Results tagged ‘ Todd Cunningham ’

Series Preview: Gwinnett Braves (59-52) vs. Buffalo Bisons (58-54)

Pitching probables

Fri: LHP Greg Smith (4-4, 2.34 ERA) vs. RHP Phillippe Aumont (3-4, 2.54 ERA), 7:05 p.m.

Sat: RHP Victor Mateo (1-0, 1.50 ERA) vs. LHP Jeff Francis (5-0, 1.41 ERA), 7:05 p.m.

Sun: RHP Sugar Ray Marimon (3-3, 3.92 ERA) vs. RHP Scott Copeland (8-3, 2.11 ERA), 2:05 p.m.

Victor Mateo (Jim Lacey)

Victor Mateo (Jim Lacey)

The Gwinnett Braves begin a three-game series against the Buffalo Bisons, the Triple-A affiliate of the Toronto Blue Jays, off of their best stretch of the season. The G-Braves had their season-high, six-game winning streak snapped in a 7-5 loss on Thursday to the Rochester Red Wings. Still, they have won 11 of their last 13 games to move from last place to second in the International League South Division and put them in the runner-up spot in the IL Wild Card race, 2.5 games behind the Columbus Clippers.

Buffalo entered the All-Star break on July 13 one game below the .500 mark at 45-46, but the Bisons won eight of their first 11 games after the break and have climbed into second place in the IL North, 3.5 games behind the division-leading Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders. Buffalo is also in fourth place in the Wild Card standings and 1.5 games behind the G-Braves. Gwinnett swept a three-game road series from the Bisons in  the team’s first meeting this season from June 29 through July 1. The G-Braves have won the season series between the clubs in each of the past two seasons, going 11-4, overall, and 5-3 at Coolray Field during that stretch. This will be the final regular-season series the teams will play against one another this season.

Pitching: Two of the top pitching staffs in the IL will face off this weekend at Coolray Field. The Bisons boast a 3.07 team ERA that ranks second in the league behind only the Norfolk Tides, and the G-Braves follow in third with a 3.11 ERA. Both staffs go about their work in much the same way. Buffalo has a 2.29 strikeouts-to-walks ratio (804 strikeouts/352 walks), while Gwinnett has a 2.14 mark (784 strikeouts/366 walks). G-Braves’ pitchers have given up five more home runs than Buffalo, but their 54 homers allowed still are the fourth-fewest in the league. August has been particularly good for Gwinnett hurlers, as they have combined for a 2.17 ERA through the first six games of the month, which is the second-lowest in the league, to help the team to a 5-1 record in that span. In five games during which the team is 2-3, Buffalo has a 4.50 ERA.

The Buffalo rotation is led by the current IL ERA leader in Copeland, who is scheduled to pitch the series finale. He has won three of his last four starts and has not allowed more than one earned run in that span. He has given up more than two earned runs in two of his 15 appearances (14 starts) for the Bisons this season. He made his Major League debut with the Blue Jays in May and has made five appearances (three starts) for Toronto, going 1-1 with a 6.46 ERA.

Gwinnett pitchers held opponents to three runs or fewer in 10 of the 13 games during their hot streak despite five strikeouts or fewer in nine of those contests. The G-Braves also got seven quality starts from its starting rotation in that time span, and right-hander Peter Moylan has become a stopper at the end of games. He has gone 4-for-4 in save opportunities across his last six appearances and has not allowed a run in his last eight while he gave up three combined hits in that span. Overall, Moylan is 2-0 with a 3.24 ERA (9 ER in 25.0 IP) with four saves in 24 outings since he joined the team on June 2.

Hitting: Outfielder Todd Cunningham and catcher Christian Bethancourt have caught fire of late. They have combined to hit at a .411 rate (.476 for Cunningham, .371 for Bethancourt) in the team’s last 10 games. Cunningham has driven in five runs and scored four during that span, while Bethancourt has a home run, seven RBIs and a seven runs scored. The team batting average has risen to .256 for the season, which ranks eighth in the IL. Buffalo has a .262 team batting average that is tied with Norfolk for the second-highest in the league. The Bisons do not hit for much power, however. Their 49 home runs are the third-fewest in the league, although Gwinnett’s 38 are the fewest in the league, overall. The G-Braves hold a distinct advantage on the bases with their 126 stolen bases that are the second-most in the IL. Buffalo baserunners have swiped 61 bags, which ranks 11th in the league.

Along with Copeland atop the IL pitching ranks, Buffalo also has the league’s top hitter with Matt Hague. The first baseman/third baseman leads the league in batting average (.342), hits (145), RBIs (79), total bases (202), on-base percentage (.424) and is tied for the league lead in walks (54). He also ranks second in slugging percentage (.476) and third in doubles (28). Hague played 33 games in the Majors with the Pittsburgh Pirates combined in 2012 and 2014, hitting a combined .222 with no home runs, two doubles and seven RBIs. He combined to hit .282 with 23 doubles, 15 homers, 76 RBIs and 60 runs scored in 106 games between the Indianapolis Indians and Buffalo in 2014, including a .377 batting average in 13 games for the Bisons.

G-Bites: The G-Braves lost utilityman Joey Terdoslavich and right-handed reliever Ryan Kelly to Major League promotions on Tuesday with the Atlanta Braves. They are both on their fourth stints with Atlanta this season…Kelly’s move opened a roster spot for right-hander Jason Hursh to make his Triple-A debut on Thursday with the G-Braves. The Braves’ first-round pick (31st overall) in 2013 threw a perfect ninth inning in his first appearance on Thursday. He began the season as a starter for Double-A Mississippi and made 15 starts, going 2-6 with a 5.63 ERA. He moved to the bullpen on 7/10 and went 1-0 with a 2.25 ERA in nine relief outings for the M-Braves before his promotion…The G-Braves will embark on their longest remaining road trip after the Buffalo series. They will travel to three cities in nine days for four games against the Charlotte Knights, three vs. Columbus and two against the Toledo Mud Hens…After their final day off of the regular season on August 19, the team will come back to Coolray Field for a four-game series against the Louisville Bats.


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.


Series Preview: Gwinnett Braves (32-33) vs. Pawtucket Red Sox (32-35)

Pitching probables

Fri: RHP Mike Foltynewicz (0-3, 2.08 ERA) vs. LHP Brian Johnson (7-4, 2.51 ERA), 7:05 p.m.

Sat: TBA vs. LHP Henry Owens (2-5, 3.45 ERA), 7:05 p.m.

Sun: TBA vs. TBA, 2:05 p.m.

Mike Foltynewicz (Karl Moore)

Mike Foltynewicz (Karl Moore)

The Gwinnett Braves open their homestand with a three-game series against the Pawtucket Red Sox, the Triple-A affiliate of the Boston Red Sox. The G-Braves had an off day Thursday, which followed a 3-4 road trip that took them to Indianapolis and Louisville. The PawSox are on a four-game losing streak after a 15-5 road loss Thursday to the Charlotte Knights and have fallen 6.5 games behind the International League North Division-leading Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders for third place. The G-Braves remain in fourth in the IL South and trail the first-place  Durham Bulls by 5.5 games.

Pawtucket has gone 6-10 in June despite a league-leading 17 home runs. The PawSox have the second-lowest team batting average of any IL team in June at .239 and the second-highest team ERA at 4.56. Gwinnett has hit a league-low three home runs through its first 15 games in June, but the G-Braves are 8-7 with a team batting average of .263 (eighth in the IL) and 3.33 team ERA (sixth).

This is the first meeting between the clubs this season. The PawSox took five of eight games from Gwinnett in 2014, and the G-Braves have not won a season series over Pawtucket since 2009, their first season in Gwinnett. The teams split their eight contests in 2010 and 2011, respectively, but the PawSox have gone 17-7 against Gwinnett in the past three seasons. They will meet again at McCoy Stadium in Pawtucket June 26-28 for their final meeting of the season.

Pitching: Foltynewicz will open the series for Gwinnett in his first start back with the G-Braves after the Atlanta Braves optioned him from their roster on Wednesday, June 17. The 6-3, 220-pound right-hander went 3-2 with a 5.19 ERA in nine starts for Atlanta after the Braves called him up on May 1. With the G-Braves, Foltynewicz was 0-3 with a 2.08 ERA that led the team at the time of his promotion. He will face the PawSox’ Johnson, who enters the start with a 2.51 ERA that is the fourth-lowest among qualifying starters in the league. His seven wins are tied for tops in the IL, his 1.06 WHIP ranks second, his opponent batting average of .211 is tied for third and his 66 strikeouts rank third. G-Braves’ left-handed starter Manny Banuelos leads the league among qualified pitchers with a 2.29 ERA.

As a team, the G-Braves have the third-lowest ERA in the league with a 3.11 mark, but they have allowed four or more runs in seven of their last nine games during which they posted a 4-5 record. They are also tied for the fewest wild pitches among IL teams with 21. Pawtucket hurlers have thrown 25 and have combined for a team ERA of 3.51 that ranks seventh in the league. Gwinnett is tied for the third-fewest home runs allowed with 26, while the PawSox are tied for fifth in that category with 33 given up.

Hitting: Gwinnett also holds an advantage on offense, statistically. The G-Braves have batted .260 as a team through their first 65 games, which places them in a four-way for the fifth-best in the league. Pawtucket has the second-lowest team batting average in the IL at .237. However, the Paw Sox are tied for the league lead in home runs with 53.the G-Braves have the fewest of any Triple-A team with 18, which is eight behind the Lehigh Valley IronPigs for the second-fewest.

Four of the G-Braves’ last five wins have been by one-run, and they have scored more than four runs four times in their last 21 games dating back to a 4-1 win over Lehigh Valley on May 27 at Coolray Field, but they went 11-8 during that stretch. In that same span, the PawSox have eclipsed the four-run mark eight times but are 8-11. Individually, outfielder Jackie Bradley, Jr. ranks third in the IL among qualifying hitters with a .320 batting average, a .391 on-base percentage and a .481 slugging percentage. Fellow outfielder Quentin Berry is third in the league in stolen bases with 21. Infielder Adonis Garcia continues to lead the Gwinnett offense with a .309 batting average that is good for ninth-highest among qualifying batters in the IL.

G-Bites: Shortstop Daniel Castro joined Atlanta for his Major League debut Wednesday and got a pinch-hit single in the seventh inning to drive in the go-ahead run in the Braves’ 5-2 win over the Red Sox…He returned to Gwinnett the following day, while outfielder Eury Perez got his first call-up with Atlanta. Perez batted .296 with a league-leading 28 stolen bases and a team-best 34 runs scored in 60 games to open the season with Gwinnett…The G-Braves also return home with four players who were with Atlanta during the last homestand from June 5-10. Outfielder Eric Young, Jr., catcher Christian Bethancourt, infielder Joey Terdoslavich and outfielder Todd Cunningham all joined the team during the road trip…Young hit his first G-Braves’ home run on Monday, June 15 at Louisville, and Bethancourt went 5-for-10 with an RBI in his first two games of the year with Gwinnett…The G-Braves will finish their homestand with four games against the Indianapolis Indians, the Triple-A affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates, from Monday, June 22 to Thursday, June 25.


From Gwinnett to the Show: Todd Cunningham

Atlanta Braves' outfielder Todd Cunningham had two consecutive three-hit games to begin his tenure in the Major Leagues this season. He batted .286 in 30 games with the Gwinnett Braves to begin the year. (Taylor Botta)

Atlanta Braves’ outfielder Todd Cunningham had two consecutive three-hit games to begin his tenure in the Major Leagues this season. He batted .286 in 30 games with the Gwinnett Braves to begin the year. (Taylor Botta)

After he began the season with the Gwinnett Braves, Atlanta Braves’ outfielder Todd Cunningham got his call to the Major Leagues on May 14 and quickly took advantage of the opportunity to play in the big leagues.

He started each of his first five games as the Braves’ left fielder after he had played 30 games in Gwinnett to begin the 2015 season.

“I just kind of walked into a very fortunate situation where I was playing every day in Triple-A, get called up and have a chance to play for the most part,” Cunningham said. “That’s about as smooth of a transition as you can ask for.”

The 26-year-old switch hitter began the 2015 season with a .286 batting average, five doubles, a triple, 11 RBIs and six stolen bases for Gwinnett, but he caught fire once he joined Atlanta.

He had three hits in both of his first two games and batted .600 (9-for-15) during his first four, with three road games against the Miami Marlins before a home contest May 19 vs. the Tampa Bay Rays. He posted a .357 batting average through his first 10 games, which included three doubles, five runs scored, two RBIs and a stolen base.

“It’s not like it was a complete fluke, I’ve done that in the past. I had a feeling a couple days before I got called up where I felt like I was about to start clicking,” he said. “It happened at a really good time, getting to step in and play right away and ran into a couple early and just kind of fed off of it through the whole series.”

Cunningham spent the majority of April and early May as either the G-Braves’ No. 3 hitter or leadoff batter so he found pitchers attacked him differently as he batted fifth, sixth or seventh in his first four games with the Braves.

“When I was in Miami, they were going right at me throwing balls over the plate,” he said. “Now I’m starting to see the adjustments start to happen so I’ll have to kind of adjust with the pitchers.”

He also changed defensive positions from the minors to the majors. Cunningham was primarily a center fielder in Gwinnett, but he played left field exclusively during his first 10 games in the majors.

“In Spring Training, I got a chance to kind of bounce around and play a lot so it’s not the first time I’ve taken balls over there, but it definitely is different,” he said. “Center is probably my favorite just because balls stay truer and you can open it up and run for a couple, but as long as I’m on the field I can’t really complain, especially when we’re putting together some wins.”

Cunningham had played eight games with Atlanta in 2013, going 2-for-8, but otherwise spent the past two seasons in Gwinnett. He hit a combined .276 with 41 doubles, seven triples, 10 home runs, 96 RBIs and 39 stolen bases with the G-Braves in 2013-14.

He said he spent his time at Triple-A with the mentality that he was already in the big leagues to help him prepare for his eventual promotion. That has also helped him transition to a new level of competition in the big leagues, he said.

“It’s been fun,” Cunningham said of his time as a big leaguer this season. “I definitely can’t complain.”


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.


Series Preview: Gwinnett Braves (8-12) vs. Toledo Mud Hens (9-10)

Pitching probables

Thurs: RHP Chien-Ming Wang (0-1, 6.23 ERA) vs. LHP Mike Belfiore (0-3, 7.05 ERA)

Fri: RHP Mike Foltynewicz (0-3, 2.08 ERA) vs. RHP Buck Farmer (3-0, 3.00 ERA)

Sat: LHP Manny Banuelos (1-0, 4.43 ERA) vs. LHP Kyle Ryan (0-2, 4.43 ERA)

Sun: RHP Williams Perez (2-0, 1.57 ERA) vs. RHP Tim Melville (1-2, 3.80 ERA)

Cedric Hunter

Cedric Hunter (Taylor Botta)

The Gwinnett Braves continue their seven-game homestand with four contests against the Toledo Mud Hens, the Triple-A affiliate of the Detroit Tigers. The Mud Hens enter the series third in the four-team International League West Division after they dropped two of three road games to the Charlotte Knights on the first leg of their road trip. The G-Braves and Mud Hens split their four-game series at Coolray Field in 2014, but Gwinnett took the season series 5-3. Gwinnett has never lost a season series to Toledo, and the only year the G-Braves dropped a home series to the Mud Hens was in 2010 when Toledo won three of four games.

Pitching: While Gwinnett holds a 3.57 ERA and is tied for second in the league with 168 strikeouts, the Mud Hens enter the series with a 4.73 team ERA that ranks 13th in the 14-team league and has the second-most walks with 83 against 125 strikeouts (Gwinnett pitchers have 70 combined walks).

Perez is the only G-Braves pitcher to garner a victory in his last start. His 1.57 ERA is also tied for the ninth-lowest among qualifying starters in the league. Foltynewicz, meanwhile, leads the league with 30 strikeouts through his first four starts of the year.

Farmer leads the Toledo starting rotation in wins (three), ERA (3.00) and strikeouts (28). His strikeout total is also second in the league behind Foltynewicz, and his .173 opponent batting average is the fifth-lowest in the league.

Hitting: Toledo holds the statistical advantage on offense. The Mud Hens have the third-highest team batting average at .267 and have scored the second-most runs (91) in the league, four behind the Pawtucket Red Sox. They are also tied for the league lead in doubles with 40 but have hit five home runs, one more than Gwinnett and the Lehigh Valley IronPigs.

The G-Braves twice tied their season-high hit total with 13 Monday and Wednesday against the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders. Also, outfielder Cedric Hunter launched the team’s first home run of the season at Coolray Field in walk-off fashion to win the series opener Monday, 6-5. The G-Braves are up to sixth in the league with a .256 team batting average and continue to lead the league with 26 stolen bases.

Outfielder Daniel Fields leads Toledo with a .349 batting average that ranks seventh in the league. He leads the league with five triples, and his 11 extra-base hits are good for second. Mud Hens third baseman Jefry Marte is also tied for third in RBIs with 14.

G-Bites: Gwinnett took two of three games from Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to begin the homestand…The G-Braves each of the first two games by one run (6-5 and 3-2) before the RailRiders topped them 8-5 Wednesday…Outfielder Todd Cunningham begins the series on a team-best, nine-game hitting streak, and infielder Sean Kazmar is riding an eight-game streak…Outfielder Eury Perez leads the league in stolen bases with 12 after swiping two in the series against Scranton/Wilkes-Barre…Left-handed reliever Donnie Veal leads the league with 10 appearances and five holds, while right-hander Aaron Kurcz is tied for second in the league with five saves.

After the series with Toledo, the G-Braves will have an off day Monday before they begin a six-game road trip that includes three games at Scranton/Wilkes-Barre followed by three at Lehigh Valley. They will return home to face the Syracuse Chiefs at 6:35 p.m. Monday, May 11.


Series Preview: Gwinnett Braves (6-11) vs. Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders (9-9)

Pitching probables

Mon: LHP Manny Banuelos (0-1, 3.77 ERA) vs. RHP Jaron Long (0-1, 6.75 ERA)

Tues: RHP Williams Perez (1-0, 1.69 ERA) vs. RHP Chase Whitley (2-0, 2.12 ERA)

Wed: RHP Matt Wisler (0-2, 4.60 ERA) vs. RHP Kyle Davies (1-1, 6.75 ERA)

Williams Perez (Karl Moore)

Williams Perez (Karl Moore)

The Gwinnett Braves open a seven-game homestand with three 6:35 p.m. contests against the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders, the Triple-A affiliate of the New York Yankees. The Railriders have finished fifth in the six-team International League North Division in each of the past two seasons, but they have had Gwinnett’s number. The G-Braves are 4-12 against Scranton/Wilkes-Barre since 2012 and have not won any of the eight games between the two clubs at Coolray Field. This will be the G-Braves’ first foray outside of the IL South Division this season. They were 32-46 against non-divisional opponents in 2014.

Pitching: Gwinnett and Scranton/Wilkes-Barre are evenly matched statistically in the pitching department. The G-Braves’ staff enters the series with the league’s sixth-lowest earned-run average at 3.31 (55 ER in 149.1 IP), while the RailRiders sit in seventh with a 3.35 ERA (61 ER in 164.0 IP). The teams are also extremely similar in terms of their pitching staffs’ control. The G-Braves have a 2.39 strikeouts-to-walks ratio (146/61). The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre staff’s rate is 2.55 (153/60).

However, the G-Braves hold the advantage in individual stats. Tuesday’s starter, Perez, boasts the seventh-lowest ERA in the league at 1.69. In the bullpen, left-hander Donnie Veal enters the series tied for the league lead in holds (four) and appearances (nine). Righty Aaron Kurcz is tied for fourth in saves with four.

Batting: The larger differences between the two teams in this series show up in their offensive approaches. The G-Braves use a speed-based game to score runs. The RailRiders’ lineup, meanwhile, produces more power and hardly ever attempts to steal bases.

Gwinnett has a league-low three home runs through 17 games, but it leads the league with 21 stolen bases. Ten of those swipes have come from outfielder Eury Perez, who has been caught twice and was 27-for-31 in steal attempts in 2014 while playing in the Washington Nationals’ and New York Yankees’ organizations. Outfielder Todd Cunningham hit a team-best .429 (12-for-28) with two doubles and a triple during the nine-game road trip and returns to Coolray Field on a seven-game hitting streak.

Scranton/Wilkes-Barre has eight home runs, which is tied for the seventh-most in the league, but has stolen four bases in eight attempts. RailRiders outfielder Ben Gamel leads the league with a .404 batting average (19-for-47), ranks second with a .472 on-base percentage and sits behind teammate Ramon Flores (.611) for fourth in slugging percentage with a .596 mark. Flores is also tied for second in the league with four home runs.

G-Bites: Gwinnett returns home with a new-look bullpen compared to when it left town April 16. RHP Kanekoa Texeira went on the disabled list along with infielder Sean Kazmar on April 17. That opened a spot for RHP Mitchell Boggs, who the Atlanta Braves signed to a minor-league contract April 20. The Braves also re-signed LHP Greg Smith the next day to join the G-Braves’ corps of relievers. The G-Braves activated catcher Jose Yepez off of the disabled list to fill Kazmar’s roster spot.

RHPs John Cornely and Michael Kohn got the call to Atlanta on Friday, April 24, while RHPs Sugar Ray Marimon and Juan Jaime returned to Gwinnett. Marimon made one appearance for the G-Braves before Atlanta called him up on April 13. Jaime saved 18 games for Gwinnett in 2014 and began the 2015 season with the Braves.

The G-Braves will finish their homestand with a four-game series Thursday-Sunday against the Toledo Mud Hens at Coolray Field.


Spring Training Report 4.2.15

The Atlanta Braves extended outfielder Joe Benson a non-roster invitation to Major League Spring Training camp on Thursday, and he wasted little time to take advantage of the opportunity.

Benson, 27, had spent the entire spring in minor league camp yet played in nine big league games as a reserve. He received the non-roster invite after hitting a solo home run Wednesday against the Philadelphia Phillies, and then had the game-winning hit Thursday to beat the Baltimore Orioles 6-5 at Champion Stadium in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.

But his ninth-inning single to left field to drive in center fielder Eric Young, Jr. was far from the only act from his standout performance. Benson played left field and had three other singles and finished the day 4-for-5 with a run scored, an RBI and a strikeout. His spring batting average now stands at .412 (7-for-17) with a home run, three runs scored and three RBI as he bids for a spot on the Braves’ Opening Day roster.

Other possible Gwinnett Braves position players’ stats from Thursday vs. Baltimore:

Todd Cunningham (RF), 1-for-1, RBI.

Pedro Ciriaco (3B), 1-for-1.

The Orioles scored four of their five runs off of potential G-Braves right-handed starter Chien-Ming Wang (BS, 1), who entered the game as a reliever in the sixth inning.

Baltimore pushed across one run in the sixth and added three in the seventh, including a two-run, pinch-hit home run by right fielder Travis Snider. Wang lasted 1 1/3 innings with four runs allowed (three earned) on five hits with a walk and a strikeout.

Also, G-Braves’ right-handed reliever Arodys Vizcaino has been suspended for 80 games for using performance-enhancing drugs. The Braves had optioned him Monday to Gwinnett.

The Braves and Orioles will meet for the second of three games to finish their Grapefruit League schedules at 6:05 p.m. Friday in Sarasota, Fla. They will then return to Champion Stadium for a 3:05 p.m. contest Saturday.

Atlanta opens its regular season schedule at 4:10 p.m. Monday against the Miami Marlins in Miami. Gwinnett’s Opening Night game is scheduled to begin at 7:05 p.m. Thursday against the Durham Bulls at Coolray Field.


Spring Training Report 4.1.15

Potential Gwinnett Braves outfielder Joe Benson slugged his first home run of Spring Training for the Atlanta Braves on Wednesday in a 9-2 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies.

Benson drove the second pitch he saw from the Phillies’ Opening Day starter Cole Hamels over the right field fence in the second inning for Atlanta’s first run of the game in Clearwater, Fla.

Although he is not on the Braves’ 40-man roster nor a non-roster invitee, Benson has played in nine Major League games this spring, including each of the last five. He finished Wednesday’s game 1-for-4 with two strikeouts. Overall, he has batted .250 (3-for-12) with the home run, two runs scored, two runs batted in and three walks against four strikeouts in Braves Spring Training.

Other possible G-Braves position players’ stats from Wednesday against Philadelphia:

Todd Cunningham (RF), 1-for-3, BB.

Pedro Ciriaco (LF-3B), 1-for-3, R.

Jesus Flores (C), 1-for-2, BB.

Joey Terdoslavich (LF), 0-for-1, K.

A pair of potential G-Braves relievers covered the final two innings against the Phillies. Right-hander Aaron Kurcz threw 1 1/3 innings, giving up two unearned runs on one hit and one walk with three strikeouts and two wild pitches. Fellow righty John Cornely struck out two batters after he took over for Kurcz in the eighth, although Philadelphia left fielder Russ Canzler reached base on a fielder error by Terdoslavich that allowed third baseman Andres Blanco to score the Phillies’ final run of the game.

Right-handed reliever John Cornely has two saves and has not allowed a run in 3.2 innings across four outings in Spring Training. (Photo by Karl Moore)

Right-handed reliever John Cornely has two saves and has not allowed a run in 3.2 innings across four Spring Training outings. (Photo by Karl Moore)

The Braves will wrap up their Grapefruit League schedule with three games against the Baltimore Orioles. The first contest is scheduled for 6:05 p.m. Thursday at Champion Stadium in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.


Spring Training Report 3.31.15

A member of the 2014 Gwinnett Braves outfield and an outfielder who could join him this year contributed to the Atlanta Braves’ offense Tuesday in an 8-5 loss to the Houston Astros at Champion Stadium in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.

Right fielder Todd Cunningham, the G-Braves’ leader in hits a year ago, entered the game in the fifth inning as a pinch runner for left fielder Kelly Johnson and scored two batters later on a single by third baseman Alberto Callaspo.

Cunningham’s run gave the Braves a 5-3 lead, and possible 2015 Gwinnett outfielder Joe Benson took over in center field the following inning. Benson struck out in the sixth but picked up his second hit of Spring Training (eight at-bats) with two outs in the eighth.

Cunningham also grounded out in the seventh and walked in the ninth. He is batting .317 (13-for-41) for the spring with two doubles, six runs scored, five runs batted in and two stolen bases.

Other possible G-Braves position players’ stats from Tuesday vs. the Astros:

Pedro Ciriaco (SS), 0-for-1, K.

Jesus Flores (C), 0-for-1, K.

Houston stormed back to the lead in the sixth inning with three runs off of potential G-Braves right-handed reliever Brandon Cunniff. He walked the first two batters of the inning before he gave up a three-run home run to center fielder Colby Rasmus. Cunniff (BS, 1; L, 0-1) struck out catcher Hank Conger and gave up two more hits before he caught left fielder Jonathan Villar looking to end his only inning of work.

Atlanta also announced Tuesday it has outrighted outfielder Zoilo Almonte to Gwinnett. Almonte cleared waivers, but he can elect free agency because he has been outrighted previously. The move leaves the Braves with 35 active players in Major League camp.

Outfileder Zoilo Almonte batted .245 (12-for-49) with a double, eight runs scored and 4 RBI in 21 Spring Traiing games before the Braves outrighted him Tuesday to Gwinnett. (Photo by Chris Roughgarden)

Outfielder Zoilo Almonte batted .245 (12-for-49) with a double, eight runs scored and 4 RBI in 21 Spring Training games before the Braves outrighted him Tuesday to Gwinnett. (Photo by Chris Roughgarden)

The Braves will face the National League East rival Philadelphia Phillies at 1:05 p.m. Wednesday in Clearwater, Fla., before they finish their Spring Training schedule with three consecutive games against the Baltimore Orioles.



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