LAWRENCEVILLE — J.J. Hoover hadn’t had many breaks with Class AA Mississippi, but at least he’d pitched well. In his Class AAA debut, the right-hander wasn’t sharp or fortunate.
Hoover, getting a spot start in place of the temporarily promoted Julio Teheran, had trouble throwing strikes and wasn’t helped by the Gwinnett defense Tuesday on a cold and windy night at Coolray Field.
Once Hoover left after needing nearly 100 pitches to make it through four innings, the G-Braves broke through against Rochester’s Eric Hacker for five runs in the fifth to get their fill-in starter off the hook.
But then Gwinnett gave the game back, the Red Wings regaining the lead with two unearned runs in the seventh and adding a homer in the eighth by Jason Repko en route to a series-opening 7-6 victory.
The G-Braves made it close in the ninth inning, pulling within a run on Matt Young’s double following a two-out walk to Jordan Schafer. But Kyle Waldrop relieved and struck out Mauro Gomez to end the game.
Hoover threw 65 pitches in the first two innings and ended up allowing four runs (three earned) on five hits and four walks while striking out three. Of his 95 pitches, 42 were balls.
Hoover, 23, was 1-3 with Mississippi, but had a 2.18 ERA and 41 strikeouts to 10 walks in 412⁄3 innings. In 2010, he led Braves minor leaguers with a 14-7 record and had a combined 3.29 ERA with Class A Advanced Myrtle Beach and Mississippi.
He was shaky from the beginning against Rochester, though.
Although Rochester didn’t hit the ball hard once, Hoover needed 39 pitches to get through the first inning. The Red Wings had three singles, including a wind-blown pop-up that fell untouched, and drew two walks, the first with the bases loaded.
It wasn’t much better in the second inning, with Rochester again scoring twice. Hoover allowed two hits and walked two, one of the Red Wings’ runs unearned because of a throwing error by second baseman Daniel Nelson.
Hoover settled down in his final two innings, the only Rochester base-runner reaching on Nelson’s second error of the game to start the fourth inning. Then the G-Braves got him off the hook for the loss with five runs in the fifth.
Shawn Bowman started the big inning with his fourth homer of the season after the G-Braves had been held to just a bunt single by Schafer previously. Hacker unraveled after the home run and threw three wild pitches as
Gwinnett followed with three more hits and two walks. Gomez had an RBI double and Wilkin Castillo an RBI single.
Left-handed reliever Rowdy Hardy, also promoted from Class AA on Tuesday, relieved Hoover and held Rochester scoreless in the fifth and six innings. But the Red Wings regained the lead in the seventh after Gomez threw wild to second base trying to start a double play following a leadoff single by Rene Tosconi.
When Hardy walked Dustin Martin with two outs to load the bases, Juan Abreu came in and allowed a sacrifice fly by Jeff Bailey and a tie-breaking RBI single by Chase Lambin.
Abreu allowed the homer by Repko in the eighth inning and the G-Braves couldn’t quite muster a second comeback in the ninth.