It was a night for name tags and umbrellas at AT&T Field.
Ultimately it was a night for baseball, too, as the Chattanooga Lookouts dropped a 4-2 decision to the Montgomery Biscuits in a Memorial Day matchup that started 78 minutes late because of rain. The loss dropped the Lookouts to 25-26 with 19 games remaining in the Southern League’s first half, the first time they’ve been below .500 since they were 8-9 on April 20.
The Lookouts are still seven games back of West Tenn in the North Division.
“We’ve got West Tenn five more at their place and we’ve got Huntsville here for five, and you never know what can happen in this business,” Lookouts manager Mike Goff said. “If we don’t crawl back in this thing during the first half, we’re going to start preparing for the second half and come out like gangbusters.”
Chattanooga will be competing with a new look in upcoming weeks as the result of eight transactions made Monday by the parent Cincinnati Reds.
The most notable departure was starting pitcher Daryl Thompson, who moved on to Triple-A Louisville after going 3-2 with a 1.76 earned run average in 10 Double-A starts. His ERA ranked second only to Carolina’s Ryan Tucker (0.93) among league pitchers.
“Thompson has been lights-out the entire time he’s been here,” Goff said. “For him to get a promotion wasn’t a surprise.”
Also leaving the Lookouts were starter Ramon Ramirez, who went six innings with Louisville on Monday and picked up the win, infielder Justin Tordi and relief pitcher Justin James. Tordi was sent back to high Single-A Sarasota, while James was placed on the disabled list for the second time this season.
Joining the Chattanooga team were starting pitchers Jordan Smith and Travis Wood, each of whom arrived from Sarasota. Also arriving were infielder Drew Anderson, who had a brief stint in Louisville, and reliever Lee Tabor, who is back from Sarasota for a second stint.
Smith started Monday for the Lookouts after posting a 7-2 record and 2.55 ERA through 10 starts in the Florida State League. His seven victories led the league.
“He was off to a heck of a start in Sarasota and has earned the promotion,” Goff said. “He’s a bulldog and comes right after guys with a good arm and pitches with a little attitude, which we love to see.”
Wood, a second-round pick of the Reds in 2005, went 3-4 with a 2.70 ERA in Sarasota and has the organization’s best changeup according to Baseball America.
Montgomery broke a scoreless tie in the third when Ronnie Merrill’s one-out sacrifice to left scored Matt Spring, who had opened the inning with an infield hit off Smith’s glove. The Biscuits made it 2-0 in the fifth on Rashad Eldridge’s one-out single to right that scored Sergio Pedroza and extended it to 3-0 in the sixth on Chris Nowak’s homer to left.
Chattanooga pulled within 3-2 in the bottom of the sixth on RBI singles by Eric Eymann and Danny Dorn, but the Biscuits capped the scoring in the ninth when Spring homered to left-center. Chattanooga got the tying runners on base in the bottom of the ninth but couldn’t get them home.
Lookouts owner Frank Burke was hoping for the largest crowd this season, but rain obviously affected that. Considering the lengthy delay, the announced audience of 4,005 was “terrific,” Burke said.
“It was too early to tell if we were going to sell out,” he said. “I think we would have been close.”
Because the game ended after 11:30, the fireworks display was canceled.
Sam LeCure (3-3, 4.99 ERA) is scheduled to start tonight’s 7:15 matchup for the Lookouts, with Wade Davis (4-3, 3.99) scheduled for the Biscuits.
David Paschall is a sports writer for the Times Free Press. He started at the Chattanooga Free Press in 1990 and was part of the Times Free Press when the paper started in 1999. David covers University of Georgia football, as well as SEC football recruiting, SEC basketball, Chattanooga Lookouts baseball and other sports stories. He is a Chattanooga native and graduate of the Baylor School and Auburn University. David has received numerous honors for ...