LAWRENCEVILLE — With a strong performance on Tuesday from Brandon Beachy and Mike Minor a new reliable starter, the Gwinnett Braves have added strong starting pitching in recent weeks.
Scott Diamond seems ready to join that list.
G-Braves 3, Red Wings 1
What happened: LHP Scott Diamond allowed one run over six innings to pick up his first Class AAA win for the G-Braves. Diamond struck out four and allowed four hits in his third start for Gwinnett. 1B Freddie Freeman scored a run and knocked in a run on a 1-for-4 day and Wes Timmons scored a pair of runs as the G-Braves took advantage of three Red Wings errors.
Stat of the day: For the second game Clint Sammons reached base on an error by the Rochester defense.
Pivotal moment: An error on an infield ground ball to first base allowed Wes Timmons and Freddie Freeman to move into scoring position in the bottom of the sixth. Barbaro Canizares drove them home with a opposite-field single.
Late scratch: Originally, Cristhian Martinez was set to start Wednesday for the G-Braves, but a potential recall to Atlanta pending the outcome of Jonny Venters’ suspension appeal and the need for Scott Diamond to pitch without too many days off led to Martinez’s day off.
On deck: LHP Jose Ortegano (2-8, 6.58 ERA) gets the start against Rochester’s David Bromberg (1-1, 4.15) at 7 p.m. today.
In his third Class AAA start, the left-hander battled a hot, sticky night to throw six four-hit innings. He allowed one run and struck out four. Thanks to a pair of double plays, the 23-year-old, who turns 24 on Friday, faced the minimum through four innings.
The G-Braves scored two runs in the sixth and won 3-1 to give Diamond his first AAA win in three starts. It was the G-Braves’ second straight win over Rochester.
“I got the shaving cream pie in the face. It’s all fun and games,” Diamond said.
The strong start from Diamond was his second since his callup from Class AA Mississippi on July 13. He struggled in his first start, allowing six runs over just three innings. It took him 71 pitches.
In his second start, Diamond turned it around. He allowed just one unearned run off eight hits in seven innings. He got no-decisions in both starts.
Then came Wednesday. Diamond was in command from the start, striking out one in each of the first three innings and throwing 25 of his first 32 pitches for strikes. He needed just 84 pitches to get through six innings and worked well with catcher Clint Sammons on pitch selection.
“We had the All-Star break and that threw me off a little bit,” Diamond said of his first start. “I wasn’t as prepared as I was for the (second) two.
“I had pretty good command of my fastball the last two games.”
The heat started to wear on Diamond over the final three innings, but even after giving up a run and a hit in the sixth, he picked Red Wings leadoff batter Brandon Roberts off first base and struck out Brian Dinkleman to end the inning and his outing.
“I think my jersey weighed 20 pounds by the end of the sixth inning,” Diamond said of the heat. “I got the adrenaline going a little bit. I could have gone all night if they needed me to.”
The G-Braves took advantage of some sloppy Rochester defense in the bottom of the sixth to take the lead and keep Diamond in line for the win. After Wes Timmons singled, Freddie Freeman appeared to ground out to first, but Rochester tried to turn a double play. Red Wings’ first baseman Matt Macri threw low to second and Timmons slide knocked the ball free. Timmons and Freeman both advanced. The two scored when Barbaro Canizares singled to right field. Canizares now has 48 RBIs on the season.
“With a team like this, they are going to get something circulating, it may be early or it may be later in the game,” Diamond said. “It helps, the more I can do to go out and put zeros up on the board.”
Gwinnett added its final run in the eighth on more Rochester blunders. Timmons scored from first when Freeman doubled and Brendan Harris dropped the throw from the outfield. It was Freeman’s team-best 60th RBI.
“I feel good. I feel comfortable,” Freeman said of his performance at the plate. “This year has been up and down and when you get good pitching performances it takes the pressure off of us.”
More strong pitching followed Diamond. Scott Proctor battled to a scoreless inning and Stephen Marek tossed a clean eighth.
Then came Craig Kimbrel who put a runner on with an error and walked the next batter before sitting down the next two for his 13th save.