.
Noonan — who played for the Grizzlies from 2011-14 — picked up the first hit in two games, first breaking up the no-hitter with two outs in the eighth inning on Saturday night and again in the sixth inning on Tuesday.
“It’s always fun to give a little jab here and,” he said. “But we’re all out there competing and it’s fun to do that.”
Fresno outscored Round Rock 26-8 over the four-game series.
Jon Kemmer opened the scoring for the Grizzlies in the fourth inning. One batter later, Antonio Nunez doubled to deep left field to drive in two more runs.
Express reliever Brandon Mann — recently removed from a brief stint in the big leagues — allowed one hit and walk three batters in the fifth, including walking in a run to give Fresno a 4-0 lead.
Noonan singled past a diving third baseman in the sixth inning. Round Rock scored to cut the lead in half on back-to-back singles by Scott Heineman and Drew Robinson.
Fresno right fielder and Houston’s top prospect Kyle Tucker rushed home from second base in the ninth inning, narrowly beating out a throw from Round Rock first baseman Ryan Rua.
Willie Calhoun doubled off the right-field wall with one out in the bottom of the ninth and Tommy Joseph drove him in with a single in the next at-bat. But that’s where the rally would end.
The Express have Wednesday off before beginning a four-game series on the road against the Nashville Sounds. They return to Round Rock for eight games beginning Monday, first when the Omaha Storm Chasers come to town for a quartet of games.
Tuesday’s loss drops the Express’ home record to 13-22, while their road record is 17-18 thanks in part to winning five of seven games at Salt Lake and Las Vegas last week.
“I think the last road trip we went to a couple good hitting ballparks,” Noonan said. “When you go into a place with the wind blowing out, it gives you a little extra confidence.”