July 2013

Series Preview: Gwinnett Braves (47-63) vs. Charlotte Knights (50-60)

Mejia (Moore)

Mejia (Moore)

Wed: RHP Cody Martin (2-2, 3.26) vs. TBA

Thu: RHP David Hale (5-5, 2.86) vs. RHP Zach Stewart (5-11, 4.78)

Fri: RHP Omar Poveda (5-6, 3.36) vs. LHP Charlie Leesman (2-1, 3.70)

The Gwinnett Braves and Charlotte Knights split a four game series at Knights Stadium this past weekend. The Braves took game one and the finale, while Charlotte took the two middle contests.

Batters: Injuries at the Major League level have hurt the G-Braves, as their Opening Day outfield is in Atlanta… Tyler Pastornicky is leading the way. In the last ten G-Braves games, the right-handed hitting infielder is batting .318 (7-for-22) with five runs scored and two RBI. Since returning to Gwinnett, he has hit safely in five of seven games. In 12 games against the Knights, Pastornicky is hitting .341 (15-for-44) with four doubles, one homer and five RBI… Stefan Gartrell has posted nice numbers against his former club. In five games, he is batting .316 (6-for-19) with one double and two RBI. On the season, he is hitting .273 (42-for-152) with six doubles and six homers. He is second on the team in homers behind Ernesto Mejia (27)…

Pitchers: The pitching staff has also had some movement, as Alex Wood and Brandon Beachy have moved up, while Cory Rasmus was traded to the Los Angeles Anaheim Angels on Monday afternoon. Cody Martin, David Hale and Omar Poveda will have to anchor the staff with the departures of those three. Hale has been the best of the three lately, picking up wins in his last two starts. The right-hander went seven innings, scattering six hits and allowing one run at Charlotte on Friday night.

G-Bites: B.J. Upton is scheduled to begin his rehab with the Gwinnett Braves on Wednesday night. He will leadoff and play center field.

Charlotte Knights

Batters: Charlotte has had a rough time against the G-Braves, posting a .250 (133-for-531) batting average, while striking out 138 times… Steve Tolleson leads the team in hitting, batting .295 (86-for-292) with 21 doubles, six homers and 44 RBI. However, the infielder has struggled against the G-Braves, posting a .260 (13-for-50) batting average… Mike McDade has fared well against the Braves. In five games, he is 6-for-20 with two walks. On the season, he is hitting .256 (85-for-332) with eight homers and 43 RBI.

Pitchers: Charlie Leesman suffered a huge setback last season, tearing his ACL in an International League playoff game; however, he has come back strong in 2013. In 11 starts for the Knights, he is 2-1 with 3.70 ERA. He has struck out 58 in 65.2 innings, while walking 29 batters. Last season he was 12-10 with a 2.45 ERA… Jake Petricka has been nails out the pen. In seven appearances, the right-hander is 2-0 with 1.46 ERA. He converted his lone save opportunity on 7/20, hurling 1.2 innings of relief against Norfolk.

Series Preview: Gwinnett Braves (45-61) vs. Charlotte Knights (48-58)

Hale (Makensie Cooper)

Hale (Makensie Cooper)

Fri, July 26: RHP David Hale (4-5, 3.03) vs. RHP Zach Stewart (5-10, 4.91)
Sat, July 27: RHP Omar Poveda (5-6, 3.30) vs. LHP Charlie Leesman (2-1, 3.62)
Sun, July 28: RHP Joe Bisenius (3-3, 5.83) vs. TBA
Mon, July 29: TBA vs. RHP Jason Berken (8-9, 3.85)

Gwinnett dropped their last two at Durham, losing the road-home series three games to one. Charlotte is on a roll of late, winning their last three games and taking sole possession of third place in the South Division.

Batters: Since rejoining the G-Braves, Tyler Pastornicky has hit in four straight games. In his last four games, he is hitting .462 (6-for-13) with one run scored and two RBI. On the season, he is batting .317 (78-for-246) with 13 doubles, two triples, four homers and 27 RBI for Gwinnett… Todd Cunningham returned from a minor hip flexor strain on fire. In three games, he is hitting .455 (5-for-11) with a double and three runs scored. He has been a sparkplug, taking over the leadoff spot since returning to the lineup. In 20 games as the leadoff hitter, he is batting .280 (21-for-75) with two doubles, one triple and two RBI.

Pitchers: David Hale will get the ball in the opener. In his last seven starts, he is 3-2 with a 1.12 ERA (5 ER/40.1 IP) and a 1.16 WHIP. Hale won his first career Triple-A contest against the Charlotte Knights on 4/6, tossing five innings of two-run ball. Omar Poveda continues to have solid starts for the G-Braves. In his last contest, he went six innings, allowing seven hits and two runs in a 2-1 loss to Indianapolis. Poveda leads the squad with 13 quality starts.

Charlotte Knights
Batters: Charlotte has had a rough time against the G-Braves, posting a .251 (98-for-390) batting average, while striking out 105 times… Steve Tolleson leads the team in hitting, batting .292 (83-for-284) with six homers and 43 RBI. However, the infielder has struggled against the G-Braves, posting a .238 (10-for-42) batting average… Mike McDade fared well against the Braves in their two game series three weeks ago. In two games, he went 3-for-7 with two walks. On the season, he is hitting .257 (82-for-319) with eight homers and 42 RBI.

Pitchers: Zach Stewart is having a tough season. Originally the opening day starter for the Knights, the right-handed hurler has posted a 5-10 record with a 4.91 ERA. The long ball has been one of his problems, as he has issued 13 in 20 starts… Charlie Leesman suffered a huge setback last season, tearing his ACL in an International League playoff game; however, he has come back strong in 2013. In 11 starts for the Knights, he is 2-1 with 3.62 ERA. He has struck out 54 in 59.2 innings, while walking 25 batters. Last season he was 12-10 with a 2.45 ERA.

Knight Tales: Charlotte enters play 7.5 games back of the Wild card spot. They will need a big weekend against the G-Braves, as they have lost eight of 12 against Gwinnett.

Road Preview: Gwinnett Braves (45-59) at Durham Bulls (65-39)

Thu: RHP Brandon Beachy (1-3, 3.38) vs. LHP Mike Montgomery (4-4, 4.52)

FRI: RHP Cody Martin (2-1, 2.94) vs. RHP Merrill Kelly (4-1, 2.57)

The Gwinnett Braves and the Durham Bulls continue their home-away series tonight in Durham, NC. After splitting two at Coolray Field, the teams will travel seven hours north to finish off their series.

Batters: Tyler Pastornicky is back with the G-Braves and is 3-for-7 since returning to Gwinnett lineup. In his last contest, he went 2-for-3 with a run scored. On the season, the right-handed batter is hitting .313 (75-for-240) with 12 doubles, two triples, four homers and 25 RBI… Joe Leonard finished the Braves homestand hitting .333 (7-for-21) with two doubles and five RBI. He is currently on a three-game hitting streak, collecting five hits in his last ten at bats. On the season, he is hitting .228 (63-for-276) with 17 doubles, three triples and 21 RBI…

Pitchers: Disregarding Monday night’s 7-0 loss, the Braves staff allowed eight runs in the other five games during the homestand. Lefties Alex Wood and Yohan Flande picked up wins, while right-handers Brandon Beachy and David Hale added a tally to the win column… Beachy will go in game one of the series. In his last start, he matched a season-high going 5.0 innings. He allowed five hits, one earned run and struck out three, picking up his first Triple-A victory of the season. Martin hasn’t started since 7/10, but picked up a save on 7/18 against the Indianapolis Indians, as he tossed four one-run innings in relief of Wood. On the season, he is 2-1 with a 2.94 ERA, while fanning 37 in 33.2 innings.

Durham Bulls

The Tampa Bay Rays affiliate is just as hot as their big club, winners of 14 of their last 21, batting a combined .278 and posting a 2.98 ERA as a staff.

Batters: Cole Figueroa has been tough to get out. The left-handed infielder is batting .366 (15-for-41) with three doubles, one triple, one homer and seven RBI against Gwinnett. He has fared well against everyone, hitting .300 (99-for-330) with 17 doubles, three triples, three homers and 47 RBI on the season… All-Star Vince Belnome continues to have a monster season for the first-place Bulls. In 93 games, he is hitting .330 (106-for-321) with 29 doubles, three triples, seven homers and 59 RBI. He leads the team in hitting, hits, doubles and RBI, while coming in second in runs (62)…

Pitchers: Both Bulls’ starters have faced the Gwinnett offense in 2013. On 7/6, Montgomery went 4.2 innings, allowing two runs on four hits. He struck out four and took the loss… Kelly on the other hand, is a perfect 2-0 with 0.00 ERA. In 13 innings against the G-Braves, the right-hander has not allowed a run, scattering eight hits and striking out seven….

Bull-Headed: The Durham Bulls have owned the season series vs. Gwinnett, taking eight of 10 from the G-Braves in 2013.


Gwinnett Braves (44-59) vs. Durham Bulls (65-38)



The Gwinnett Braves dropped their second straight game on Monday night, falling to the Durham Bulls 7-0. Bulls’ hurler J.D. Martin dominated the G-Braves attack, tossing 8.0 innings, scattering four hits, allowing zero walks, striking out six and picking up his 12 victory of the season.

Tonight, the Braves will matchup against right-hander Jake Odorizzi (7-3, 3.49) in game two of their four game home-road series. In his only start against the G-Braves this season, he tossed 6.2 scoreless innings, allowing four hits and striking out eight.

Odorizzi is ranked by Baseball America as the No.5 prospect in the Tampa Bay Rays organization. He has made four starts at the Major League level, posting a 0-0 record with 6.00 ERA. In 18 innings for the Rays, he has given up 12 runs on 22 hits in 18.0 innings. He has struck out 14 in his appearances.

Scouting Report: Odorizzi features four pitches: fastball, slider, curveball and changeup. His fastball sits in the low 90’s range and can get up to the mid-90’s. He has command of both sides of the plate and throws his off speed pitches to keep hitters honest. His secondary pitches all have potential, but they are not dominating. He tends to hang his curveball and slider.

G-Braves starter: Yohan Flande will make a spot start for the G-Braves. The left-hander is 4-6 with a 5.29 ERA in 23 appearances (13 starts) for the G-Braves. His last start came at the Double-A level, as he went 4.2 innings, allowing six runs, five earned on nine hits. He suffered the loss in his first Double-A appearance since 2010.

Missing: Outfielder Todd Cunningham missed his fifth straight game, nursing a hip flexor strain. There is no timetable on his return, but he is working diligently to get back on the field.


Gwinnett Braves (42-57) vs. Indianapolis Indians (61-39)

Wood (Lofton)

Wood (Lofton)

Last night, Alex Wood made his Triple-A debut. His first start for the G-Braves was impressive, hurling five innings, scattering three hits, allowing one run and striking out five. He had control problems, issuing two walks, plunking two batters and tossing three wild pitches, but was able to limit the damage to pick up his first career Triple-A victory.

After an impressive start with the Double-A Mississippi Braves, Wood skipped right over Gwinnett. He made 16 appearances (one start), tossing 22 innings, while allowing six runs on 16 hits for the Atlanta Braves.  He pitched well for the big club, but the Braves want him to get more work as a starter and sent him down to Gwinnett.

Wood took his demotion in stride, winning his first start for the G-Braves and becoming one of six players to make their big league debut before playing in a Triple-A game with Gwinnett.  The other five players include catchers Evan Gattis and Brian McCann, outfielder Jordan Schafer, and pitchers Kenshin Kawakami and Cristhian Martinez. Gattis and McCann both played their first Triple-A games in rehab assignments, while the otehrs made brief stops in Gwinnett before returning to the big leagues.

On the Bump: Speaking of the Major Leagues, Brandon Beachy will make another rehab start for the Gwinnett Braves tonight at 7:05 PM. In his last start, the right-hander went four innings, allowing one run on four hits as he took the loss against the Durham Bulls. In five rehab starts for the G-Braves, Beachy is 0-3 with a 3.79 ERA.

Indians Starter: Stolmy Pimentel will face Beachy. The 6-foot, 3-inch hurler is 2-1 with a 2.77 ERA in six starts for the Indians. He was dominant in his last start, pitching eight innings of scoreless ball. He allowed two hits, while striking out five at Louisville.

Scouting Report: Pimentel features four pitches: four-seam fastball, two-seam fastball, 12-6 bender and a changeup. His fastball sits in the low-90’s and has the ability to hit the high-90’s, while his curveball has a high-arc and great bend, sitting in the 70’s. He has not found great success with his changeup, as he continues to work through and learn the pitch, but it can be deceptive at 10-15mph lower than his fastball speed… Beachy also throws four pitches. He throws a low-90’s fastball, curveball, slider and changeup. His slider is his primary out pitch, but works off his fastball as he throws it over 60% of the time.


Series Preview: Gwinnett Braves (41-57) vs. Indianapolis Indians (61-38)

Poveda (Moore)

Poveda (Moore)

THU: LHP Alex Wood (0-0, 0.00) vs. LHP Andy Oliver (5-2, 3.29)

FRI: RHP Brandon Beachy (0-3, 3.79) vs.RHP Stolmy Pimentel (2-1, 2.77)

SAT: RHP David Hale (3-5, 3.28) vs. RHP Brandon Cumpton (4-5, 3.53)

SUN: RHP Omar Poveda (5-5, 3.32) vs. TBA

The Gwinnett Braves return to action tonight at 6:05 PM at Coolray Field as they host the Indianapolis Indians, Triple-A affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Braves roll into the contest, losers of their last three games, while Indianapolis has lost two in a row.

Batters: Ernesto Mejia leads the Gwinnett offense. The slugger is coming off his second consecutive Triple-A All Star appearance. In 89 games, the right-handed hitter is batting .245 (78-for-319) with 24 homers and 66 RBI. He has already tied his homerun total from 2012 and is two shy of 50 for his G-Braves career…           Stefan Gartrell will add a little bit more thunder to the middle of the order. The outfielder is hitting .289 (33-for-114) with six homers and 20 RBI since rejoining the G-Braves. He has been on a tear of late, hitting .467 (7-for-15) with two homers and three RBI in his last five games…

Pitchers: Alex Wood will make his Triple-A debut with the Gwinnett Braves in game one of the series. He appeared in 16 games (one start) for the Atlanta Braves, tossing 22 innings and posting a 0-2 record with a 2.22 ERA. He skipped over Gwinnett after dominating Double-A Mississippi. In 10 starts, he posted a 4-2 record with a 1.26 ERA. He was the second round (85th overall) in the 2012 First Year Player Draft by the Braves… Omar Poveda is the only G-Brave starter to have faced the Indians this season. In seven innings of work, the right-hander allowed two runs on three hits, while striking out five….

G-Bites: The Braves were swept by the Indianapolis Indians at the beginning of the season on the road. The Braves hit a pedestrian .182 (22-for-121) and scored seven runs in the four game series, while the Indians scored 21 runs against the Braves staff…

Indianapolis Indians

Batters: Former No. 4 overall draft pick, Tony Sanchez leads the Indians attack. In 70 games, the backstop is hitting .282 (68-for-241) with nine homers and 40 RBI. He hit a three-run homer in the International League All-Star game… Andrew Lambo will add a complementary middle of the order hitter. The outfielder is hitting .280 (35-for-125) with nine homers and 27 RBI since being called up from Double-A Altoona.

Pitchers: All-Star Kris Johnson has been the Indians’ best arm. The left-hander is 8-4 with a 2.66 ERA in 20 games (15 starts) for Indianapolis. He pitched one inning against the G-Braves this season, punching out two and facing the minimum… Game one starter, Andy Oliver dominated the G-Braves in Indianapolis, hurling six innings of one run ball to collect the victory. He allowed four hits, walked two and struck out seven… Fellow All-Star Vic Black will be tough to hit in the late innings. The Indianapolis closer is 15-for-17 in save opportunities, striking 48 hitters in 34.0 innings…

Triple-A Homerun Derby

Mejia (Cooper)

Mejia (Cooper)

Ernesto Mejia has been named one of six participants to the 2013 IGT Triple-A All-Star Homerun Derby. The field was announced Tuesday afternoon, which includes Brock Peterson, Johnny Monell, and Matt Davidson of the Pacific Coast League and Chris Colabello, Mauro Gomez of the International League.

Mejia is the second G-Brave to be selected for the Home Run Derby. In 2011, Stefan Gartrell won the derby after hitting 16 dingers in Salt Lake City, UT. He was outclassed by high-schooler, 17-year-old Kayden Porter from nearby Spanish Fork (Utah) High. Using a metal bat, Porter hit 18 homers in three rounds, including five in the final round, to steal the crowd and the post-derby attention from Gartrell.

Both players squared off in the finals, but Gartrell prevailed by clubbing seven homers.

Mejia will have his chance to bring back the crown to Gwinnett on Monday night as the Derby is scheduled to start at 10:00PM EDT. In last night’s contest, in his first game back since tweaking his hamstring, Mejia slugged his team-leading 22nd homer of the year in the eighth inning.

Mejia and the G-Braves will take the field tonight, Wednesday, July 10 at 6:05 PM. Cody Martin (2-1) will take the ball for Gwinnett. Martin dropped his last start, giving up five hits and one run in 5.0 innings. He will look to get back on the win column against the Tides.  In his only career start against the Tides, he went 7.0 innings, scattering three hits and allowing two earned runs.

Brandon Beachy vs. Jair Jurrjens

Beachy (Moore)

Beachy (Moore)

Often times, in a game that involves so much turnover, it’s common to see former teammates square off. On Tuesday night at 6:05 PM at Coolray Field, Atlanta Braves right-hander Brandon Beachy will make his fourth rehab start with the Gwinnett Braves against former Brave and now Norfolk Tides hurler, Jair Jurrjens. This will be the first time that both pitchers will meet in a head-to-head matchup.

In 2011, Jurrjens stared for the Atlanta Braves, posting a 12-3 record with a 1.87 ERA in the first half of the season. He led the league in wins and was second in ERA, as he headed to his first career All-Star game. His fast-paced start was eventually slowed by injuries, finishing the season 1-3 with a 5.88 ERA.

The right-hander ended the season, with a solid 13-6 record with a 2.96 ERA. However, is downward slide gave a pitcher like Beachy an opportunity to take his roster spot. While in 2011, both were rotation mates, it didn’t take long for Beachy to surpass Jurrjens on the Braves depth chart. In the second half of the 2011 campaign, the Kokomo, IN native went 4-2 with a 4.12 ERA, while striking out 91 in 74.1 innings.

Beachy carried over his success to the next season. In 13 games in 2012, he was tied for the Major League lead with a 1.98 ERA and led the Majors with a .171 opponent batting average prior to suffering a partial tear of the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow on June 16.

 In light of the injury, Jurrjens had an opportunity to regain his spot in the Atlanta Braves’ rotation, but he went 3-2 with a 5.63 ERA in his seven games after Beachy’s injury. Jurrjens would scuffle through Triple-A Gwinnett and Atlanta the rest of the way, going a combined 7-10 with a 5.74 ERA. At the end of the season, the Braves organization didn’t not pickup Jurrjens’ option and their once promising young star was let go.

While, Beachy is working his way through rehab, Jurrjens is trying to regain the form that earned him an All-Star Game invitation in 2011. In 15 starts with the Norfolk Tides, affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles, he is 5-6 with 4.38 ERA. He has made two MLB starts, but was roughed up to the tune of an 0-0 record with a 4.91 ERA.


Series Preview: Gwinnett Braves (38-53) vs. Norfolk Tides (48-42)

Bisenius (Karl Moore)

Bisenius (Karl Moore)

Mon, July 8: RHP Joe Bisenius (2-1, 5.87) vs. LHP Jake Pettit (3-1, 2.37)
Tue, July 9: TBA vs. RHP Jair Jurrjens (5-6, 4.38)
Wed, July 10: RHP Cody Martin (2-1, 1.38) vs. TBA
Thu, July 11: RHP Kameron Loe (3-2, 2.97) vs. LHP Tsuyoshi Wada (2-4, 5.14)

The Gwinnett Braves are off to a slow start in their current homestand, dropping three of their first four games. Despite holding the No.1 offense in the International League, the Durham Bulls, to one run during their two-game series, the G-Braves only came away with one victory.

Batters: With Ernesto Mejia sidelined with a sore hamstring, the G-Braves have had to rely on others to take care of the offensive load… However, the Braves have scored five runs in their last five games, while being shut out three times… Luis Nunez has been the best hitter during that span, hitting .267 (4-for-15) with one run… Sean Kazmar and Jose Yepez have driven in two apiece during that span…

Pitchers: After getting routed 13-0 on Wednesday night at Norfolk, the pitching staff has been sharp during their current homestand. They have allowed nine runs, eight earned in 36 innings, while scattering 31 hits… Kameron Loe is the only pitcher to collect a victory during this homestand. On 7/7, he tossed five innings of scoreless ball, scattering three hits and striking out two. His night was washed away, as a 51-minute rain delay impeded his chances from returning to the game… Mark Lamm made his Triple-A debut on Saturday, recording two innings of shutout ball and picking up a hold…

G-Bites: Since being optioned to Triple-A Gwinnett on Friday, Cory Gearrin has not appeared in a game.

Norfolk Tides lead the Wild Card race, ahead of the streaking Rochester Red Wings (47-45), by 2.0 games and sit 7.5 games behind the front-running Durham Bulls (56-35) in the South Division.

Batters: Jason Pridie is having a great season, hitting .300 (91-for-303) with 21 doubles, three triples, 11 homers and 43 RBI. He has tormented G-Braves’ pitching, hitting .326 (14-for-43) with four doubles, one triple, one homer and nine RBI…L.J. Hoes has been even better, the fleet-footed outfielder is batting .353 (12-for-34) with one double, one homer and six RBI against Gwinnett in 2013.

Pitchers: Triple-A All Star and former G-Brave, Jairo Asencio is having a fantastic season in 2013. In 33 games, he is 4-0 with a 2.21 ERA, converting 19 of 24 save opportunities. In five games against the G-Braves this season, he is 0-0 with four saves, while striking out six and allowing one run… Game two will feature former G-Brave and Atlanta Braves hurler, Jair Jurrjens. Jurrjens has made a few starts for the Baltimore Orioles, but has spent most of the season with the Tides. In 15 starts, he is 5-6 with a 4.38 ERA.

Off-Shore: The Tides have dominated the G-Braves in 2013, posting an 8-2 record against their South Division foes.


Series Preview: Gwinnett Braves (37-52) vs. Durham Bulls (55-34)

Loe (Cooper)

Loe (Cooper)

Sat: RHP Kameron Loe (2-2, 3.49) vs. LHP Mike Montgomery (4-2, 3.60)

Sun: RHP David Hale (3-3, 3.75) vs. RHP Merrill Kelly (2-0, 2.63)

The Gwinnett Braves dropped their third straight game Friday night, falling to Charlotte 2-0. With the loss, they have dropped 15 games under .500 and 18 games back of the first place Durham Bulls.

Batters: With the promotion of Joey Terdoslavich on Thursday afternoon, the G-Braves have struggled scoring runs and picking up hits. In the two game series against Charlotte, Gwinnett scored three runs on ten hits, one extra-base hit and was shutout for the second time in three days… Luis Nunez is swinging the hottest bat for the Braves. With a fourth inning single Friday night, he extended his hitting streak to nine games. Nunez recorded a career high 10-game hitting streak last season with the Chattanooga Lookouts from 5/8 through 5/19. On the season, he is hitting .333 (18-for-54) with two homers and seven RBI.

Pitchers: In need of starting pitching, Kameron Loe went from late inning reliever to one of Gwinnett’s starting five. The right-hander has fared well in his two starts, allowing three runs, one earned on seven hits in 9.0 innings. He will take the ball in the opener, while David Hale will take the mound in the finale. The former Princeton Tiger, has been on a good run of late. In his last four starts, he has tossed 23 innings, allowing three runs, yielding 21 hits, while striking out 17 in route to two wins. Since his ERA reached a season-high 6.12 on 6/10, the righty has almost cut it in half with his last four starts. On 7/1, he went seven shutout innings against Norfolk, collecting his third win of the season.

G-Bites: With a pinch-hit single in the ninth inning against reliever Jonathan Papelbon, Terdoslavich recorded his first MLB hit in a 5-4 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies Friday night.

Durham enters the series with the second best record in the International League and 7.5 games lead on the Norfolk Tides in the South Division. The Bulls have been impressive at home with a 32-14 record, but have struggled on the road, posting a 23-20 mark. This will be their first trip to Coolray Field in 2013. They swept a three-game series from Gwinnett at the beginning of the season in Durham.

Batters:  Triple-A All star Vince Belnome leads the Bulls attack. The infielder enters the series, hitting .343 (94-for-274) with 25 doubles, two triples, six homers and 50 RBI. He is second in the IL in batting average, while coming in first in on base percentage (.442)… Leslie Anderson will provide the thump in the middle of the order. The outfielder is hitting .328 (89-for-271) with 20 doubles and a team-leading 11 homers. In the three game set in April, Anderson hit .571 (4-for-7) with two homers and four RBI against the Braves…

Pitchers: When the Tampa Bay Rays made their blockbuster trade in the offseason, lefty Mike Montgomery was lost in the shuffle… The former No.1 prospect in the Kansas City organization at the beginning of the 2012 season, struggled through two Triple-A seasons and was demoted in the middle of the 2012 campaign. The left-hander’s stock was falling fast, but he seems to have found his groove in 2013. In nine games (8 starts), he is 4-2 with a 3.60 ERA. He still has trouble with walks, posting 21 in 50 innings. He will pitch in the opener.

Bull Headed: The Bulls are 43-1 when leading after eight innings . One of the main reasons has been the two headed monster out of the pen. Kirby Yates and Josh Lueke have been nearly unhittable. Yates is 3-1 with a 1.11 ERA and has converted nine of ten save opportunities, while Lueke is 2-0 with a 0.50 ERA and has converted 10 of 11 saves chances.