KODAK – Tennessee catcher Taylor Davis reached base four times, recording three hits and three RBI while falling a triple shy of the cycle, as four Smokies relievers combined to yield just two hits over the last four innings in a 3-2 series-ending victory over the Pensacola Blue Wahoos on Monday night at Smokies Stadium.
The victory gave Tennessee a series win over the Blue Wahoos, and moves the club into first place in the North Division second half standings with 25 games to go thanks to the Chattanooga Lookouts’ 8-7 walk-off victory over the Birmingham Barons tonight. The Smokies improved to a 23-22 record since the midpoint of the year, while Pensacola fell to 18-27.
It was the Blue Wahoos who struck first with a single tally in the first. CF Yorman Rodriguez tagged the third pitch of the contest to deep center for a leadoff triple, and then scored on 2B Ryan Wright’s RBI base knock to left to push Pensacola to a 1-0 lead.
The margin would grow to two three frames later with an additional score. Wright began the fourth with a base on balls, then took second on a groundout, prior to coming plateward on LF Kyle Waldrop’s run-scoring single to left to make it 2-0.
Tennessee, however, would narrow their deficit back to one thanks to Davis’ first RBI of the night. The backstop blasted his third homer of the year, an opposite field solo shot to right-center, moving the Smokies to within a run.
Davis subsequently would complete the comeback and give Tennessee their first lead of the ballgame with his third hit of the contest. 1B Charlie Cutler drew a leadoff free pass, while CF Jae-Hoon Ha single to left to set the scene for the Florida native, who smashed a two-run double into the right field corner, putting the Smokies ahead 3-2.
The Tennessee bullpen corps was strong in support of starter Eduardo Figueroa (5.0 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 6 SO), with Lendy Castillo (1.0 IP, 2 BB, 2 SO), Hunter Cervenka (1.2 IP, 1 BB, 2 SO), P.J. Francescon (0.1 IP, 1 H) and Frank Batista (1.0 IP, 1 H) combining to allow only two hits over the course of the final four frames. Castillo earned his first victory of the year in his 32nd appearance, while Batista converted his ninth save in ten chances in 2014.
Neither Figueroa, nor Pensacola starter Michael Lorenzen (4.0 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 2 SO) received a decision in the contest, while Pensacola relief man Tim Adleman (1.2 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 2 SO) suffered his fifth defeat of the season. Blue Wahoos relievers Scott Maine (1.1 IP, 1 BB, 2 SO) and Carlos Gonzalez (1.0 IP, 2 BB, 1 SO) combined for the last 2.1 hitless innings as well behind Lorenzen.
Davis (3-3, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 1 BB) was the lone Smokies hitter to record a multi-hit effort in the contest, while Rodriguez (2-5, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 3B) and 3B Seth Mejias-Brean (2-4) collected two hits. The three RBI from Davis were the second-highest total in a game this season, topped only by his five run driven in on July 26 at Birmingham.
Following an off day Tuesday, the Smokies will hit the road and face the Mobile BayBears, the Double-A affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks, at Hank Aaron Stadium for a five-game set. Tennessee is expected to give the ball to RHP Felix Pena (0-1, 11.25) in Mobile for the series opener, while the BayBears are set to counter with RHP Bradin Shipley (NR). First pitch is scheduled for 8:05 p.m. ET.
The club will then return to Smokies Stadium on Tuesday, August 12 to start a five-game set with the Huntsville Stars, the Double-A affiliate of the Milwaukee Brewers. First pitch of that series is scheduled for 7:15 p.m.
Tickets for that game and the remainder of the Smokies’ 2014 home schedule are still available and can be purchased online at smokiesbaseball.com, or by calling the Smokies Ticket Office at 286-2300.
Listen to Manager Buddy Bailey’s post-game comments below: