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Atlanta Braves Minor League Recap: Freddy Tarnok goes five scoreless innings

Freddy Tarnok was on his game for Gwinnett, but the bullpen provided little support of his efforts

Freddy Tarnok Photo Credit: Garrett Spain

It was quite a busy night on the Atlanta Braves farm system, as we have five games to go over here. While the lower levels cruised to wins, Gwinnett suffered two crushing losses in their double header. More importantly, injuries to Brandol Mezquita and AJ Smith-Shawver cast a dark shadow on Augusta’s blowout win.

(49-53) Gwinnett Stripers 4, (38-64) Charlotte Knights 5

Box Score

  • Braden Shewmake, SS: 0-3, BB, .254/.312/.386
  • Taylor Motter, 3B: 1-2, HR, 2 BB, 2 RBI, .421/.577/1.158
  • Pat Valaika, 1B: 1-3, HR, .254/.312/.406
  • Freddy Tarnok, SP: 5 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 2 K, 2.08 ERA
  • Michael Tonkin, RP: 0.1 IP, 6 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, 3.12 ERA

(49-54) Gwinnett Stripers 3, (39-64) Charlotte Knights 4

Box Score

  • Braden Shewmake, SS: 1-3, .255/.313/.385
  • Taylor Motter, DH: 1-2, BB, RBI, .421/.577/1.158
  • Delino DeShields, CF: 2-4, 2B, 2B, .242/.386/.288
  • Connor Johnstone, SP: 3 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 2 K, 3.70 ERA
  • Roel Ramirez, RP: 1 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K, 1.13 ERA

The Gwinnett Stripers took late leads into each half of their Friday double header, and wouldn’t you know it they both ended the same way. Game one was a solid pitching duel, as Freddy Tarnok and a line of Knights pitchers battled over the first five innings. Tarnok didn’t miss many bats over his five scoreless innings, striking out two batters, but he was able to force a high ground ball rate and get eight outs on the ground. Offensively the Stripers didn’t do much to help Tarnok, but the Charlotte pitching staff did. After a one out single by Ryan Goins in the third inning the pitcher walked two consecutive batters on four pitches, before also walking Preston Tucker to force in a run. The Stripers needed some insurance going into the seventh inning and they got it immediately on a solo home run from Pat Valaika to lead off the inning. Taylor Motter stayed hot at the plate and with two outs doubled that lead with a two run shot. Gwinnett held a 4-0 lead going into the bottom of the seventh and brought on Michael Tonkin and his 1.83 ERA to close out the game. The first two batters of the inning managed singles off of Tonkin, but he got a strikeout for the first out and quickly went up 0-2 to the next hitter. This is when the game broke down, with a double scoring a run and then a three run home run which tied it at four. The next pitch was roped for a double, and somehow through all of this Tonkin was left in the game to flounder. Fortunately, or unfortunately, the suffering ended quickly as the next batter knocked a walk off single.

That was a poor experience, but the Stripers couldn’t possibly hurt us again right? In game two of the double header they spent much less time kicking dirt around and Taylor Motter drove in Delino DeShields in the second at bat of the game to give Gwinnett a lead. Connor Johnstone gave that run right back on a solo home run in the bottom of the inning, then gave them another solo home run in the second inning, but Gwinnett’s offense wasn’t quite done yet. Gwinnett scored two runs in the second inning on an error and a sacrifice fly to take the lead, and the bullpen held that lead for a bit. Roel Ramirez and Jay Jackson each gave the Stripers a scoreless inning of relief, but with Jackson on the mound things got tight in the sixth inning. A walk and a double with two outs tied the game at three and ended Jackson’s day at 1 13 innings. Tyler Ferguson came out of the bullpen and loaded the bases on an infield single and a hit batter, but a double play kept Gwinnett in it and ended the inning. That mattered for about an inning, with Ferguson loading the bases again in the ninth inning before a single from Zach Remillard walked off the game for the Knights for the second game in a row.

Next Game: 8/6 @ (39-64) Charlotte Knights @ 7:04 PM ET

(47-53) Mississippi Braves 2, (49-49) Biloxi Shuckers 7

Box Score

  • Vaughn Grissom, SS: 1-4, .346/.400/.474
  • Drew Lugbauer, 1B: 1-4, HR, 2 RBI, .224/.331/.466
  • Justyn-Henry Malloy, LF: 2-4, .286/.375/.414
  • Alan Rangel, SP: 4.1 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 3 BB, 7 K, 5.38 ERA
  • Indigo Diaz, RP: 1.2 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K, 3.65 ERA

Mississippi never led in this game, and with Montgomery winning today have dropped into a tie for first place in the South Division second half standings. The Mississippi lineup had little offensive impact in this game with the only extra base hit and runs coming on a two-run home run by Drew Lugbauer in the fourth inning. That was Lugbauer’s 22nd home run of the season, which moved him into a tie for the Southern League lead. Justyn-Henry Malloy was the player to score on the play and he had a solid night with two hits. Landon Stephens made his Double-A debut at DH in this game and went 0-4.

Alan Rangel was hit early and quite often through his start, with the second batter of the game slugging a solo home run to give Biloxi the lead. The Shuckers had four hits and two runs through the first couple of innings, but the second time through the ordered seemed to have Rangel a bit more settled in. He pitched two scoreless innings although neither was clean and things were looking up when that Lugbauer home run tied the game. Unfortunately Rangel allowed a leadoff walk in the fifth inning and after giving up two stolen bases to move the runner over to third Rangel was pulled with one out. Reliever AJ Puckett could not strand the runner and allowed a sacrifice fly which gave Biloxi the lead for good. Mississippi kept the game close and the bullpen shut the game down over the next three innings, but a big ninth inning killed any comeback chance. Justin Yeager allowed four runs in the inning on three hits and two walks before he finally had to pulled in favor of Logan Brown. Yes, Logan Brown the catcher. Who did better than Yeager at least and got the only batter he faced to ground out and end the inning.

Next Game: 8/6 vs (49-49) Biloxi Shuckers @ 7:05 PM ET

(59-41) Rome Braves 8, (36-62) Greenville Drive 3

Box Score

  • Jacob Pearson, CF: 3-4, 2 2B, RBI, .281/.364/.400
  • Cal Conley, SS: 1-3, 2B, BB, 2 RBI, .309/.352/.568
  • Javier Valdes, C: 2-3, RBI, .263/.376/.478
  • Royber Salinas, SP: 4 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 3 BB, 8 K, 4.64 ERA
  • Darren O’Day, RP: 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, 0.00 ERA

Rome dominated the game against Greenville, winning their fourth consecutive game and their 15th in their past 17 home games. Jacob Pearson and Cal Conley have been hot at the top of the lineup and both started the game off with doubles to give Rome an early 1-0 lead. Rome netted two more runs in the bottom of the second, but it probably should have been worse as they had five batters reach base and left the bases loaded. This came back to bite them when Greenville tied the game in the third inning, but Rome was not slowing down. Cade Bunnell took the lead right back for the Braves in the third inning when he delivered an RBI double to score Willie Carter. Their sixth inning rally was the one to blow the game open and put it mostly out of reach of a Greenville comeback. Pearson led off with his second double of the game and after a walk Javier Valdes got Rome back on the board with an RBI single. Two batters later Beau Philip added a two run single which put up by three runs. Tyler Tolve brought in the final run with a sacrifice fly in the eighth, and Rome’s bullpen managed to not give up five runs in the last inning and hold on to win.

You’ve read through a few rough bullpen games so far, so let’s go to a game with a bit more pitching magic. Royber Salinas looked a lot like his early season self with four strikeouts through two innings. The third was unfortunately not as kind to Salinas as he allowed three runs on two hits and a walk with the biggest being a two run home run that tied the game. Salinas struck out eight batters in the game, his second highest total since the start of June, and threw only 74 pitches over his four innings. The bullpen was fantastic in relief of Salinas, starting with a perfect rehab inning from Darren O’Day. Malcolm Van Buren continued striking out the world this year with two more in a hitless sixth inning. Van Buren has had comical struggles with walks (38) but struck out 47 batters in 24 13 innings this season. Benjamin Dum pitched two scoreless innings of relief and Trey Riley closed out the game with a scoreless ninth inning though he did walk two batters.

Next Game: 8/6 vs (36-62) Greenville Drive @ 6:00 PM ET

(50-48) Augusta GreenJackets 14, (34-65) Delmarva Shorebirds 2

Box Score

  • Geraldo Quintero, 3B: 0-3, 3 BB, 2 SB, .261/.356/.423
  • Mahki Backstrom, 1B: 2-4, 2B, HR, 2 BB, 4 RBI, .191/.332/.392
  • Eliezel Stevens, 2B: 4-5, 2B, 5 RBI, .429/.481/.653
  • AJ Smith-Shawver, SP: 1 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, 5.11 ERA
  • James Acuna, RP: 2.1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 3 BB, 4 K, 3.07 ERA

Augusta put up another wild game against this struggling Shorebirds team, but two key injuries in this game are the far bigger storyline. Augusta jumped out to a big lead in the second inning when the first six batters of the inning reached base to score four runs. Eliezel Stevens had a huge day at the plate and drove in the final two on an RBI single. Brandol Mezquita was set to lead off the third inning, and was hit in the head by a 2-2 pitch. In another scary play for him Mezquita went to the ground quickly and punched the dirt in frustration (having been hit in the head little more than a month ago), but popped up quickly and tried to stay in the game. The coaches were, understandably, not having it and after the trainer was called in from the clubhouse (more on that soon) he was removed from the game. Augusta scored three more runs in the inning with Stevens again driving in two on a single. Mahki Backstrom had a huge day at the plate as well, but his first hit wasn’t until an RBI single in the seventh inning. He scored on a double from Stevens in the inning as part of a three run seventh that put Augusta up 11-1. Backstrom added the final runs to the board one inning later with a three run home run to score Adam Zebrowski (who walked four times in this game) and Braulio Vasquez.

AJ Smith-Shawver made a short start in this game, and yes he was the other notable injury. The game started out in a delay which pushed back Smith-Shawver’s routine a bit, and could have possibly contributed to him leaving early. He struck out the first batter he faced and worked a relatively quiet first inning, but called the trainer out to see him after a leadoff double in the second inning. He was kicking at his landing spot a bit after the play and there was no indication of any arm related injury given his body language on the play, so the best speculation I have is that he likely has some sort of lower body issue in play. He was removed from the game and the bullpen took over, with James Acuna being called on to fill up some innings. He allowed that inherited runner to score but didn’t allow any runs of his own as he covered 2 13 innings for the GreenJackets. Rob Griswold covered much of the rest of the game, going 2 23 innings to get through the sixth with no runs allowed by him. Ronaldo Alesandro pitched two more scoreless innings of relief before the bullpen finally faltered in the ninth when Rolddy Munoz allowed a solo home run.

Next Game: 8/6 @ (34-65) Delmarva Shorebirds @ 7:05 PM ET

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