Nashville jumped on New Orleans Baby Cakes reliever Clayton Mortensen for four runs in the top of the ninth inning Saturday in surging past the Baby Cakes 8-6 in Metairie.
Mortensen gave up a single and a walk around a hit batsman. Jaff Decker — in a 2-for-25 slump — then hit a one-out, bases-clearing double over the head of right fielder Moises Sierra, giving Nashville a 7-6 lead. The Sounds (66-71) scored an insurance run on shortstop Yairo Munoz's sacrifice fly that plated Decker.
“I'm still trying to process what just happened,” Mortensen (4-1) said. “I just didn't get enough strikes over the plate, I guess. They took advantage of some balls and hitter's counts.
“You can't hit the eight-hole hitter. I was a little frustrated about that. … I was hit and miss with all my pitches. I threw (Decker) a fastball and just left it out over the plate.”
Nashville took a 2-0 lead in the season's final series. It was the third consecutive loss for the Baby Cakes (55-81), who need one victory to avoid tying for the fewest wins since the franchise moved to New Orleans in 1993. The 1999 team went 55-85.
New Orleans scored four runs in the sixth inning on two hits, two walks a hit batsman and a sacrifice fly in taking a 6-4 lead. The Cakes had scored two runs in the fourth on an RBI double by Eury Perez and Moises Sierra's groundout that plated Perez, cutting the score to 4-2.
Nashville scored four runs in the second on five hits, including four consecutive singles, in taking a 4-0 lead.
Barnes is back
New Orleans Baby Cakes center fielder Brandon Barnes returned from the disabled list Saturday, saying he feels “like a kid on the first day of school.”
Although there were only three games left in the season heading into Sunday, there are benefits to his coming back. He strained his left oblique on Aug. 11 during the series at Colorado Springs and was put on the disabled list the next day.
“It's the first time in 12 years I've been on the DL,” said Barnes, 31, a sixth-round draft choice of the Astros in 2005. “I wanted to show that I'm healthy. I love playing this game; that's what I want to do all the time. I'm excited and I just want to help the team.”
Barnes, lauded by manager Arnie Beyeler for his play, leadership and professionalism, was in the batting cage in Colorado Springs when he felt his back tighten up. He played that day. The next day, however, “I couldn't do anything,” he said.
Barnes went 1-for-5 Saturday and is batting .278 with 11 home runs, 49 RBI and a team-leading 22 doubles and 55 runs in 107 games with the Cakes. The stats are his best in the Minor Leagues since 2010, when he was in Advanced A ball.
“Early in the season, I tinkered with my swing, and that didn't go so well,” Barnes said. “But I was able to pick it up the second half of the season.”
He had a stretch from July 18 to Aug. 4 in which he went 22-of-58 (.379).
The Marlins may have more September call-ups after the season ends Monday. Or, a Marlins player could get injured. Sources said the parent team wanted to make sure Barnes was able to play if needed. He played 465 games with Houston and Colorado from 2012-16.
“I just want to finish the season strong,” he said. “It would be great if we can win these last few games and and go into the offseason feeling good.”
The Cakes went into Saturday having won nine of their past 11 day games, batting .308 with a 2.79 earned-run average by the pitching staff. They had lost 14 of their first 21 day games in which they batted .245 with a 5.48 ERA. … Catcher Austin Nola had a .404 on-base percentage in August. His OBP was .171 in July. He is batting .207.