WHAT: New Orleans Zephyrs (42-37) at Nashville Sounds (40-40)
WHERE: Greer Stadium, Nashville, Tenn.
WHEN: 7 p.m.
PROBABLE PITCHERS: Zephyrs RH Alex Sanabia (2-2, 5.23 ERA) vs. Sounds RH Ariel Pena (4-5, 4.04)
BROADCASTS: WMTI 106.1 FM, MiLB.tv
Sanabia came to the Zephyrs on May 9 after posting an 0-1 record and 8.10 ERA in eight appearances with the Reno Aces, who released him. Sanabia, who pitched for New Orleans in from 2010-2012, credits being back with the Marlins organization, which drafted him as a key to his recent resurgence.
He was 2-1 with a 3.86 ERA in his first six starts with the Zephyrs, spanning 32.2 innings. In his last start, one June 20 at home against Fresno, he allowed two runs — one earned — on five hits in six innings, his seventh consecutive start with at least five innings and three or fewer runs given up.
However, the Z’s lost that game 7-3 after the Grizzlies got to Jesus Sanchez for four runs on four hits in just 2/3 of an inning, the seventh.
The Miami Marlins will extend their player development contract with the Zephyrs for two more years, through 2016, a Marlins source contacted Wednesday said. An announcement will be made Thursday. New Orleans has been a Marlins affiliate since 2009. … The Zephyrs and Sounds, the first- and second-place teams in the American Southern Division, have played eight games against each other this season, four-game series in each city, and are 4-4 against each other. Each team went 3-1 in the series in its city, April 28-May first at Nashville and May 23-26 in New Orleans. … The Zephyrs began their climb from last place in the last game of that final series, a victory that started a string of seven wins in eight games through June 2. The Z’s then won five in a row from June 7-11, two coming against Round Rock at home, followed by three big ones at Colorado Springs. They have gone just 6-7 since then, splitting their past two series at home against Fresno and Sacramento. … Nashville once had the best starting pitching rotation in the league with Jimmy Nelson, Mike Fiers and left-hander Brad Mills all ranking near the top of the Pacific Coast league in ERA. However, Fiers, who led the league in strikeouts with Nelson second, was called up by the Brewers. And, there was a clause in Mills’ contract that allowed him to opt out if he could land a spot on a major league team, which he did, going to the Oakland A’s. Losing those pitchers led to an eight-game losing streak from June 13-21 at Tacoma and at Las Vegas in which Nashville was outscored 50-20. During the streak, two more pitchers, Kyle Heckathorn and Johnnie Lowe, went on the DL. The Sounds rebounded with a split of their series at Salt Lake City heading into this one. … Highlighting this showdown will be a mound battle Friday night between Zephyrs left-hander Brian Flynn (7-5, 3.56) vs. Nashville right-hander Jimmy Nelson (8-2, 1.79), the top prospect in the Milwaukee Brewers’ system.