LAWRENCEVILLE — As they had done in each of their previous two outings, the Gwinnett Braves got some early offense in Tuesday night’s contest with the Buffalo Bison.
Unfortunately, Pat Misch made sure they didn’t maintain that early outburst.
BISONS 6, G-BRAVES 3
What happened: Buffalo left-hander Pat Misch (6-3) recovered from a three-run G-Braves second to scatter 10 hits in eight strong innings. The Bisons turned around a 3-1 deficit on a pair of home runs a two-run shot by Valentino Pascucci in the fourth and a three-run bomb by Jorge Padilla in the fifth. Among the bright notes for the G-Braves, Mitch Jones broke out of a homestand-long slump by going 4-for-4 with his team-leading 12th homer of the season, while Freddie Freeman extended his hitting streak to 11 straight games.
Crucial moment: Two-out infield singles by Jones and Diory Hernandez brought the tying run to the plate in the bottom of the eighth, but Misch was able to beat Joe Thurston to bag on his grounder to first to keep a three-run lead intact.
Web gems: Freeman made an outstanding running, over-the-shoulder catch on Padilla’s blooper into short right field. Thurston then dove to his right to snag Jonathan Malon’s low liner, and then threw back to Freeman to double up Josh Thole at first to end the top of the eighth.
Stat of the day: The G-Braves bullpen has been getting it done of late. Heading into Tuesday’s game, Gwinnett relievers had allowed just three earned runs while striking out 25 batters in its last 231⁄3 innings (an ERA of just 1.14) covering eight games over the past week. The bullpen should be even stronger with the return of closer Craig Kimbrel, who was sent down by the Atlanta Braves to make room for Takashi Saito’s return from the disabled list.
Worth noting: Right-handed reliever Scott Proctor pitched a scoreless inning in his first outing after being promoted from Class A Myrtle Beach on Monday. The five-year Major League veteran was signed by the Atlanta Braves in the offseason and threw eight innings for the G-Braves earlier this season before being sent to extended spring training in April to assess his recovery from Tommy John elbow surgery last year.
On deck: The series with Buffalo continues tonight at 7:05. RHP Todd Redmond (7-6, 4.18 ERA) gets the start for the G-Braves.
The 6-foot-2, 196-pound left-hander shut down Gwinnett the rest of the way, while the Bison offense played longball with home runs by Valentino Pascucci and Jorge Padilla in a 6-3 victory before 4,088 fans at Coolray Field.
Misch (6-3) recovered from Gwinnett’s three-run second inning to face just five more than the minimum over the next six innings, scattering 10 hits and striking out three in eight effective innings.
“We put up three runs and got a lead,” G-Braves manager Dave Brundage said. “And then Jo-Jo (Reyes) goes out and pitches a clean third inning, and it looks like we’re going to be able to feed off that. But we made a couple mistakes (in the next two innings) and they made him pay for it.”
Mitch Jones had a big 4-for-4 night at the plate and got the G-Braves’ bats going early after the Bisons took a 1-0 lead in the top of the second.
Jones, who came in hitting just .133 (2-for-15) on the current homestand, belted Misch’s first pitch onto the berm in left-center for his team-leading 12th homer of the season to tie the game 1-1.
One out later, Joe Thurston drew a walk and went to third on Alex Romero’s bloop single that just eluded a diving Jonathan Malo in left field.
J.C. Boscan followed with an RBI double just inside the third-base bag to give the G-Braves the lead, and Reyes followed with an RBI ground out that made it 3-1.
However, Reyes (1-5) couldn’t hold the lead.
The left-hander surrendered six hits over the next two innings, including two long homers — Pascuicci’s two-run shot in the fourth and a three-run blast by Padilla in the fifth — as Buffalo vaulted into a 6-3 lead.
From there, Misch cruised until retiring the first two hitters in the bottom of the eighth, when Jones and Diory Hernandez each lashed hard-hit grounders that third baseman Mike Cervenak was able to knock down, but went for singles.
However, the 28-year-old lefty was able to take Pascucci’s throw after getting Thurston to send a bouncer inside the first-base line and beat the G-Braves’ second baseman to the bag to get out of the inning.
“He pitched in, he pitched away, he threw strikes,” Brundage said of Misch. “That’s what you do with a lead.”
Former Atlanta and G-Brave Manny Acosta then struck out the side in the ninth to record his second save of the season.