For the Tennessee Smokies, 2021 has been a season filled with lows. They tried to turn things around with a series opener against the Chattanooga Lookouts but fell short Tuesday as the Lookouts won the game, 5-3.
Alex Katz started on the mound for the Smokies. It was the 26 year-old lefty’s first start since 2015, when he was drafted into the White Sox organization. He had thrown over 200 innings in relief before the start on Tuesday. Katz was called up to the Smokies from high-A South Bend last week.
However, Katz’ start was more like a relief outing. He only completed three innings, giving up eight hits and five earned runs, while only throwing 44 pitches. He was also credited with the loss in the game.
For the Lookouts, Connor Curlis produced a quality start. He got the win on the mound, throwing six innings and allowing three earned runs on five hits. The lefty tallied six strikeouts as well.
Early in the game, it seemed as if many more runs would score. The Lookouts got an early lead with a solo home run by right fielder Lorenzo Cedrola, part of a three hit game. They added on to their lead with a four run third inning that gave them all the offense they needed. They used five hits and an error, including a two RBI double by left fielder Braxton Lee, to increase their lead to five runs.
The Smokies responded with some offense of their own. Center fielder Christopher Morel hit a no-doubt two run homer that cut into the lead in the third inning. Nelson Maldonado added a solo home run in the fifth. That was all the offense they would get on the night.
Both teams’ bullpens were dealing the rest of the night. The scoring came to a halt after Maldonado’s fifth inning homer. The Lookouts’ bullpen tossed three scoreless innings to secure the win. The Smokies brought the game tying run to the plate in the ninth, but hit into a double play. Nick Howard earned the save with a scoreless frame.
The bright spot of the night for the Smokies was their bullpen. After Katz was chased, three pitchers combined to throw six scoreless innings. Luis Lugo gave the Smokies three innings in relief, only allowing two hits while striking out five. Wyatt Short also impressed. He threw two innings to keep the Lookouts’ lead at two runs.
With the loss, the Smokies fell to 11-24 on the season. They are in last place in the Double-A South-North Division, and have lost nine of their past 10 games. Chattanooga improved to 21-15 with the win.