Braves vs. Tides
When: 7 tonight
Where: Gwinnett Stadium
Web site: www.gwinnettbraves.com
BUFORD — The first home game for the Gwinnett Braves turned into quite the grand opening.
At the forefront of the opening was Nolan Reimold who made sure his name would appear in the Gwinnett Stadium history books. Unfortunately for the Braves, Reimold plays for the Norfolk Tides.
Reimold recorded the stadium’s first RBI in the first inning, but his RBIs No. 2-5 were the ones that made the biggest impression in the history books and the Braves’ record.
After Braves reliever Jerome Gamble (0-1) walked the bases loaded in the seventh inning, Reimold smacked a 3-2 pitch from Manny Acosta over the left field wall to give the visiting Tides a 7-4 win and spoil the G-Braves home opener.
"It came down to one pitch and that was the difference in the ballgame," Gwinnett manager Dave Brundage said. "We continued to battle, continued to keep fighting. It seemed like we were just one hit away."
One hit did they did get came off the bat of Barbaro Canizares, who launched a towering two-run home run that landed in the crowded berm seating beyond the center field wall in the bottom of the fifth inning. The first home run in the stadium’s history was Canizares’ second of the year and tied the game 3-3.
Gwinnett (4-5) scored their first run in the stadium’s history in the home half of the fifth inning when Brandon Jones hit his second double of the game that scored Gregor Blanco, who led off the inning with a double. Jones finished the day 3-for-5 with two doubles, an RBI and a run scored.
The three-run fifth inning electrified the sellout crowd of 10,427.
"It was probably one of the biggest minor league crowds I’ve ever seen," said Braves starter Charlie Morton, who struck out the first batter he faced to open the stadium.
"It’s always exciting to throw the first pitch in a new stadium," he added. "I just wish it would’ve gone a little better."
Morton’s night started off rough, surrendering Reimold’s RBI single in the first inning that scored Steve Torrealba. Torrealba entered the game as a pinch runner for the Orioles top prospect Matt Wieters, who suffered a cramp in his hamstring running to first on a single. The base hit by Wieters was the first in Gwinnett Stadium history.
The Tides (4-5) added two more runs off Morton (0-1) in the third on a two-run single by Scott Moore that scored Justin Christian and Luis Montanez.
Morton’s night ended after the fifth inning with the game tied 3-3. Morton gave up three runs on eight hits while striking out four.
Morton gave way to Gamble who ran up 3-0 counts on five of the six batters he faced in the seventh.
"Everyone knows our bullpen is a little short," Brundage said. "The effort level was there today, just sometimes you’re pushing guys to the limit with all the pitch counts and you’re just trying to get through. In a scenario like that I didn’t find it deflating. It was a great day other than winning a baseball game."
While the outcome wasn’t the one he had hoped for, Brundage was excited about what he saw from the fans.
"I thought it was electric," said Brundage, who said he got goose bumps on Canizares’ home run. "There was a lot of early energy and obviously from a fan’s standpoint, a lot of people were waiting for this day to get here.
"I wish it would have turned out a little bit different, but I’m happy to get the first one out of the way and hopefully we’ll get this thing turned around."
The Braves added a run in the eighth on a single by pinch hitter Joe Borchard that scored Clint Sammons.
Game two of the four-game series is at 7 tonight when Braves’ right-hander Todd Redmond (0-1, 3.86 ERA) opposes Norfolk’s Chris Tillman (0-0, 0.00).