April 2012

It’s early, but it’s looking good

By Tony Schiavone

Sure, I realize we’ve played only three teams so far this season, but there are plenty of reasons to be excited about 2012.

As with any Braves teams, major or minor, it starts and ends with pitching.  And we’ve got plenty of it.  The G-Braves bullpen of Jose Lugo, Buddy Carlyle, Cory Gearrin, Dusty Hughes, Jaye Chapman, Adam Russell, Jason Rice, Ben Swaggerty  and Anthony Varvaro have a combined record of 5-2 with five saves and an ERA of 1.76.

Simple math will tell you the bullpen has either won or saved 10 of the G-Braves 12 wins as of April 23.

Wow.

But let’s be honest.  This is Triple-A baseball, and as the old adage goes, “If you really like your team now, wait about two months, you’ll get another one.”  So we sit and wait for call-ups, options or injuries in Atlanta to take their toll on the Gwinnett staff.

Most Atlanta beat writers feel when Tim Hudson comes off the DL, that Randall Delgado will be optioned to Triple-A.  If that is true, what does that mean for the current staff?  It’s an exciting, but troubling question all in one.

The next few weeks will be important not only for the careers for Hudson and Delgado, but for the fortunes of two Braves teams as well.

On the other hand, the offense has been spotty at best.  This 12-and-6 starts can best be described as “bookends” offensively.  We lost two of the first three games of the season in Durham with a limited supply of runs; and we’ve lost two of three to Charlotte, again with not many runs to brag about.  But in the middle of the “bookends” there has been plenty of offense.

So we should approach our fourth Braves season in Gwinnett County with optimism.  After all, the previous three seasons have seen winning records each year and one playoff appearance.  And all indications that even without a Tommy Hanson, Cristhian Martinez, Kris Medlin, Mike Minor, Jonny Venters or Craig Kimbrel; this maybe the best pitching staff we have seen.

G-Braves Notes for 4.22.12 at Charlotte

The Charlotte Knights put a halt to Gwinnett’s five-game winning streak last night, handing the G-Braves just their second loss in the last 13 games with a 3-1 decision at Knights Stadium.  Right-hander Todd Redmond fanned a season-high 10 batters over 5.2 innings, but the Braves’ bats couldn’t do much of anything against the combination of Knights’ starter Charlie Shirek and reliever Leyson Septimo.  Josh Wilson tallied the lone RBI for Gwinnett with a groundout.  Drew Sutton doubled to extend his hitting streak to 10 games, while Ernesto Mejia walked to extend his on-base streak to 15 games.

It’s time to take the series today as right-hander Erik Cordier (0-0, 5.54) looks for his first win in his fourth start.  He’ll go up against right-hander Dylan Axelrod (1-1, 1.56) for the Knights.  First pitch is at 2:15 PM, listen to the game with Tony Schiavone on WDUN 550 AM/102.9 FM and online at WDUN.com.

Today’s Game Notes:  4.22.12 GBraves Game Notes

The G-Braves (and the G-Braves’ Media Relations Department) have off tomorrow, but are back at Coolray Field for a three-game series against Charlotte from Tuesday, April 24 through Thursday, April 26.  If you missed Atlanta Braves’ right-hander Tim Hudson the first time around, never fear.  It appears that “Huddy” will be starting the series opener on Tuesday night.  It’s a 7:05 PM start time, so make plans and join us.

-DL

G-Braves Notes for 4.21.12 at Charlotte

In case you missed it, the Gwinnett Braves won for the 11th time in their last 12 games last night, blanking Charlotte 3-0 in the opener of a three-game series at Knights Stadium.  Last night was the fifth shutout victory for the G-Braves already this season (5-0 in shutout decisions), leaving the club just six away from last year’s shutout mark (11 shutouts in 143 games).

Left-hander Yohan Flande pitched 6.2 scoreless innings and struck out eight last night, extending his scoreless streak to 15.2-consecutive innings to start the year.  Flande, a candidate for IL Pitcher of the Week on Monday, now leads the International League in ERA (0.00) and opponent average (.090).  Offensively, Drew Sutton extended his hitting streak to a team-best nine games with a game-winning two-run double in the eighth.  Sutton has provided the game-winning RBI with a double twice this week, including Monday’s 4-3 win over Norfolk with a walk-off double in the 12th.

More in Tonight’s Game Notes:  4.21.12 GBraves Game Notes

The G-Braves will look to keep things rolling in Fort Mill, SC tonight.  Right-hander Todd Redmond (1-1, 1.80) will look to get back on the winning track after losing his last outing despite only two runs (one earned) in 5.0 innings.  The always-reliable Redmond makes his team-leading fourth start tonight, first pitch is scheduled for 7:15 PM.  Catch the game on WDUN 550 AM/102.9 FM and WDUN.com with Tony Schiavone.

-DL

Homestand Highlights, Upcoming G-Braves Schedule

(Photo courtesy of Karl Moore)

The Gwinnett Braves opened their season at Coolray Field with flying colors. The G-Braves were able to withstand pre-game ceremonies, Japanese debuts, Major League rehab assignments and of couse, rain and weather delays. Nevertheless, Gwinnett was able to capitalize off their home field advantage in the first eight home games of the 2012 regular season, going 7-1 at Coolray Field. Gwinnett is also tied with LeHigh Valley (PHI) for an International League-best 11 wins. Most importantly however, the G-Braves are atop the IL South Division, resting comfotably in first place as they commute to Charlotte this weekend. Continue to follow us at the G-Blog all season long for anything Braves…

Home Opener: Thursday, April 12 vs Durham Bulls, 1-0 @ Coolray Field

G-Braves Stampede Bulls 7-1 in Home Opener (click on link to read recap from game)

Julio Teheran won his first game of the season as the G-Braves finally defeated Durham after losing three of their first four games of the season in North Carolina a week earlier. Tommie Aaron’s No. 23 was re-retired on the right field wall at Coolray Field prior to the game.

(Photo courtesy of Karl Moore)

Home Game No. 2: Friday, April 13 vs Durham Bulls, 2-0 @ Coolray Field

 
Yohan Flande was nearly untouchable for Gwinnett, working five scoreless frames for his first win of the season. Joey Terdoslavich blasted off for his first home run of the season at Coolray Field as the G-Braves won their sixth consecutive game.
 
 
(Photo courtesy of Kyle Hess) 
 
Home Game No. 3: Saturday, April 14 vs Durham Bulls, 3-0 @ Coolray Field
 

Six-Run Third Propels G-Braves Past Durham, 12-7 

The G-Braves and Bulls combined to collect 22 hits and 19 total runs in the slugfest. Regardless, the G-Braves came out on top as Christian Marrero led the way with a 3-for-4 night alongside his three RBI. Eric Junge scooped up his first victory of the 2012 regular season as well.

(Photo courtesy of Chris Roughgarden)

Home Game No. 4: Sunday, April 15 vs Durham Bulls, 3-1 @ Coolray Field

Durham Snaps G-Braves’ Win-Streak at Six 

The G-Braves six-game win streak was snapped by the Durham Bulls on Sunday. This was the only game of the homestand that Gwinnett ended up losing and that could have been prevented as well. Most of the damage was done in the fifth inning when unearned runs were scored off Todd Redmond, who took his first loss of the season.

(Photo courtesy of Kyle Hess)

Home Game No. 5: Monday, April 16 vs Norfolk Tides, 4-1 @ Coolray Field

Late-Inning Heroics Squeak G-Braves Past Tides

The first game of the Norfolk series was the best game of the G-Braves eight-game homestand. It was a struggle for either team in this game to score a run. However, the Tides pushed a run across in the top of the 12th inning with thoughts of stealing the first game of the four-game series. The G-Braves were quick to respond in their half of the 12th as J.C. Boscan drove home the tying run and Drew Sutton drove in the winning run as Gwinnett remained undefeated against Norfolk in 2012.

(Photo courtesy of Chris Roughgarden)

Home Game No. 6: Tuesday, April 17 vs Norfolk Tides, 5-1 @ Coolray Field

Teheran, G-Braves Roll Tides, 6-0

Julio Teheran was more impressive in his second start at home as he secured his second straight win of the season with five and two-third scoreless innings of work, as the G-Braves shutout Norfolk. Jose Yepez was the offense as he drove home three runs with his base-clearing double.

(Photo courtesy of Karl Moore)

Home Game No. 7: Wednesday, April 18 vs Norfolk Tides, 6-1 @ Coolray Field

Hudson Victorious as G-Braves Breeze by Norfolk

The Tim Hudson Major League rehab assignment went swimmingly, however it didn’t start out that way. The Atlanta ace loaded the bases in the first inning before an out was recorded. However, he got out of that jam and went on to retire the next 13 straight batters. Hudson worked five innings for the win and allowed one run, but it was unearned. Ernesto Mejia devastated the Tides with a three-run double in the G-Braves half of the first inning.

(Photo courtesy of Kyle Hess)

Home Game No. 8: Thursday, April 19 vs Norfolk Tides, 7-1 @ Coolray Field

Parraz, Mejia Power G-Braves to Sweep of Norfolk

Amidst the U.S. professional debut of Japanese star Tsuyoshi Wada for the Norfolk Tides, the G-Braves opened the floodgates against the southpaw and his critics. Gwinnett’s offense exploded for six runs off the lefty before he exited the game in line for his first professional loss in America. Ernesto Mejia once again was the offensive story with a double, two-run homer and three RBI as the G-Braves swept Norfolk and remained unbeaten against the Tides (7-0) in 2012.

(Photo courtesy of Karl Moore)

International League South Division Standings as of 4.20.12

1. (11-4) Gwinnett Braves, — Games Back

2. (8-7) Charlotte Knights, 3.0 Games Back

3. (6-9) Durham Bulls, 5.0 Games Back

4. (5-10) Norfolk Tides, 6.0 Games Back

Upcoming G-Braves Schedule

April 20-22: @Charlotte, 3 games with the IL South Division Knights

April 23: Off Day

April 24-26: Coolray Field, 3 games with the IL South Division Charlotte Knights

April 27-30: @Toledo, 4 games with the IL West Division Mudhens

-Tony Piraro

G-Braves Notes for 4.20.12 at Charlotte

It’s back on the road for the first-place Gwinnett Braves, but only for a brief three-game set in Fort Hill, SC.  Manager Dave Brundage and company will take on the only IL South opponent they have not yet faced, the Charlotte Knights.  We’ll be seeing a lot of the Knights this week, as they come to Coolray Field for a three-game series starting on Tuesday.

Left-hander Yohan Flande (1-0) is slated to make his third start for the G-Braves tonight.  Flande finally allowed hits for the first time in his last outing (three in total against Durham), but still has yet to allow so much as an unearned run over his three games, 9.0 innings.  He’ll go up against fellow southpaw, Eric Stults (1-0, 1.64) for the Knights.

There’s plenty more worth reading about in tonight’s G-Braves Game Notes, including the current eight-game hitting streaks of Jose Constanza and Drew Sutton, Ernesto Mejia’s 13-game on-base streak, stats galore on the 7-1 homestand and much more.

Tonight’s Game Notes:  4.20.12 GBraves Game Notes

Tony Schiavone’s got the call on WDUN 550 AM / 102.9 FM with the first pitch at 7:15 PM.  Streaming audio is online as well at WDUN.com.

-DL

Wednesday’s Post-Game Interview With Tim Hudson

(Photo courtesy of Karl Moore)

Tim Hudson was brilliant for the G-Braves in his Major League rehab assignment on Wednesday night from Coolray Field. The Atlanta Braves ace worked five innings, where he allowed just one unearned run on two hits, while he yielded three walks and struck out four hitters. At one point in the game, Hudson retired 13 consecutive Norfolk hitters en route to his first Triple-A victory of the season.

Hudson started the game off by loading the bases before recording the first out of the night. However, after a 1-2-3 double play, the righty seemed to settle in.

“I seemed to get into a groove following the first inning. I started locating a lot better and started getting better action with my sinker,” said Hudson. “J.C. (Boscan) called a great game. We have always worked well together.”

Following a leadoff triple to Xavier Avery and back-to-back walks, Hudson retired the next 13 batters he faced.

“I got a little shell-shocked with the leadoff triple on the second pitch of the game. But I was able to get the double play, so I got a little lucky right there. That is what you’re looking for in that situation when you have the bases loaded and nobody out. It was a step in the right direction. I don’t feel like I’m quite ready to go, but it was a positive step in the right direction,” said Hudson. “I feel good where I’m at physically. It’s more about executing pitches and figuring out a better way to get big league hitters out.”

Hudson on how he is feeling right now in his rehab process:

“I was able to get ahead (in the count) earlier, especially after that first inning. That triple and couple walks got me in a hole. For the most part, I was able to get ahead of some hitters. I got some swings and misses. I felt pretty good throwing some breaking stuff for strikes and I was able to throw some pretty good curveballs. I feel good where I am with most of my pitches. This is something to build from for the next time out and I can improve from here.”

The consistent right-hander is eager to get back with his teammates in Atlanta, but Hudson knows he still needs work.

“I always want to help the team win as much as I can. Obviously, where you’re on the DL (disabled list) you’re not doing much of anything except being a cheerleader when you’re in the dugout which is okay, but I love being out there,” said the veteran. “I’m a baseball player. I’m a big league pitcher. When I’m not out there pitching, I’m usually not in a good place, but it’s going to be nice to get back out there and help the team win.We (Atlanta) are playing some pretty good baseball right now and I want to be a part of it.”

Hudson on his current velocity:

“I’m a little down from where I want to be. I was mostly in the 89-90 (mph) range most of the night. That’s where I’ve been for the most part. I like to be sitting more on 90 mph and hitting 91-92 more, but I feel that will come once I get my volume of throws up, go deeper into games and get a little more work on the side, a little long-toss and it will improve.”

The Braves ace on pitching for Triple-A and how he is currently still in spring training mode:

“You don’t want to go out there and get embarrassed. Spring training is a little different because everybody is in spring training. These kids are trying to win ballgames,” said Hudson. “Some of them (G-Braves) are pretty locked in right now. They’ve been hitting for two months now so they’re not in spring training mode. From a sharpness standpoint, I’m still trying to fine tune some things to get big league hitters out. It’s on its way.”

Tim Hudson on Coolray Field:

“This is a great place, it’s an awesome facility. These kids are spoiled around here,” Hudson joked. “You have to give them some incentive to get to the big leagues, it’s too nice.”

Hudson is scheduled to make his next start for the Gwinnett Braves on Tuesday against the Charlotte Knights at Coolray Field.

-Tony Piraro

Japanese Pitcher Set To Make U.S. Debut Thursday

(Photo courtesy of Kyle Hess)

Southpaw Tsuyoshi Wada will be making his American debut amidst a Major League rehab assignment for the Baltimore Orioles on Thursday at Coolray Field. It will be a 12:05 p.m. first pitch in the four-game series finale between the Gwinnett Braves and Norfolk Tides. This season, the G-Braves are 6-0 against the the Tides and will be seeking their second sweep of Norfolk in the last week.

Last night, making his first Major League rehab start for Gwinnett since 2009, Atlanta Braves’ right-hander Tim Hudson led the G-Braves to a 4-1 victory over the Norfolk Tides on Wednesday night at Coolray Field. Hudson looked sharp, allowing one unearned run over five innings and at one point in the game retiring 13 consecutive hitters. Ernesto Mejia delivered the big blow of the night with a bases-clearing double in the bottom half of the first inning.

Starting Line-up: Norfolk (5-9, 4th) vs Gwinnett (10-4, 1st) – Thursday, April 19 @ 12:05 p.m. @ Coolray Field

Eric Junge (1-1, 7.20) will be making his third start of the season for the G-Braves on Thursday. In his last start, the righty worked five innings of two-run baseball en route to his first victory of the 2012 season. Junge will be opposing Tsuyoshi Wada who will be making his Triple-A debut as he continues his rehab assignment for the Baltimore Orioles. Presently, Gwinnett pitchers have held the Norfolk Tides to just eight hits over their last two games against the G-Braves in Lawrenceville, GA.

Thursday is “$3 Thursday” which includes $3 food and drink specials all game long. All general admission berm seating is also just $3 on Thursdays. Tickets for all Gwinnett Braves home games are on sale now at the Coolray Field Box Office. Call (678) 277-0340 or visit gwinnettbraves.com for more information.

Norfolk Tides Batting Order:

1) Xavier Avery, CF

2) Matt Antonelli, 3B

3) Ryan Adams, 2B

4) Jai Miller, RF

5) Joe Mahoney, 1B

6) Scott Beerer, LF

7) Josh Barfield, DH

8) John Hester, C

9) Blake Davis, SS

G-Braves Batting Order

1) Jose Constanza, CF

2) Drew Sutton, 3B

3) Stefan Gartrell, RF

4) Ernesto Mejia, 1B

5) Jordan Parraz, DH

6) Jose Yepez, C

7) Christian Marrero, LF

8) Josh Wilson, SS

9) Greg Paiml, 2B

-Tony Piraro

G-Braves Starting Line-Up For Wednesday’s Game

(Photo courtesy of Chris Roughgarden)

Tim Hudson will be making the start for the Gwinnett Braves tonight against the Norfolk Tides. It will be a 7:05 p.m. first pitch from Coolray Field on a “Winning Wednesday” presented by the Georgia Lottery. The Atlanta Braves ace is currently 0-2 with a 7.71 ERA in two rehab starts with Single-A Rome thus far this spring.

Last night, Julio Teheran (W, 2-0) was masterful as he worked five and two-third scoreless innings en route to the shutout victory for the Gwinnett Braves, defeating Norfolk 6-0. Teheran allowed no runs on two hits and struck out a season-high seven batters, while walking two. Jose Yepez broke open a scoreless game with a bases-loaded three-run double in the fourth inning, finishing 2-for-3 for the first-place G-Braves.

Starting Line-up: Norfolk (5-8, 4th) vs Gwinnett (9-4, 1st) – Wednesday, April 18 @ 7:05 p.m. from Coolray Field

Tim Hudson (0-0, 0.00) will be making his third rehab start of the spring and first with the G-Braves. The Braves ace will be opposing Norfolk southpaw Dana Eveland (1-0, 2.84). The G-Braves are looking to remain unbeaten against the Tides thus far in 2012. Gwinnett has already won the first two games of the current series and swept the Tides last week in Norfolk.

Norfolk Tides Batting Order:

1) Xavier Avery, CF

2) Matt Antonelli, 3B

3) Ryan Adams, 2B

4) Jamie Hoffman, LF

5) Joe Mahoney, 1B

6) Scott Beerer, DH

7) Jai Miller, RF

8) Chris Robinson, C

9) Steve Tolleson, SS

G-Braves Batting Order

1) Luis Durango, CF

2) Drew Sutton, 2B

3) Stefan Gartrell, LF

4) Ernesto Mejia, 1B

5) Joey Terdoslavich, 3B

6) Jordan Parraz, RF

7) Christian Marrero, DH

8) Josh Wilson, SS

9) J.C. Boscan, C

-Tony Piraro

Tim Hudson Expected To Start For Gwinnett Braves Wednesday

LAWRENCEVILLE, GA. – The ace of the Atlanta Braves staff, Tim Hudson, is expected to make a rehab start for the Triple-A Gwinnett Braves on Wednesday against the Norfolk Tides. It will be a 7:05 p.m. first pitch from Coolray Field on a “Winning Wednesday” presented by the Georgia Lottery. Tickets are on sale now at the Coolray Field Box Office and by calling (678) 277-0340.

Hudson has already made two rehab starts with the Single-A Rome Braves this season. The right-hander is 0-2 with a 7.71 ERA through seven innings of work. The Braves ace has struck out just one batter this spring, but will look to improve upon that in his third rehab start on Wednesday night.

The Columbus, Georgia native is a career 181-97 with a 3.40 ERA in 378 Major League games, including 89-58 with a 3.57 ERA in 195 games for the Atlanta Braves. He has rehabbed with Gwinnett once before, going 1-0 with a 3.38 ERA in four starts in 2009. Tim Hudson, 36, underwent back surgery in November and is currently on the 15-day disabled list for the Braves.

Wednesday night will be the first Georgia Lottery “Winning Wednesday” of the 2012 season. Scratch-off tickets will be given away throughout the night, courtesy of Georgia Lottery. If the G-Braves are victorious, everyone in attendance will receive a special discount offer on future game tickets.

Tickets for all Gwinnett Braves home games are on sale now at the Coolray Field Box Office. Call (678) 277-0340 or visit gwinnettbraves.com for more information.

-Tony Piraro

Julio Teheran Ready To Roll Tide For First Place G-Braves

4.17.12 G-Braves Game Notes

(Photo courtesy of Karl Moore)

In one of the most thrilling games of the 2012 season so far, the Gwinnett Braves pulled off yet another last at-bat comeback win against Norfolk, 4-3, on Monday night at Coolray Field. J.C. Boscan’s RBI single tied the score in the bottom of the 12th, and Drew Sutton’s RBI double claimed the victory for the first place G-Braves.

The G-Braves entered the bottom of the 12th trailing 3-2, but scored twice against Tides’ right-hander Willie Eyre (L, 0-2) to earn their third last at-bat victory of the season. Right-hander Adam Russell (W, 2-0) got the win in relief despite allowing a go-ahead sacrifice fly to Steve Tolleson in the top of the 12th.

The Gwinnett Braves (8-4) continue the series with the Norfolk Tides (5-7) on Tuesday night at Coolray Field, first pitch scheduled for 7:05 PM. Listen to the game on WDUN 550 AM and 102.9 FM with Tony Schiavone calling the play-by-play.

Tuesday night is a “2 For 1 Tuesday” at Coolray Field featuring a 2-for-1 deal with valid coupon. Visit gwinnettbraves.com/Tuesday for more information. Tickets for all Gwinnett Braves home games are on sale at the Coolray Field Box Office and by calling (678) 277-0340.

Starting Line-up: Norfolk (5-7, 4th) vs Gwinnett (8-4, 1st) – Tuesday, April 17 @ 7:05 p.m. from Coolray Field

G-Braves Righty Julio Teheran (1-0, 4.05) will be making his third start of the season, as he will oppose the Orioles top pitching prospect, Norfolk right-hander Chris Tillman (1-1, 3.60). Teheran is the No. 1 overall pitching prospect in baseball. He picked up his first win of the 2012 season in his last start, during this home stand against the Durham Bulls. The right-hander worked five scoreless innings and struck out five en route to victory.

Norfolk Tides Batting Order:

1) Xavier Avery, CF

2) Steve Tolleson, SS

3) Ryan Adams, 2B

4) Scott Beerer, LF

5) Matt Antonelli, 3B

6) Joe Mahoney, 1B

7) Jamie Hoffman, DH

8) John Hester, C

9) Blake Davis, RF

G-Braves Batting Order

1) Luis Durango, CF

2) Jose Constanza, LF

3) Drew Sutton, 2B

4) Stefan Gartrell, DH

5) Joey Terdoslavich, 3B

6) Christian Marrero, 1B

7) Jordan Parraz, RF

8) Josh Wilson, SS

9) Jose Yepez, C

-Tony Piraro

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