by Mike Potter
The Carolina Mudcats got a little help from their friends this afternoon, but then they got rain.
The Birmingham Barons, who have securely clinched the Southern League's first-half South Division championship, walloped visiting Huntsville 11-5 in the opener of their six-game, five-day series.
That cut the Stars' lead in the North Division race to a single game over the second-place Mudcats. But Carolina's scheduled game at Tennessee was called off because of thunderstorms and will be made up as part of a noon doubleheader on Thursday.
Right-hander Zach Stewart (3-0, 0.62) will face Tennessee right-hander Marcus Mateo (1-4, 4.93) in the first of two seven-inning games, while pictured southpaw Travis Wood (6-3, 1.11) - who was SL pitcher of the week for last week - will face the Smokies' right-hander Casey Coleman (6-2, 2.73) in the second game.
The Mudcats had four transactions this afternoon.
Catcher Korey Feiner has been activated from the disabled list. And left-handed pitcher Camilo Vasquez has been promoted to Louisville, replaced by fellow southpaw Tabor Lee who was promoted from Sarasota. Lee has already joined the team.
Right-handed pitcher Jordan Smith has been placed on the DL, retroactive to Sunday, with tendinitis in his left knee.