Atlanta Braves minors: Gwinnett fights until the end but drops Game 4 versus Columbus

Atlanta Braves Triple-A team, the Gwinnett Stripers, played their final game on Saturday night.

Both the Atlanta Braves and their Triple-A affiliate, the Gwinnett Stripers, competed in close games on Saturday night, but only one of them came away victorious, and it wasn't the Stripers.

Gwinnett lost a hard-fought game against the Columbus Redbirds, losing 5-4 on Saturday. The Stripers leave Columbus, Ohio on the wrong side of a 5-game series, dropping 3 out of 4 games against the Redbirds.

 

The recap

Contrary to what was reported after Friday night's Game 3 win, Gwinnett went with Bryse Wilson instead of Touki Toussaint, for Game 4 on Saturday. Wilson wasn't spectacular, but he labored through his 99-pitch outing and did his best to keep Gwinnett in the game.

The Stripers went down quickly in the top half of the 1st inning, only requiring 17 pitches as Drew Waters grounded out, Ryan LaMarre lined out and Jack Lopez struck out -- three up and three down.

Columbus' half of the opening frame ended with a run, thanks to the team's leader in homers, Bobby Bradley, who slapped an RBI single to center. Wilson threw 21 pitches in the opening inning while striking out one.

Third baseman Pedro Florimon was first to the plate for Gwinnett in the 2nd, and after forcing a full-count, he hit what initially looked like a routine pop-up to right-center, but actually ended up way out of the park to tie the ballgame.

The tie didn't last very long. In the 3rd, Columbus' Ka'ai Tom belted a solo-homer, putting the Redbirds back out in front.

In the minors and majors combined, Tom's home run on Saturday was the 18th long ball surrendered by Wilson in 2019. That's not too bad, but also not too great.

Cristian Pache, who finished 3-for-4 in the loss, pushed across a run in the 4th inning when he grounded out, moving Sean Kazmar Jr. from third base to home. Once again, the game was tied, 2-2.

But like before, Columbus quickly broke the tie, scoring a run in their half of the 4th, an RBI single from Daniel Johnson.

In the 5th, Waters struck out and Ryan LaMarre walked, giving Lopez a nice opportunity with runners on base. The Puerto Rican crushed his first homer of the series, a no-doubter to left-center, putting the Stripers up 5-3.

After Lopez's dinger, it looked as if Gwinnett had done it again: won a must-win game for the second-straight night. Wilson pitched the 5th and 6th, before manager Damon Berryhill went with lefty reliever Tyler Matzek in the 7th.

Wilson's final line: 6 IP, 10 H, 3 ER, BB, 6 K, HR

Matzek pitched a clean 7th before allowing a single in the 8th, followed by a fielders choice that moved the runner into scoring position. Berryhill then brought in another reliever, Jason Creasy.

After back-to-back walks, Creasy surrendered a 2-run double, failing to get a single out before getting the hook. Caleb Thielbar got the last out, striking out the seventh Columbus batter of the inning.

The damage was done, though, and Gwinnett wasn't able to mount a comeback. Although Florimon and Kazmar Jr. did hit back-to-back singles in the 9th, but Blanco struck out to end the game.

A few takeaways

The bullpen was great until it wasn't: Throughout this series, I've noted how great Gwinnett's bullpen has been. I guess after 3-straight games of stingy relief work, it was bound to fall apart.

Although, other than Creasy, the 'pen was fine. But after such a great showing in the first three games, I would've never thought that Gwinnett's bullpen would be to blame for an elimination-game loss.

The Pache/Waters battle: I might be the only one, but I love comparing these two players. During the 2019 season, Pache and Waters went back and forth, as each one seemed to of had the upper hand (performance-wise) at some point in the season.

After only appearing as a pinch-runner in Game 1, Pache takes the cake with his postseason performance, as he was busy in the final 3 games: .384 BA, HR (GS), 7 RBI, 2 K.

Waters had a decent Game 2, but wasn't anywhere near his colleague: .187 BA, 2B, 6 K.

Now I'm not judging these two players (talent-wise) based on four playoff games. I'm just simply noting that Pache was the better player during this series. And as close as these players have been all season — in regards to their numbers — it's fun to compare.

What's next

Well the Atlanta Braves 2019 minor league season is officially over, but there will still be more to analyze and recap in the coming days. Starting on September 18, the Arizona League will kickoff, providing more baseball for all of us prospect junkies.

You can refresh your memory on who's participating in the fall league here, as I recently wrote-up an overview regarding just that.

Also, don't forget about our 2019 End of Season Recap series that's underway — a recap of all seven Atlanta Braves minor league clubs and their top performers from 2019.

All three rookie clubs have been covered, with the Rome Braves coming up next. So be sure to look for those on the Tomahawk Take homepage.

Next: 2020 rotation

So I would say see ya next year, but there's still plenty of prospect coverage to cover, and will be during the MLB offseason as well.