Andrew Albers, two relievers combine on five-hit shutout vs. Norfolk
LAWRENCEVILLE, GA – Behind a brilliant start from left-hander Andrew Albers and a five-run second inning, the Gwinnett Braves (29-29) beat the Norfolk Tides (25-34) 6-0 in the finale of their three-game series on Wednesday afternoon at Coolray Field.
Albers (W, 5-1) pitched 6.1 scoreless innings, giving up just five hits while walking none and striking out six to earn his team-leading fifth win of the season. Right-handers Evan Phillips and Enrique Burgos combined on 2.2 hitless innings to finish the shutout, Gwinnett’s third of the season.
Albers was strong from the beginning. In the first inning, he struck out a pair. The next inning, he got some smooth defense from shortstop Sean Kazmar Jr., who made a nifty grab behind the second base bag to start an inning-ending double play.
In the bottom of the second, the G-Braves would get Albers all the support he would need against Norfolk starter Jordan Kipper (L, 2-2). Lane Adams and Xavier Avery started the frame with singles, and a walk to Matt Tuiasosopo loaded the bases with one out. David Freitas got Gwinnett on the board by drawing a bases-loaded walk. Kyle Kubitza followed with a line drive that deflected off Kipper for an infield single to plate the second run. Jace Peterson then drew another bases-loaded walk to score Tuiasosopo. After Kazmar Jr.’s fielder’s choice scored a run, Dustin Peterson capped the inning by lining an RBI single to center to make it 5-0 after two innings.
The score would remain at 5-0 for two innings before Gwinnett scratched out another run in the fifth. Tuiasosopo and Freitas recorded two-out singles, and Kubitza hit a grounder to short and hustled it out for an infield hit. Trying to throw out Kubitza, Norfolk shortstop Luis Sardinas threw wide of first base for an error, scoring Tuiasosopo to make it 6-0.
With the lead, Albers continued his dominant performance. In the fourth, he struck out a pair to work around a leadoff single from Johnny Giavotella. After a perfect fifth inning, Albers retired the Tides on just five pitches in the sixth inning, with the help of a 5-4-3 double play. In the seventh, Albers allowed a leadoff single to Chris Dickerson and struck out Pedro Alvarez before exiting.
Phillips retired the first two hitters he faced to strand an inherited runner in the seventh, then worked a scoreless eighth. Burgos pitched a scoreless ninth.
Albers, over his last three starts for Gwinnett, is 2-0 with a 1.47 ERA and three quality starts. He has not allowed a run in his last 12.2 innings as a starter.
Offensively for the G-Braves, Kazmar, Dustin Peterson, Adams, Tuiasosopo and Kubitza all recorded two hits. Tuiasosopo doubled and scored twice.
For Norfolk, Kipper yielded six runs, five earned on 12 hits over 5.1 innings. Giavotella went 2-for-4 with a pair of singles.
The G-Braves continue the homestand with the opener of a four-game series vs. the Charlotte Knights on Thursday at Coolray Field, first pitch scheduled for 7:05 p.m. Right-hander Patrick Weigel (1-1, 5.11) is set to start for Gwinnett against rehabbing Chicago White Sox pitcher and former Major League All-Star James Shields (0-1, 2.25) of the Knights. Tony Schiavone has the play-by-play call on 97.7 FM The Other Side of the River beginning at 6:35 p.m.
Thursday is “Triple Play Thursday” presented by Coolray Heating & Cooling, when fans can purchase four infield box tickets, four hot dogs, and four sodas for just $40. For tickets, call 678-277-0340 or visit GwinnettBraves.com/tickets.