The Smokies were defeated on Tuesday night by the Lookouts 11-3 in Chattanooga. Despite a strong start on the mound, the bullpen let Tennessee down late.
Oscar De La Cruz received the start for the Smokies and, after struggling with consistency to start the season, had won his past three starts going into the game. De La Cruz looked to be on his way to a fourth straight win on Tuesday through four innings. But, in the fifth inning, De La Cruz struggled and couldn't make it out of the inning. The right-hander finished the game going 4.1 innings, allowing four runs on four hits and striking out four.
James Norwood replaced De La Cruz in the fifth inning and got out of the jam. Norwood finished going 1.2 innings, allowing one run on two hits and striking out three. Jake Stinnett replaced Norwood and pitched two thirds of an inning, giving up five runs and four earned on three hits. James Pugliese replaced Stinnett in the bottom of the seventh and finished the game going an inning and striking out two.
Down 4-0, the Smokies finally broke through in the top of the sixth inning. With two outs, Yasiel Balaguert hit his third home run of the season, a solo shot to center. Balaguert had his best game of the season on Tuesday night as he went 3-for-3 with a walk.
The Smokies tacked on one more run in the top of the eighth. Charcer Burks and Jason Vosler singled and then a passed ball scored Burks to give the Smokies their second run of the game. In the ninth, the Smokies scored their third run as Ian Rice, after walking, scored on a wild pitch.
Jeffrey Baez totaled two hits in the game with Burks and Jesse Hodges each picking up a hit of their own.
The Smokies will be back in action on Wednesday morning as they close out their series against the Chattanooga Lookouts. Michael Rucker is the projected starter for the Smokies as he looks for his fourth win of the season. Anthony Marzi is the projected starter for the Lookouts.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.