This week in Memphis (5-1; 7-5 record overall)
The Memphis Redbirds finished their first week at home with a 2-4 record, and then traveled to Oklahoma City and New Orleans for an eight-game road trip. This is a rematch from both series last week; a familiarity between the teams definitely exists.
Memphis went 5-1 this week, flipping the script. Rain on the 10th and 11th caused an extra innings game to be made up on Monday, June 10 at AutoZone Park. The Redbirds left the rain for Oklahoma City to face the RedHawks again, and then to New Orleans for a series. Following the road trip, the team returns to Memphis on Saturday to start the Iowa series.
April 12: MEM v. OKC, MEM wins 10-6
Memphis continued its blistering run scoring pace, but the bullpen did not close the game out well, allowing five runs in the last three frames. Manager Pop Warner kept the same infield lineup used to finish the April 10th game, starting Brock Peterson at first, Kolten Wong at second, Jermaine Curtis at third and Ryan Jackson at shortstop (despite Greg Garcia being available). The move to start Curtis, Jackson, Wong, and Peterson paid off behind the plate immediately, as the four combined for the team's first seven RBI by the fifth inning, and totaled eight on the day.
In the first inning, Chambers and Taveras reached base, and Peterson knocked the 1-1 pitch over the left field wall. That home run gave him 11 RBI in the first seven games of the season and put the Redbirds ahead by three runs. In the next inning, Jackson hit a lead-off single and Curtis drove him home with a one-out triple to right field. The Redbirds took advantage of RedHawks' starting pitcher Brett Oberholtzer, who was having a tough time finding the plate, only getting 32 strikes from his 60 pitches.
After letting in six runs in three innings, Oberholtzer was pulled for Kyle Hallock. The left handed reliever gave up a lead-off double to Curtis in the fourth. A ground ball out later, Wong scored Curtis with a sacrifice fly.
The lead was too much for Oklahoma City to overcome, especially behind an excellent outing from Seth Maness. Although he allowed eight hits, the right-hander only gave up one run with six strikeouts. Maness threw a lot of pitches, going into lengthy at-bats. Speedy third baseman Jimmy Paredes drew 18 pitches in three appearances against Maness, hitting a double, drawing a walk, and taking one of Maness' strikeouts.
Bullpen woes again hampered the great offensive night for the Redbirds. Jorge Rondon yielded a run in the seventh, Barret Browning served up a solo home run in the eighth and Maikel Cleto allowed three runs, two earned, in the ninth. Despite the five late runs, the RedHawks were unable to catch Memphis.
April 13: MEM v. OKC, MEM wins 8-7
Saturday night, Redbirds' closer Victor Marte delivered his first save, his first in four appearances. Memphis scored eight by the third inning, but the bullpen made this a close one, allowing a run in the seventh and three in the eighth.
The RedHawks were first on the board, scoring one in the first. Brandon Laird kept his at-bat alive, fouling three straight balls away and hit the next pitch deep into center for a double to drive a runner in. The Redbirds responded with eight runs, split between the second and third innings. In the second inning, all nine Memphis batters had a chance at the plate. After a walk and two singles, Garcia stepped up to the plate with the bases loaded and one out. He singled and drove a runner in. a wild pitch scored another and left two in scoring position. Johnson drew a walk to load the bases. With two outs, Adron Chambers singled to drive in two and leave Johnson on second. A single by Wong drove Johnson in for the last of the second inning rally, putting the Redbirds up 4-1.
The third inning didn't take as long. Two walks and a single loaded the bases for Memphis, and with two outs, Justin Christian hit the Redbirds' first grand slam of the year.
Pitcher Michael Wacha made his second start, and allowed two earned runs in five innings for the win. The right-hander struck out three but allowed another home run for two on the year. Brandon Laird stroked the first pitch he saw in the fourth over the left field wall.
April 14: MEM v. OKC, MEM wins 10-3
Tyler Lyons made another quality start with six strikeouts on Sunday, and earned his second win on the year (2-0). Although the left-hander allowed three runs, all the damage was limited to one inning, and he got out of that trouble. Lyons gave up back-to-back singles and a double to score the first run. A groundball out scored another runner, and Laird drove in another with a single. A groundout put Laird at second with two outs; the advancing Laird was thrown out at home by Taveras.
Memphis answered with an RBI single by Curtis in the fifth. The big scoring outburst for the Redbirds came in the seventh, eighth, and ninth innings. Combining for eight runs in the last three innings is a recipe for success. In the seventh, Garcia led off with a double, and scored on a Christian single. After the RBI, Chambers cleared the bases with a three-RBI double, deep into right field over Marc Krauss.
The wind was blowing at 24 mph, and that clearly affected the flight of the ball. Lyons did a good job of keeping the ball low, but the Memphis hitters took advantage. Aside from the doubles from Chambers and Garcia, Peterson hit a solo home run in the second over the 400-foot centerfield fence. More noticeably in the eighth, a routine fly ball hit by Peterson reached the warning track, almost his second home run of the game. With two on and two outs, part-time catcher Towles cleared the bases with a home run over the bullpen in left field at Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark.
April 15: MEM v OKC, OKC wins 11-0
Nick Additon had a rough second outing for the Redbirds, allowing five runs in four innings. The left-hander got in trouble in the first with runners at first and second with one out. Power hitter Brandon Laird struck a grounder into the left field gap to score one. Additon got the next hitter to fly out, but gave up two straight singles to plate Laird and another. The six and seven hitters put Oklahoma City ahead 3-0 after the first.
The Redhawks scored again in the fourth, in large part due to their effective base-running. After two singles, a double steal left Oklahoma City with two runners in scoring position. A wild throw from Additon scored a runner, and a sacrifice fly to left field put the home team up 5-0.
Cleto came to relieve the starter in the fifth. An infield single and a walk put a runner on first and second with one out, but his first pitch to the next batter was another wild throw, putting both runners in scoring position. A long fly to left scored the first runner and left one runner on third. A groundout ended the inning and stopped the damage at 6-0 Oklahoma City. Cleto walked three batters allowed two extra base hits, giving up six runs in 1 1/3 innings before he was pulled.
Browning allowed a single as an inherited runner from Cleto advanced to third. With one out, a sacrifice fly plated Cleto's runner, then Browning retired four straight. Keith Butler made his Redbirds debut in the eighth after his promotion from Springfield on the 15th. The right-hander pitched a solid inning and allowed a single.
April 16: MEM v NEW, MEM wins 4-0
Memphis traveled to New Orleans on Tuesday and logged their second shut-out of the season. John Gast again did not allow a run. In his three starts this year, the left-hander has pitched 18 scoreless innings, struck out 16 and only walked five batters.
Four runs were enough to stifle New Orleans as the Redbirds split the run support between the third and eighth. In the third, the Redbirds showed off their team speed. After Curtis walked, Towles lined a double into left field. Curtis scored from first, and Towles then reached third on a wild pitch. Wong drove in the catcher with a laser into right, a double he stretched into a triple by beating the throw with a head-first slide into third.
Into the eighth, the Redbirds were only ahead 2-0 and needed some run support. Peterson reached first on an errant throw, then advanced to second on a Huffman infield single. Jackson singled to right to score Peterson, but was tagged out trying to reach second base. New Orleans called for a pitching change, and Curtis took advantage of a curveball away for the single to right for the Redbirds fourth run of the night.
April 17: MEM v NEW, MEM wins 8-3.
Warner decided to start Wong at second, Jackson at shortstop, Garcia at third and Romak in right field. Curtis was brought on with a pitching change in the bottom of the seventh to play third, and Garcia moved to shortstop to replace Jackson. However the Redbirds may have been lined up defensively, the offense gelled together well. A three-run blast in the top of the first was a great start for Memphis, as Romak sent a line drive into the stands over the left field wall.
Romak mirrored his great play on defense when he got an outfield assist in the bottom of the frame. Ed Lucas, the New Orleans second baseman, smacked a ball into right field that ran into the bleachers and ricocheted right back to Romak. He fielded the ball cleanly and the one-hop throw to second was in time for Lucas to be called out.
Romak scored again in the fourth inning. New Orleans pitcher Jacob Turner walked Romak and the next batter. A routine fly ball to right was mishandled by Bryan Petersen, resulting in an error and one run scored.
In the fifth, highly-touted prospect Taveras hit his first home run of the year, as showed off his power by driving the pitch to the opposite field.
There were three home runs in all, including one off starter Seth Maness, who allowed a two-run blast in the sixth. Maness finished the sixth and faced two in the seventh before another run scored from second on a single.
Jorge Rondon relieved Maness and pitched two innings without a run. Marte came in and retired three, having regained composure in his last two appearances, not allowing a run in either.
Oscar Taveras - The Redbirds are 4-0 when Taveras starts in centerfield. He hit his first home run Wednesday night, showing his strength by driving it over the opposite field fence. Taveras showed a strong arm, throwing out Laird at home from centerfield to save a run on April 14.
John Gast – Hasn't allowed a run in three starts. In his 18 innings pitched, the lefty has walked five and struck out 16. Did not pick off any runners in his latest start, but has erased four on the year.
Brock Peterson – Has become an RBI machine, with 12 in 11 games, including three home runs. Oklahoma City shied away from pitching to him on the inside half of the plate after he hit two home runs in a week, hitting one on the 12th and one on the 14th.
Jamie Romak – Despite not playing every night, Romak is very hot at the plate. He leads the team in doubles and home runs, hitting another double and a home run on Wednesday night. Redbirds – Won six of their last eight after a 1-3 start.
Maikel Cleto - ERA at 19.50. He had bad outings on the 12th and the 15th with eight earned runs in the 2 1/3 innings pitched. Five walks and six hits occurred in that time.
Position shuffling update
Kolten Wong has played the most second base for the second straight week and looks like a solid lock to hold the position. Jackson spent the week moving around, starting at shortstop on Thursday, Tuesday and Wednesday. He also spent time at third, starting there on Saturday and Monday; he also spent Sunday at second. Garcia did not play on Friday or Tuesday, but started all four of the games he played at shortstop except for Wednesday. When Curtis played, he played at third.
Pop Warner has four good starters to play second, third and shortstop. It is a little bit of a logjam at shortstop and third, but having moveable assets is invaluable for a minor league team with prospects who could make the major-league jump this year.
Keith Butler moved up from Springfield on 4/15.
Thursday and Friday night, the Redbirds will finish the current road with New Orleans, then head back to Memphis for four straight against Iowa, who is 4-9 on the year and is last in the division.
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