Series Preview: Gwinnett Braves (25-19) vs. Norfolk Tides (17-28)

Thu: Gus Schlosser (1-1, 5.84) vs. Mike Wright (1-2, 4.46)Fri: Yunesky Maya (1-0, 3.13) vs. LHP T.J. McFarland (0-1, 3.75)

Maya (Chris Roughgarden)

Maya (Chris Roughgarden)

Sat: Zach Stewart (2-2, 4.24) vs. Eddie Gamboa (2-4, 5.30)

Sun: Cody Martin (3-2, 2.76) vs. Kevin Gausman (0-2, 2.90)

The Gwinnett Braves and the Norfolk Tides will meet for the sixth time this season, and their series matchup of the 2014 campaign. In their previous five meetings, the G-Braves took four of five from their South division counterparts. The G-Braves hold an 8.5 game lead over the Tides in the South Division

Pitching: Norfolk will enter the series with the 13th rated staff in the IL, as they own an ERA of 4.77, which is slightly lower than the Louisville Bats (4.88). Despite owning one of the worst ERA’s in the league, the Tides highly-touted prospect Kevin Gausman has been solid in the rotation. The right-hander is 0-2 with a 2.90 ERA in 31.0 innings. He has struck out 32 batters, while walking 15. He has battled command issues for the first time in his career. Entering the 2014 season, he had walked 15 batters in 97 minor league innings. He will try to turn things around in the series finale.

The G-Braves will counter with five right-handers during the weekend series. Martin has been the best of the group, sporting a 3-2 record with a 2.76 ERA. He leads the league in strikeouts and opponents are hitting .200 against the righty. In the month of May, he is 1-1 with a 2.84 ERA. Since missing to the rotation after an early season relief appearance, Martin is 3-2 with a 2.74 ERA, striking out 48 in 46.0 innings.

The staff will look to turn over leads to closer Juan Jaime. In 17 games, he is 1-0 with a 3.31 ERA and is 9-for-9 in save chances. He is third in the IL in saves, while his 25 strikeouts in 16.1 innings ranked second among G-Braves relievers. Atahualpa Severino leads all G-Braves relievers with 29 strikeouts in 19.2 innings.

Batting: With Jose Constanza sidelined by a groin injury, Derrick Mitchell has taken over as one of the regulars in the outfield. The G-Braves haven’t missed a beat, as the right-handed hitting Mitchell has been on fire of late. After batting .143 (6-for-42) with one RBI through his first 22 games, Mitchell is batting .429 (12-for-28) with three homers, eight runs and eight RBIs in last ten games spanning from 5/9 through 5/20. He currently has a seven-game winning streak.

In addition to the hot bat of Mitchell, Todd Cunningham is swinging a hot-stick of late. In 31 contests from late-April to mid-May, Cunningham is batting .344 (42-for-122) with 10 doubles, two homers and 20 RBIs. He is batting .338 (26-for-77) with five doubles, one homer and 12 RBIs during the month of May. Cunningham ranks among the league leaders in batting average (.302, 13th), hits (52, 2nd), RBI (25, T-7th), total bases (69, T-9th) and doubles (11, T-9th).

For Norfolk, everything starts and ends with Quinton Berry. The speedy outfielder is off to a great start, batting .309 (30-for-97) with six doubles, two homers and seven RBIs. He has seven bags and is 5-for-7 in his last two games with a homer and one RBI.

After hitting .176 (15-for-85) during the month of April, Brett Wallace is starting to swing a hot bat in May. The first baseman is hitting .373 (25-for-67) with three doubles, five homers and 14 RBIs. All of his homers have come in the month of May, while raising his season average to .263 (40-for-152) on the season.

Tides Wash: After taking 14 of 21 last season from the G-Braves, the Tides are off to a slow start against Gwinnett going 1-4 in their first five contests.

 

-Jd-

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