Birmingham (25-11, 58-47) @ Tennessee (16-20, 55-50) – Game #3 Preview

Game #2 Recap

Birmingham used a three-run seventh inning to come back and defeat the Tennessee Smokies on Monday night, 4-2, at Smokies Park, evening the series at one game apiece.

Nicky Delmonico put the Barons on the board quickly by blasting a solo home run – his first with Birmingham – in the first inning. Tennessee answered back immediately to tie the game, before taking the lead in the fourth.

The Barons would score all three runs in the seventh with two outs. Keenyn Walker tied the game up by beating out an infield single to score Adrian Nieto, and Tim Anderson followed with his ninth triple of the season to score Joey DeMichele and Walker.

Robinson Leyer received a no decision for the Barons, allowing two runs on six hits over five innings, while striking out five and walking three. Tyler Barnette (5-3) picked up the win with three scoreless innings, and Zach Isler notched his fifth save.

Anderson finished with three of the Barons’ six hits, and Delmonico also reached base three times.

Read the full game recap here.

Game #2 Highlights

Game #3 Probable Pitchers

  • BIRMINGHAM: Mark Blackmar (5-4, 3.19 ERA) – Much like his fellow starting pitchers, Blackmar has been excellent lately, going 5-1 with a 2.03 ERA over his last ten starts. Away from Regions Field, Blackmar has recorded a stellar 2.29 ERA over eight starts. He’s made three starts against the Smokies this season, going 1-0 while allowing five earned runs over 19 innings.
  • TENNESSEE: Rob Zastryzny (0-3, 4.64 ERA) – Zastryzny has had his share of struggles this season, but has been much better over his last three starts, allowing just four earned runs over 16 innings. The left-hander has faced the Barons twice this season, losing both decisions while allowing six earned runs in 6.2 innings.

Roster Update: Brantly to Charlotte, Dowdy joins Birmingham

Catcher Rob Brantly has seen his recent strong play translate into a promotion, as the catcher will move up to Triple-A Charlotte. Replacing him will be Jeremy Dowdy, who has spent time with both the Knights and the high-A Winston-Salem Dash this season.

Over 30 games with the Barons, Brantly hit .325 with four home runs and 22 RBIs while splitting time with Adrian Nieto. The former big leaguer was hitting .425 over his past 10 games.

Dowdy will be appearing at Birmingham for his third straight season, although his prior two appearances have been brief. In 2013, he appeared in just one game, going 0-for-4, and last season he went 2-for-8 in three games. This year, Dowdy is hitting .232/.338/.295 between the Dash and Knights.

 

Birmingham (24-11, 57-47) @ Tennessee (16-19, 55-49) – Game #2 Preview

Game #1 Recap

An early deficit was too much to overcome for Birmingham on Sunday, as the Barons lost their series opener to Tennessee, 5-2, at Smokies Park.

Tyler Danish (7-8) saw his struggles continue, as he dropped his third straight decision after allowing five runs on 11 hits over just four innings, recording one walk and one strikeout. The right-hander now has a 5.63 ERA over seven second-half starts, and has 18 walks to just 17 strikeouts in that span.

Tony Bucciferro was excellent out of the Barons bullpen, throwing four scoreless innings and allowing just two hits, but Birmingham was unable to mount a serious comeback.

The Barons, who recorded just four hits on the night, scored both of their runs in the eighth inning, on RBIs from Jacob May and Nicky Delmonico.

Read the full game recap here.

Southern League Second-Half Standings

Southern League North
Club W L PCT GB ELIM # Home Away L 10 Streak
Birmingham Barons (CWS) 24 11 .686 13-7 11-4 6-4 L1
Montgomery Biscuits (TB) 20 15 .571 4.0 32 15-5 5-10 6-4 L2
Tennessee Smokies (CHC) 16 19 .457 8.0 28 8-5 8-14 6-4 W2
* Chattanooga Lookouts (MIN) 14 20 .412 9.5 26 5-11 9-9 5-5 W1
Jackson Generals (SEA) 10 25 .286 14.0 21 2-14 8-11 2-8 L4
Southern League South
Club W L PCT GB ELIM # Home Away L 10 Streak
Mobile BayBears (ARI) 22 13 .629 12-8 10-5 7-3 W2
Mississippi Braves (ATL) 20 16 .556 2.5 33 11-10 9-6 4-6 W1
Pensacola Blue Wahoos (CIN) 20 16 .556 2.5 33 11-4 9-12 4-6 L1
* Biloxi Shuckers (MIL) 17 18 .486 5.0 30 7-7 10-11 6-4 L1
Jacksonville Suns (MIA) 13 23 .361 9.5 26 9-12 4-11 4-6 W1

Game #2 Probable Pitchers

  • BIRMINGHAM: Robinson Leyer (1-0, 3.14 ERA) – Leyer has been solid in his first three starts for the Barons, allowing just five earned runs over 14.1 innings. However, he’s allowing a .291 opponents average, along with a 1.53 WHIP, both significantly higher than he allowed during his tenure with Winston-Salem, where he went 3-6 with a 4.30 ERA.
  • TENNESSEE: Pierce Johnson (5-0, 1.66 ERA) – Johnson has been absolutely dominant in nine starts for the Smokies this season, allowing just nine runs over 48.2 innings. In his only start against the Barons this season, Johnson allowed just one run over seven innings while earning the win. For Johnson, a top-10 prospect in the Cubs’ system, success is nothing new, as he’s recorded a 2.50 career ERA in the minor leagues over 280.2 innings with 276 strikeouts.

Birmingham (23-10, 56-46) vs. Mississippi (19-15, 52-50) – Game #5 Preview

Game #4 Recap

A late Barons rally fell short on Friday night, as Mississippi rode a dominant outing by John Gant to a 4-3 victory at Regions Field, evening the series at two games apiece.

Gant (1-0) earned the win in what was his first start in the Braves organization, after being part of the Juan Uribe trade a week ago. Gant tossed 5.2 innings, and allowed just one run on two hits while striking out seven.

Trailing 4-0, the Barons scored a run in the sixth and another in the seventh, before nearly tying the game in the ninth. Danny Hayes and Rob Brantly led off the inning with back-to-back singles before Joey DeMichele moved both runners up with a sacrifice bunt. A Marcus Lemon groundout brought home Hayes to bring the Barons within one, but after Keenyn Walker drew a walk, Tim Anderson struck out to end the game, leaving Brantly stranded at third base.

Frankie Montas (3-2) wasn’t as dominant as the Barons have become accustomed to seeing lately, giving up four runs (two earned) on eight hits over 5.2 innings. However, he did strike out seven batters.

Kyle Hansen continued his recent dominance out of the bullpen by firing 2.1 scoreless innings, allowing only one hit.

Read the full game recap here.

Game #4 Highlights

Game #5 Probable Pitchers

  • BIRMINGHAM: Myles Jaye (10-4, 2.67 ERA) – Jaye has arguable been Birmingham’s best pitcher since the All-Star break, going 5-1 with a 1.54 ERA over six second-half starts. After recording a 1.13 ERA over five starts in June, Jaye was just as effective in July, going 4-1 with a 1.93 ERA. Jaye has won eight of his past ten starts.
  • MISSISSIPPI: Lucas Sims (0-1, 3.72 ERA) Sims is making just his third start with the Braves this season. He previously made nine starts with the high-A Carolina Mudcats, where he went 3-4 with a 5.18 ERA. In his two starts with Mississippi, Sims has struck out 11 in 9.2 innings, but has also walked 11. Sims is currently ranked as a top prospect in Atlanta’s organization.

Game #5 Promotions

  • Diamond Dig: The first 200 women to register will have a chance to dig for a diamond on the infield dirt, presented by Diamonds Direct.
  • Breast Cancer Awareness Night: Regions Field will be pinked out, including Pink jerseys worn by the Barons that will be auctioned off with proceeds benefiting the Susan G. Komen Foundation, presented by the Susan G. Komen foundation.
  • Pink Rose Giveaway: The first 1,000 women will receive a pink rose, presented by Norton’s Florist.
  • Grill Giveaway: One lucky fan will win a free grill, presented by All-South Appliance.

Birmingham (23-9, 56-45) vs. Mississippi (18-15, 51-50) – Game #4 Preview

Game #3 Recap

Birmingham notched its second straight victory against Mississippi on Thursday night, defeating the Braves, 3-2, at Regions Field.

The Barons pounded out ten hits, with Tim Anderson, Joey DeMichele, and Nicky Delmonico all notching two hits.

Anderson appeared to have a good shot at recording the cycle for the second time this season after hitting a home run and triple in his first two at-bats, but he went hitless the rest of the night.

Mark Blackmar (5-4) continued his recent dominance, tossing seven innings and allowing just two runs on three hits, while striking out two and walking one.

Raul Fernandez picked up a six-out save while not allowing a runner to reach base.

Read the full game recap here.

Game #3 Highlights

Game #4 Probable Pitchers

  • BIRMINGHAM: Frankie Montas (3-1, 2.38 ERA) – As great as Montas has been all season for Birmingham, he’s been even better since the All-Star break, going 2-0 with a 1.93 ERA over five second-half starts. After recording a 1.44 ERA over five June starts, Montas has been just as dominant in July, registering a 1.56 ERA with 21 strikeouts and just four walks.
  • MISSISSIPPI: John Gant (4-5, 4.70 ERA with Double-A Binghamton) – Gant will be making his first start in the Braves organization, after coming over in a trade along with Rob Whalen in exchange for Juan Uribe and Kelly Johnson just six days ago. In 11 starts with the Double-A Binghamton Mets this season, Gant is 4-5 with a 4.70 ERA. He also made six starts with the high-A St. Lucie Mets of the Florida State League, where he went 2-0 with a 1.79 ERA.

Game #4 Promotions

  • Friday Night Fireworks: Synced to the hits of Motown, presented by Coca-Cola and Alabama Power.
  • Tin Lunchbox Giveaway: Given to the first 1,000 kids, presented by Verizon.

Birmingham (22-9, 55-45) vs. Mississippi (18-14, 51-49) – Game #3 Preview

Game #2 Recap

The Barons used a three-run seventh inning to down the Mississippi Braves on Wednesday night, 3-2, at Regions Field.

Trailing 2-0 heading into the bottom of the seventh, the Barons scored three runs despite recording just one hit. Adrian Nieto started the inning by drawing a walk, and Nicky Delmonico followed with a double. Both runs came around to score when Keenyn Walker reached on a throwing error, and after Walker stole third, Tim Anderson brought him home with a sacrifice fly.

Birmingham starter Robinson Leyer received a no decision, allowing two runs over five innings. Tyler Barnette (4-3) earned the win with three scoreless innings, and Peter Tago earned his second save.

Braves starter Victor Mateo was brilliant through six innings, allowing just two hits, before Josh Outman (0-1) received a blown save and the loss, thanks in large part to the crucial seventh inning error by shortstop Luis Mateo.

Read the full game recap here.

Game #2 Highlights

Game #3 Probable Pitchers

  • BIRMINGHAM: Mark Blackmar (4-4, 3.23 ERA) – Blackmar continues to roll for the Barons, and is coming off a strong start against Jacksonville, where he fired six scoreless innings and earned the win. Since the All-Star break, Blackmar has gone 3-1 with a 2.83 ERA in five starts. Although he hasn’t been quite as dominant in July as he was in June (1.09 ERA), Blackmar has still registered a quality start in all four starts this month.
  • MISSISSIPPI: Stephen Janas (1-3, 3.67 ERA) – Janas is making just his sixth start for Mississippi, and has recorded a 3.67 ERA over 27 innings, striking out 16 while walking only three. Prior to joining the Braves, Janas was dominating with the high-A Carolina Mudcats, going 5-0 with a 0.49 ERA in six starts. He allowed just two earned runs in 37 innings.

Game #3 Promotions

  • Thirsty Thursday: $2 beer and wine specials, presented by Liv Parkside, Miller Lite, Woodbridge, and Buffalo Wild Wings.
  • Thursday Night Concert Series: Presented by Birmingham Mountain Radio and Tin Roof.

Birmingham (21-9, 54-45) vs. Mississippi (18-13, 51-48) – Game #2 Preview

Game #1 Recap

The Mississippi Braves smacked 18 hits en route to a 12-3 thumping of the Barons on Tuesday night at Regions Field.

Barons starter Tyler Danish (7-7) was knocked around for seven runs (all earned) on nine hits over just four innings. He struck out three and walked one.

Tony Bucciferro didn’t fare much better out of the bullpen, allowing four runs on six hits over three innings.

For the Braves, Greg Ross (4-9) had one of his best starts of the season, tossing seven strong innings while allowing just one run and striking out seven.

Joey DeMichele went 3-for-4 for Birmingham with an RBI, while Rob Brantly and Marcus Lemon each recorded two hits and an RBI.

All nine Braves starters recorded a hit in the game, with seven of them recording multi-hit games.

Levi Hyams had the most impressive night for Mississippi, going 3-for-4 with a double, walk, two RBI, and two runs scored.

Read the full game recap here.

Game #2 Probable Pitchers

  • BIRMINGHAM: Robinson Leyer (1-0, 2.89 ERA) – Leyer has made just two starts with the Barons since being called up from high-A Winston-Salem, with mixed results. In his first start, he tossed five scoreless innings against Pensacola, allowing only four hits. But his last time out, at Jacksonville, he was knocked around for eight hits and three earned runs in just 4.1 innings, while walking two and failing to record a strikeout. Prior to joining the Barons, Leyer had a 4.30 ERA with the Dash over 83.2 innings pitched.
  • MISSISSIPPI: Victor Mateo (6-6, 2.84 ERA) – Mateo is now in his third season in the Southern League, although it’s his first with the Braves after spending the previous two season with the Montgomery Biscuits. In 18 games (17 starts) this season, Mateo has allowed just 32 earned runs over 101.1 innings. Mateo has had far less success on the road than at home this season, struggling to a 4.43 ERA over 44.2 innings.

Game #2 Promotions

  • AAA Wednesday: Save $2 on your tickets by showing your AAA card, presented by AAA of Alabama.

Birmingham (21-8, 54-44) vs. Mississippi (17-13, 50-48) – Series Preview

The Barons return to Regions Field on Tuesday night coming off another series win, having taken four out of five at Jacksonville. Birmingham’s 21-8 second-half record is still tops in the Southern League, and the Barons continue to hold a three game lead over the Montgomery Biscuits in the North Division. With Tennessee and Jackson continuing to slip further down the standings, the second-half division title will almost certainly be won by either the Barons or Biscuits, who end the regular season by playing a five-game series against each other in Montgomery.

Mississippi is in a playoff battle of its own, coming into Birmingham with a 17-11 second-half record, which places them in a tie for second place in the South Division with Pensacola, just 1.5 games behind Mobile. The Braves’ position would be even better had they not just had an awful series in Mobile, where they lost four out of five and were outscored 19-3.

This will be the first meeting this season between the two teams. They’ll meet again in August, when the Barons travel to Mississippi.

Southern League Second-Half Standings

Southern League North
Club W L PCT GB ELIM # Home Away L 10 Streak
Birmingham Barons (CWS) 21 8 .724 10-5 11-3 5-5 W2
Montgomery Biscuits (TB) 18 11 .621 3.0 39 13-2 5-9 8-2 W4
Tennessee Smokies (CHC) 12 17 .414 9.0 33 7-5 5-12 4-6 L2
* Chattanooga Lookouts (MIN) 11 17 .393 9.5 32 3-8 8-9 6-4 W2
Jackson Generals (SEA) 8 21 .276 13.0 28 2-13 6-8 1-9 L4
Southern League South
Club W L PCT GB ELIM # Home Away L 10 Streak
Mobile BayBears (ARI) 18 11 .621 8-6 10-5 8-2 W1
Mississippi Braves (ATL) 17 13 .567 1.5 40 10-10 7-3 6-4 L1
Pensacola Blue Wahoos (CIN) 17 13 .567 1.5 40 11-4 6-9 6-4 L3
* Biloxi Shuckers (MIL) 14 15 .483 4.0 37 4-5 10-10 5-5 W3
Jacksonville Suns (MIA) 10 20 .333 8.5 33 8-12 2-8 1-9 L2

Braves to Watch

  • Lucas Sims, RHP: Sims, a first-round draft pick (21st overall) by the Braves in 2012, is one of the organization’s very best prospects. In fact, Baseball Prospectus currently ranks him #1 among Braves prospects, while Baseball America places him at #4. Sims is brand-new to the Double-A level, having made just two starts since his call-up from high-A Carolina, and has tossed 9.2 innings while allowing four earned runs (3.72 ERA). He’s allowed just three hits over that span and struck out 11, but has also walked an alarming 11 batters. Sims had his share of struggles this season for the Mudcats, recording a 5.18 ERA over nine starts. Sims is currently scheduled to start the fifth and final game of the series.
  • Rio Ruiz, 3B: Ruiz, another top-10 prospect of Atlanta’s, is new to the organization this season. He was one of the key pieces of the trade that sent Evan Gattis to Houston, coming to Atlanta alongside Mike Foltynewicz and Andrew Thurman. However, in his first season with the Braves, as well as his first season at the Double-A level, he’s been a major disappointment, hitting just .209/.316/.260 over 89 games. Those numbers are a far cry from last season, where he hit .293/.387/.436 with the high-A Lancaster JetHawks. Of course, it’s worth noting that the California League is a much more hitter-friendly league than the Southern League.

Game 1 Probable Pitchers

  • BIRMINGHAM: Tyler Danish (7-6, 4.30 ERA) – Danish saw his three-game winning streak snapped in his most recent outing, when he allowed three earned runs on seven hits to the Tennessee Smokies. After a great start to the season (2.86 ERA over 22 innings in April), Danish has struggled to stay consistent, while seeing his strikeout and walk rates trending in the wrong direction. Although his results have been much better in July (3-1, 3.20 ERA) than they were in May and June, his peripheral stats are still worrisome, as he’s struck out just ten batters over 22 innings, while allowing 26 hits and walking 13.
  • MISSISSIPPI: Greg Ross (3-9, 4.87 ERA) – After a very strong 2014 season, Ross has trended in the wrong direction, allowing 113 hits and 53 earned runs over 98 innings pitched, with a .298 opponents batting average. On the plus side for Ross, he’s currently in the midst of his best stretch of the season, having allowed just eight earned runs over 32.2 innings (2.20 ERA) in the month of July.

Game 1 Promotions

  • 50-Cent Hot Dog Night: Presented by Kayem, Flowers Bakery, Birmingham Zoo, WIAT 42, and Jeff. Co. ALFA Agents.
  • Social Media Night: Fans have the chance to win great prizes through social media outlets such as Facebook and Twitter.
  • Faith Night: Church groups of ten or more receive $2 off regular-priced tickets.
  • Peanut Free Night: Regions Field will be completely peanut free, so those with peanut allergies can fully enjoy Barons baseball. Presented by Alabama Allergy and Asthma.

Birmingham (17-5, 50-41) @ Tennessee (8-14, 47-44) – Series Preview

Following the All-Star break, Tennessee figured to be one of the Barons’ primary competitors for the North Division second-half title. However, after a few weeks, things have changed dramatically. While the Barons have used a blazing start to jump out to a 17-5 record, the Smokies have struggled to an 8-14 record, and already find themselves nine games back. Part of the reason for Tennessee’s struggles has been the absence of key players. Kyle Schwarber is now playing in the big leagues, and Dan Vogelbach and Albert Almora are both on the temporary inactive list, leaving the Smokies short on prospects.

Tennessee enters this series riding a six-game losing streak, and was just swept at the hands of the Montgomery Biscuits, who now appear to be the Barons’ biggest challenge throughout the remainder of the season. The Barons, meanwhile, have won each of their five series to start the second half, and just took three out of five against Pensacola at Regions Field.

The Barons have dominated the season series between the teams so far, going 10-4.

Yesterday’s Highlights

Southern League Second-Half Standings

Southern League North
Club W L PCT GB ELIM # Home Away L 10 Streak
Birmingham Barons (CWS) 17 5 .773 10-5 7-0 8-2 W1
Montgomery Biscuits (TB) 13 9 .591 4.0 45 13-2 0-7 5-5 W5
Tennessee Smokies (CHC) 8 14 .364 9.0 40 4-3 4-11 2-8 L6
* Chattanooga Lookouts (MIN) 7 14 .333 9.5 39 1-6 6-8 5-5 W2
Jackson Generals (SEA) 7 15 .318 10.0 38 1-7 6-8 2-8 L3
Southern League South
Club W L PCT GB ELIM # Home Away L 10 Streak
Mississippi Braves (ATL) 14 9 .609 9-6 5-3 8-2 W4
Mobile BayBears (ARI) 13 9 .591 0.5 47 8-6 5-3 6-4 W3
Pensacola Blue Wahoos (CIN) 13 10 .565 1.0 47 7-1 6-9 7-3 L1
* Biloxi Shuckers (MIL) 10 12 .455 3.5 44 3-4 7-8 4-6 L2
Jacksonville Suns (MIA) 9 14 .391 5.0 43 7-8 2-6 3-7 L4

Who’s Hot for the Barons?

  • Myles Jaye, RHP: See “Game 1 Probable Pitchers” below.
  • Kyle Hansen, RHP: Hansen may have gotten off to a rough start this season, but he’s been one of the Barons’ best bullpen options as of late, if not THE best. Hansen hasn’t given up an earned run since June 5, and since that time has fired 20.1 scoreless innings while striking out 14 and walking only six. In that stretch, his ERA has dropped from 5.27 to 3.02.
  • Rob Brantly, C: Brantly has been the hottest hitter in the Barons lineup lately, and has been absolutely raking since the start of July. Entering the month with a .224 batting average, Brantly has gone 16-for-36 (.444) this month with two home runs, 10 RBI, and an OPS of 1.196. His season line now sits at .309/.337/.500.

Game 1 Probable Pitchers

  • BIRMINGHAM: Myles Jaye (9-3, 2.38 ERA) – While the whole Barons staff has been excellent as of late, it’s been Jaye who has impressed the most. Jaye enters tonight’s game having not allowed a run over the past 25 innings, and having not allowed an earned run since June 11 – a stretch of 32 innings. The last time he faced the Smokies, he fired seven scoreless innings while striking out eight. Over his past 10 starts, Jaye has recorded a 1.48 ERA.
  • TENNESSEE: Felix Pena (5-6, 4.17 ERA) – Pena has been the polar opposite of Jaye lately, having been lit up for 16 earned runs over his past four starts (17.1 IP). One of those starts came against the Barons, where he took the loss after allowing four earned runs in six innings, although he did record seven strikeouts.

Frankie Montas Promoted to White Sox

Right-handed pitcher Frankie Montas was called up by the Chicago White Sox on Monday to be their 26th man in a doubleheader. In 15 starts with the Barons, Montas is 2-1 with a 2.47 ERA and 7.6 K/9. His highlights this season include throwing a seven-inning no-hitter and being named a Southern League All-Star. We caught up with Montas to talk about his appearance in the All-Star Futures Game, being called up to Chicago, and the success he’s had this season.

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