Game Preview: May 28 vs. Birmingham

The Smokies will try to get back in the first half race in Birmingham this evening. Photo Courtesy:

The Smokies will try to get back in the first half race in Birmingham this evening. Photo Courtesy:

The Tennessee Smokies head back out on the road for an important five-game series in Birmingham against the first-place Barons beginning tonight at 8:05 PM ET. Tonight will not only mark the first game for the Smokies in Birmingham this season, but the first game they will play at the new Regions Field.

WHAT’S AT STAKE: Entering tonight’s action, the Smokies sit in second place at 26-23, 5.5 games behind the first-place Barons. With only 20 games to go in the first half, Tennessee is running out of time to gain ground and capture the first-half crown in the Southern League’s North Division. This series is also the last time the Smokies and Barons will face off in the first half.


Tennessee: Kyle Hendricks (4-2, 2.44 ERA): Hendricks comes into tonight’s start riding a three-game winning streak. He last pitched the series opener against Huntsville on May 23rd and he dazzled tossing seven scoreless innings with seven strikeouts for the victory. Hendricks’ 2.44 ERA is fifth best in the Southern League for starting pitchers and he also ranks second in lowest walks per nine innings (1.92) and fourth in fewest baserunners per nine innings (9.58). Because of a rehab start by Matt Garza, Hendricks did not pitch against the Birmingham Barons when these teams last played.

Birmingham: Stephen McCray (4-3, 3.12 ERA): After an impressive month of April (3-0, 2.14), McCray has not enjoyed the same success in the month of May. He is 0-2 with a 4.15 ERA during May including a loss to the Smokies back on May 11th when he surrendered five runs, four of them earned, on nine hits in seven innings. McCray last pitched on May 23rd at Jacksonville receiving the no-decision allowing three runs in five innings of work.

LAST TIME OUT: Thanks to a Ronald Torreyes two-run home run in the bottom of the 8th last night, the Smokies were able to take the rubber match of their five-game series against the Huntsville Stars. Tennessee has now won their last three series and 11 of their last 16.

Birmingham finished off their ten-game road trip in style yesterday afternoon as they defeated the Jacksonville Suns 4-1 to take four of five in the series. Barons starter Scott Snodgress (6-3) carried a no-hitter into the 7th inning before allowing a leadoff single to the Suns Daniel Pertusati. Snodgress allowed his only run in the ball game later in the inning on a sacrifice fly that snapped a streak of 29.1 consecutive scoreless innings by Barons pitching.

LAST TIME v. BARONS: The Smokies caught the Barons at the wrong time when these two teams last met May 7-11 at Smokies Park. Birmingham entered the series on a seven-game winning streak and took the first four games of the series against Tennessee including a 16-0 rain-shortened contest on May 7th. After losing three close games in a row, including a 14-inning 12-11 loss on May 8th, the Smokies ended the series on a high note by taking the series finale over the Barons 5-4 to snap their season-long seven-game losing streak.


Arismendy Alcantara: The Smokies shortstop is hitting .353 (12-for-34) in his last ten games at the plate including three home runs. Alcantara’s 15 stolen bases on the season put him in a four-way tie for second place in the Southern League.

Christian Villanueva: He may be in a bit of a funk going 2 for his last 18, but Villanueva enjoyed more success than any other Smokey against Birmingham the last time these two teams met. Villanueva went 7-for-16 in the series with two doubles.

Andy Wilkins: Wilkins had a series to remember against the Smokies earlier this season. The left-handed slugger belted four home runs including two in the opening game of the series on May 7th. Overall, Wilkins was 9-for-23 in the five-game series with four home runs and six RBIs.

Taylor Thompson: If the Barons hold a lead after eight innings, they feel confident they’ll pull out the victory with Taylor Thompson as their closer. He has seven saves in as many chances this season and has not allowed a run in his last eleven innings spanning six appearances.

KEY TO THE GAME: In their first series this season, the Smokies ran into trouble against the Barons early in games. Birmingham scored runs in either the first or second innings in each of their four victories including a six-run first inning on May 8th. Hendricks needs to have success his first time through the order tonight to avoid an early deficit.

TUNE IN: The broadcast will be available on our flagship station, The Sports Animal WNML AM 990 and on FM 99.1 in Knoxville beginning at 7:45 ET with the Pilot & Oscar Mayer Pregame Show. You can also listen to the broadcast in its entirety on as well as the Smokies mobile app.

To stay current with all the latest news, follow Smokies on Radio on Twitter and like the Smokies on Radio Facebook page. 

Tags: , , , ,

Categories: Game Preview


Subscribe to our RSS feed and social profiles to receive updates.

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

Gravatar Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,696 other followers

%d bloggers like this: