The Chattanooga Lookouts and Tennessee Smokies have proven to be two evenly matched teams this season.
They just haven’t shown it on the same day.
After getting embarrassed 9-1 Saturday night at a sold out AT&T Field, the Smokies roared back for a 13-1 whipping Sunday afternoon before a chilled crowd of 2,423. Sunday marked the seventh meeting between the two North Division teams, and it was the fourth matchup to be decided by eight or more runs.
“It’s a good rivalry, even though we’re both blowing each other out,” Lookouts right fielder Kyle Russell said. “You look at the series, and they’ve got four wins now and we’ve got three.”
The Lookouts (19-18) and Smokies (22-15) have played one game decided by fewer than three runs, with that being Chattanooga’s 6-5 win April 11 at AT&T that was halted after six innings because of rain.
Chattanooga had pitching ace Rubby De La Rosa on the mound Sunday, but the No. 3 prospect in the Los Angeles Dodgers organization walked Marwin Gonzalez to open the game to signal things to come. De La Rosa survived two walks in the first inning, but in the second he allowed a single to left, threw a wild pitch and then gave up a walk.
When Smokies starting pitcher Brooks Raley placed a bunt in front of the mound, De La Rosa turned to third for the fielder’s choice but threw way wide of Elian Herrera, allowing two runs to score. De La Rosa entered the game second in the league in earned run average with a 2.10, but he failed to make it four innings before allowing seven runs, five earned, on just three hits.
“When you walk seven guys, that’s pretty much what you get out of it,” Lookouts pitching coach Chuck Crim said.
De La Rosa walked three batters in the fourth inning to load the bases and then hit Matthew Spencer, which resulted in Tennessee extending its lead to 4-0. Rebel Ridling then followed with a line drive to right-center that Russell couldn’t corral, which resulted in a three-run double.
“I slipped on the ground and the ball hit the palm of my hand and popped out,” Russell said. “I apologized to Rubby for it, because he was battling out there and I couldn’t come up with it.”
The Lookouts yielded 35 runs to the Smokies during their opening five-game set but had shown notable improvement until Sunday’s implosion.
“Earlier we just weren’t making quality pitches, and now we’re starting to make a lot more quality pitches,” Crim said. “This game is so funny. Will Savage gave us a great game last night, and here you throw our No. 1 guy against a guy who had a 7 earned run average.
“It’s an every day process with these guys, and it will be until the season is over with.”
Nate Eovaldi (2-1, 3.38) is scheduled to start tonight’s 7:15 game for the Lookouts, with Chris Rusin (1-0, 5.50) scheduled for the Smokies.
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 ...