Smokies’ Atkins turns things around
Fans eight, limits Lookouts to two hits over 7 1/3 innings
by Alan Friedman / Special at MLB.com
Mitch Atkins made a sharp U-turn on Friday night.
After dropping three straight decisions, Atkins allowed two hits and struck out a season-high eight over 7 1/3 innings as the Tennessee Smokies held on for a 3-2 win over the Chattanooga Lookouts.
“Everything was working — fastball, curve, change, cutter,” Atkins said. “I didn’t feel anything special warming up, but after the first inning, everything felt good.”
The only hits given up by the 22-year-old right-hander were doubles by Tonys Gutierrez in the second and Cody Strait in the eighth.
Atkins (2-3) came into the game with a 5.03 ERA and surrendered eight runs on 12 hits over 5 1/3 innings at Jacksonville on Saturday.
“In other games, I’ve been up and down. I’d have a good inning and then a bad inning,” he said. “Tonight, I told myself to stay calm. My mechanics have been off and I’ve been rushing. But tonight I tried to stay consistent with every pitch. I think I can learn from this experience and try to repeat it.”
The Cubs’ 2004 seventh-round draft pick got offensive support from Steve Clevenger, who doubled twice and drove in a run. Robinson Chirinos and Doug Deeds plated the other runs for the Smokies (15-20).
Rocky Roquet notched his first save, despite allowing one run on two hits with two strikeouts and a walk in the ninth.
Ben Jukich (2-2) yielded two runs on five hits over 7 1/3 innings, fanning five and walking four, for the Lookouts (18-17).
*****Mitch Atkins is a former HS pitcher with the Northeast Guilford Rams and he was one of our interview guests last year in the off-season and this year he continues to ply his trade with the Chicago Cubs AA club, the Tennessee Smokies who are in the same league, the Southern League, with the Florida Marlins AA team, the Carolina Mudcats, located down in Zebulon.*****