LAWRENCEVILLE — When the Gwinnett Braves were aggressive, they missed by inches. When they weren’t, it costs them, too.
In another close loss to the Durham Bulls, 2-1, the G-Braves were thrown out twice at home and once stealing second, they also stole two bases. Two happened on one play.
In the second inning, Wilkin Ramirez stole second and ended the same play out at the plate when a throwing error by the catcher skipped into the outfield and Bulls center fielder Desmond Jennings mishandled the ball, prompting Ramirez to try for the score.
Bulls 2 , G-Braves 1
What happened: The G-Braves stranded five runners, including the bases loaded in the eighth inning in another close loss to the Durham Bulls. Pitcher Todd Redmond battled through six innings, allowing just two runs off seven hits and leaving five runners on base, but took the loss. The Gwinnett offense mustered just six hits, but had two runners thrown out at home plate and one caught stealing. Durham starter Alex Cobb struck out seven in five innings to set the tone for the offensive struggles for Gwinnett. Jordan Schafer was the G-Braves’ lone offensive bright spot, going 2-for-3 with a run scored, a stolen base and a walk.
Stat of the day: Two different G-Braves batters were thrown out at home plate, Wilkin Ramirez in the second, Joe Mather in the fourth.
Web gem: Pitcher Todd Redmond ended the second inning by sliding to pick up a bunt and throwing out Omar Luna at first base.
Pivotal moment: Diory Hernandez struck out looking with the bases loaded in the eighth inning to end the last G-Braves threat. An 0-for-4 night dropped his early batting average to .083.
On deck: RHP Jacob Thompson gets his Class AAA start against the Bulls RHP Edgar Gonzalez at 2 p.m. at Coolray Field.
He didn’t make it. Neither did Joe Mather in the fourth inning, and both outs came off perfect throws to the plate.
“We are getting the season started and we had guys running the bases hard,” G-Braves manager Dave Brundage said. “The guys did a good job. I’d do it again. It’s not going to stop me from sending anybody, I know that.”
Then came the eighth inning.
Trailing 2-1, Diory Hernandez came to the plate with the bases loaded and two outs. The second baseman who played 20 games with the Atlanta Braves a year ago, watched a pair of close strikes, including the final one on a full count to end the inning and the threat. Hernandez’ 0-for-4 night dropped his average to .083. He has just one hit in the early season.
But he’s not alone, in the first three games the G-Braves have scored just seven runs and stranded runners late in games.
“We had some chances,” Brundage said.
Todd Redmond and the defense gave Gwinnett every opportunity.
Redmond’s first pitch of the game, to Jennings, was the first home run of the season at Coolray Field.
“Every time I’ve faced Jennings, he’s never swung at the first pitch,” Redmond said. “That’s one of those, you just tip your hat.”
But the right-hander who has allowed 21 home runs in each of the past two seasons didn’t rattle. He followed the homer with a three-pitch strikeout of Justin Ruggiano and that’s how his day went. Redmond allowed two runs off seven hits and two strikeouts over six innings. He stranded five runners.
“I felt really good,” Redmond said. “My fastball command was better than in has been in the past couple of years. “I’ve been working on keeping it down, getting ground balls.”
“He pitched outstanding,” Brundage said.
The ground balls let the defense get moving.
The combination of Hernandez, Ed Lucas and Shawn Bowman put together a pair of inning-ending double plays. In the fifth, the triumvirate saved Redmond after he loaded the bases with one out.