The Gwinnett Stripers were backed into a corner, trailing the Clippers 0-2 in a five game series after being swept at home, and they came out in game three firing hoping to steal their road games. Behind a strong start from Kyle Wright and a surge of firepower by the offense they were able to do just that, cruising out to an early 10-0 lead and holding on to win 10-6.
Kyle Wright was not as steady as some of his prior starts, but in his first playoff appearance he was able to hold it together and string together an attractive final line. His first was a bit of a mess as a hit batter, a base hit, and a wild pitch put runners on second and third but he worked out of it with a ground out-of which he recorded five on the day.
In the second the offense came alive, with Pedro Florimon singling to lead off the inning and coming around to score two batters later as Andres Blanco opened the scoring with a ground ball through the right side. Cristian Pache had his first RBI of the game as he lifted a fly ball to score Sean Kazmar for the second run. Riley Unroe worked a walk to bring up the nine spot in the order, JR Murphy, and Murphy came with the goods. Murphy got a 1-0 pitch to hit and he did not miss, smashing a long home run into the trees beyond the center field fence to blow the game open and give Gwinnett a 5-0 lead.
Wright allowed a leadoff walk in the second inning but recorded his first strikeout of the game and easily worked around that walk to put up a shut down inning. This brought the Stripers back to the plate where they were looking to add on in a big way. Jack Lopez and Pedro Florimon each reached, Florimon doing so on his second of three hits on the night, and a double from Sean Kazmar score Lopez and ended the night of the Clippers’s starter with no outs in the third. Their reliever hit Andres Blanco with the second pitch he threw to bring up Cristian Pache with nobody out and the bases loaded. Pache saw the first pitch sail well wide of the zone, then on a 1-0 pitch got a curveball he liked but swung through it to run the count even at 1-1. The 1-1 pitch was another curve, and this one was hung by the Clippers’s reliever and Cristian Pache jump on it, smashing a ball over the fence in left center field for a grand slam. The Stripers had pushed the lead to 10-0 with no outs in the third inning and the stage was set for a game four.
The bottom of the third started out in rough fashion for Gwinnett, as the first man of the inning for Columbus lifted a line drive into the right center field gap. Cristian Pache made his way over and had a beat on it, but the ball had a funky spin to it and made a late cut back towards center field and Pache overran the ball for a two base error. A base hit then brought in the first (unearned) run against Kyle Wright, but he prevented further damage with a strikeout and an inning ending double play. Wright made one big mistake in the game and that came in the fourth inning. Wright had allowed a hit in the inning but a strikeout and a pop out had him one out away from escaping once again, and he found himself quickly up 0-2 on Columbus’s Connor Marabell. Marabell fouled off a well placed high fastball, then a tough slider down and in, before Wright made his mistake. Wright left one of his sliders just a bit over the middle of the plate low, and Marabell was sitting on it and crushed a two run home run. Wright was able to shake that off and get a strikeout to end the inning, then cruised through his next two innings scoreless.
The Final Line for Kyle Wright was 6 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 6 K
Grant Dayton was the first pitcher out of the bullpen for Gwinnett, and oh boy here we go, he allowed three runs in the seventh inning to pull the game to 10-6 before he was pulled with two outs. Patrick Weigel came in to put out the fire, and thankfully he was able to hush any chance of a comeback in the game. Weigel did allow a couple of walks, but the Clippers bats could no harm as he pitched 2 1⁄3 innings and didn’t allow a hit or even a sniff of a run.
Drew Waters final line 1-4 with a walk and a strikeout
Waters was toyed with in the first at bat and went down on strikes on three pitches, the first of an underwhelming day for him as the rest of the team exploded. Following the Murphy home run in the second inning he grounded out right back to the pitcher, though in the third he drew a two out walk on four pitches and advanced to third on a double before being stranded. Drew had the second hit of the fifth inning, but a double play ended that inning with him unable to score and extend the Stripers lead. His final at bat ended the seventh inning as he grounded into a 4-6-3 double play.
Cristian Pache final line 1-4 with a Grand Slam and Five RBIs
Outside of that error that wasn’t entirely his fault Pache ended up having what turned out to be the game winning RBIs for Gwinnett. His first at bat ended in a sacrifice fly, and then came that grand slam that really put the game out of reach for the Stripers. Pache finished his day a bit ho hum, with a ground out to end the fourth inning. In the sixth he got an 2-0 pitch to drive with two outs and two on, and he did just that hitting a hard line drive into center field, but he didn’t get enough and the center fielder was able to track it down for the final out. He grounded out to lead off the top of the ninth inning for his final at bat of the day.
The Stripers will run Touki Toussaint on the mound for their fourth game as they try to pull even in the series. The game begins at 7:05 PM ET, and the Clippers’s starter is still to be determined. Toussaint has been a disaster since his demotion to Gwinnett, as he has continued to put up strong strikeout numbers but the walks and home runs have piled up and since striking out nine over four scoreless innings in his first start, he has pitched six games and gone 0-5 with a 9.00 ERA, a .904 OPS against, and 28 strikeouts to 20 walks in 23 innings. The good news is, that four inning, nine strikeout, zero walk performance came against the Clippers on July 26th.