Memphis Redbirds Notebook: 2014 Week 3

The Pacific Coast League Redbirds had a 2-4 week, losing their hold on first place.

It was a rough 2-4 week for the Memphis Redbirds. Memphis finished up its series at cross-state rival Nashville (MIL), then returned home to split a four-game series against Oklahoma City (HOU). The Redbirds finally got an off day then it was back on the road for a series-opening loss at Round Rock (TEX).

The Redbirds hold an overall record of 10-10, putting them one game behind the Round Rock Express for first place in the American Southern Division of the Pacific Coast League.

April 18: Memphis at Nashville, Nashville wins 5-1

The Redbirds managed nine hits on the evening, but could not get them when it mattered most as they scored only one run in the series-ending loss. Greg Garcia got Memphis on the board first with a solo home run to right center field, but it was all Nashville from there with Kevin Mattison pinch-hit grand slam burying the ‘Birds and reliever Jose Almarante in the seventh inning.

Outfielder Randal Grichuk had three hits, including a double, in five at bats in the loss. Boone Whiting pitched five innings, striking out six and allowing one earned run on three hits.

April 19: Oklahoma City at Memphis, Oklahoma City wins 6-2

The Redbirds fell behind 2-0 in the first inning, and were unable to generate enough offense to recover. Nashville starter Rudy Owens pitched a perfect game until he was taken out after five innings pitched. But it was too little too late for Memphis, with a Jon Singleton three-run shot in the sixth against Lee Stoppelman putting the Redbirds in a 5-0 hole.

Joey Butler was the only Redbird with multiple hits, notching two singles. Oscar Taveras delivered his third homer of the season with a solo dinger to right field in the seventh inning. Angel Castro received his second loss of the season, allowing four earned runs and seven hits in five innings pitched.

April 20: Oklahoma City at Memphis, Memphis wins 5-4

Memphis was in danger of dropping its fourth consecutive contest, but an Taveras walk-off double scored Grichuk and gave the Redbirds the victory on Easter afternoon. Memphis opened up the scoring with a Grichuk long ball over the left field wall, then went up 2-0 with a Scott Moore RBI single in the fourth. Oklahoma City scored the next four runs of the game before Memphis rallied in the eighth and ninth to walk off with the win.

Moore led the Redbirds with three hits and three RBI in four at bats. Grichuk and Taveras each had two hits, a double and an RBI. Tim Cooney received a no decision in six innings pitched, allowing two earned runs and five hits.

April 21: Oklahoma City at Memphis, Memphis wins 7-4

Oklahoma City led 3-1 in the top of the fourth inning, but Memphis fought back with home runs from Stephen Piscotty and Greg Garcia to take a 5-3 lead entering the eighth inning. Oklahoma City pulled with a solo shot against reliever Sam Freeman, but a Grichuk double in the bottom of the inning scored Tommy Pham and Pete Kozma to secure the victory.

Grichuk was the hot man offensively for the Redbirds. The Memphis outfielder finished the game with three hits and two RBI in five trips to the plate. Oscar Taveras made his first start in center field, but his game was cut short after rolling his left ankle late in the game. Taveras finished with one hit and one walk in three at bats.

Starter Zach Petrick made his Triple-A debut for Memphis, striking out five in six innings. The right-hander allowed three earned runs and four hits.

April 22: Oklahoma City at Memphis, Oklahoma City wins 8-3

Memphis and Oklahoma City were tied 1-1 at the end of the first, but things quickly went south from there for the Redbirds. The RedHawks added one in the second inning and two more in the third. Memphis finally broke through and scored in the eighth inning off a pair of RBI by outfielders Joey Butler and Stephen Piscotty, but by that time Oklahoma City had already extended their run total to eight.

The RedHawks logged just one more hit than Memphis and had three fielding errors, but were able to come away with the 8-3 win at AutoZone Park.

Piscotty went 3-for-4 with two RBI for the Redbirds. Butler finished 2-for-3 with a double, one RBI and one walk. Scott McGregor took his third loss, walking three and allowing three earned runs in five innings pitched. McGregor is 0-3 on the season.

Oscar Taveras was held out as a precaution due to his ankle injury suffered the night before.

April 23: Off day

April 24: Memphis at Round Rock, Round Rock wins 6-2

The Redbirds gave up two runs in the contest's opening inning and it was all downhill from there, with Round Rock cruising to a 6-2 victory. Memphis first got on the scoreboard in the third inning when Joey Butler drove in Tommy Pham on a line drive to left field. The Redbirds would not score again until the eighth when a wild pitch brought home Greg Garcia.

Boone Whiting got the start for Memphis, but lasted just four innings after allowing five earned runs and eight hits. The Redbirds found more success with their bullpen — Jose Almarante, Heath Wyatt and Sam Freeman combined for five strikeouts, four hits and one earned run across four innings. On offense, Garcia and Butler each had two hits in four plate appearances.

Who's Hot

Joey Butler: The outfielder is becoming a regular name on this list due to his Pacific Coast League-leading batting average of .431. The right-handed batter is hitting even better in his last 10 games with 12 hits in 27 at bats for an average of .444.

Randal Grichuk: Grichuk is batting .333 over his last 10 and is getting the most out of his hits. Of his 13 hits over that timeframe, the right-handed hitter has recorded four doubles, one triple and two home runs. This week, the outfielder also received his Rawlings Gold Glove Award, earned last season at Double-A Arkansas.

David Aardsma: Aardsma has been a key piece to the Memphis bullpen so far this season. The right-hander has appeared in eight games, pitching 8 2/3 innings and allowing only one earned run for an ERA of 1.04.

Who's Not

Xavier Scruggs: Scruggs has managed only five hits in his last 37 at bats. However, the hits have been timely as the first baseman has also racked up five RBI over that stretch.

Pete Kozma: Kozma has appeared in seven games since arriving in Memphis and has struggled to get anything going in the batter's box. So far with the Redbirds the infielder is batting .185 in 27 at bats with eight strikeouts.

Tommy Pham: Pham is seemingly the only Memphis outfielder that has had any kind of trouble when stepping up to the plate. In his last 10 games, the right-handed hitter is batting .185 with no extra base hits.

Streaking

Oscar Taveras and Greg Garcia have been consistent at the plate as of late. Both players are currently riding nine-game hit streaks. Outfielder Stephen Piscotty was on a six-game hit streak before going cold against Round Rock Thursday evening.

Musical Chairs

The Redbirds have been experimenting with their outfield. In the last week Taveras and Grichuk have split time at center field. Taveras has seen most of his starts in left field, and Grichuk has also started as the right fielder in addition to his center field role. Additionally, both have started games as the designated hitter.

Transactions

April 20 — Zach Petrick called up to Memphis from the Springfield Cardinals
April 21 — St. Louis Cardinals optioned pitcher Jorge Rondon to Memphis
April 21 — St. Louis Cardinals recalled pitcher Tyler Lyons from Memphis

Up Next

The Redbirds will continue their four-game series at Round Rock Friday, Saturday and Sunday before returning to Memphis for four games against Colorado Springs (COL) starting Monday.



Follow Austin Reynolds on Twitter @ReynoldsRant.

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