Whatever it maybe, it’s worked for Smokies
By Marcus Fitzsimmons | (firstname.lastname@example.org)
The Smokies had every reason to rally Wednesday.
Erasing the memory of battling the Barons for four hours and a half hours only to lose in the 13th the night before was up there.
Evening the five-game series at two each, with a chance to still take the win, was motivation as well.
But Ekeing back ahead of Birmingham and reclaiming the North Division lead was a top priority. The lead has changed hands nightly over the first three games as the AA affiliates of the MLB clubs dividing Chicago’s loyalties have tried to find a decisive advantage as the calendar page turns.
“Every night we’re playing these guys for first place,” Smokies Manager Buddy bailey said. “We had chances last night and didn’t get a run in but then we bounced back tonight. I always like to get a win on a night game before go into a day game.”
The 3-2 win Wednesday show cased both how the Kodak Cubs have grown this season and just how hot they’ve been this July. Javier Baez added one more homer for a league best 37 home runs in July, nearly double any other club.
The long ball effect has kept Tennessee atop the standings when the defense or pitching has faltered. The Smokies have four players with double-digit jacks this season and the return of Justin Bour from the DL has done nothing but improve those numbers.
The Barons have already secured a postseason spot by winning the division’s first half. Winning the second half would put Birmingham straight into the league’s championship series.
The Smokies don’t want to make it that easy for the little Chi-Sox from Alabama. A second-half division title by Tennessee sets up a decisive series in the North with the winner going to the championship to face the South Division survivor.
The teams have one more series left. The Smokies will leave Kodak after a 10-game home stand to visit Birmingham as the season closes from 15 to 10 games remaining. Of course it will be under AL rules in the Barons castle and any edge the Smokies can build now, will help them then.
The Smokies had every reason to rally when Birmingham tied it up and whichever one they used, it worked. Which has been the Smokies story this July, whatever Bailey and his crew have been doing, it’s worked.
Marcus Fitzsimmons is sports editor at The Daily Times. You can follow him on twitter @TDT_Sports. He wrote from Kodak.