Atlanta Braves Triple-A club, the Gwinnett Stripers, are back in it after a big win over Columbus on Friday night.
Save some runs for the rest of the series! While the Atlanta Braves were busy battling it out in a pivotal intra-division matchup with the Washington Nationals on Friday, the Gwinnett Stripers were unleashing their frustration, eventually beating Columbus,10-6, in Game 3 of their semifinals series. (boxscore)
As the series shifted from Gwinnett County to Columbus, Ohio, and the Stripers' last power-bat was called-up to the majors — in Austin Riley —Gwinnett jumped out to a big league early, thanks to some timely hitting from a lineup that's been putting up big numbers all season.
As planned, Kyle Wright got the start Friday night in Columbus and finally gave the Stripers a strong starting pitching performance.
Wright started off a little shaky in the opening frame, surrendering a single, hitting a batter and then allowing the runners to move up via a wild pitch. But with runners on second and third, Wright got a ground out to end the 1st inning unscathed.
Gwinnett's half of the 2nd inning turned into a rout quickly, as the first three Stripers' batters reached base. Second baseman Andres Blanco pushed across Pedro Florimon with an RBI single to right, followed by a Cristian Pache sac-fly, also to right. Stripers up 2-0.
After Riley Unroe drew a 6-pitch walk, putting runners on first and second, catcher John Ryan Murphy crushed a pitch to straightaway center, extending Gwinnett's lead to 5-0.
Wright came back out in the 2nd inning, needing just 17 pitches to get through the scoreless frame.
Then things got out of hand.
Gwinnett quickly chased Columbus' starter, Shaeo-Ching Chiang, after the first two Stripers' batters reached base, followed by a Sean Kazmar Jr. RBI double.
Immediately after the (Indians affiliate) Clippers made a pitching change, reliever Jared Robinson beaned Blanco, loading the bases for the Braves' top prospect, Pache.
And boy did he deliver…
Five more Gwinnett batters came to the plate in that five-run 3rd inning, but the Stripers eventually went away quietly after Pache's grand slam. Still, Gwinnett led 10-0.
Wright allowed an RBI single in the second half of the 3rd, then a 2-run homer in the 4th, but left after six total innings having provided a much needed quality-start for the Stripers.
Wright's final line: 6 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 2 ER, BB, 6 K
Gwinnett got a little careless with their 7-run lead and lefty Grant Dayton allowed three runs in the 7th inning, after facing just five Columbus batters. Dayton was only able to get 2 outs.
However, Patrick Weigel appeared and got the final out in the 7th and worked the last two innings in hitless fashion, walking two and striking out one.
Overall, Pache finished with just the one hit, his big grand slam, but tallied 5 RBI in the win.
Ninth-place hitter Murphy finished 2-for-4 with his 2nd-inning homer and 3 RBI, plus a walk and two strikeouts. Left fielder Ryan LaMarre also provided an XBH, slapping a double in four tries at the plate.
All together, Gwinnett totaled 12 hits, outpacing the Redbirds, who finished with 9.
A few takeaways
It's about time: Despite ultimately spoiling their 10-run lead throughout the game, Gwinnett finally played a mostly complete game on Friday. Every Stripers' batter in the lineup reached base in the win, and all but Unroe had a hit.
The starting pitchers that Columbus has trotted out so far in this series haven't been world beaters (all three pitchers use so far combined for a 4.99 ERA during the 2019 regular season), and it's about time Gwinnett took advantage.
Wright was right when it counted: So far, Gwinnett's starting pitchers in this series, before Wright's start on Friday, have struggled to the tune of a 9.00 ERA with 6 walks and 14 hits-allowed in 9 innings-pitched.
Wright's outing wasn't perfect but with Gwinnett's back up against the wall, he threw strikes (62 of 95) and kept the ball on the ground (5 ground outs / 1 fly out). He had a rather easy task — up by 10 runs after three innings — but Wright deserves credit for not being lax after inheriting such a substantial lead.
Gwinnett won so the series continues. They aren't out of the woods yet, though. The Stripers still need to win twice more to survive and move on.
Oh, I almost forgot... I'll leave you with this:
At the time of this writing, Columbus hadn't released their probable starter for Saturday, but Gwinnett will go with Touki Toussaint (7.49 ERA in 2019) in Game 4.
First pitch is scheduled for the same time as the first three games — 7:05 p.m. EST.