Take me out to the ball game. Take me out for a while.
The Chattanooga Lookouts hosted their final game of the first half Wednesday afternoon, losing 9-4 to Mobile, and what a lengthy half it has been. Chattanooga's last 11 games at AT&T Field have been quite the tests of endurance, averaging three hours and 22 minutes.
"Have you seen the scores?" Lookouts manager Razor Shines said.
Chattanooga entered Wednesday with a two-hour, 58-minute average for home games this season, which was the highest of any team in Double-A baseball. The Southern League average was 2:50 entering Wednesday, so Chattanooga's recent stretch is more than half an hour longer.
Marathons at AT&T Field for the Lookouts have included a 17-6 win over Huntsville on May 14, a 15-4 win over Mississippi on May 22, and a 15-2 loss to the Braves on May 25. There was a 16-9 loss to Mobile on Sunday, which was sandwiched between two 7-6 victories for Chattanooga.
"There have been some long at-bats, and each team is just grinding," Lookouts first baseman O'Koyea Dickson said. "Obviously both teams have been able to score runs, too, and that can be one of the biggest factors. It takes a toll a little bit. I'm not going to lie.
"I'm kind of looking to that all-star break here pretty soon, but we've got to keep pushing through these games until that day comes."
Chattanooga is 24-36 with 10 games remaining until the break, with Wednesday's loss securing a losing first half. The Lookouts have not had a winning first half since going 37-33 in 2008.
That the Lookouts entered Wednesday ranked last in the Southern League in runs allowed (305) and earned run average (4.48) hasn't helped shorten games. Chattanooga's 258 batters walked entering Wednesday were the second most in the league.
"We're kind of in a weird mix right now," starting pitcher Tyson Brummett said. "We've had a couple of guys move out of the rotation, so you're seeing a lot more guys coming in from the bullpen. We'll probably keep seeing that right up to the all-star break. Baseball is such a rhythm and timing thing that when all cylinders are clicking, everything is working good, but when you throw a shuffle in the mix, people have to find their niche again.
"That's the biggest reason I think there have been longer games."
Mobile wasted little time in spoiling Chattanooga's first-half home finale, with Tom Belza hitting a double, Sean Jamieson a single and Jake Lamb a double to open the game. The BayBears scored three runs in the first inning off Raydel Sanchez and three more in the third on a two-run home run by Lamb and a solo shot by Dustin Martin.
Martin's homer to right was measured at 439 feet.
The Lookouts are scheduled to open a five-game series in Tennessee tonight at 8 EDT. Nick Struck (1-3, 6.91) is scheduled to start for the Lookouts, with Jason Hursh (4-4, 3.68) scheduled for the Braves.
Contact David Paschall at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6524.