Alberto Cabrera looks to get the Smokies back on track after a rough outing against Huntsville in his last start. Photo Courtesy: Roger C. Hoover
It’s the middle game of a five-game series between the Tennessee Smokies (27-24) and the Birmingham Barons (33-19). After yesterday’s Rickwood Classic at Rickwood Field, the series shifts back to Regions Field with first pitch taking place at 8:05 PM ET.
WHAT’S AT STAKE: Trailing first place Birmingham by 5.5 games with only 18 to play, this may serve as a must-win game for the Tennessee Smokies. This series marks the last time the Smokies will play the Barons in the first half and the best chance for them to gain ground in the Southern League’s North Division
Tennessee: Alberto Cabrera (4-2, 3.92 ERA): Cabrera makes his 11th start of the season tonight for the Smokies. The righty is coming off a loss to Huntsville on May 25th in which he allowed five runs, four of them earned, on six hits in six innings. Cabrera has faced the Barons once this season and it was his toughest start to date. He allowed a season-high 13 hits and six runs in 4.1 innings back on May 9th at Smokies Park. One thing Cabrera has going for him is his success on the road. In five road starts, Cabrera is 3-0 with a 1.97 ERA.
Birmingham: Spencer Arroyo (4-2, 2.24 ERA): Arroyo has been one of the most consistent pitchers in the Southern League this season. His 2.24 ERA is good for fourth in the Southern League and the Barons lefty has allowed two runs or less in nine of his ten starts this season. He threw a five-inning complete game in his only outing against the Smokies back on May 7th at Smokies Park. Arroyo earned the win in his last start May 24th at Jacksonville allowing two earned runs in five innings.
LAST TIME OUT: A four-run fourth inning paced the Birmingham Barons as they defeated the Tennessee Smokies 6-3 in the 18th Annual Rickwood Classic. Stephen McCray (5-3) pitched effectively into the 6th inning for the win and catcher Miguel Gonzalez 3-for-4 with two runs and two RBIs to lead the Barons. For the Smokies, Arismendy Alcantara kept up with his torrid streak going 3-for-4 and Christian Villanueva picked up his 26th and 27th RBIs with a two-run double.
CAN’T GET TO FIVE: After yesterday’s 6-3 loss, the Smokies dropped to 0-6 in games where they had the opportunity to move five games over .500. In those contests, they have been shutout on three different occasions and have blown leads in the 8th inning or beyond twice.
PLAYERS TO WATCH:
Ronald Torreyes: The Smokies second baseman has been in a funk as of late and has carried it into this series. He is hitless in seven at bats in the first two games of this series and he is hitless overall in seven of his last eight games.
Arismendy Alcantara: Alcantara cannot go unnoticed right now after his 3-for-4 performance yesterday extended his hitting streak to ten games. Tennessee’s shortstop now ranks fourth in the Southern League with 90 total bases and is closing in on the league leaders with his .280 batting average.
Miguel Gonzalez: He’s only played in three games against the Smokies this season, but catcher Miguel Gonzalez has already made his presence known. After his three-hit day yesterday, Gonzalez is 6-for-10 with 3 RBIs against Tennessee.
Dan Black: The league’s leading hitter for a portion of the season, the switch-hitting Black has struggled in the latter stages of May. Black is 1 for his last 15 at the plate and has gone hitless in 10 of his last 14 games.
KEY TO THE GAME: Even though Spencer Arroyo threw five scoreless innings against the Smokies back on May 7th, Tennessee had their chances to drive in runs. They had seven base runners in five innings but were 0-for-4 with runners in scoring position. The Smokies must capitalize on the chances they get against one of the Southern League’s best pitchers.
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 7:45 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.
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