Thursday night marked the 91st game this season for the Chattanooga Lookouts.
It was far from sweltering at AT&T Field, but heat and humidity were present. Heat and humidity are expected for the foreseeable future, so is this the start of baseball's dog days?
"I feel like they've been here," Lookouts leadoff hitter Darnell Sweeney said with a smile. "The bats feel a little bit heavier, and you notice how the pitchers get to pitch every five days. It's a tough time of the year, and you have to make sure you stick to your preparation and your routine more than ever."
Noel Cuevas, Sweeney and Scott Schebler singled and scored in the seventh inning, as Chattanooga turned a 2-2 deadlock into a 5-3 victory over Huntsville before an announced crowd of 2,222. The Lookouts improved to 9-12 in the Southern League's second half with their third victory in four games, and they are 35-56 overall.
Sweeney isn't alone among Lookouts players in his dog days assessment.
"I feel like they started about two weeks ago," said first baseman O'Koyea Dickson, who admitted he's using a slightly lighter bat.
Dickson hit a two-out single to left field in the sixth inning, took third on a single to right by Chris O'Brien and scored on Alex Liddi's single to center to tie the game at 2. The Lookouts tallied 10 hits compared to eight by the Stars, who collected four hits and a run in the first inning.
Lookouts manager Razor Shines said anybody who thinks the dog days have begun better adjust his calendar.
"I don't even want to know who's saying that stuff," Shines said. "Whoever is saying that needs some dog days off. It's not even mid-July, and people are talking about the dog days? The dog days are in August."
Sweeney, who has played either second base or shortstop most of the season, continued his recent run at center field.
"It's not anything new for me, because I played a lot of center field in high school," Sweeney said. "I will play wherever they want. I just want to be on the field and in the lineup. The biggest adjustment is just realizing how much ground there is to cover."
Said Shines: "I think this has been good for Darnell, and I think this will help his value. He will continue to play some second base and shortstop."
Matt Shelton (2-1, 3.65 ERA) is scheduled to start tonight's 7:15 game on the mound for the Lookouts, with Jacob Barnes (1-3, 4.91) scheduled for the Stars.
Contact David Paschall at email@example.com or 423-757-6524.