Wednesday held mixed result for the Braves minor league affiliates. In Lynchburg the Hillcats inability to hold onto the ball eventually cost them the game as they committed three errors leading to two unearned runs in their 6-3 to the Frederick Keys. The bright spot for the Cats was the continued hitting of catcher Braeden Schlehuber (1-4 with a run) currently .286/.338/.457.795 with 2 homers and 6 RBI and shortstop (Andrelton Simmons (1-2, 2 walks and 1 RBI) whose currently tearing up the Carolina league (advanced A) with a .347/.400/.406/.806 with four doubles, a triple and 12 RBI in 112 ABs. Center fielder Todd Cunningham is still hitting well at .300/.364/.391/.755 in spite of going 0-4. The Rome Braves were on the road against Augusta last night and came away with a 5-2 win over the Greenjackets. Caleb Brewer (1-2, 2,95, 1.102) went 6 innings allowing 7 hits and one run for his first victory and Tyler Hess notched his first save. Second baseman Matt Lipka was 1-5 but continues to struggle but Christian Bethancourt showed signs of life going 2-5 and scoring a run and first baseman Christopher Garcia went 2-4 with a homer and three RBI so perhaps he too is starting to improve. Shortstop Edward Salcedo (.302/.386/.448/.835) stayed hot going 2-3 with a double and a walk while scoring once. DH/ outfielder Robby Hefflinger was 1-5 with a homer and scored a second run. Meanwhile over in Pearl the M-Braves were beating the Generals 4-1 .
For the second straight game right hander Paul Clemens (3-0) gave up only 4 hits in eight-innings and limited Jackson to just one earned run, walking two and striking out three. He’s allowed just one earned run in all but two of his seven starts this season and has allowed only two earned runs in his last 18 innings of work giving him an ERA of 1.90 and a WHIP of 1.102 in 42 innings.
Hitting notables included shortstop Tyler Pastornicky (2-4 with 2 RBI) currently .317/.366/.458/.825, first baseman Ernesto Mejia (1-3 with 2 RBI) currently .306/.365/.516/.881 and newly acquired Jeffrey Fiorentino (1-2, 2 walks and a run scored) currently .267/.450/.467/.917.
Up in Pawtucket the G-Braves beat the Paw Sox for the second night in a row.On Tuesday a superb pitching performance by Mike Minor had the Paw Sox scratching their heads. Minor struck out eight and allowed a run on four hits over seven innings as Triple-A Gwinnett bested Pawtucket, 5-1, on Tuesday.
Since rejoining the G-Braves’ rotation he’s 2-1 with a 1.82 ERA in six starts and leads the International League with 43 strikeouts over 39 2/3 innings while limiting opposition batters to a .206 average. Minor has been consistent in every outing (well except that spot start with the big club) never allowing more than two runs or pitching fewer than six innings. Reliever Juan Abreu replaced Minor in the eighth and finished the game for the G-Braves. He gave up a hit and a walk in the eighth but had a 1-2-3 ninth.
Stefan Gartrell hit safely in his fifth straight game, going 1-for-4 with a double and an RBI. Wilkin Ramirez also had a good night at the plate, going 3-for-4 with a triple and a stolen base. Jordan Schafer went 2-4 as did Shawn Bowman while Matt Young was 2-3 with a walk.
Last night 35 year old Rodrigo Lopez (5-0, 1.79, 1.191) used his experience to baffle them again. Red Sox faithful seem to think Lopez has a thing for beating the Red Sox and their kin. In fact he’s 10-10 against Boston with a 4.59 ERA and a 1.489 WHIP but as long as a Boston related club believes they are jinxed they are; remember the ghost of Babe? On Wednesday he went seven shut out innings allowing only three hits, walking two and striking out seven. Scott Proctor came into the game in relief and pitched one inning, allowing one hit, one walk and one strikeout. Jairo Asencio earned his fourth save of the year, pitching a perfect ninth inning.
All of the G-Braves offense came in one inning off of Kyle Weiland who took the loss even though he allowed only two hits in six innings while striking out nine. The two hits came back to back with two outs in the third. Weiland walked Jose Constanza. Jordan Schafer doubled to left scoring Constanza and scored on a single by Matt Young. Schafer finished the night 1-for-4 with an RBI . Young also went 1-for-2 with an RBI, 2 walks and a stolen base.
Perhaps Lopez has found his niche as a the aging, declining veteran showing rookies how to get men out in the minors. I certainly hope no one believes he can replicate his great AAA numbers in the majors after years of failing to do it. He’s a classic AAAA player; too good for AAA and not good enough for The Show. As Gwinnett’s Crash Davis he has my vote. As an answer to anything in Atlanta I’d choose Minor, Tehran and even Proctor (and possibly Abreau) ahead of him.