Brian Navarreto and his starting pitcher dealt with unforeseen challenges on Sunday afternoon, doing everything they could to stay warm and limber during lengthy half-innings in the dugout. At least the reason behind them was positive.
Navarreto drove in a career-high five runs and led the way with three hits, including a homer, as Double-A Chattanooga rolled over Jackson, 17-5, at AT&T Field.
"We were seeing the ball really well," Navarreto said after the Lookouts' best offensive showing of the season. "We were having fun together. We didn't expect we were going to have this day today, but we were just seeing the ball well."
Gameday box score
Heading into the matinee against the Generals, Chattanooga's biggest output of the year came in a 12-1 win at Mobile on July 19. The Lookouts matched that mark by the second inning on Sunday.
"It was awesome in the dugout," Navarreto said. "They were laughing with each other, having fun. It was good for us. I was trying to keep helping the pitchers [sitting] during the innings, but it was so fun for us. Every day is a fun day."
Twins No. 2 prospect Nick Gordon ignited the offense with a leadoff double to left field in the bottom of the first. Chattanooga sent 12 more men to the plate in the opening frame and scored eight times. As the seventh batter of the inning, Navarreto laced a two-run single to right.
The second was more of the same as T.J. White ripped a leadoff double to spark a four-run outburst.
All the while, Navarreto and Lookouts starter Zack Littell tried to stay fresh.
"We tried to stretch in the dugout a little bit," the catcher said. "We were trying to stay hot, throw more warming up, trying to stay stretched and warm. Basically, that's all you can do."
After going scoreless in the third, the Lookouts notched two runs in the fourth on Andy Wilkins' ninth homer. Then it was Navarreto's turn. With two on and nobody out in the fifth, the backstop clubbed his second Double-A homer to left-center.
"He was really good," Navarreto said of Jackson reliever Josh Taylor. "He got me down 0-2 quickly and I just tried to see the ball up. He threw me a curveball for the second strike and I knew he was going to do it again, but he missed bad. I tried to put a good swing on it, and I just hit it out."
In his first eight games up from Class A Advanced Fort Myers, Navarreto was 5-for-32 (.156) with a .456 OPS. Sunday helped him establish some confidence at his new level.
"It's awesome showing my talent, showing what I have," he said. "I think I belong here. I'm showing I try to play hard every day to show what my skills are. It's awesome to be here in Double-A playing with those guys. Those guys are amazing. They can challenge you, and it's fun to play with them."
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Chattanooga matched its season high by totaling 16 hits, including three doubles and two homers. Eight of the Lookouts' nine starters had at least one hit and six had at least two.
While Chattanooga went 9-for-17 with runners in scoring position, Littell held his own on the mound. In his second start since coming over from the Yankees in the Trade Deadline deal for Jaime Garcia, the Twins' new No. 16 prospect blanked the Generals into the fifth and ended up allowing five runs on eight hits over 5 2/3 innings.