The Suns look to get back on track on Friday with Graham Taylor (2-1, 3.86) on the mound. Taylor has won his last two starts allowing just two runs on eight hits over 13 innings against Mobile and Pensacola. The Barons counter with Simon Castro (1-1, 4.65). He’s given up 35 hits and 16 runs in his 31 innings of work in his five starts. The first pitch is scheduled for 8:05EST from Regions Park in Birmingham.
By Steve Kolbe
The Jacksonville Suns four game winning streak came to an end with a 5-2 loss in Birmingham on Thursday night.
The Barons took the lead in the third against Suns starter Zach Neal. Damaso Espino led off the inning with a single and Justin Green followed with a ground-rule double. Espino scored the first run of the night when Tyler Saladino lifted a sacrifice fly to center for a 1-0 Barons lead, and Drew Garcia then tripled to dive in his fifth run of the series and it was 2-0. The final run of the inning crossed the plate when Garcia scored from third on a ground out to give Birmingham a 3-0 advantage. The Suns fell to 3-11 when allowing the first run of the game. Garcia’s triple was his third of the season and 17th for the Barons this season. Birmingham has hit the most triples in Minor League Baseball.
Birmingham scored two more runs in the fourth inning, when Greene smashed his second double in as many innings to expand the Barons lead to 5-0. Green finished the game 2-for-3 with two runs batted in and also scored a run.
The Suns scored their two runs in the eighth inning to avoid being shutout for the second time this season. Jake Smolinski and Shawn Bowman singled off Barons starter Pedro Hernandez, who would give way to reliever Ryan Kussmaul after throwing 99 pitches. Russell Michell doubled to left off of Kussmaul to cut the lead to 5-2, but that was as close as the Suns would get.
Jake Smolinski and Russell Mitchell finished 2-for-4. Smolinski has hit safely in four straight games since returning from an injury. He has three straight multi-hit games. Mitchell drove in Jacksonville’s only two runs, and in his eight games with the Suns he has seven RBI’s.
Birmingham pitcher Pedro Hernandez won his third straight game to improve his record to 3-1. Hernandez threw 99 pitches over seven and a-third innings of work, allowing eight hits and two runs. Zach Neal lost his second straight start. He pitched four innings, allowing seven hits and five runs. Bobby Bramhall and Chris Squires combined to pitch four innings and allowed two hits. The Suns are now 9-4 on the road, and over their last 17 games have a record of 12-5.