LAWRENCEVILLE — On the same day the G-Braves lost their top slugger in a trade with Pittsburgh, the team found power from unlikely sources.
Recently optioned outfielder Nate McLouth led the game off with a home run, his second leadoff home run in as many games since his demotion, and Wes Timmons followed with his first-ever home run at Coolray Field.
G-Braves 10, Red wings 0
What happened: Center fielder Nate McLouth, third baseman Wes Timmons, and designated hitter Barbaro Canizares all homered to lead the G-Braves to their second sweep of the season. Timmons reached base safely in all five of his plate appearances, was only a triple shy of a cycle and scored four runs on the night for G-Braves. LHP Mike Minor struck out eight, walked two and allowed only one hit in seven innings to collect his fourth win for Gwinnett. After 13 runs last night and 10 tonight, it brought the run total to an astounding 32 during the four-game series against Rochester.
Going deep: McLouth and Timmons’ back-to-back homeruns in the first inning mark the first time the G-Braves accomplished the feat all year.
In the clutch: With two down in the bottom of third, second baseman Diory Hernandez doubled to center, driving in two and extending the lead to 4-0 in favor of Gwinnett.
Stat of the day: Wes Timmons’ first inning home run was his fifth homer of the year and the first of his career at Coolray Field.
Worth noting: Matt Young had two RBI singles that also happened to end an inning, in both the third and the fifth innings.
On deck: The G-Braves welcome Toledo to town for a four-game series. The Mud Hens will start LHP Ryan Ketchner (3-3, 3.76 ERA) against RHP Todd Redmond (8-10, 4.40 ERA).
Timmons has five home runs on the season and hit one all of last year.
“The wind must have been blowing out,” said Timmons with a grin.
Timmons scored four runs and reached base in every at-bat on a 4-for-4 night.
“It’s (good) anytime you have four hits in a game,” he said. “That has to be up there career-wise (for one of the better games).”
The back-to-back home runs were the first for the G-Braves this season.
Barbaro Canizares added a third home run in the seventh to add three RBIs. He knocked in nine runs in the series with Rochester.
The home runs stopped at three, but the offense did not as the G-Braves completed the four-game sweep with a 10-0 win over Rochester. Against the Red Wings, Gwinnett scored 32 runs in the first home sweep of the season.
“To get (home runs) especially from your 1, 2 hitters that kind of set the tone for the ball game,” manager Dave Brundage said.
After the home runs, the G-Braves used timely hitting to knock in the rest of the runs. Matt Young singled in runs in the third and fifth innings and, strangely, ended the innings on the same play. In the third he was caught between first and second and in the fifth, Barbaro Canizares was thrown out at third. In his first game back off the disabled list, Diory Hernandez hit a two-RBI double and Freddie Freeman scored twice and knocked in a run.
Only Brandon Hicks did not reach base in the game.
“That was the first comfortable win we’ve had, probably, all season,” Brundage said. “It was an all-around, well-played game. You don’t get many of those. We certainly haven’t this year.”
The bats were big, but the pitching matched them.
Twenty-two-year-old Mike Minor earned his fourth win in five Class AAA starts with a dominating performance to underscore the offensive awakening. Minor needed 95 pitches to get through seven shutout innings. He allowed just one hit and walked two while striking out eight. At one point he retired 12 straight batters.
“You don’t change what you do,” Minor said of pitching with a lead, “but it makes it easier. You don’t feel the pressure to put up zeros.”
Minor put the zeros up anyway, using all three of his pitches to keep the Rochester hitters off-balance.
“I thought he pitched really efficiently,” Brundage said. “He was working with all three pitches, and that is something I have been looking for.”
Stephen Marek pitched a scoreless eighth to make it 24 straight scoreless innings. Scott Proctor finished off the sweep in the ninth to make it 11 straight scoreless innings for G-Braves pitching.
“We’ve been getting some big-time hitting from the meat of our lineup,” Timmons said. “That’s coming from good pitching.”