By Roger Hoover / Smokies Radio Network
Following a five-game road series against the Birmingham Barons, the Tennessee Smokies have returned to East Tennessee, set to begin a five-game series against the Jackson Generals on Friday night at Smokies Park.
Tennessee will send left-hander Brooks Raley to the mound to start the first game of the series. Raley is 1-1 this season with a 3.68 ERA in six starts. Raley will be opposed by Jackson lefty Danny Hultzen (2-3, 2.35 ERA).
Kicking off the homestand is 70’s night during Friday’s 7:15 game. The Smokies will bring fans another “Fireworks Friday” at Smokies Park, courtesy of Pepsi, Coors Light, Knoxville News Sentinel, WVLT-TV 8 and WIVK-FM.
Here are more notes on tonight’s game, direct from the official Tennessee Smokies game notes compiled by Cody Chrusciel:
SETTING THE SCENE
After dropping three of five games at Birmingham earlier this week, the Smokies return home to open up a five-game series against the Generals on Friday. The Smokies are 3-7 against Jackson in 2012 with the teams slated to meet 24 times this season. As a team, Tennessee is batting .209 against Jackson. With last night’s 3-2, 11-inning loss to Huntsville, the Generals dropped a game behind the Stars in the North Division, marking the first time Jackson hasn’t opened the day in first place since April 9. Jackson enters the series on a four-game skid after losing four of five at Huntsville this week.
Jackson’s roster features the Seattle Mariners top four prospects, according to Baseball America: Pitchers Taijuan Walker (1), Danny Hultzen (2), and James Paxton (3), and infielder Nick Franklin (4). Hultzen, who will take the mound tonight, was the second overall pick in last June’s draft. In his first professional season in 2012, the southpaw has held opponents to a league-best .142 average. In 10 games against the Smokies, Denny Almonte is batting .441 with three home runs. Joe Dunigan and Johermyn Chavez have each homered twice against Tennessee this season, but Nick Franklin, the Mariners’ top infield prospect, is 2-for-20.
THE MAN ON THE MOUND
Brooks Raley will make his seventh start of the season for the Smokies tonight. Raley, a 23-year-old southpaw from Uvalde, Texas, leads the team with six quality starts. Raley is 1-1 this season against the Generals.
Tennessee allowed a Montgomery franchise-record seven stolen bases in their series opener against the Biscuits on May 1 in Kodak. So far in 2012, Smokies catchers have thrown out just 12% of runners (7-of-57). In Tennessee’s most recent series at Birmingham, the Barons were 11-for-13 in steal attempts.
WALK THIS WAY
Matt Cerda finished the Birmingham series 1-for-11, but he walked nine times and scored four runs.
WHAT A RELIEF
A Tennessee reliever has saved 12 of the Smokies 15 wins this season. Five different Tennessee relievers have notched saves so far in 2012 with Brian Schlitter adding his name to that list last night.
Fans can listen to the game on the Smokies Radio Network, with the “Voice of the Smokies” Mick Gillispie entering his sixth season as Tennessee’s Director of Broadcasting. The 2010 Southern League Broadcaster of the Year is assisted by Cody Chrusciel, Roger Hoover, Jonathan Guess, and Adam King. Chrusciel and Hoover will host the Pilot Oscar-Meyer Pregame Show beginning at 7:45 p.m. on the Smokies Radio Network.
Tonight’s broadcast will air on the Smokies Radio Network’s flagship station The Sports Animal WNML AM 990, plus the Smokies mobile app. Click the link below to listen live online.