The Tennessee Smokies (32-31) will play their final road game of the first half as they finish up their series against the Mobile BayBears (34-29) in Game 5 of their five-game series. First pitch is scheduled for 1:05 PM from Hank Aaron Stadium.
WHAT’S AT STAKE: The Smokies chances at a first-half division title are officially extinguished but there is still plenty to play for. With a 17-17 record on the road, today’s game will decide whether the Smokies end over or under .500 on the road in the first half. Also, the Smokies are 1.5 games ahead of Chattanooga for second place in the North Division. Mobile begins the day a half game out of first place and needs a victory to try and keep pace with the Mississippi Braves.
Tennessee: Alberto Cabrera (5-3, 4.08 ERA): Cabrera is back out on the road where he has had great success this season. He is a perfect 4-0 with a 1.89 ERA in six road starts. In his last start, Cabrera struggled at home against the Jackson Generals on June 6 surrendering five runs on ten hits in five innings and took the loss. Cabrera is third in the league with 68 strikeouts, but he’s also allowed the most hits in the league with 74.
Mobile: David Holmberg (2-3, 2.57 ERA): Holmberg will be looking for his first victory of the season at Hank Aaron Stadium. In six home starts, Holmberg is 0-2 with a 3.74 ERA compared to a 2-1 mark with a 1.58 ERA away from home. Holmberg was marvelous in his last start tossing seven scoreless innings for the win on June 5 in Jacksonville. His 2.57 ERA is good for 9th in the Southern League and Holmberg has 73.2 innings this season, second most in the league.
LAST TIME OUT: For the second time in the series, the Mobile BayBears walked off with a victory last night as Jon Griffin hit a game-winning RBI single to plate Dustin Martin and give Mobile a 4-3 win. Kevin Rhoderick took the loss for the second time in the series as well. The Smokies jumped on top 3-0 behind a strong start from A.J. Morris, but Justin Greene tied the game with one swing of the bat in the bottom of the 6th with a three-run home run. Offensively, the Smokies were paced by Arismendy Alcantara, Christian Villanueva, and Rafael Lopez, who each had two hits.
PLAYERS TO WATCH:
Rafael Lopez: After his 2-for-4 performance last night, Lopez has his average up to .271. This is just the second time he’s had his average over the .270 plateau with the other coming on May 20 when he checked in at .275.
Jonathan Mota: Mota’s RBI single in the second inning of last night’s game extended his hitting streak to six games. Mota is 9-for-22 (.409) during his six-game hitting streak with two home runs and three RBIs.
Justin Greene: Greene’s three-run home run last night was his first of the season and first since August 18 of last season when he was playing for the Chicago White Sox Triple-A affiliate, the Charlotte Knights. Despite his lack of power, Greene is still hitting the ball very well with hits in nine of his last ten games.
Jon Griffin: Griffin’s walk-off, RBI single was his only hit last night against the Smokies but far from his only hit in the series. Griffin has hits in every game in this series so far against Tennessee and has driven in three RBIs.
KEY TO THE GAME: The theme for Alberto Cabrera so far this season has been if he can survive the first couple innings, he will have a quality start. Cabrera has posted a 4.50 ERA in the first inning and a 6.00 ERA in the second inning in his 12 starts this season. If he is able to avoid a rocky start in Mobile, the Smokies have a strong chance at finishing the first half with a road record above .500.
TUNE IN: The broadcast will be available on ESPN Radio 106.53 WPFT, WJFC 1480-AM and 102.9 FM radio beginning at 12:45 PM ET with the Pilot & Oscar Mayer Pregame Show. You can also listen to the broadcast in its entirety on smokiesbaseball.com as well as the Smokies mobile app.