The Carolina Mudcats should be about ready to settle down in East Tennessee this evening in preparation for their biggest games so far this season.
The whole Southern League had today off, making for a pretty easy travel day for Carolina heading into Wednesday's 7:15 p.m. game at Smokies Park in Sevierville.
Under rookie manager David Bell (pictured), the 'Cats have won 22 of their last 29 games and trail first-place Huntsville by 1 ½ in the Southern League's North Division.
Huntsville has won 20 of its last 31 over the span.
So here's the deal.
The half ends Sunday.
Carolina will play a five-game series at Tennessee, the Chicago Cubs' affiliate which was the early division leader, while Huntsville has six at in-state rival Birmingham including a doubleheader on Friday. Birmingham has run away with the South Division, leading second-place Mobile by eight games.
Carolina, which has won six straight series and two straight games, is 7-3 against the Smokies, the Mudcats' best record against anyone in the league.
Huntsville is 2-2 against the Barons.
Center fielder Chris Heisey (.362 with 13 homers and 37 RBI), who was the SL's player of the month for May, and left fielder Todd Frazier (.331, 5, 35) pace the Mudcats. First baseman Blake Lalli (.335, 3, 20), an alumnus of Gardner-Webb, and shortstop Darwin Barney (.332, 1, 27) lead Tennessee.
Wednesday's games that matter
Huntsville at Birmingham, noon
Josh Butler (right, 1-1, 3.60 at Nashville) vs. Charlie Shirek (right, 1-0, 0.00)
Carolina at Tennessee, 7:15 p.m.
Zach Stewart (right, 3-0, 0.62) vs. Marcos Mateo (right, 1-4, 4.93)