After a day off yesterday, the Tennessee Smokies (25-19, 59-54) open up a ten-game homestand with their series opener against the Montgomery Biscuits (22-23, 59-56). First pitch is scheduled for 7:15 PM from Smokies Park.
WHAT’S AT STAKE: The Smokies enter tonight’s action a half a game ahead of Birmingham for first place in the North Division with Jackson 4.5 games back. Montgomery are in last place in the South Division but are still only five games back in a tight race.
Montgomery: Victor Mateo (5-9, 4.78): Mateo is coming off arguably his best start of 2013 in which he threw seven scoreless innings in a win against Chattanooga on August 2. He has been excellent in his last five starts lowering his ERA by a full run. Since July 8, Mateo has an ERA of 1.58 in 34.2 innings. Against Tennessee, Mateo has allowed six runs in 10.2 innings pitched (5.29).
Tennessee: Eduardo Figueroa (0-1, 1.80): Figureroa makes his second start with the Smokies after looking sharp in his first outing on August 2 in Jacksonville. Despite receiving the loss, Figueroa yielded only one run on four hits in five innings.
LAST TIME OUT: Tennessee snapped their four-game losing streak in style on Tuesday with a 10-0 win over Jacksonville in which Eric Jokisch threw a no-hitter. It was the first Smokies no-hitter since Scot Elam tossed one in a 2-0 victory against Memphis in 1985.
Montgomery has gotten back into the race in the South Division after winning five straight games. They swept a five-game series at home against the Chattanooga Lookouts to within a game of .500.
PLAYERS TO WATCH:
Ryan Brett: Brett joined the team on August 4 and has been great so far in Double-A. He is hitting .417 in three games with two doubles and three RBIs.
Curt Casali: The Biscuits catcher was on fire during the Chattanooga series hitting .444. He is hitting .414 over his last nine games with 11 RBIs.
Eric Jokisch: Jokisch’s no-hitter was the first nine-inning no-hitter of the season in the Southern League this season. It also snapped a three-start losing streak for himself.
Javier Baez: Baez picked up his first four-hit game in the 10-0 win on Tuesday including driving in three RBIs. He has multi-hit games in each of his last four and has his batting average up to .273.
KEY TO THE GAME: During Montgomery’s winning streak, all five starters have gone at least six innings keeping their bullpen well rested. The Smokies need to be patient at the plate and work counts to run up Mateo’s pitch count early in the game.
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 7:00 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.