Tyler Pastornicky and the Gwinnett Braves had a tough time offensively against Columbus on Tuesday in a loss at Coolray Field in Lawrenceville. (Photo: Chris Roughgarden)
LAWRENCEVILLE — Second baseman Tommy La Stella’s promotion from Gwinnett to Atlanta last week drew plenty of attention and rightfully so.
What about the player heading the other way, though?
Tyler Pastornicky’s arrival in the majors was once a big story, too. It just didn’t end the way he had hoped.
The Braves’ regular shortstop for the first two months of the 2012 season, Pastornicky lost his spot to Andrelton Simmons. Now it’s La Stella who sent him back to the minors.
Pastornicky is fighting through the disappointment, though, and came back to Coolray Field hitting even better in his brief time with the G-Braves than La Stella is with Atlanta.
Then Pastornicky ran into Gabriel Arias and the Columbus Clippers.
Arias, making just his third start in Class AAA, blanked Gwinnett into the eighth inning and the Clippers won 5-1 in the opener of a four-game series.
Pastornicky was 0-for-4 with two strikeouts, dropping his average from .471 after his first four games on the road to a still-impressive .381.
Arias (1-2) allowed six hits and a run in 7 1/3 innings for the Clippers (27-31), striking out five and walking one. The right-hander was 5-2 with Class AA Akron, but had a 5.73 ERA in his first two AAA starts before facing the G-Braves (30-27).
Pastornicky, who made the short trip from Boston to Pawtucket while La Stella was passing the other way, had a double and single in his first game with the G-Braves and continued his hot hitting with two hits in each of the three games he played in Rochester.
Of course, the 24-year-old Florida native has hit Class AAA pitching well previously. He batted .365 in 27 games with the G-Braves at the end of the 2011 season and .292 in 75 games last year.
Pastornicky, however, tore his ACL last August after being called up to Atlanta and he missed most of spring training this year. That and a calf strain prevented him from taking second base away from the slumping Dan Uggla and he was 7-for-35 when the Braves decided to give La Stella the job.
Columbus used five singles and a throwing error by G-Braves third baseman Edward Salcedo to score three times in the first inning and added a run off starter Zach Stewart (3-3) in the sixth inning
Stewart, who had won his past two decisions, allowed a season-high 11 hits, all singles, and three earned runs while striking out two and walking two over his six innings.
Each team scored a run in the eighth, with center fielder Tyler Holt driving in the Columbus run with his third hit. First baseman Mark Hamilton had two of the seven hits for the G-Braves.
There were 20 hits in the game, all singles.
Cody Martin (3-4, 3.36 ERA) will pitch the second game of the series tonight for the G-Braves against fellow right-hander Danny Salazar (0-3, 7.11 ERA) for the Clippers.
Salazar started the American League wild-card game for Cleveland last season after a late-season promotion from Columbus, but was 1-4 with a 5.53 ERA in eight starts this year with the Indians before being back down to the minors.
The series with Columbus runs through Friday, with Rochester then coming in for four games.