PEARL, MISSISSIPPI - The bats were unable to get going on Sunday afternoon, as the Smokies fell to the Braves 5-3. Oscar De La Cruz received his first start with the Smokies, allowing five runs in four innings of work to receive his first loss of the season. De La Cruz walked one and struck out three, but allowed eight hits.
The right-hander was solid through the first three innings of play for Tennessee. Mississippi then touched De La Cruz up for five runs in the fourth and fifth innings to take a 5-0 lead. Tennessee immediately responded with three runs in the top of the sixth to cut the Braves' lead to 5-3.
Yasiel Balaguert sparked the rally, reaching on a fielding error that allowed Jesse Hodges to score. Eddy Martinez then hit an RBI double before Jeffrey Baez drove in a run on an RBI single. That would be all Tennessee could muster on offense for the day.
Following De La Cruz's debut, Preston Morrison and Dakota Mekkes combined to pitch four scoreless innings. The pair struck out five different Braves.
With the loss, Tennessee drops the opening series to Mississippi. The final game of the series will be tomorrow morning at 11:35 a.m. ET before the Smokies return home for their home-opener on Wednesday. Michael Rucker is expected to be on the mound for the Smokies, with Ricardo Sanchez looking to make the start for Mississippi tomorrow morning.
ABOUT THE TENNESSEE SMOKIES
The Tennessee Smokies are the Double-A affiliate of the Chicago Cubs. Members of the ten-team Southern League, Smokies baseball has been entertaining families and fans of America's national pastime in the East Tennessee region for over 100 years. To learn more about the Tennessee Smokies, visit www.smokiesbaseball.com
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.