The Tennessee Smokies took a one game to none lead in the Southern League Championship Series with a 5-0 shutout of the Jacksonville Suns.
Cubs Minor League Pitcher of the Year Chris Archer bounced back from a bad start in the first round of the playoffs with a gem tonight. Archer pitched six shutout innings and allowed only four hits. He walked one and struck out eight. He got double plays in the first two innings and he got out of the third inning when opposing pitcher Elih Villaneuva was thrown out trying to score from first on a double.
But after the play at the plate, Smokies pitchers retired the final 18 batters to end the game. Archer left after six and relievers Aaron Shafer, Blake Parker and Esmailin Caridad each threw a perfect inning. Shafer and Caridad both struck out two.
The Smokies offense had trouble getting going themselves, as the Villaneuva retired the first nine batters he faced. But center fielder Tony Campana singled to lead off the fourth to break the string. After a wild pickoff throw sent him to third base, right fielder Brett Jackson just missed a home run to center. The ball did bounce over the wall for a ground-rule double and the first run of the game. Both Campana and Jackson were 1 for 3. Campana also had a sacrifice bunt and Jackson walked once.
Two batters and a Blake Lalli walk later, catcher Robinson Chirinos hit a three-run home run to make it a four-run inning for the Smokies. Chirinos went 2 for 4 in this first game back from being hit on the hand with a pitch in the West Tennessee series.
Left fielder Brandon Guyer closed out the scoring in this game with a solo home run in the sixth inning. Guyer was 1 for 4.
A bit of background on this series. The series is best-of-five. The Smokies are looking for revenge as they lost the Southern League Championship to the Suns last season, three games to one.
The Smokies will take the field tomorrow at 6:15. You can listen to the game on the Smokies Radio Network.