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Braves Minor League Recap: Connor Blair goes wild for Augusta

Connor Blair had a night for the ages in Augusta’s rout of Delmarva

MLB: Detroit Tigers at Atlanta Braves Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

The lower minors for the Braves’ organization did the bulk of the work on the MiLB side as Atlanta’s affiliates went a combined 2-3. Mississippi got swept in their doubleheader thanks to a lack of offense, the bullpen imploded at Gwinnett, and Connor Blair keyed Augusta’s rout of Delmarva. Lets get into the games.

Gwinnett Stripers 8, Charlotte Knights 11

Box Score

  • Alex Dickerson, RF: 2-3, HR, 4 RBI, 2 BB, .758 OPS
  • Preston Tucker, LF: 3-4, BB. R, .785 OPS
  • Jared Shuster, SP: 6 IP, 7 H, 4 ER, 0 BB, 3 K

It was a tough night for the Gwinnett pitching staff as they could not slow down the Charlotte offense in the Stripers’ 11-8 loss on Wednesday. Jared Shuster got the start for Gwinnett and it wasn’t his best showing. The good news was that he was throwing a lot of strikes, but the bad news was that he wasn’t getting the whiffs he needs to make that work and he gave up three homers along the way. All that said, he made pitches when he had to to at least limit the damage over six innings. The same could not be said for Jesus Cruz and Jacob Webb who combined to give up seven runs in the bottom of the eighth inning to blow the game.

The Gwinnett offense did their job thanks to some timely long balls. Alex Dickerson, who has not been great in Triple-A this season, connected for a grand slam in the top of the third inning to give Gwinnett a healthy early lead. After the eighth inning bullpen debacle, Chadwick Tromp did his best to get the Stripers back into the game with a two-run shot of his own...his 12th of the season. Preston Tucker, Pat Valaika, and Ryan Goins joined Dickerson with multi-hit games of their own. Braden Shewmake was again notably absent from the lineup as he has not appeared in a game since 7/28.

Mississippi Braves 2, Biloxi Shuckers 3 - Game One

Box Score

  • Justyn-Henry Malloy, LF: 2-3, RBI, .806 OPS
  • Cody Milligan, 2B: 2-3, HBP, .616 OPS
  • Tanner Gordon, SP: 3 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 4 BB, 3 K, 6.47 ERA

Mississippi Braves 0, Biloxi Shuckers 2 - Game Two

Box Score

  • Jordan Cowan, 2B: 2-2, BB, .600 OPS
  • Vaughn Grissom, SS: 1-3, .928 OPS
  • Allan Winans, SP: 4.2 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 6 K, 2.08 ERA

Mississippi’s doubleheader with Biloxi did not go well as the Braves were swept by the scores of 3-2 and 2-0. Tanner Gordon got the start in the first game and really struggled to find the strike zone although he wasn’t punished too badly for it. Allan Winans, who had been injured most of the season and was only activated at the end of July, got the start for Mississippi in the second half and made his second straight strong start which also saw him get more whiffs than he got upon his return from injury. The Mississippi bullpen was largely very good although the offense gave them absolutely no room to work with.

On offense, well....at least they tried. Vaughn Grissom did reach base in both games if you are looking for a bright spot. Justyn-Henry Malloy and Cody Milligan had multi-hit games in game one as well. However, the only extra-base hit that the Braves managed across both games was a double off the bat of Riley Delgado in the second game. The Braves also struck out a combined 24 times in the doubleheader which, combined with the lack of significant contact, was less than ideal on the offensive side of the ball.

Rome Braves 6, Greenville Drive 5

Box Score

  • Javier Valdes, C: 3-4, HR, RBI, .865 OPS
  • Cal Conley, SS: 1-4, HR, 3 RBI, .935 OPS
  • Luis De Avila, SP: 5 IP, 6 H, 5 R (3 ER), 3 BB, 3 K, 3.81 ERA

Down 5-1 in the seventh inning, Rome rallied for five runs to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat by the final score of 6-5. Wednesday’s start may have been Luis De Avila’s worst one since the middle of June, but wasn’t all his fault as an error by Cal Conley in the second inning led to a couple of unearned runs and definitely prolonged that inning significantly. However, combining that miscue with an uncharacteristic inability to miss bats wasn’t a great combination. However, Jose Montilla and Austin Smith did great work in throwing four no-hit innings the rest of the way to keep Rome in the game which proved EXTREMELY valuable.

Rome’s offense did little more than scratch together some singles and squander some chances through the game’s first six innings with the notable exception of a solo shot from Javier Valdes. However, in the seventh inning, they had an opposing pitcher that was very wild and struggling and they took advantage of the opportunity. After a wild pitch scored one run and Caleb Durbin drove in another, Cal Conley connected for a three-run homer that put Rome ahead for good. They could have had even more runs as they loaded the bases with one out, but back-to-back strikeouts ended the rally even though the damage had already been done.

Augusta GreenJackets 15, Delmarva Shorebirds 4

Box Score

  • Connor Blair, DH: 4-7, 2B, 2 HR, 7 RBI, .684 OPS
  • Francisco Floyd, SS: 2-3, 2 RBI, 3 BB, 2 R, .667 OPS
  • Luis Vargas, SP: 4.2 IP, 8 H, 4 ER, 2 BB, 8 K, 3.98 ERA

This one was a doozy as Augusta thoroughly demolished Delmarva by the score of 15-4. Luis Vargas got the start for Augusta and he was decidedly...not efficient. Vargas hasn’t gone more than 5.0 innings in any of his last four starts and he saw a fairly high number of baserunners on Wednesday evening. The eight strikeouts did help the cause, though, and it ultimately didn’t matter that he wasn’t at his best because the offense went wild. A hat tip to the Augusta bullpen who threw 4.1 innings of scoreless relief to keep this one a laugher.

So how does an offense score 15 runs while going 3-17 with runners in scoring position? Well, walking 11 times sure helps to begin with. Augusta also got an absolutely huge night from Connor Blair who had two homers and a double while driving in seven runs for the GreenJackets. Have a night, Connor. Brandon Parker got in on the fun as well with a solo homer and a stolen base while scoring three runs on the evening as well. In short, every GreenJacket reached base at least once and seven of the nine guys in the lineup had at least one RBI which seems like a strong path to success.

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