By Roger Hoover / Smokies Radio Network
The Tennessee Smokies will kick off an important homestand against the first-place Jackson Generals at Smokies Park on Saturday night.
The Generals, first half North Division champs, currently lead the Chattanooga Lookouts by a game and a half for the lead in the second half standings. The Smokies are two and a half games back, sitting at 11-11 in the second half.
Tonight Tennessee will send right-hander Dae-Eun Rhee to the mound. The South Korea native is 5-4 with a 5.30 ERA this season. Pitching for the Generals is Mariners top pitching prospect Taijuan Walker, who is 5-4 with a 5.30 ERA in 2012.
Here are more notes on tonight’s game, direct from the official Tennessee Smokies game notes compiled by Cody Chrusciel:
SETTING THE SCENE
After winning two of three at Birmingham, the Smokies return home to open up a four-game series tonight against the Jackson Generals. The Generals, who Baseball America tabbed as the most talented team in minor league baseball entering the season, won the North Division first-half title and enter today with a 1.5 game lead over Chattanooga in the second half. Each of Tennesseee’s last six series have been decided in the final game. The Smokies are 5-10 against the Generals this season with the teams slated to meet 24 times.
LAST TIME OUT
Eric Jokisch allowed just one hit over five scoreless innings and the Tennessee Smokies jumped out to a 12-0 lead as they pounded the Birmingham Barons, 12-3, on Friday night in the rubber match of a three-game series at Regions Park. After rain delayed first pitch one hour, 22 minutes, the Smokies plated four runs in the first, three in the fourth, three in the fifth, and two in the seventh. Justin Bour drove in four runs while Logan Watkins reached base five times. The Barons plated three late runs to snap Tennessee’s string of 19.2 straight scoreless innings. The final out was recorded at 12:54 p.m. EST.
TODAY’S PITCHING MATCHUP
South Korea native Dae-Eun Rhee takes the mound for the Smokies tonight. In nine starts at home this season, Rhee has turned in a 6.80 ERA compared to 3.88 on the road. After Jackson was rained out last night at home against Mississippi, 19-year-old Taijuan Walker will make the start tonight against Tennessee. Walker, who is ranked by Baseball America as the Mariners’ top prospect and the fourth-best prospect in all of baseball, has struggled since the All-Star break, posting a 7.62 ERA in three starts.
SMOKIES STRIKE BACK
After being held to just 20 runs in their first 12 meetings with the Jackson Generals in 2012, the Smokies erupted for a season-high 15 runs on a season-high 13 hits in a 15-4 win in game one of a doubleheader on May 14 at Smokies Park. The next day, the Smokies plated 10 runs in a 10-8 win against the Generals.
THE BOUR IDENTITY
With four RBIs last night, Justin Bour (69 RBIs) has jumped back ahead of Huntsville’s Hunter Morris (67 RBIs) for the Southern League RBI lead. Bour ranks 13th in minor league baseball in RBIs while Greg Rohan ranks ninth with 72, making the Smokies the only team in the minors with two players in the top 20 in RBIs.
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-Mayer Pregame Show beginning at 6:15 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, FM 99.1 and 99.3 plus the Smokies mobile app. Click the link below to listen live online.