Braves shrug off lopsided loss to beat Twins

By Matt Wilson
STAR Correspondent
Wednesday night at Joe O'Brien Field the two first-place clubs in their respective Appalachian League divisions matched up in the second of a three-game series.
In Tuesday night's game, the Twins looked like the only first-place team in attendance as they hammered the Danville Braves, 16-1.
Everyone has heard the old baseball gibe that the team scoring a lot of runs should save some for the next game. That old saying held true Wednesday as the offenses for both teams were pretty much held in check as the Braves outlasted the Twins, 3-2.
The starters for both squads were pretty dominant from the first pitch on. The Twins' Angel Garcia and Brave starter Chuck James both came into the game with unblemished records.
The Braves scored first in the opening frame when DH Ben Thomas got things started with a walk. Thomas moved up to second on a single by center fielder Matt Esquivel.
The game's first run was an unearned one as Thomas scored on a throwing error by the Twin third baseman. For the last dozen years or so, the Braves' big club has wielded one of the league's best pitching staffs. Well, if Wednesday night's game was any indication, the Braves have yet another young gun on the way.
Lefty Chuck James started his strikeout parade as he fanned two Twins in the opening frame. James would go on to strike out 11 Twins in just five innings of work.
The Braves padded their lead in the third when Josh Burrus doubled down the left-field line. Burrus moved to third on a groundout, then came home to score on a wild pitch.
The Twin starter, Garcia, yielded only two hits and struck out five Braves in his five innings of work. After the Braves pulled James, the Twins went to work on the bullpen.
The Brave bullpen provided no immediate relief as Brad Nelson hit Denard Span the first batter he faced. Angelo Fermin followed with a walk to put runners on first and second with Twins' big guns coming up.
Span moved over to third on ball four to Fermin that got away from the Brave catcher. Kyle Phillips grounded to the second baseman, who took the force out on Fermin but Span scored the Twins' first run of the night.
In the seventh Ryan Spataro drew a walk to start the frame. Spataro moved up to second on a balk, then promptly stole third. After two big strikeouts by Nelson, Twins manager Ray Smith once again pushed the right buttons as Justin Arneson plated Spataro on a suicide squeeze to tie the game at 2-2.
In the Brave eighth, relief pitcher John Lynch walked Willie James, who at the time was batting a mere .080.
Dominique Partridge then singled to right, and a nice throw from the right fielder Spataro kept James from advancing to third.
The good defensive play went for naught, though, as Josh Burris singled home the go-ahead run in James. Coach Smith then brought in the hard-throwing righty Levale Speigner, who closed out the Brave rally.
The Twins threatened again in the eighth as Span reached on an infield single. Span stole second, then moved up to third on a wild pitch. From there, the Braves brought in one of the league's premier closers, Glenn Tucker.
The drama mounted as Tucker faced the league's most prolific home run threat Dusty Goman. With two outs and full count Goman crushed a ball to deep center that looked like would put the Twins out front. Baseball is a game of inches and Goman seemed inches away from a clutch hit, but center fielder Matt Esquivel made a leaping catch at the wall to protect the lead and end the Twin threat.
The ace of the Braves bullpen, Tucker, then made the lead stand as he made quick work of the Twins in the home ninth to preserve the lead and the win.
The Twins drop to 22-12 and the Braves improve to 21-14. The rubber game of the three-game series between the two first place clubs is set for tonight at 7.