By: Nick Roark
The Jackson Generals know all too well whom they find themselves looking up to in the second-half standings. Sitting six and a half games back of Tennessee with only two weeks remaining in the regular season, the Generals know things might be different if they had not played some of their worst baseball against the Smokies.
While Jackson won last year’s season series versus Tennessee 18-7 en route to a 79-61 record, this season has been much kinder for Tennessee as the Smokies went 16-3 against Jackson, reeling off nine consecutive wins to end the season series.
“Sometimes you come out and somebody has your number in a year. Last year they had our number,” Smokies manager Buddy Bailey said Saturday afternoon. “If you look at it that’s 13 games over against them and I think we’re 11 [games over .500] for the year so that means we’re a couple of games over .500 against everybody else.”
Tennessee finished one game under .500 (34-35) in the first half, well enough for third place in the North Division. But after subtracting their impressive record against the Seattle Mariners’ Double-A-affiliate, the Smokies were only 18-32 against other Southern League opponents.
“Luckily for us in this year,” Bailey said, “it turned around and it put us in a position that we have a chance to make the playoffs.”
The Generals sit at 26-26 in the second half and could have benefited from winning a few more games against Tennessee this season. Even if Jackson had still lost the season series and finished 9-10 versus the Cubs’ double-A team, they would currently sit just two games back with 14 contests left against Mobile, Chattanooga and Huntsville, three teams they hold a combined 19-17 record against.
Nevertheless, Tennessee’s success against Jackson might arguably be the biggest turning point for a team that now sits at 68-56 and has their eyes on the postseason.
“They’re smelling it,” Bailey said of his player’s postseason aspirations. “Everybody’s making a commitment to win and then you guys have witnessed it, there’s nights we’ve been down and then we find a way to get back in the game. We haven’t always won them but we find a way to get back in them with the chance to win them.”
And with the top lineup in the Southern League, the skipper says his team could be dangerous come September.
“When you have a lineup that’s solid like ours – hitting .260 and leading the league in a lot of categories other than runs scored – and a lot of productive players, you’re never really out of a game,” Bailey said.
“They know that, they sense that and as a group they’re finding ways to win.”
Just ask the Generals.
To stay current with all the latest news, follow Smokies on Radio on Twitter and like the Smokies on Radio Facebook page. Nick Roark is the Senior Beat Writer for the Smokies Radio Network. You can follow him on Twitter here: NickRoark4.