LAWRENCEVILLE — For the second straight night, the Gwinnett Braves offense could do nothing to help out it’s starting pitching.
And when it did show up, it came too late.
Gwinnett didn’t score its first run until the bottom of the ninth inning when Matt Young scored on a Diory Hernandez single with no outs. The G-Braves would load the bases with one out, but the fourth double play turned by Columbus turned the rally into just another loss. This time 2-1 to the Clippers. It’s Gwinnett’s third straight loss since returning home from a road trip riding seven straight wins.
“From our ballclub’s standpoint, down 2-0 (to start the ninth), I felt pretty good about our chances,” Gwinnett manager Dave Brundage said. “We sting a ground ball pretty good that if it the ball is five to to the right, then we win the ballgame.”
Mike Minor, once again, pitched very well. The prospect threw seven two-run innings, striking out seven and walking just one. But his one mistake, a hanging off-speed pitch with two outs, turned the performance into the first L for the lefty.
Facing the Columbus Clippers’ prospect Lonnie Chisenhall with two outs and one on in the sixth, Minor left a pitch up and in to the left-handed hitting third baseman and he planted it on the right field berm.
“He’s putting it together. It’s pretty evident,” Brundage said. “He made one mistake tonight and he didn’t get away with it.
“It was pretty good performance. I like what I see.”
Columbus pitcher Zach McAllister matched Minor and then some through seven innings. The right-hander who beat the G-Braves two years ago in the playoffs while pitching for the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees, gave up six hits and struck out as many to pick up his fourth win.
Gwinnett ran out of a scoring chance in the third when Jose Constanza was thrown out at second with one out and J.C. Boscan on third base. Jordan Schafer’s strikeout eliminated the threat.
They failed to capitalize on lead-off hits in both the sixth and seventh innings. A strikeout followed by a Clippers’ double play ended both innings. Including two bases on errors and two walks, Gwinnett put 13 runners on base against the Clippers, but the four double plays and seven strikeouts kept the shutout intact into the ninth.
“You have to execute against good ballclubs,” Brundage said.
Minor did just that.
The former first round pick only allowed two hits through his first four innings, striking out four in the first two and he stranded his only walk of the night in the fourth.
“He’s gaining more confidence with his third and fourth pitches,” Brundage said. “He’s throwing more quality curveball and sliders and I think that is what is making him so effective.”
Despite the offensive malaise, Mauro Gomez extended his hitting streak to 10 games with a single in the fourth inning. Constanza and Young each went 2-for-4 with a pair of singles and Young scored the G-Braves only run. And for a game where they threatened little, the ninth made the game interesting.
“There is a lot of fight,” Brundage said. “I certainly liked our chances right there. Probably better than they did.”