Coming in down 0-1 in the series Gwinnett was looking to make an early statement, and they got off to the start of their dreams in the first inning. Ian Anderson mowed through the Clippers with three strikeouts in the first inning, and then on the first pitch he saw the Stripers’s leadoff man Ryan LaMarre laced a home run into the visitor’s bullpen.
Ian Anderson was in his top form for the early portions of this game, and it felt like a corner had been turned as he cruised through a 1-2-3 second inning and kept the ball on the ground for a perfect third. A Cristian Pache single in the second inning brought in one more run to score and extended the lead to 2-0, putting the game in the hands of the pitching staff to keep the good times rolling. Then came the collapse.
Anderson has struggled since his promotion to Gwinnett to avoid big innings, and in the fourth that demon reappeared. A one out walk didn’t cause too much concern as he quickly got a quick ground out for the second out, but then the hits piled on against him. A base hit brought in the first run to score, and then another put the game in a precarious position with the tying run standing at third base. Ian couldn’t get a ball close on the first two pitches to Dioner Navarro, then after he got a fastball to sneak in the zone for a called strike he once again missed to run the count 3-1. Anderson missed badly over the heart of the plate and Navarro did not miss the pitch, launching a towering home run that snuck just over the outstretched arm of Stripers right fielder Austin Riley.
Anderson looked good enough in the fifth, allowing a base hit that he was able to sneak around on a double play, and the Stripers began to mount a Clippers-assisted comeback in the bottom of the inning. Drew Waters smoked the first pitch of the inning right over the head of the center fielder for a double, putting them in position to cut into that lead. A walk to Ryan LaMarre brought in Sean Kazmar Jr., and he too lifted the first pitch he saw into center field. His was of the more routine variety but as center fielder Bradley Zimmer settled under to make the catch he flubbed it, allowing the speedy Waters to streak in to score easily and bring the Stripers within a run with still no outs. The inning went no further, however, as Austin Riley grounded into a 6-4-3 double play for the first two outs and a Pedro Florimon ground out ended the chance with the tying run standing on third base.
Closing in on Columbus! pic.twitter.com/nnGL5Dyhom— Gwinnett Stripers (@GoStripers) September 6, 2019
Anderson allowed a walk and a double to score another run in the sixth inning, then after a hard line drive out he was pulled from the game for Tyler Matzek. Matzek looked strong and kept the Stripers in the game through the seventh by retiring all five batters he faced and striking out two of these. The offense just couldn’t get anything going and the Clippers pulled away late. They netted a run off of Caleb Thielbar in the eighth inning, and then in the bottom half the Stripers stranded a double from Andres Blanco. A home run off of Jose Rafael De Paula made it 7-3 in the ninth inning and the Stripers couldn’t threaten in the bottom of the ninth and easily fell to the Clippers.
Ian Anderson’s final line on the day was 5 1⁄3 inning, six hits allowed, five runs—all earned, three walks, and four strikeouts
Austin Riley went 1-4 in the three spot for the Stripers, with that double play coming on his most important at bat of the game.
Cristian Pache finished 1-4 with a run batted in, but also struck out twice in his first playoff game.
Drew Waters finished 1-4 as well with that run scored and two strikeouts.
The series will move to Columbus for game three, with the Clippers hosting at Huntington Park at 7:05 PM ET. Kyle Wright will be going on the mound for the Stripers, and he’s ending the season on his hottest streak thus far. Over his past six starts he has thrown 36 innings with a 2.75 ERA, 43 strikeouts, eleven walks, and two home runs. Across from him with be right hander Shao-Ching Chiang. Chiang has a 5.15 ERA across 26 starts in 2019. An August 15th start against the Stripers saw him go seven innings, allow only two runs and strike out seven batters.
The game will be streaming on MiLB TV.
The positive to this start for Gwinnett is that the major league team has a much more important playoff race going on at the major league level. The quicker the Stripers lose out of the playoffs the quicker the reinforcements in Austin Riley, Bryse Wilson, Patrick Weigel, Touki Toussaint, and Kyle Wright can come up to help Atlanta down the stretch.