Memphis Redbirds Notebook: 2014 Week 2

The Pacific Coast League Redbirds had a .500 week that kept them atop the division. Joey Butler is swinging a hot bat.

The Memphis Redbirds had an even 3-3 week with one game postponed due to rain. Memphis wrapped up its home-opening series against the Iowa Cubs before ending the week with matchups on the road against the Nashville Sounds.

The Redbirds hold an overall record of 8-6, putting them in a tie with the Round Rock Express for first place in the American Southern division of the Pacific Coast League.

April 11: Iowa at Memphis, Memphis wins 8-5

It was a slow start for both teams with each side going hitless in the game's first two innings, but each found itself on the scoreboard by the end of the third.

Iowa scored via two RBI singles in the top of the inning to take a 2-0 lead, but in the bottom Randal Grichuk blasted a double off the center field wall to bring home two Memphis runners. Oscar Taveras then placed a fly ball between the third baseman and left fielder to plate Grichuk and give the Redbirds a 3-2 lead.

Memphis added two more in the fourth inning when catcher Ed Easley crushed a two-run homer 385 feet onto the bluff beyond left field. Iowa pulled within a run after Chris Valaika fired a three-run shot to left field against starter and winner Tyler Lyons, but the Redbirds scored in both the sixth and seventh innings and put away the Cubs.

Taveras and Easley carried the load for Memphis offensively. Tavares finished with three hits and two RBI in four at bats while Easley logged two hits and three RBI in his three trips to the plate.

April 12: Iowa at Memphis, Iowa wins 5-0

The Redbirds struggled to get anything going from the plate, recording only five hits for the ballgame. Stephen Piscotty was responsible for three of them.

Memphis' best scoring opportunity came in the bottom of the seventh inning. Piscotty singled, then Scott Moore rifled a two-bagger into the right field warning track to put runners on second and third with just one out in the inning. But as had been the case for the rest of the evening, the Redbirds were unable to deliver hits when needed. Xavier Scruggs struck out and Ed Easley bounced a ground ball to the shortstop to end the inning.

Tsuyoshi Wada pitched an impressive game for Iowa, striking out 10 in 6 2/3 innings. For Memphis, starter Scott McGregor received a no-decision after allowing two hits and no runs in 4 2/3 innings, striking out two and walking four. Reliever Nick Greenwood received the loss after allowing two earned runs and three hits in 2 1/3 innings pitched.

April 13: Iowa at Memphis, Iowa wins 6-3

The Redbirds out-hit the Cubs 11-8, but were unable to convert the on-base opportunities and dropped their second straight game to Iowa.

Memphis struck first, taking a 1-0 lead in the first inning on a Scott Moore single that scored rehabbing St. Louis Cardinal Mark Ellis. That score remained until the sixth when the Cubs struck twice. Things took a disastrous turn in the seventh inning when Memphis reliever Lee Stoppelman allowed four hits, a homer and four earned runs to put the ‘Birds in a 6-1 hole.

Memphis attempted a ninth inning rally with Greg Garcia smacking his third home run of the season to right field, scoring Taveras, but it was too little too late for the Redbirds as they were unable to mount the comeback.

Joey Butler started in left field for Memphis and hit in three of his four at bats in the loss.

April 14: Iowa at Memphis, postponed

Heavy rains throughout the day denied the Redbirds the opportunity to even the four-game series at AutoZone Park. The game will be made up May 28 with the teams playing a pair of seven-inning contests.

April 15: Memphis at Nashville, Memphis wins 8-4

Joey Butler continued his hot streak to open the season, launching a two-run bomb to kick off the game and score Oscar Taveras. Nashville scored in the bottom of the first inning, but Memphis remained in control and added two more runs in the top of the fifth on RBI singles from Butler and Scruggs.

Nashville fired a two-run shot of its own in the sixth to draw within a run but the Redbirds kept up the scoring in the final frames to put the contest out of reach.

Butler finished with three hits, three RBI and two runs in four at bats, and Scott Moore recorded two doubles. Starting pitcher Tim Cooney improved to 3-0 on the mound, earning the victory in 5 1/3 innings pitched while striking out five and allowing three earned runs.

April 16: Memphis at Nashville, Memphis wins 7-1

Both squads received excellent outings from their starting pitchers, but an eighth inning bullpen meltdown for Nashville saw Memphis emerge with a blowout 7-1 win.

The eighth began with the teams deadlocked at one run apiece. Nashville reliever Donovan Hand loaded the bases with no outs, then walked Grichuk to give Memphis a 2-1 lead. Taveras and Scruggs followed up by each singling and plating two to add four more runs to the board. The run was finally capped off with an Audry Perez line drive single that plated Moore.

Grichuk led Memphis batters with two hits, a triple and two RBI. Perez was the only other Redbird with multiple hits. Lyons logged his second win of the season, allowing only one earned run and five hits in seven innings pitched.

April 17: Memphis at Nashville, Nashville wins 5-4

Nashville jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the contest's first two innings, and refused to relinquish the advantage down the stretch.

Stephen Piscotty smashed his first home run of the season to left center field in the fourth inning to put the Redbirds on the board, but a Eugenio Velez double in the bottom of the inning extended the Nashville lead to four. Randal Grichuk attempted to mount a comeback, batting in runs in both the fifth and the sixth, but ultimately Memphis was unable to get over the hump as they failed to score for the duration of the game.

Grichuk had three RBI for the Redbirds, and Greg Garcia added three hits including a triple.

For Nashville, former Redbird Velez hit four times and brought home three runs.

Who's Hot

Joey Butler: Butler has been on fire at the plate since the start of the season. The outfielder is batting .471 on the season with an OPS of 1.366. Both numbers rank second in the Pacific Coast League.

Tim Cooney: Cooney picked up two victories this week and is 3-0 on the season. He has struck out 17 batters in 17 2/3 innings pitched and has an ERA of 2.04.

Who's Not

Scott McGregor: McGregor had a rough go in each of his three starts this season. The University of Memphis product is 0-2 with an ERA of 5.84. In his most recent start against Nashville, McGregor allowed five earned runs and eight hits in only four innings pitched.

Star Watch

After a sluggish start to the season, Oscar Taveras is batting .300 in his last 10 games, including a three hit, two RBI outing against Iowa on April 11. Taveras has homered twice on the season, but that number could be on the rise as the 21-year-old outfielder has sailed more than a couple of shots into the warning track in the past few games.

Transactions

April 13 — Mark Ellis sent to the Memphis Redbirds from the St. Louis Cardinals on a rehab assignment. Returned on April 15.

April 15 — Shortstop Luis Mateo sent from Triple-A Memphis to Double-A Springfield

April 15 — St. Louis Cardinals sent shortstop Pete Kozma to the Memphis Redbirds

April 17 — St. Louis Cardinals sent RHP Keith Butler to the Memphis Redbirds

April 17 — Pitcher Jorge Rondon called up from Triple-A Memphis to the St. Louis Cardinals

April 17 — Pitcher Eric Fornataro called up from Triple-A Memphis to the St. Louis Cardinals

Up Next

Friday night, the Redbirds wrap up their series at Nashville before returning to Memphis for four games against Oklahoma City. On Wednesday, the Redbirds get their first scheduled off-day of the season before they hit the road again for a four-game series at Round Rock.



Follow Austin Reynolds on Twitter @ReynoldsRant.

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