To open up a five-game series at Smokies Park and a ten-game road trip overall, the Huntsville Stars were shutout by the Tennessee Smokies by a score of 2-0 on Thursday night.
Despite outhitting the Smokies by a 6-to-4 margin, the Stars offense was blanked by three Smokies hurlers, headlined by starting pitcher Kyle Hendricks.
The 23-year-old righty improved to 4-2 on the season by blanking the Huntsville bats through seven innings, giving up just four hits while striking out seven batters. With Hendricks out of the game in the eighth inning, relievers Brian Schlitter and Marcus Hatley shutout the Stars through the final six outs of the game. The save for Hatley was his second of the season.
Unfortunately, starting pitcher Jimmy Nelson took the hard-pressed loss. The Brewers 8th ranked prospect (per MLB.com) gave up just two runs in a season-high seven innings pitched while also striking out seven batters in the process. Nelson's ERA dropped back under 3.00 (2.98) with the start.
For Nelson, his only blemish of the evening came in the fourth inning. The Stars ace gave up a solo homer to Smokies shortstop Arismendy Alcantara to begin the inning and then a two-out RBI double to right fielder Tim Torres to take the loss.
The quality start for Nelson was the Stars sixth in a row for their starting rotation.
Aside from Nelson, the Stars got a scoreless inning of relief from righty Santo Manzanillo.
On offense, Huntsville got a pair of hits from catcher Robinzon Diaz, who now has 10 hits in his last 18 at-bats. First basemen Jason Rogers also added his team-leading 13th double of the year while outfielder Rene Tosoni, third basemen Mike Walker and pinch-hitter Shawn Zarraga each added a single.
En route to their series-opening defeat, the Stars were shutout for the fifth time this season and second time in their last four games.
The Stars and Smokies will play game two of their five-game series at Smokies Park on Friday. Huntsville will send RHP Ariel Pena (3-3, 2.95 ERA) to the bump to square off against Tennessee RHP Yeiper Castillo (NR). First pitch is at 7:15 ET.