The Chattanooga Lookouts made some progress at the plate Tuesday night at AT&T Field, but that doesn't count for much these days against West Tenn.
Diamond Jaxx starting pitcher Michael Pineda rode his fastball that reaches 98 mph and sits around 95 to spearhead a 5-2 victory. The 6-foot-5, 243-pound Pineda, who is rated by Baseball America as the No. 7 prospect in the Seattle Mariners organization, limited Chattanooga to four hits and one run in seven innings.
"He's a big guy who is striding right at you with those long, whipping arms," West Tenn manager Tim Laker said of his 21-year-old who's now 5-1. "He's got to be uncomfortable to hit against, to say the least."
Pineda's performance followed Monday night's showing by Mauricio Robles, who recorded nine strikeouts and allowed three hits in leading West Tenn to a 3-0 blanking. The Lookouts have little time to recover, as they are scheduled to face Steven Hensley this morning at 11:15.
Hensley leads the Southern League with a 1.53 earned run average.
"You never know what can happen," Lookouts leadoff hitter Dee Gordon said. "We might put up 10 runs, or he might shut us down. We've just got to keep playing."
West Tenn's streak of 27 innings without allowing a walk ended when Pineda gave Corey Smith a free pass with two out in the first inning. Pineda did give the Diamond Jaxx a sixth straight start of at least six innings, and they improved to 28-23 with 18 games remaining in the first half.
The Lookouts (22-30) led briefly when Tommy Giles opened the second inning with a single to center field and Jaime Pedroza followed with a triple down the right-field line.
West Tenn broke a 1-1 tie with two runs in the fourth inning, both after the Lookouts failed to turn an inning-ending double play. The Diamond Jaxx made it 4-1 in the seventh when Brandon Haveman's two-out single up the middle was followed by Carlos Peguero's RBI double to left-center.
"There's not much to say," Lookouts manager Carlos Subero said. "It's a game of adjustments. We saw Pineda last year in High Desert and knew what we were up against, and it's just a matter of us trying to minimize our mental mistakes.
"We couldn't turn a double play when it was 1-1 and allowed a couple of runs, and you could just see Pineda say, 'This is my game.'"
Chris Withrow (1-2, 5.94 ERAR) is scheduled to start this morning for the Lookouts.
Before Tuesday's game, Lookouts center fielder Trayvon Robinson was selected as the league's hitter of the week. Robinson homered three times last week and drove in five runs while compiling a slugging percentage of .714.