Series Preview: Gwinnett Braves (30-26) vs. Columbus Clippers (26-31)
Tue: Zach Stewart (3-2, 4.03) vs. Gabriel Arias (0-2, 5.73)
Wed: Cody Martin (3-4, 3.36) vs. Danny Salazar (0-3, 7.11)
Thu: LHP Daniel Rodriguez (4-6, 3.38) vs. Tyler Cloyd (2-3, 4.91)
Fri: Gus Schlosser (3-2, 4.94) vs. Kyle Davies (2-3, 3.40)
The Gwinnett Braves open up an eight-game homestand at Coolray Field beginning Tuesday, June 3 against the Columbus Clippers, Triple-A affiliate of the Cleveland Indians. Gwinnett enters the contest one game out of first place in the Wild Card standings, while Columbus is 5.5 games back of the front-running Rochester Red Wings in the Wild Card race.
Pitching: Columbus enters the series with one of the better pitching staffs in the league, ranking sixth in the IL with a 3.75 ERA. The Clippers have lost left-hander T.J. House and right-hander Trevor Bauer to Cleveland, but still have a bevy of arms to rely on. Danny Salazar is off to a slow start in 2014, but features electric stuff. The right-hander has a mid-90’s fastball, hard slider and a change-up. In 12.2 innings with the Clippers, he has struck out 15 batters.
While Salazar works out his kinks in hopes to return to the Major Leagues, the Clippers will rely heavily on the bullpen during the series. With Mark Lowe and Vinnie Pestano in the back end of the pen’, the Clippers have MLB talent and experience to close out games. Lowe is 1-1 with a 3.86 ERA and is 8-for-9 in save opportunities, while Pestano is 1-3 with a 2.41 ERA.
Gwinnett will counter with a talented bullpen of their own, as Juan Jaime, Ian Thomas and Atahualpa Severino are ready to close out games for the G-Braves. Jaime enters the series with a 1-0 mark and 3.10 ERA in 21 games. The right-hander is a perfect 10-for-10 in save chances, while striking out 32 in 20.1 innings.
Thomas returns from Atlanta after serving another short stint with the Braves. The lefty has dominated the Triple-A circuit, going 0-0 with a 0.00 ERA in 5.0 innings. He has fanned eight batters, while only allowing one hit. Thomas is working out his slider in Triple-A, which can prove to be an asset once he gets it going.
The addition of Thomas hasn’t slowed Severino, as the southpaw entered the series with a team-leading six holds. He is 2-1 with a 3.00 ERA in 20 games. Severino has struck out 32 batters in 24.0 innings.
Batting: Gwinnett’s offense was cooled off on their current road trip, scoring 24 runs in eight games and was shutout twice. However, Gwinnett still has the No.2 offense in the IL. Phil Gosselin continues to pace the attack, batting .324 (66-for-204) with 14 doubles, two triples, one homer and 13 RBIs. Gosselin is tied for the team lead in runs (28), doubles and triples.
Tyler Pastornicky has taken his demotion from Atlanta in stride. In four games since being sent down, the infielder is batting .471 (8-for-17) with two runs scored and one double. Last season, Pastornicky hit .292 (84-for-288) with 13 doubles, two triples, four homers and 28 RBIs in 74 games with Gwinnett.
Columbus will rely on Roberto Perez to lead the offensive attack. The backstop is having a great season, batting .321 (27-for-84) with four doubles, five homers and 19 RBIs. He leads the team in batting, homers and is second in RBIs.
He will look to carry the offense that lost Jesus Aguilar to an early season promotion.
“Excuses are the nails that built the house of failure.” –Jenna Wyatt-