Despite four doubles from center fielder Cedric Mullins, the Tides dropped two of three games to the Gwinnett Stripers to open a seven-game homestand. The Tides welcome the Charlotte Knights to Harbor Park on Thursday for a four-game weekend series.
TIDES SEASON TO DATE
The Tides (33-29, 2nd place in the IL South through Wednesday) finished a six-game road trip prior to this homestand with a record of 3-3. Third baseman Renato Nunez hit .346 with three doubles over those six games, while catcher Caleb Joseph has hit .370 with a home run and six RBI over his past seven games. The Tides currently feature three of the Orioles’ top 30 prospects: pitcher Tanner Scott (No. 5) and outfielders Mullins (6) and D.J. Stewart (11).
SCOUTING THE OPPOSITION: GWINNETT STRIPERS
The Gwinnett Stripers – known before the 2018 season as the Gwinnett Braves – are the AAA affiliate of the Atlanta Braves. Three of the top 30 prospects in Atlanta’s stacked farm system currently play for the Stripers: left-handed pitchers Kolby Allard (No. 6) and Max Fried (7) and outfielder Dustin Peterson (15). Gwinnett has struggled this season, entering the series with the Tides with a record of 26-34 after a large portion of the top talent in the Braves’ minor league system graduated to the major leagues earlier this year.
TOP TIDES PLAYERS OF THE SERIES:
John Means, LHP: 6.0 IP, 0 R, 3 H, 8 K
Means earned the win in the first game of Tuesday’s doubleheader by throwing six shutout innings, striking out eight and walking none. He gave up just three hits – all weakly-hit singles – and struck out the first four Stripers hitters he faced. Means was able to work around a jam with runners at the corners and one out in the fifth inning by getting Gwinnett DH Rob Brantly to ground into a 6-4-3 double play.
Cedric Mullins, CF: 4-for-11, 4 2B, 1 R, 1 RBI, 1 SB
Mullins, the Orioles’ No. 6 prospect, provided a spark from the leadoff spot in the order in all three games after an initial slow start following his call-up to Triple-A. Though he scored just one run, he hit three doubles during the two games on Tuesday and added in a stolen base in Game 2 for good measure. He followed the previous day’s performance with another double and an RBI in the final game of the series.
INDIVIDUAL GAME RECAPS:
Norfolk 1, Gwinnett 0 (7 innings, Game 1 of a doubleheader)
Left-hander John Means struck out eight Stripers and yielded just three hits, while Caleb Joseph’s second-inning home run was all the Norfolk offense needed to notch a victory in the first game of Tuesday night’s doubleheader. Mullins and Stewart, each among the Orioles’ top prospects, combined to go 2-for-6 with two doubles. Jhan Marinez entered the game in relief of Means in the seventh inning and pitched around a leadoff walk to earn his seventh save of the year.
Gwinnett 2, Norfolk 1 (7 innings, Game 2 of a doubleheader)
Tides pitchers Paul Fry and Ryan Meisenger held Gwinnett’s offense scoreless through five innings in the second game before the Stripers pushed across a run in the sixth on an inning-opening home run from Danny Santana. Though back-to-back doubles from Mullins and Steve Wilkerson tied the game in the bottom half of the inning, the Tides were unable to score again. The Stripers scored the eventual winning run in the top of the seventh, when Santana scored former Orioles outfielder Xavier Avery on a sacrifice fly.
Mullins and Wilkerson each went 2-for-4 at the top of the Tides’ lineup, combining for three doubles.
Gwinnett 10, Norfolk 1
A pair of early Stripers home runs coupled with a four-run seventh inning doomed pitcher Asher Wojciechowski and the rest of the Tides on Wednesday, as Norfolk dropped the rubber match of the series by a score of 10-1.
Gwinnett’s Michael Reed launched a two-run homer to left-center field in the first inning and Sal Giardina followed with a three-run blast of his own in the top half of the second inning to put the Tides in an early 5-0 hole.
Wojciechowski went five and two-thirds innings, allowing six runs on eight hits while striking out four and walking one.. D.J. Snelten allowed four runs (two earned) in an inning of relief.
The Tides offense was stifled all game long by Stripers starter Max Fried, who struck out a career-high 11 hitters in seven innings. Left fielder Mike Yastrzemski drove in the first Tides run of the game, singling home first baseman Garabez Rosa in the second inning. Mullins notched the team’s other RBI in the bottom of the eighth after grounding into a 6-4-3 double play.