A three-run sixth inning consisting of back-to-back RBI singles by José Yepez and Sean Kazmar and a bases-loaded walk drawn by Derrick Mitchell gave Gwinnett all of the runs they needed to beat the Bisons in their series opener in Buffalo. Daniel Rodriguez took the mound for Gwinnett and turned in a quality outing, throwing seven innings of two-run ball. The 29-year-old lefty wasn't dominant, but kept the ball on the ground and struck out four batters while walking only one. Atahualpa Severino had a bit of a dicey eighth inning, but kept the Bisons off of the board. Juan Jaime got the save with a perfectt ninth inning, striking out Brett Carroll and Jared Goedert. Jaime has major struggles with control, walking over a batter per inning, so it was nice to see the fireballer pound the zone (he threw 12 pitches, 9 of which were strikes), and not allow a walk in a dominant outing.
Gwinnett had no trouble reaching base last night, drawing five walks (Bisons starter Sean Nolin was a bit wild) and accumulating eight hits, but they had trouble bringing runners in. Edward Salcedo hit his first triple of the season, an opposite field shot to right field, and walked in the middle of Gwinnett's aforementioned productive sixth inning. Phil Gosselin started off that inning with a ground ball single, the second of his two singles on the day. Although Tommy La Stella failed to record a base hit, he did reach base a pair of times with walks. Christian Bethancourt had a tough luck day at the plate, hitting the ball four times but reaching only once on an error. He did swipe second base after reaching on the error, his second of the season. I'm picking Bethancourt to lead the Majors in catcher steals whenever he comes up and secures a starting job. Gus Schlosser will take the mound tonight at Coca-Cola Field.
J.R. Graham had a rough outing for the M-Braves on Tuesday, lasting just 1.2 innings and giving up 6 runs, and the club just couldn't dig out of the hole. It's worth noting that Graham was pitching on short rest and a weird schedule, making a start on short rest after being lifted after a rain delay limited him to 0.2 innings on Saturday. J.R. wasn't missing many bats, as has been the theme for him thus far this season, and wasn't aided by the battery's poor job at controlling the baserunners he allowed, as the battery of Graham and Matt Kennelly allowed three steals that compounded his ineffectiveness. To me, it's a bit disconcerting at this point to see Graham's K:BB ratio hovering at 13:11 through eight starts and 21.2 innings pitched. Graham's pitch counts have been limited as he continues to work his way back after experiencing a shoulder ailment last season, and they don't seem to be getting much higher as the season progresses, holding around 60-70 (50 tonight). The Braves are being cautious with Graham, clearly, but I wonder when they'll begin to let him go further into games. In other pitching news, Ryne Harper closed out the final two innings of the game for Mississippi and was incredible, striking out 5 of the 6 batters he faced.
The bats weren't too terribly active for Mississippi, but Elmer Reyes continued to sizzle, reaching base via a hit by pitch, a single, and a double. His offensive success is a bit of a mirage at this point, as his BABIP is an anomalously high .427, while his walk rate remains low and his ISO sits well above his minor league benchmark. However, his defensive utility and decent offense have been a nice piece to the puzzle for Mississippi so far. Kyle Kubitza and Barrett Kleinknecht also doubled in the contest, and Seth Loman had a two-hit game. Jason Hursh will take the mound for some morning baseball at 11 Central Time in the Braves' series finale with Tampa Bay's Southern League squad this morning before the club welcomes Tennessee for a five-game set.
Lay Batista (L): 3.1 IP, 8 H, 6 ER, 2 BB, K, 3:3 GO:FO, 5.11 ERA
Eric Pfisterer: 2.2 IP, 4 K, 2:2 GO:FO, 7.41 ERA
Matt Chaffee: 1 IP, 3 H, 6 R (5 ER), 2 BB, K, 2:1 GO:FO, 6.92 ERA
Lynchburg's pitchers had a rough day on Tuesday, outside of Eric Pfisterer, and the Hillcats were blown out by the Mudcats. Lay Batista got the start for Lynchburg and was roughed up, giving up 6 runs in just 3.1 innings of work. He wasn't fooling anyone, as he struck out only one batter and gave up 8 hits, including a pair of doubles and a three-run home run. After being demoted from Mississippi, Batista was the Carolina League Pitcher of the Week last week after a dominant start against Wilmington, but struggled mightily today. The lone bright spot of the pitching performances today was Eric Pfisterer's, which featured him pitching 2.2 perfect relief innings and striking out four batters. The 23-year-old left-handed Duke product had struggled in high-A ball after an excellent relief season for Rome last year (2.14 ERA and a 56:9 K:BB ratio in 42 innings of work), so it's nice to see him get back on the right track.
José Peraza got the day off, ceding second base to Eric Garcia, who was hitless with a walk. Kyle Wren was caught stealing for the fourth time this season, and had a pretty lackluster day overall. His production has left a little to be desired at this point in Lynchburg, especially in terms of his ability to produce extra base hits. Nevertheless, it's nice to see that he was back in the lineup today after being lifted for an unknown reason during the fifth inning of last night's contest. Shortstop Daniel Castro was the offensive MVP for Lynchburg, rapping a double and a single and picking up a pair of RBIs. Will Skinner and Edison Sánchez also added a double apiece in yesterday's game. Greg Ross will take the ball for the Hillcats against Carolina tonight.
Jacob Schrader, 1B: 2-4, R, HR (3), 4 RBI (21), E (1, fielding), .247
Johan Camargo, SS: 0-4, CS (3), .185
Daniel Cordero: 4.2 IP, 6 H, 3 ER, 2 BB, 7 K, 4:2 GO:FO, 5.79 ERA
Michael Swanner (W): 1.1 IP, 2 H, 1 R (0 ER), 2 K, 1:1 GO:FO, 4.80 ERA
Andy Otero: 2 IP, 2 H, K, 2:3 GO:FO, 0.00 ERA
Rome finished up their four-game set with Asheville on Tuesday morning and picked up a 9-4 victory to split the series. Daniel Cordero, a 20-year-old Venezuelan who made his debut with Rome today after pitching in the Gulf Coast League last season, had mixed results in his first outing in a full-season league. He cruised through the first four innings, striking out six batters, including a couple Ks against highly-regarded prospects in Raimel Tapia and Ryan McMahon, but ran into some trouble in the fifth inning. After striking out Tapia once again and inducing a flyout, Cordero walked a batter, then allowed an RBI double to McMahon and a two-run home run to Correlle Prime, ending his day. Despite the trouble he ran into later in his outing, seven strikeouts in 4.2 innings is quite impressive. According to TC's own Ethan Purser, who was in attendance, Cordero's stuff was interesting, although not overwhelming, featuring a nasty little changeup and a fastball that sat somewhere between 88-92 miles per hour, along with a still-developing curveball. He could become an interesting arm to follow. Andy Otero, also making his Rome debut, pitched a pair of scoreless relief innings.
Rome's offense was on fire Tuesday, jumping all over Tourists starter Konner Wade, who allowed eight runs in just 1.2 innings of work. Joey Meneses fell a double short of the cycle, although a three-hit day including a homer and a triple is nothing to scoff at.
Victor Reyes continued to dominate Sally League pitching, picking up a couple of hits to raise his average to .382, along with a walk. Reyes' lone out on the day was a tattooed opposite field fly ball that was caught on the warning track and nearly carried out of the park. Have I mentioned that I'm madly in love with him? Victor Caratini also had a pair of singles. Connor Oliver kept up his good work at the dish, reaching base in 3 of his 5 plate appearances, with a walk, a single, and a double. Jacob Schrader's grand slam in the first inning was the biggest blow of the game, and put Rome up for good. Rome now embarks on a seven-game road trip, starting tonight in Greensboro.
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