LAWRENCEVILLE — Early June heat once again stymied the G-Braves offense.
For the first time since June 18 of last year, the Gwinnett Braves suffered consecutive shutout losses falling 4-0 to the Lehigh Valley IronPigs. The loss drops Gwinnett under .500 at 26-27 for the first time since April 9 when they were 1-2.
During the back-to-back shutouts, Gwinnett has managed just five hits and struck out 23 times.
IronPigs 4, G-Braves 0
What happened: Gwinnett managed just three hits as it was shut out for the second straight game by the Lehigh Valley IronPigs. Only Mauro Gomez advanced to second base for Gwinnett after his single in the second inning. A day after striking out 14 times, the G-Braves saw strike three nine times Thursday. IronPigs starter Ryan Feierabend tallied five Ks over six innings, needing just 60 pitches. Gwinnett starter Erik Cordier picked up his first loss, throwing five innings, allowing all three runs and striking out two.
Stat of the day: Gwinnett was shutout in consecutive games for the first time since dropping both games of a doubleheader at Syracuse on June 18 last year.
Strong relief: Steven Shell pitched three dominant innings for the G-Braves, allowing just one hit and striking out five for a scoreless relief effort. He struck out four of the final five batters he faced.
Pivotal moment: A lead-off double by Lehigh Valley pitcher Ryan Feierabend led to a two-run home run and a 3-0 lead for the IronPigs in the fifth inning.
On deck: Gwinnett welcomes the Buffalo Bison to Coolray Field tonight at 7 p.m. with RHP Todd Redmond (3-5, 2.87 ERA) facing off against D.J. Carrasco (1-3, 4.94).
“You aren’t going to win a lot of ball games like that,” manager Dave Brundage said.
With a roster rocked by transactions up and down between both the big league team in Atlanta and Class AA Mississippi, the G-Braves sent out a lineup with only two of the eight everyday players hitting in a familiar spot in the order. Wilkin Ramirez and Dan Nelson hit 1-2 for the first time and only two players hit from a spot they had started in more than eight times.
But Brundage looks at the constant change as a chance for players to make an impact.
“It creates opportunities for others to find out if he can or if he can’t,” Brundage said. “I think it creates opportunities for everyone.”
Against Lehigh Valley starter Ryan Feierabend, the opportunities were lost.
Ramirez and Nelson combined to go 0-for-8 with four strikeouts, Stefan Gartrell added an 0-for-4 night to give Gwinnett zero production out of its top three hitters in the lineup.
Feierabend picked up his fourth win, throwing six, two-hit innings, striking out five.
Gwinnett starter Erik Cordier, in his second start of the year, and first in Class AAA, faded over five innings allowing three runs off five hits with two strikeouts. He retired the first six IronPig batters and didn’t allow his second hit until the fourth inning with the temperatures still near 90 degrees. But then he made two mistakes.
Jeff Larish homered with one out in the fourth to give the IronPigs a 1-0 lead. And a lead-off double by Feierabend put the G-Braves further behind in the fifth inning when, two outs later, Loganville’s Brandon Moss homered to give Lehigh Valley a 3-0 lead.
“He threw the ball well,” Brundage said. “He pitched aggressive, he make a couple of mistakes. He’s got plenty of good enough stuff to not just pitch at this level but to pitch at the next.”
But with zero runs to support him, Cordier never had a chance.
“They made adjustments and I didn’t feel like we did,” Brundage said. “That is what this game is about, making adjustments on the fly.”
After Cordier left in the fifth, Steven Shell entered and tossed three dominant innings.
The right-hander allowed just one hit, one walk and hit a batter, but he struck out five. He ended his night striking out four of the final five IronPigs he faced.
“He pitched outstanding,” Brundage said.
The G-Braves, now 10-17 at Coolray Field, welcome in the Buffalo Bison for a four-game series starting tonight.