BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – The Tennessee Smokies (36-22, 70-57) gave manager Buddy Bailey reason to celebrate Wednesday night as the first-place North Division team defeated the Birmingham Barons (28-31, 72-57) 10-8 to give the skipper his 1,700th career victory in 25 years of managing. Shortstop Javier Baez knocked two home runs in the game, going 4-for-4 with five RBIs and marking his third multi-home run game since being promoted to Tennessee on July 6.
Baez launched his second long ball of the game in the top of the seventh on the first pitch he saw from Barons’ reliever Dan Remenowsky, sending the ball into the left field seats to give the Smokies a 6-3 edge. The two home runs gave Baez his 33rd combined round tripper between Daytona and Tennessee, good for second in all of Minor League baseball.
After trailing since the top of the third inning, Birmingham tied things up in the eighth when – behind 6-4 – catcher Chris McMurray reached on a fielding error by Andreoli, allowing two Barons’ runs to scoring and knotting the game at 6-6.
The Smokies regained their lead in the top of the ninth after center fielder Matt Szczur doubled to lead off the inning and moved to third on an Arismendy Alcantara single. Baez delivered his fifth RBI of the game in the ensuing at-bat, bringing in Szczur on a sacrifice fly to give Tennessee a 7-6 edge. The Cubs’ Double-A team added three more runs in the frame to lead 10-6. Tony Zych (5-4, 2.73) received the win while Kevin Vance (2-5, 3.43) took the loss for Birmingham after allowing four earned runs in 1.1 innings pitched.
Facing a 1-0 deficit in the top of the third, Tennessee mounted a comeback with a four-run frame. After a walk and throwing error put runners on the corners with one out, Alcantara smacked his 33rd double of the season to right field, scoring catcher Rafael Lopez and tying the game at 1-1. Baez gave the Smokies their first lead of the game in the next at-bat when the shortstop drilled a three-run bomb to left field, putting the Smokies on top 4-1. Catcher Rafael Lopez drove in Andreoli in the top of the sixth on his 22nd two-bagger of the season to push the Tennessee advantage to 5-1.
Smokies starter Matt Loosen settled in after allowing a run in the first frame, retiring Birmingham in order in the second and third while working around leadoff walks in the fourth and fifth innings. The Cubs’ Minor League Pitcher of the Month for July did not allow another hit till the sixth inning when Cody Puckett notched his second hit of the game on a single to right field. Trayce Thompson followed with a single of his own in the following at-bat and left fielder Brandon Jacobs doubled home the two base runners to cut Tennessee’s lead to 5-3 before Baez’s second home run.
Bailey sealed his 1,700th win 30 years after beginning his managerial career with the Pulaski Braves of the Appalachian League. 2013 marks the third season the 56-year-old skipper has managed Tennessee. In his time with Chicago’s Double-A-affiliate, Bailey is a combined 204-202.
Tennessee will send left-hander Eric Jokisch (10-11, 3.50) to the mound for the final contest of their five-game set at Regions Field Thursday evening. Chris Bassitt (3-2, 2.02) gets the call for Birmingham. First pitch is set for 8:05 p.m. EST.
AUDIO RECAP SMOKIES 10 Barons 8
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