It was a rough night down in the Atlanta Braves’ minor league system as a couple close games did not go their way in route to a 1-3 slate. Cal Conley continued his hot hitting after his promotion, Justyn-Henry Malloy homered, and Dylan Dodd had a bit more of an uneven start than we are used to seeing from him. Let’s get into the games.
Gwinnett Stripers 3, Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp 4
- Braden Shewmake, SS: 1-4, 3B, R, .714 OPS
- Ryan Casteel, DH: 2-4, HR, 2 RBI, .852 OPS
- Tucker Davidson, SP: 5 IP, 9 H, 3 ER, 1 BB, 3 K, 4.42 ERA
Gwinnett nearly rallied in the bottom of the ninth inning, but fell short as they fell to Jacksonville by the final score of 4-3. Tucker Davidson took the mound for Gwinnett and as frankly somewhat fortunate to only give up three runs in his five innings of work. He wasn’t getting whiffs on much of anything and while he was finding the strike zone, when you aren’t fooling guys...well, that isn’t always a good thing. However, the damage was limited to those three runs The bullpen largely did good work to keep the game within reach, but a RBI groundout after a wild pitch by Jacob Webb ended up being the winning run.
On offense, the biggest swing of the game for the Stripers came off the bat of Ryan Casteel in the bottom of the ninth inning. His two-run homer made this game very interesting all of a sudden and a double immediately afterwards courtesy of Joe Dunand had the tying run at second with one out. Unfortunately, the Stripers would strike out and fly out to end the game.
Mississippi Braves 5, Pensacola Blue Wahoos 6
- Vaughn Grissom, SS: 1-4, RBI, .876 OPS
- Justyn-Henry Malloy, LF: 2-4, HR, 2 RBI, .766 OPS
- Dylan Dodd, SP: 4.2 IP, 9 H, 4 R (3 ER), 1 BB, 5 K, 2.53 ERA
The game was close after a start that wasn’t Dylan Dodd’s finest effort, but Pensacola was able to rally off of Mississippi’s bullpen and the Braves fell by the final score of 6-5. Dodd was largely fine while pitching into the fifth inning as he was still throwing a lot of strikes. However, like Davidson, he was getting squared up in the zone on Tuesday more than you would like and some less than inspired fielding from Drew Lugbauer and a wild pitch didn’t help the cause in the fifth. Odalvi Javier would come in and finish the fifth inning out thanks to old friend Ray-Patrick Didder getting caught stealing, but Javier, too, would get knocked around by some hard contact in the sixth inning that pulled the Blue Wahoos ahead for good.
It was a team effort on offense for Mississippi with Justyn-Henry Malloy leading the charge with his second homer, a two-run shot, in Double-A. He had been in a bit of a mini-slump, so it was nice to see him have a good game. In addition to Malloy, Cody Milligan and Jalen Miller each had multi-hit games for the Braves and Justin Dean drove in a pair of runs with a single in the fourth. Vaughn Grissom continued to stay productive with an RBI single thanks to some hustle down the first base line. He has an .876 OPS in Double-A so far which is pretty good we think.
Rome Braves 3, Hickory Crawdads 7
- Cal Conley, SS: 2-4, HR, 2 RBI, 1.022 OPS
- Bryson Horne, DH: 2-4, 2B, .764 OPS
- JJ Niekro, SP: 5 IP, 8 H, 4 ER, 3 BB, 2 K, 4.09 ERA
Tough night down in high-A as Hickory jumped on JJ Niekro early and the Crawdads pulled away to take down Rome by the score of 7-3. Considering the fact that he gave up a pair of solo homers in the first inning and then gave up two more runs including one on a wild pitch in the second inning, it definitely could have been worse for JJ Niekro on Tuesday. However, he did settle down after that and managed to give Rome five innings despite not having his best stuff and Hickory knowing it. Ben Dum would get the sixth inning and after he gave up three runs, a close game got blown open.
In more positive news, Cal Conley continues to rake in high-A as he got two more hits including his second homer at the level. Conley struggled for stretches this season, especially early on, so it is nice to see him rise to the occasion after being promoted. Bryson Horne and Jacob Pearson each had multi-hit games for the Braves, but struggles with runners in scoring position doomed Rome as they went 0-8 in such situations.
Augusta GreenJackets 5, Myrtle Beach Pelicans 4
- Adam Zebrowski, C: 1-3, HR, 3 RBI, BB, .780 OPS
- Brandon Parker, DH: 2-2, 2B, 3 BB, SB, .893 OPS
- Sam Strickland, SP: 5 IP, 1 H, 1 ER, 3 BB, 5 K, 1.96 ERA
Fortunately, the Braves’ farm affiliates would not get swept as a big three-run homer from Adam Zebrowski would lead Augusta to a 5-4 win over Myrtle Beach. Sam Strickland remains underappreciated for his work in Augusta this year as he put together another strong start. In five of his past six starts, he has given up one earned run or less. We do wish he could limit baserunners a bit more as he does sport a 3.68 FIP despite not walking many guys. The bullpen would give up three runs over the next 3.1 innings of work which made the game far more interesting than it needed to be, but Tyler Owens was able to get the final two outs to secure the win.
Adam Zebrowski had the big knock in this game as his three-run homer in the fifth inning gave Augusta a healthy 4-1 lead. Brandon Parker certainly did his job on Tuesday as he reached base five times including a double while also stealing a base. Brandol Mezquita played his first game since 7/12 and recorded a hit which was nice to see as he had been setting himself up for a breakout season before getting banged up. Mahki Backstrom also made his return (he last played on 7/3) and did draw a walk along with two more strikeouts. The GreenJackets drew 11 walks in the game (aka the low-A special), but went just 2-14 with runners in scoring position.