Results tagged ‘ durham bulls ’

Series Preview: Gwinnett Braves (70-61) vs. Norfolk Tides (73-58)

Pitching probables

Thurs: RHP Victor Mateo (2-2, 5.47 ERA) vs. RHP Mike Wright (8-0, 2.41 ERA), 6:35 p.m.

Fri: LHP Greg Smith (6-4, 2.39 ERA) vs. RHP Elih Villanueva (3-3, 4.36 ERA), 7:05 p.m.

Sat: RHP Jake Brigham (3-1, 5.19 ERA) vs. LHP Mike Belfiore (5-11, 5.61 ERA), 7:05 p.m.

Sun: RHP Ryan Weber (4-3, 2.31 ERA) vs. RHP Terry Doyle (2-1, 3.24 ERA), 2:05 p.m.

Cedric Hunter (Taylor Botta)

Cedric Hunter (Taylor Botta)

The Gwinnett Braves and Norfolk Tides, the Triple-A affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles, will engage in a four-game battle at Coolray Field that features the top two teams in the International League South Division. The Tides lead the division by 3.0 games over the G-Braves, but both teams enter the series on three-game losing streaks.

The G-Braves lost every game of their three-game road series against the Charlotte Knights, and the Tides lost a home game to the Toledo Mud Hens on Monday before the Durham Bulls swept a two-game set from them at home. Gwinnett is also in contention for the IL Wild Card spot, but the Columbus Clippers have won their last three games to extend their advantage over the second-place G-Braves to 4.5 games.

The Tides have not been to the Governor’s Cup Playoffs since they won the division in 2005, and Gwinnett’s last trip to the postseason was in 2009 as the Wild Card team. The G-Braves and Tides have eight games remaining against one another. They will complete their season series with four games from Sept. 2-4, including a doubleheader on Sept. 2. The teams have split their first 14 meetings with seven wins apiece.

The G-Braves have closed the gap on the Tides in the division from 8.0 games at the end of July. Gwinnett has gone 15-10 so far in August, while Norfolk is 11-15. The G-Braves’ record for the month is the second-best in the league behind the Syracuse Chiefs (17-7). Gwinnett has gone on its hot streak thanks to an offensive surge that includes a league-high .294 team batting average through those 25 games despite nine home runs, which is tied with the Buffalo Bisons for the fewest in the league during that stretch.

Pitching: The series also includes two of the top pitching staffs in the league. Norfolk has the second-best team ERA in the league at 3.08, and the G-Braves are close behind in fourth with a 3.19 ERA. The Tides have allowed the fewest runs in the league with 435 and is tied with Columbus for the most saves with 44. Gwinnett relievers have 41 saves, which are tied for third in the league with three other clubs. The Tides and G-Braves are also tied for the fewest hits allowed with 1,043. Neither staff has struck out an abnormally high number of batters, but they have also limited the number of home runs they have allowed. Norfolk hurlers are ninth in the IL with 922 strikeouts, and the G-Braves follow in 10th with 911 whiffs. The Tides have given up the fourth-fewest home runs with 67, and the G-Braves have allowed 72, the fifth-fewest.

G-Braves’ lefty Smith has given up one earned run or fewer in five of his six starts since he rejoined the starting rotation on July 28, and his 2.39 ERA (28 ER in 105.1 IP) for the season is the second-lowest among qualified pitchers in the IL. He leads the league with a 1.12 WHIP. Brigham and Weber both entered the rotation during Gwinnett’s series at Charlotte. Baltimore right-hander Wright will open the series with his first start of a Major League rehab assignment with the Tides. Wright has bounced between Norfolk and Baltimore this season. He last pitched on July 31 and tossed a scoreless 1.0 inning of reliever vs. the Detroit Tigers.

Hitting: Gwinnett holds a slight advantage offensively with a 2.62 team batting average that ranks second in the IL. Norfolk is fifth with a .260 mark, although the Tides have outslugged the G-Braves with 70 home runs on the season compared to a league-low 45 for Gwinnett. The G-Braves are on pace for a franchise-low 49 homers, which would also be the fewest for any team in the IL since the Tidewater Tides hit 43 in 1980. Gwinnett has also yet to homer off of a Norfolk pitcher this season. Despite their even head-to-head record, the Tides have hit eight home runs against the G-Braves and outscored them 48-35. Norfolk has batted .256 in its games against Gwinnett this season compared to a .230 batting average for the G-Braves in those contests.

G-Braves’ outfielder Cedric Hunter opens the series on a team-best 20-game hitting streak that is also the longest in the IL this season. He surpassed Austin Romine of the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders for the top spot on Wednesday with a second-inning double into right-center field. Hunter has batted .345 (29-for-84) with four doubles, two triples, two of his team-leading 11 home runs, 16 RBIs, which padded his team lead to 65, and nine runs scored during that stretch. Hunter’s streak is the longest active hitting streak in Triple-A and is tied with Franklin Gutierrez of the Tacoma Rainiers for the longest Triple-A streak of the season.

Outfielder Dariel Alvarez and first baseman Christian Walker have been stalwarts for the Tides, offensively. Alvarez is third in the IL with 141 hits, third in total bases with 217 and fifth in RBIs with 72. Walker is fifth in the league with 46 extra-base hits and 200 total bases. Overall, Norfolk’s bats have slowed in August. The team has combined for a .241 batting average that is the third-lowest in the league through their first 26 games of the month.

G-Bites: The G-Braves lost significant contributors in the last week, as the Atlanta Braves’ traded outfielder Eric Young, Jr. to the New York Mets on Saturday before they called up catcher Christian Bethancourt and right-handed pitcher Sugar Ray Marimon on Monday. Young had batted .248 (58-for-234) with 23 stolen bases in 67 games for the G-Braves after Atlanta outrighted him to Gwinnett on June 11. He was also Gwinnett’s June Player of the Month. Bethancourt hit a team-best .327 (66-for-202) with four home runs, 19 doubles, 31 RBIs and 25 runs scored in 52 games after he began the season with Atlanta. Marimon is in his fourth stint with Atlanta. He had gone 5-4 with a 3.31 ERA (30 ER in 81.2 IP) in 17 appearances (14 starts) for Gwinnett…Among those moves, outfielder Eury Perez rejoined the club when Atlanta optioned him on Monday. Left-handed reliever Hunter Cervenka and catcher Braeden Schlehuber were promoted from Double-A Mississippi, while outfielder Mycal Jones was sent down…The G-Braves will play a two-game series on Monday and Tuesday at Durham before they travel to Norfolk for their four-game tilt with the Tides. Gwinnett finishes the regular season with a three-game home series vs. Charlotte from Sept. 5-7 at Coolray Field.

-JM

Series Preview: Gwinnett Braves (66-58) vs. Louisville Bats (60-65)

Pitcher probables

Thurs: RHP Sugar Ray Marimon (4-4, 3.62 ERA) vs. LHP Brandon Finnegan (0-1, 5.79 ERA), 6:35 p.m.

Fri: RHP Kanekoa Texeira (6-3, 3.61 ERA) vs. RHP Michael Lorenzen (3-1, 1.93 ERA), 7:05 p.m.

Sat: RHP Jake Brigham (3-0, 5. 11 ERA) vs. RHP Donn Roach (2-3, 5.20 ERA), 7:05 p.m.

Sun: LHP Greg Smith (6-4, 2.45 ERA) vs. RHP Josh Smith (3-4, 3.88 ERA), 2:05 p.m.

LHP Greg Smith (Karl Moore)

LHP Greg Smith (Karl Moore)

The Gwinnett Braves return to Coolray Field to begin a four-game series against the Louisville Bats, the Triple-A affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds, after a 10-game road trip during which they went 5-5. They remained in second place in the International League Wild Card standings throughout the road trip and sit 3.5 games behind the Columbus Clippers for the lead. The G-Braves are also 6.0 games in back of the Norfolk Tides for first place in the IL South Division. The Clippers and Tides are in the middle of a three-game series at Norfolk. Columbus won the series opener 4-3 on Wednesday.

Louisville hovered around the .500 mark for much of the season and was 57-56 on August 5. However, the Bats have gone 3-9 in their 12 games since to drop to 60-65 and 10 games out of a playoff spot. They were outscored 48-20 in those contests, and the offense has struggled mightily during that stretch. The team has not scored more than four runs in any of those games, and it scored two runs or fewer eight times, including eight of their nine losses. The Bats also suffered three consecutive shutout losses from August 9-11. The first loss was 9-0 on the road to the Durham Bulls, and the final two were 2-0 and 3-0 home defeats to Columbus.

Pitching: The Bats also are tied for the second-highest ERA of any team in the 14-team International League with a 3.97 mark that equals the Lehigh Valley IronPigs. Gwinnett, meanwhile, has a 3.19 team ERA that is the fourth-lowest in the league. The G-Braves’ pitching staff has also allowed the second-fewest hits in the IL with 994, which is 11 more than Norfolk for the lead in that category. Both teams rank toward the bottom of the league in strikeouts but in the top half in walks allowed. Gwinnett has the fifth-fewest strikeouts with 864, and Louisville has the second-fewest with 814. The G-Braves have walked 407 batters, which is the fifth-most in the IL, and Bats pitchers have issued 430 to have the fourth-most in that department.

Veterans Texeira and Smith have led the G-Braves’ pitching staff in the second half of the season. Texeira has won a career-high six consecutive starts since July 20 and has a 3.63 ERA (14 ER in 34.2 IP) in that span. The G-Braves have won each of Smith’s five starts since he rejoined the rotation on July 28 from a stint in the bullpen. He has tallied wins in three of those starts with a 1.95 ERA (6 ER in 27.2 IP). His 2.45 ERA (27 ER in 99.1 IP) for the season ranks second in the IL among qualified starters, and his 1.10 WHIP leads the league.

Finnegan, Lousville’s starter for the series opener on Thursday, was acquired by the Reds from the Kansas City Royals on July 26 as part of a four-player trade that sent right-handed starter Johnny Cueto to Kansas City. Finnegan, a 22-year-old, has made four starts for Louisville since the trade. He also appeared in 14 games for the Royals earlier this season, going 3-0 with a 2.96 ERA (8 ER in 24.1 IP). Finnegan made his Major League debut with the Royals on September 6, 2014 after they selected him in the first round (17th overall) of the June free agent draft earlier that season out of Texas Christian University (Fort Worth, TX). He also pitched in seven postseason games for Kansas City during its run to the World Series a year ago.

Hitting: The Gwinnett offense was dominant in the five victories during the road trip. The G-Braves scored eight or more runs in four of their five wins, but they were held to three runs or fewer in each of their losses. Overall, the G-Braves have a .260 team batting average that ranks fifth in the league but is .001 behind three teams tied for second in that department. Louisville ranks ninth in that category with a .255 average.

Gwinnett is still in the basement of the league home run totals with 43. The G-Braves are on pace to hit 50 this season, which is still fewer than any other IL team has at this point and would be the fewest since the Tidewater Tides hit 43 in 1980. Louisville has the fourth fewest homers with 59. The G-Braves lead the league in stolen bases, however, with 149, which is three in front of the second-place Indianapolis Indians in that category. The Bats have the fifth-fewest steals in the IL with 76.

Center fielder Mallex Smith hit .381 (16-for-42) with six steals and nine runs scored from the leadoff spot during the road trip, but that was just the third-highest average on the team during that stretch. Catcher Christian Bethancourt led the club with a .424 average (14-for 33), and outfielder Cedric Hunter batted .395 (15-for-38). Bethancourt also had six doubles, a home run and seven RBIs during the trip, while Hunter two doubles, a home run and 10 RBIs to push his team-leading total in that category to 64. Hunter also leads the club with 11 homers. Additionally, Smith is 25-for-29 in steal attempts through 50 games with the G-Braves and has 48 stolen bases on the season combined with Gwinnett and Double-A Mississippi, where he began the season.

Louisville’s top hitter has been outfielder Brennan Boesch, who boasts a .331 batting average (59-for-178) in 48 games with the Bats, although outfielder Ryan LaMarre leads the team with 88 RBIs and is tied with infielder Yorman Rodriguez for the team lead in home runs with eight. The Bats’ offensive struggles in August have led to a league-low .203 average during the month, and they do not have a batter who has hit better than outfielder Juan Silva’s .244 mark during through the first 17 games of the month.

G-Bites: Infielder Joey Terdoslavich has returned to Gwinnett after his fourth stint with the Atlanta Braves this season to open a spot on the Major League roster for first baseman Freddie Freeman, who completed his rehab assignment with the G-Braves on Tuesday. Freeman batted .375 (3-for-8) with a double, two RBIs, two walks and three strikeouts in two games with Gwinnett…The G-Braves also added three relief pitchers during the road trip, although two had been with the team previously this season. Right-hander Ryan Kelly was optioned from Atlanta on August 13, and fellow righty Brigham was optioned on August 16 when the Braves recalled right-hander Peter Moylan. The Braves also claimed Danny Burawa off of waivers from the New York Yankees on August 14, and he joined the G-Braves’ bullpen on Monday but has yet to make an appearance…Once their four-game set against Louisville is complete, the G-Braves will go back on the road for a three-game series against the Charlotte Knights at BB&T Ballpark. They will come back hom on August 27 to start a four-game series vs. Norfolk.

-JM

Series Preview: Gwinnett Braves (56-51) vs. Rochester Red Wings (56-52)

Pitching probables (All games start at 6:35 p.m.)

Mon: RHP Victor Mateo (6-6, 2.68 ERA with Double-A Mississippi) vs. RHP Jose Berrios (2-0, 3.52 ERA).

Tues: RHP Sugar Ray Marimon (3-3, 4.02 ERA) vs. RHP Michael Bowden (7-3, 2.27 ERA).

Wed: RHP Kanekoa Texeira (3-3, 3.58 ERA) vs. LHP Taylor Rogers (8-8, 3.65 ERA).

Thurs: RHP Tyrell Jenkins (3-1, 2.03 ERA) vs. RHP Tyler Duffey (4-6, 2.72 ERA).

Sugar Ray Marimon (Karl Moore)

Sugar Ray Marimon (Karl Moore)

The best stretch of the season for the Gwinnett Braves has launched them into the thick of the International League Wild Card race with 37 games left to play. They begin a four-game series at Coolray Field against the Rochester Red Wings 3.0 games behind the Columbus Clippers for the Wild Card spot and what would be the G-Braves’ first playoff berth since their inaugural season in Gwinnett of 2009. The G-Braves have gone 11-6 since the All-Star break and have won eight of their last nine games, including five of six against the Durham Bulls last week. They remain 7.5 games out of first place in the IL South Division but are 1.5 games behind the Charlotte Knights for second place and 4.5 games ahead of last-place Durham.

Rochester, the Triple-A affiliate of the Minnesota Twins, has struggled since the All-Star break. The Red Wings have gone 7-10 to open the second half of the season and trail the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders by 4.0 games for the lead in the IL North. They also sit a half-game behind Gwinnett in the Wild Card race. Rochester’s rough patch included a split of a four-game series with the G-Braves at Frontier Field. Gwinnett won the first two games, but the Red Wings took the final two. That was the first time the clubs had met this season, and this will be their final regular-season series against one another 2015. The G-Braves have not won a season series against the Red Wings since 2012 when they went 5-3. They are 6-14 against Rochester since.

Pitching: Despite roster turnover that has left the G-Braves without any of their original five starting pitchers and with three relievers who started the season with the team, the Gwinnett pitching staff continues to produce at one of the best rates in the league. The team’s 3.03 ERA ranks third in the IL, and G-Braves have held opponents to three runs or fewer in 11 of their 17 games since the All-Star break. The staff has walked the fifth-most batters in the league with 355 and has eighth-most strikeouts with 764, but it has allowed the fifth-fewest home runs in the league with 52 and by far has the fewest wild pitches with 28, seven-fewer that Rochester, which ranks second in that department.

The Red Wings have a team ERA of 3.68 that ranks eighth in the league but have the fewest walks of any team in the league with 300 to go with 787 strikeouts, which are the third-most in the league. Berrios, the Twins’ No. 3-ranked prospect and No. 26 overall according to MLB.com, pitched the first three months of the season for Double-A Chattanooga. He went 8-3 with a 3.08 ERA for the Lookouts before his promotion to Rochester. He got his first two Triple-A victories in his last two starts, including a 7.0 scoreless innings against the G-Braves on July 23 when he allowed four hits and two walks with one strikeout. He has fanned eight or more batters in three of his first five starts for the Red Wings.

Jenkins, who is the Braves’ No. 5 prospect according to MLB.com, is scheduled to finish the series for the G-Braves after he notched his second consecutive win on Saturday against Durham. He struck out eight Bulls’ batters in that game, which is the most he’s had in any of his first five starts since he got called up from Double-A Mississippi on July 8. Mateo will make his Triple-A debut in the opener of the series in his 185th career minor league appearance. He signed with Atlanta as a minor league free agent in November after eight years in the Tampa Bay Rays’ system, including the last two with Double-A Montgomery.

Hitting: The G-Braves homered twice during their three-game road series at Durham but still have the fewest home runs in the league by a wide margin. Their 35 for the season is seven behind the next closest team, Lehigh Valley IronPigs, in that category. They are on pace for a franchise-low 47 on the season, which would also be the fewest of any team in the IL since the 1980 Tidewater Tides. However, Gwinnett  is second in the league with 122 stolen bases and three behind the Indianapolis Indians for the lead in that department. The G-Braves also have the fewest walks (256) and strikeouts (548) of any team in the league. Their strikeout total is 104 behind the Norfolk Tides for the next lowest in that category.

Rochester is tied for the third-highest team batting average in the IL with a .262 mark. The club’s 66 home runs rank sixth in the league but its 36 stolen bases are the fewest. The Red Wings have also hit into the second-most double plays, two behind Scranton/Wilkes-Barre in that department. Their 54 attempted stolen bases are by far the fewest in the league, as Norfolk is next-to-last in that category with 66. They sit in the middle of the pack in both walks (10th, 348) and strikeouts (ninth, 728).

The International League named Red Wings’ first baseman Reynaldo Rodriguez the IL Batter of the Week from July 26-August 2. He batted .385 with a league-high seven extra-base hits, 22 total bases, six runs scored, an .846 slugging percentage and ran his hitting streak to 10 games. He enters the series against Gwinnett with a league-high 44 extra-base hits and 64 runs scored for the season. He also ranks third in doubles (27) and total bases (176), and he is tied with outfielder Danny Ortiz for the team lead in home runs (12). Second baseman James Beresford also ranks third in the league with a .311 batting average for the season.

G-Bites: The G-Braves lost second baseman and the Atlanta Braves’ top-ranked prospect Jose Peraza in a three-team, 13-player trade that sent him to the Los Angeles Dodgers on July 30…Right-handed pitcher Williams Perez completed his rehab assignment with Gwinnett and returned to Atlanta on July 31…Right-handed relievers David Carpenter and Ryan Kelly both rejoined the G-Braves that day after a stint with Atlanta…Mateo and infielder Luis Mateo, no relation, joined the team from Double-A Mississippi July 30 and 31, respectively….Atlanta called up relief pitchers Matt Marksberry and Jake Brigham on July 31…Utilityman Joey Terdoslavich begins the series against Rochester on a season-high 12-game hitting streak during which he has batted .364 with three doubles, a triple, two home runs, 11 RBIs and eight runs scored…The G-Braves will complete their longest remaining homestand of the season with three games against the Buffalo Bisons, the Triple-A affiliate of the Toronto Blue Jays, from Friday through Sunday at Coolray Field.

Series Preview: Gwinnett Braves (51-50) vs. Durham Bulls (51-51)

Pitching probables (All games start at 6:35 p.m.)

Mon: RHP Tyrell Jenkins (1-1, 3.18 ERA) vs. RHP Bradin Hagens (1-1, 3.38 ERA).

Tues: RHP Mike Foltynewicz (1-6, 3.49 ERA) vs. RHP Matt Andriese (2-1, 1.84 ERA).

Wed: RHP Sugar Ray Marimon (3-2, 3.61 ERA) vs. LHP Blake Snell (0-1, 2.25 ERA).

Tyrell Jenkins (Taylor Botta)

Tyrell Jenkins (Taylor Botta)

The Gwinnett Braves worked their way out of the cellar in the International League South Division on Sunday when they beat the Charlotte Knights 5-3 and the Durham Bulls lost 11-1 to the Norfolk Tides. That dropped the Bulls, the Triple-A affiliate of the Tampa Bay Rays, a half-game behind the G-Braves for last place in the division. Gwinnett has won five of the last seven meetings between the clubs this season and leads the season series 7-6. This is the Bulls’ final visit to Coolray Field this season. After an off day on Thursday, the teams will play three more games at Durham from Friday through Sunday, and they have a two-game series at Durham Bulls Athletic Park scheduled for August 21 and September 1. The G-Braves have not taken a season series from the Bulls since they went 11-10 in 2012.

The G-Braves ran their post-All-Star break record to 6-5 with the sweep of Charlotte. Durham, meanwhile, has yet to win consecutive games in the second half and gone 4-7 in that span. The Bulls have the lowest team batting average (.229) and second-highest team ERA (4.64) in the IL for July, but they have slugged 27 home runs through 23 games during the month, which trails only Charlotte’s 33 in that category. Gwinnett’s 11 homers in the July are the second-fewest, ahead of only the nine hit by the Indianapolis Indians. The G-Braves’ .244 batting average for July ranks 11th in the league, but they have managed a 12-12 record since July 1 with the help of a 3.49 team ERA that is the fifth-lowest in the 14-team league.

Pitching: A weekend series vs. Charlotte in which the G-Braves did not allow more than three runs in any of the three victories helped lower the club’s ERA to 3.18 for the season, which is the fourth-lowest of any team in the league. Knights’ outfielder Matt Tuiasosopo hit two home runs on Friday, but those were the only long balls Gwinnett pitchers allowed, and the 51 the G-Braves’ pitching staff has combined to give up are tied for the fourth-fewest in the IL. Durham has the third-highest team ERA in the league at 3.97 and its pitchers have given up the most home runs in the IL with 86. The Bulls have struck out the second-most batters in the league with 761 K’s and issued the second-fewest walks (289), and their relievers have combined for 34 saves, which is tied for the league lead in that department. G-Braves’ hurlers have the fifth-most strikeouts with 723 and the fifth-most walks with 335, while the bullpen has 30 saves to tie for fourth in that category.

Foltynewicz has given up seven of the G-Braves’ home runs allowed total this season and is in his third stint with Gwinnett after two promotions to the Major Leagues with the Atlanta Braves. He worked as a starter in Atlanta from May 1 to June 14, going 3-2 with a 5.19 ERA in nine starts, and pitched three times out of the bullpen from July 7-11, going 0-0 with a 6.75 ERA. Four of his 10 starts for the G-Braves have been quality starts, but the team is 3-7 in those games in part because the offense has provided him the fewest runs of support of any pitcher currently in the starting rotation (14 total, 1.40 per game).

Hagens has made four starts (five appearances) for the Bulls this season after he began the year at Double-A Montgomery, where he posted a 4-5 record and 3.86 ERA in 16 outings (eight starts). He stuck out nine Charlotte batters in his most recent start on July 22 and has a 3.75 strikeouts-to-walks ratio (30 strikeouts/8 walks) since his move to the Triple-A level. Andriese has split the season between Durham and Tampa Bay. He has gone 3-2 with a 3.11 ERA and two saves in 12 outings (seven starts) for the Rays in his Major League rookie campaign. He was optioned to Durham most recently on July 8.

Hitting: Barrett Kleinknecht hit his fourth home run of the season with a solo shot in the seventh inning on Sunday, but the G-Braves still sit at the bottom of the IL in that department with 32 homers and trail the next closest team, the Lehigh Valley IronPigs, by 10.  They are on pace 46 home runs for the season, which would be the fewest in franchise history and the fewest in the league since the Tidewater Tides hit 43 in 1980. The lowest season home run totals for Richmond/Gwinnett teams is 68 set in 2001 and tied in 2006. However, the G-Braves have used their team speed to steal 114 bases and tie Indianapolis for the lead in that category. That puts Gwinnett on pace for 163 on the season but still well behind the franchise record of 195 set in 1986.

Durham is third in the league with 100 stolen haves but is also second in the IL with 90 home runs despite a team batting average of .244 that is tied for the second-lowest in the league. First baseman J. P. Arencibia has helped the team home run total with a league-high 20. The Bulls do not lay down many sacrifice bunts (14, second-fewest in the IL compared to Gwinnett’s second-highest total of 52), but they draw the third-most walks of any team in the league with 359. The G-Braves have a league-low 241 walks but also the fewest strikeouts with 503. Durham has whiffed a league-leading 863 times.

Jose Peraza’s team-high 13-game hitting streak came to an end when he went 0-for-4 on Sunday, but he is still tied for second in the league in hits with 110. He is also tied for the league-lead in sacrifice bunts (12) and sacrifice flies (seven) to go with the fourth-highest strikeouts-per-plate-appearance ratio of 12.18. Durham outfielder Taylor Motter won the IL Player of the Week award for June 29 to July 6 and has a .303 batting average for the season that ranks seventh in the league among qualified hitters. His 104 hits on the season are the fifth-most in the IL, and he leads the league in extra-base hits with 42.

G-Bites: Infielders Daniel Castro and Adonis Garcia got recalled by Atlanta on Friday. They both left the Gwinnett game in the second inning to join the Braves in St. Louis. Garcia hit his first career Major League home run in the sixth inning on Sunday, a solo shot that provided the deciding run in their 3-2 win over the Cardinals…Atlanta optioned first baseman Joey Terdoslavich on Friday to make room for first baseman Freddie Freeman’s return from the disabled list…Outfielder Cedric Hunter went 5-for-9 two RBIs and four runs scored in the series vs. Charlotte. He has batted .292 with 14 RBIs and 13 runs scored in 22 games in July to raise his season batting average to .272…With a 6.0-inning start on Saturday during which he allowed two runs (one earned), right-hander Kanekoa Texeira completed his fourth consecutive quality start, which is the longest such streak for a G-Braves’ pitcher this season…After the upcoming weekend series at Durham, the G-Braves will return to Coolray Field for a seven-game homestand from August 3-9 that includes four games against the Rochester Red Wings, the Triple-A affiliate of the Minnesota Twins, and three vs. the Buffalo Bisons, the Triple-A affiliate of the Toronto Blue Jays.

-JM

Series Preview: Gwinnett Braves (48-50) vs. Charlotte Knights (57-43)

Pitching probables

Fri: TBA vs. TBA, 7:05 p.m.

Sat: RHP Kanekoa Texeira (1-3, 3.64 ERA) vs. RHP Erik Johnson (8-5, 2.59 ERA), 7:05 p.m.

Sun: RHP Williams Perez (2-1, 1.36 ERA) vs. RHP Brad Penny (5-3, 4.09 ERA), 2:05 p.m.

Williams Perez (Taylor Botta)

Williams Perez (Taylor Botta)

The Gwinnett Braves welcome the Charlotte Knights, the Triple-A affiliate of the Chicago White Sox, to Coolray Field for the final time this season still in search of their first victory over Charlotte on their home field. The Knights have won each of the first five games the teams have played in Gwinnett and have outscored the G-Braves 24-15 in those contests, although only one of the games was decided by more than a two-run margin. The G-Braves have gone 2-3 against the Knights in Charlotte, including two wins in a three-game series at BB&T Ballpark from July 2-3 that preceded a six-game losing streak.

Gwinnett remains last in the four-team International League South Division, while the Knights sit in second place, 0.5 of a game behind the Norfolk Tides. The G-Braves face their largest deficit in the standings of the season, as they are 8.5 games behind the Tides and 8.0 games back of Charlotte for the Wild Card playoff spot. This is the first time the teams have not played a home-and-home series this season, as the Durham Bulls, the Triple-A affiliate of the Tampa Bay Rays, will come in for a three-game series from July 27-29.

This will also be the first time Gwinnett has been home since the All-Star break. The G-Braves went 3-5 on a road trip that took them to Syracuse, where they lost three of four games to the Chiefs, and Rochester in a four-game series they split with the IL North-leading Red Wings. Charlotte has won five of its eight games since the break and eight of their last 11, overall, to put them a season-high 14 games above the .500 mark.

Pitching: The G-Braves’ pitching staff has allowed five or more runs four times in its last 15 games and has the fourth-lowest team ERA in the IL at 3.21. The 49 home runs G-Braves’ pitchers have allowed are also tied for the fourth-fewest in the league. Charlotte has a team ERA of 3.53 that ranks seventh in the league and the 70 home runs it has allowed are the fourth-most in the IL. However, the Knights hold an advantage in strikeout-to-walk ratio. They are tied for the third-fewest walks issued with 295 and lead the league with 789 strikeouts, which are 52 more than second-place Durham in that department. Gwinnett pitchers have walked the fourth-most batters in the league with 331 free passes, and their 704 strikeouts rank fifth.

Gwinnett has also used 14 different starting pitchers this season. Perez and right-hander Mike Foltynewicz (1-6, 3.49 ERA) are the only pitchers currently in the rotation that also began the season in Gwinnett, although Perez is on a Major League rehab assignment from the Atlanta Braves. He has made two rehab starts since the All-Star break and gone 0-1 with one run allowed in a combined 6.0 innings, including 10 strikeouts and one walk, in those appearances. Saturday’s starter, Texeira, notched his first victory of the season in his last start, his sixth of the season among 11 relief appearances, on Monday, July 20 when he held the Red Wings to three runs on two hits and three walks with two strikeouts in a 6-3 victory.

For Charlotte, Johnson holds the third-lowest ERA in the league among qualified starters with his 2.59 mark. He trails only former Gwinnett left-handed starter Manny Banuelos, who was promoted to Atlanta on July 2, and his Charlotte teammate right-hander Kyle Drabek. Johnson leads the league in strikeouts with 105, but Charlotte left-hander Casey Jarrett holds the top spot on the club in wins with 9, which ties him for the league lead along with Durham lefty Scott Diamond. Johnson also holds the tops spot in the league with a 1.09 WHIP, while Drabek is tied for third with a 1.14 mark.

Hitting: Charlotte holds the fourth-highest team batting average at .260, while the G-Braves come in 10th with a .252 mark. Both teams have plenty of speed, as Gwinnett is second in the league with 107, one more than the Knights, but Charlotte has much more power in its lineup. The Knights have slugged a league-best 94 home runs, and the G-Braves have managed an IL-low 31. That puts Gwinnett on pace for 46 on the season, which would be the lowest of any IL team since the Tidewater Tides, who were a New York Mets’ affiliate at the time, hit 43 in 1980.

The G-Braves also have the fewest walks and strikeouts of any team in the league. They would be the first club since the 2012 Lehigh Valley IronPigs to finish at the bottom of both categories in the same season. Additionally, their league-low .304 on-base percentage would be the lowest in the IL since the Syracuse Chiefs, who were an affiliate of the Toronto Blue Jays at the time, had a .302 mark in 1988.

Individually, second baseman Jose Peraza, the top-ranked prospect in the Braves’ system, is second in the league with 107 hits and fourth with six triples. He enters the series on a season-high 11-game hitting streak during which he has batted .362 (17-for-47) with two doubles, a triple, three RBIs and seven runs scored. He is batting .292 (107-for-367) for the season with eight doubles, six triples, three home runs, 37 RBIs, 44 runs scored and 25 stolen bases, which ties him for fifth in the IL in that category.

Charlotte second baseman Micah Johnson holds the second-highest batting average among qualified batters in the IL with a .328 mark and has the fifth-highest on-base percentage at .379 to go with the third-highest slugging percentage at .486 in 60 games. Third baseman Matt Davidson is tied for fourth in the league with 15 home runs, outfielder Trayce Thompson has the the fourth-most doubles with 23 and fellow outfielder Jason Coats’ 61 RBIs rank third in the league.

G-Bites: Right-handed reliever Brandon Cunniff rejoined the G-Braves during their most recent road trip but is on the disabled list, and righty reliever David Carpenter is back with the club after his first stint of the season with Atlanta. The Gwinnett bullpen also got back right-hander Jake Brigham from a stint with Atlanta…Righty David Peterson received a promotion to Gwinnett from Double-A Mississippi on July 17 and has yet to allow a run in his first two relief outings while picking up his first Triple-A save in his first appearance on July 18 at Syracuse…Right-handed reliever Vin Mazzaro also joined the team after Atlanta signed him as a minor-league free agent on July 10…Righty reliever Carlos Fisher threw 1.0 scoreless inning in the Triple-A All-Star Game on July 15 in Omaha, NE…Outfielder Todd Cunningham broke free of a 1-for-13 skid to bat .500 (6-for-12) with a home run, three RBIs and four runs scored during the four-game set at Rochester.

-JM

Series Preview: Gwinnett Braves (42-42) vs. Norfolk Tides (47-35)

Pitching probables

Tues: RHP Kanekoa Texeira (0-2, 4.11 ERA) vs. RHP Michael Bowden (6-2, 2.17 ERA), 6:35 p.m.

Wed: LHP Greg Smith (3-3, 2.52 ERA) vs. RHP Mike Wright (4-0, 3.07 ERA), 6:35 p.m.

Thurs: RHP Mike Foltynewicz (1-5, 3.15 ERA) vs. RHP Tyler Wilson (3-4, 3.18 ERA), 12:05 p.m.

Kanekoa Texeira (Karl Moore)

Kanekoa Texeira (Karl Moore)

The Gwinnett Braves finish their final homestand before the All-Star Break with three games against the International South Division-leading Norfolk Tides, the Triple-A affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles. Gwinnett is back at the .500 mark after it lost four straight games to the Charlotte Knights from Friday through Monday. The final two losses were each by one run, and Charlotte has now taken eight of the 10 games between the clubs so far this season. The G-Braves have fared better against the Tides. They are 6-5 against Norfolk this year despite being outscored 41-31 in those contests. The teams split each of their first three series, and Gwinnett won two of three from June 8-10 at Coolray Field.

Norfolk was shutout by the Durham Bulls in the finale of their three-game series on Monday, but that was the third loss in the Tides’ last 13 games dating back to June 21. That hot streak has propelled them to a 0.5-game lead in the division over Charlotte, 4.0 games ahead of Durham and 6.0 in front of the G-Braves. Norfolk is also the only team in the division without a losing record in any month. The Tides went  a combined 33-23 in May and June, and they have gone 24-21 on the road. Gwinnett is an even 22-22 at home this year.

Pitching: The G-Braves hold the IL’s third-lowest team ERA at 3.17, but that is still shy of Norfolk’s league-leading 2.93 mark. Tides’ pitchers have thrown a combined 10 shutouts, which are tied for the most in the league, and their 244 walks are the third-fewest of any IL team. Gwinnett pitchers have issued the fourth-most walks in the league with 285. but they hold an advantage in strikeouts over the Tides, 605-577, and they have posted one fewer shutout than Norfolk with nine on the season. Neither team allows many home runs, as Norfolk’s 38 are tied for the third-fewest and Gwinnett’s 41 are the fifth-fewest.

None of pitchers who comprise the G-Braves’ current starting rotation have thrown enough innings to qualify for the league leaderboard, although Smith’s 2.52 ERA would be the third-lowest if he had enough innings. Norfolk’s Bowden leads that category with his 2.17 ERA to go with a 6-2 record. He edged out former Gwinnett left-handed starter Manny Banuelos for the top spot with 7.0 scoreless innings on July 1 vs. Charlotte. The Atlanta Braves called up Banuelos to make his Major League debut the following night. Norfolk pitchers hold three of the top six spots on the IL individual ERA leaderboard among qualified starters. Left-hander Chris Jones has a 2.59 ERA through 11 starts (19 appearances) that is good for third-lowest, and righty Zach Davies’ 2.70 ERA is the sixth-lowest. In the Tides’ bullpen, right-handed reliever Oliver Drake is third in the league with 14 saves, and righty Cesar Cabral leads the league with 10 holds.

Hitting: The Tides also hold an advantage offensively with a .260 team batting average that ranks fourth in the IL compared to Gwinnett’s .255 mark that puts them ninth in the league. Norfolk has scored five or more runs in half of their 16-game hot stretch, and the club has done so without a lineup that hits a bunch of home runs or steals many bases. The Tides rank 10th in the league with 41 homers and 13th in stolen bases with 33. Gwinnett has by far the fewest home runs in the league. It’s 26 are seven behind the Lehigh Valley IronPigs’ for 13th in the league, but the G-Braves are one stolen base behind the Indianapolis Indians for the league lead in that department.

Jose Peraza leads the Gwinnett offense with 90 hits, which tie him for third in the IL in that category. He also is tied for fourth in the league with 22 steals and leads the team with 29 multi-hit efforts. The 21-year-old second baseman has hit safely in five of his last six games, going 8-for-25 (.320) in that stretch to put his season average at .288. Catcher Christian Bethancourt has been the G-Braves’ hottest hitter since Atlanta optioned him on June 15. He has batted .338 in 16 games with Gwinnett and has at least one hit in 13 of those contests to go with one home run, four doubles, seven RBIs, seven runs scored and five stolen bases without being caught.

Norfolk’s catcher Steve Clevenger has also been on fire of late. He has hit safely in seven of his last nine games and has a .337 average in 48 games with the club, although he does not have enough at-bats to qualify in the batting race. A left-handed hitter, Clevenger has pounded right-handed pitchers in the IL at a .387 rate with all three of his home runs, all seven of his doubles and 21 of his 22 RBIs. Lefties have held him to a .179 batting average. He has played four games for Baltimore this season, going 5-for-11 with a double, an RBI and a run scored from May 28 through June 3.

G-Bites: Atlanta traded right-handed reliever Aaron Kurcz on Monday to the Oakland Athletics for International Bonus Slot No. 113. Kurcz had gone 4-3 with a 3.27 ERA and a team-high seven saves in 11 attempts in 31 relief appearances for the G-Braves this season…Gwinnett lost two other members of its bullpen to Major League promotions on Monday when Atlanta called up right-handers Arodys Vizcaino and David Carpenter… Vizcaino made two 1.0-inning appearances for Gwinnett after joining the club on Friday in his return from an 80-game suspension for testing positive for a banned substance. Carpenter began the season with the G-Braves and led the team’s relief corps with a 0.73 ERA in 27 appearances while holding opponents to a .183 batting average…In their place, the Braves acquired left-hander Mitch Lambson from the Houston Astros for cash considerations and activated righty Peter Moylan from the disabled list…Lambson had most recently been with the Astros’ Triple-A affiliate, the Fresno Grizzlies, going 0-0 with a 2.60 ERA in 13 outings. Moylan is 2-0 with a 3.65 ERA in 12 appearances since he joined the team in early June…The G-Braves will finish their schedule before the All-Star break with three road games against Durham from Friday-Sunday.

-JM

Series Preview: Gwinnett Braves (27-28) vs. Norfolk Tides (32-24)

Pitching probables

Mon: LHP Greg Smith (1-3, 3.41 ERA) vs. RHP Zach Davies (3-3, 2.96 ERA), 6:35 p.m.

Tues: RHP Chien-Ming Wang (2-5, 5.83 ERA) vs. RHP Tyler Wilson (2-4, 3.00 ERA), 6:35 p.m.

Wed: RHP Sugar Ray Marimon (3-2, 3.26 ERA) vs. RHP Eddie Gamboa (4-3, 3.49 ERA), 12:05 p.m.

Greg Smith (Karl Moore)

Greg Smith (Karl Moore)

The Gwinnett Braves will complete their homestand with three games against the International League South Division-leading Norfolk Tides, the Triple-A affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles. The G-Braves took two of three games from the Durham Bulls, the Triple-A affiliate of the Tampa Bay Rays, to begin the homestand. Gwinnett also broke a streak of 18 straight wins when they allowed two or fewer runs when they beat Durham 4-3 Friday in 11 innings, and their 2-0 loss Sunday ended a stretch of 19 straight losses in which they gave up at least three runs. The G-Braves have won 10 of their last 15 games, overall, to close within 4.5 games of Norfolk for first place in the division, although they remain in last place.

The Tides enter the series winners of 11 of their last 15 games to rise to the top spot in the IL South. They won two of three games in their last series on the road against the Charlotte Knights that followed a split of a two-game home series against the G-Braves. Gwinnett and Norfolk are even in their season series at 4-4. This will be the fourth of seven series between the division rivals this season.

Pitching: The Norfolk pitching staff has the lowest combined ERA of any club in the 14-team league at 2.76. The G-Braves come in at third in that department with a 3.07 ERA, and Gwinnett starters have not allowed more than two runs in 11 of their last 12 starts (2.72 ERA in that span). The Tides, meanwhile, lead the league with nine shutout victories compared to Gwinnett’s six. Norfolk has allowed the fewest home runs (20) and issued the fewest walks (160) of an IL squad. Gwinnett pitchers are tied for the fourth-fewest homers allowed with 23 but have walked the sixth-most batters (186).

Left-hander Manny Banuelos remains the only qualified pitcher in the league yet to lose a game. He is 5-0 through 11 starts with a 2.11 ERA that is the second-lowest among qualified pitchers. Norfolk’s Chris Jones is 1-4 on the year through 14 appearances (six starts) but his 2.58 ERA is the sixth-lowest among qualified pitchers. Tuesday’s Gwinnett starter Wang has allowed the most hits of any pitcher in the league with 80. He also led the league in that category a year ago with 200 hits given up. For the Tides, Gamboa’s six hit batsmen are the most in the league, and he is one of three pitchers to have balked twice this season.

Hitting: The G-Braves and Tides will start the series with identical .258 team batting averages, which ties them for sixth in the league in that department, although Gwinnett has scored 20 more runs (217-197). Gwinnett remains in the basement of the home run leaderboard with 17, but Norfolk also does not live by the long ball. The Tides have slugged 25 homers, which are the fourth-fewest in the IL. Perhaps the largest difference between the two offenses is the speed game. G-Braves baserunners have stolen a league-high 60 bases, while Norfolk has swiped the second-fewest in the league with 25, nine more than the last-place Rochester Red Wings in that category.

Outfielder Eury Perez has not stolen a base since Saturday, May 30 vs. the Columbus Clippers, but he still holds the league lead with 25 on the season, five more than second-place Leury Garcia of Charlotte. Third baseman Adonis Garcia sits 10th among qualified batters with a .308 batting average, but he has hit his roughest stretch of the season. Garcia has two hits in his last six games for a .087 average (2-for-23) with one run scored an no extra bases in that span.

The Norfolk offense is led by outfielder Chris Parmelee, who checks in with a .312 batting average that ranks eighth among qualified hitters to go with 90 total bases and 63 hits, both of which are the fourth-most in the league. In addition, outfielder Dariel Alvarez has played in each of the Tides’ 56 games this season and has the fifth-best strikeouts-per-plate-appearance ratio at 10.27.

G-Bites: Atlanta Braves’ outfielder/infielder Kelly Johnson will join Gwinnett to begin a Major League rehab assignment Monday. He is the second Atlanta player to rehab with the G-Braves this season. Third baseman Chris Johnson played in one game with Gwinnett on Monday, May 25, going 0-1 in his lone at-bat against the Lehigh Valley IronPigs…The G-Braves also added veteran right-handed reliever David Aardsma to their bullpen Sunday. He pitched the ninth inning and struck out two batters in a 1-2-3 inning for his G-Braves’ debut…Atlanta released right-handed reliever Mitchell Boggs to make room for Aardsma on the roster. Boggs was 1-1 with a 6.08 ERA in 13 relief appearances with Gwinnett…The G-Braves will go n a seven-game road trip after their series with Norfolk. They will visit the Indianapolis Indians for four games before moving to Louisville for three games against the Bats. Gwinnett will return to Coolray Field Friday, June 19 to start a seven-game homestand that includes three contests vs. the Pawtucket Red Sox and four against Indianapolis.

-JM

Series Preview: Gwinnett Braves (25-27) vs. Durham Bulls (31-24)

Pitching probables

Fri: RHP Sugar Ray Marimon (3-2, 3.58 ERA) vs. RHP Matt Andriese (1-0, 2.93 ERA), 7:05 p.m.

Sat: LHP Manny Banuelos (4-0, 2.39 ERA) vs. LHP Everett Teaford (3-4, 6.34 ERA), 7:05 p.m.

Sun: RHP Matt Wisler (3-3, 3.58 ERA) vs. RHP Dylan Floro (5-4, 3.36 ERA), 2:05 p.m.

Matt Wisler (Jim Lacey)

Matt Wisler (Jim Lacey)

The Gwinnett Braves return to Coolray Field from what was supposed to be a three-game road trip against the Norfolk Tides, but their game Tuesday was postponed because of rain and made up in a doubleheader of seven-inning games Wednesday that the teams split. Norfolk won the opener 11-1, and Gwinnett took the nightcap 2-1 in eight innings. Rain again postponed action Thursday. That game will be made up as part of a doubleheader Wednesday, September 2 in Norfolk.

The Durham Bulls, the Triple-A affiliate of the Tampa Bay Rays, enter the series in a three-way tie with Norfolk and the Charlotte Knights for first place in the International League South Division. Durham took two of three games from the Knights at home in their last series and has won 10 of its last 12 games dating back to May 22. The Bulls hold a 4-3 advantage over the G-Braves in the team’s first seven meetings of the season across two series. The IL South rivals split a four-game series at Coolray Field to open the season April 9-12, and the Bulls won two of three games April 24-26 in Durham.

Pitching: The Gwinnett pitching staff begins the six-game homestand with the league’s third-lowest team ERA at 3.19, while the Bulls feature a 3.35 ERA that ranks sixth-lowest in the 14-team IL. Durham pitchers have walked the second-fewest batters in the league with 155, three behind Norfolk for the lead in that category, but their 25 wild pitches are the fifth-most. G-Braves’ pitchers have allowed 176 free passes, the sixth-most in the league. However, the 21 home runs Gwinnett has allowed are the fourth-fewest in the league, and Durham has allowed 27, which is good for sixth.

Wisler, the Atlanta Braves’ No. 2 prospect according to MLB.com, won the IL Pitcher of the Week award for May 25-30 after going 1-0 without a run allowed in 10.1 innings across two starts. He gave up four hits, walked two batters and struck out eight to earn his second such award of the year. He also took home those honors for the week of May 4-10.

Banuelos continues to pace all IL qualified pitchers with a 4-0 record that accompanies a 2.39 ERA, which is the fifth-lowest among qualified pitchers in the IL. The Braves’ No. 10 prospect as ranked by MLB.com has pitched at least 5.0 innings in eight of his 10 starts, although his shortest outing of the year came in his first start as a G-Brave on April 10 vs. Durham when he lasted 3.2 innings with two runs allowed (one earned) on three hits and four walks with three strikeouts.

Durham right-handed closer Ronald Belisario is tied for the league lead in saves with 14 in 15 opportunities, and he has converted a save in each of his last seven outings. Belisario is 0-2 with a 2.96 ERA in 22 games, which is tied for the second-most appearances of any pitcher in the league. Friday’s starter Andriese has made four starts for the Bulls after he began the season on the Tampa Bay pitching staff. He made seven appearances (three starts) for the Rays, going 0-1 with a 4.79 ERA and two saves with five walks and 13 strikeouts.

Hitting: The G-Braves and Bulls both rank in the bottom half of the league in team batting average. Gwinnett holds a .257 mark that is eighth in the IL, and Durham’s .245 batting average is 11th. Yet, the Bulls are tied for fifth in the league with 91 doubles. Gwinnett has the third-fewest doubles with 77 and the fewest homers with 15 as opposed to Durham’s 39, which are two behind the Pawtucket Red Sox for the league lead in that department. Gwinnett and Durham are also two of the most prolific base stealing teams in the league. The G-Braves hold the lead in that category with 58, and the Bulls’ 54 are the third most in the league.

G-Braves’ outfielder Eury Perez leads the IL in stolen bases with 25, six more than second-place Leury Garcia of Charlotte. Perez is also tied for second in the league with 30 runs scored despite two runs in his last seven games in a stretch that followed a nine-game hitting streak during which he batted .351. Infielder Adonis Garcia holds a .320 batting mark that is good for seventh among qualified IL hitters.

Durham outfielder Taylor Motter is 10 steals behind Perez and sits in fourth among the league leaders in that department. Motter also leads the team in nearly every offensive category, including hits (51), runs (26), doubles (14), RBIs (26) and total bases (76). The only Durham hitters who have played more than 10 games with a batting average higher than Motter’s .266 are infielder Alexi Casilla (.327) and outfielder Eugenio Velez (.278).

G-Bites: The G-Braves received catcher Ryan Lavarnway during their last homestand May 30 during a three-game series with Columbus. Lavarnway signed a minor league contract with Atlanta earlier in the day. He has gone 1-for-8 with two walks in three games with his new club…The Braves also recalled right-handed pitcher Cody Martin on June 1, the day before right-handed reliever Peter Moylan joined the team after he was activated from the Class-A Rome disabled list. Martin went 1-1 with a 0.96 ERA and a save in three appearances (two starts) for the G-Braves after he had begun the season with Atlanta as a reliever. Moylan, who pitched out of the Atlant a bullpen for seven years from 2006-12, had not pitched since 2013 with the Los Angeles Dodgers. He escaped a bases-loaded jam created by a hit and two walks to hold Norfolk scoreless with one strikeout in his lone inning of work on June 3 in the first game of a doubleheader, which the G-Braves lost 11-1…Gwinnett extended its streak of victories in which it allowed two or fewer runs to 18 with its game two victory Wednesday over Norfolk…The G-Braves will host the Tides for three games following the Durham series before they begin a seven-game road trip that includes four games against the Indianapolis Indians and three vs. the Louisville Bats.

-JM

Series Preview: Gwinnett Braves (22-26) vs. Columbus Clippers (26-22)

Pitching probables

Fri: RHP Cody Martin (0-1, 2.08 ERA) vs. RHP Jhoulys Chacin (1-1, 3.86 ERA), 7:05 p.m.

Sat: RHP Matt Wisler (2-3, 4.21 ERA) vs. LHP T.J. House (0-1, 2.70 ERA), 7:05 p.m.

Sun: LHP Greg Smith (1-3, 3.55 ERA) vs. LHP Nick Maronde (0-6, 6.34 ERA), 2:05 p.m.

Cody Martin (Karl Moore)

Cody Martin (Karl Moore)

After a rain-plagued series against the Lehigh Valley IronPigs that culminated with 29 innings in the last two days, the Gwinnett Braves begin a three-game weekend series vs. the Columbus Clippers, the Triple-A affiliate of the Cleveland Indians. The G-Braves took three of four games from the IronPigs to move back within four games of the .500 mark, while Columbus enters the series losers in three of their last four games and seven of their last 10.

The Clippers sit in second place in the International League West Division, 2.0 games behind the Indianapolis Indians. They won the division a year ago and were beaten in the first round of the playoffs by the IL South champion Durham Bulls. The G-Braves remain last in the four-team IL South, but they have closed to within 5.5 games of the first-place Charlotte Knights with five wins in their last eight games. The Clippers and G-Braves alternated victories to split a four-game series in their first meeting of the season from May 21-24 in Columbus.

Pitching: The G-Braves own the fourth-lowest team ERA in the league at 3.18 and have not allowed more than two runs in any of their least 15 victories dating back to April 27. However, they are 15-15 in that stretch and gave up at least four runs in all but one of the losses in that span. Columbus has the league’s sixth-lowest team ERA with a 3.27 mark. The Clippers also have the second-most shutout victories with seven and have given up the third-fewest hits among the 14 IL teams with 382. Gwinnett pitchers have allowed eight more hits but four fewer runs and half of the Clippers’ league-leading total of 40 home runs allowed, which is seven more than second-place Charlotte in that category.

G-Braves’ left-handed starter Manny Banuelos (4-0) lowered his ERA to 2.39, which is good for fourth-lowest among qualified pitchers, with 5.0 shutout innings Thursday. He is also the only qualifying starter yet to lose a game this season. Martin will make his first home start of the season with Gwinnett on Friday after he began the season with the Atlanta Braves and made 17 relief appearances (2-2, 4.12 ERA). Columbus’ Friday starter Chacin will make his fourth start of the year for Columbus after the Colorado Rockies released him March 22 despite six years and 109 starts with the team.

Hitting: Columbus and Gwinnett have scored nearly the same number of runs through their first 48 games of the year (203-197), but the teams go about their run production in vastly different manners. The Clippers have the third-lowest team batting average (.245) in the IL but still lead the league with 37 home runs. The G-Braves, meanwhile, hold the sixth-highest team batting average at .259 but are tied for last in the league in home runs (15) while leading in stolen bases (56). Columbus has stolen 32 bases, the fifth-fewest total in the league.

Yet, the G-Braves held Columbus batters to one home run during their four-game series May 21-24 in Columbus and hit three themselves, including top-ranked Atlanta prospect Jose Peraza’s first two career Triple-A long balls. Gwinnett outfielder Eury Perez leads the IL in steals with 24 and in runs scored with 29, while Peraza begins the series tied for fourth in stolen bases with 14. Outfielder Cedric Hunter is tied for third in the league with 13 doubles, and infielder Adonis Garcia has the league’s third-highest batting average at .342 among qualified batters.

For Columbus, Tyler Holt ranks fifth in the league with a .397 on-base percentage, and James Ramsey has drawn the fourth-most walks with 26.

G-Bites: Atlanta Braves’ third baseman Chris Johnson got one at-bat with the G-Braves in a rehab assignment that was cut short when rain suspended play Monday and postponed all action Tuesday. He lined out to center field in his lone plate appearance before he rejoined Atlanta on Wednesday…Gwinnett received a couple of pitchers during the week, as right-handers Ryan Kelly and Ryan Weber joined the club from Double-A Mississippi. Kelly led the M-Braves with 10 saves at the time of his promotion Sunday, and Weber struck out 24 batters with one walk in 11 outings (three starts) for Mississippi. This is Kelly’s first stint with the G-Braves. Weber made one start for Gwinnett on May 17 and shut out the Louisville Bats on two hits across 5.0 innings…The G-Braves will get an off day Monday before the begin a three-game road series June 2-4 against the Norfolk Tides. They will then return to Coolray Field for a six-game homestand that begins Friday, June 5. They will play the Durham Bulls for three games before another three-game set with the Tides.

Series Preview: Gwinnett Braves (16-18) vs. Louisville Bats (14-20)

Pitching probables

Fri: RHP Matt Wisler (2-3, 4.59 ERA) vs. RHP Jon Moscot (5-0, 2.35 ERA), 7:05 p.m.

Sat: RHP Chien-Ming Wang (0-4, 5.70 ERA) vs. RHP Dylan Axelrod (1-3, 3.57 ERA), 7:05 p.m.

Sun: RHP Sugar Ray Marimon (2-1, 1.96 ERA) vs. RHP Donovan Hand (0-1, 3.06 ERA), 2:05 p.m.

The Gwinnett Braves complete their seven-game homestand with three contests vs. the Louisville Bats, the Triple-A affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds. The G-Braves dropped three of four games to the Syracuse Chiefs at Coolray Field earlier in the week, although none of the four games were decided by more than three runs. Louisville comes to Gwinnett after losing three of four road games to the Charlotte Knights.

The Bats are 4-7 in their last 11 games dating back to May 3 and are in third place in the four-team International League West Division, 5.5 games behind the division-leading Indianapolis Indians. The G-Braves remain in the cellar of the IL South despite a 3.5-game deficit to co-division leaders Charlotte and the Durham Bulls.

Pitching: Louisville enters the series with the second-highest team earned-run average in the league at 4.41, which is better than only the Toledo Mud Hens’ 4.87 mark. Bats pitchers have given up four or more runs in five of their last six games, and their 224 combined strikeouts are tied for the second-fewest in the league. Moscot, who will start the series opener, leads the league with five wins, and his 2.35 ERA is the seventh-lowest among qualifying pitchers, although he also leads the league with six wild pitches.

The Gwinnett pitching staff has held opponents in six of their last eight games, although the team is 4-4 in those contests. The G-Braves’ team ERA of 3.01 is the fourth-lowest in the league, and their nine home runs allowed are the fewest in the league, two behind the 11 given up by Buffalo Bisons pitchers. Wisler, the reigning IL Pitcher of the Week, will take the mound for Gwinnett in game one after going 2-0 with a 1.35 ERA (2 ER in 13.1 IP), one walk and nine strikeouts in his latest two starts.

Hitting: The G-Braves’ team batting average dropped five points to .264 during their four-game series against Syracuse, but that still ranks as the third-highest in the league. Mycal Jones launched the team’s lone home run of the series. The club sits at the bottom of the league in that department with seven for the year, two behind Buffalo.

Louisville has slugged more than twice as many home runs with 15 through their first 34 games, but the G-Braves have scored more runs than the Bats (136 to 123). Louisville’s .248 team batting average is the fourth-lowest among the IL’s 16 teams. Their 257 combined strikeouts are the sixth-most in the league, while the G-Braves’ 179 are the fewest in the league, 31 fewer than second-place Buffalo in that category.

G-Bites: Infielder Sean Kazmar returned from the disabled list Thursday after the Braves called up outfielder Todd Cunningham. Kazmar entered the Thursday’s game as a pinch runner in the ninth inning…Gwinnett leads the IL with 43 stolen bases, six more than second-place Durham, and have the top two individual base stealers in the league with Eury Perez (18) and  Jose Peraza (14), who also leads the league with eight sacrifice hits…Infielder Adonis Garcia’s .347 batting average ranks third in the league among qualifying hitters…Left-handed reliever Donnie Veal is tied for the league lead in holds with five.

Gwinnett will head out Monday on a seven-game road trip that includes three games against Toledo and four against the Columbus Clippers.

-JM

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