Memphis Redbirds Notebook: 2014 Week 7

The Pacific Coast League Redbirds are getting good pitching across the board and good hitting from their outfielders, including Oscar Taveras.

The Memphis Redbirds remained in third place of the American Southern division in the Pacific Coast League following a 4-3 week. The ‘Birds started things off by taking two of the final three games in their series against Omaha (KC), then split a set of four games on the road at Colorado Springs (COL).

Memphis is now 23-24 for the season and 2.5 games behind the division-leading Nashville Sounds (MIL).

May 16: Omaha at Memphis, Memphis wins 4-0

Memphis was without a starting pitcher, but a collaborative effort from three Redbird relievers shut out the Storm Chasers for a 4-0 victory.

The Redbirds scored all their runs via the home run. Scott Moore delivered solo shots to right field in both the fourth and seventh innings, then a two-run blast in the bottom of the eighth from Randal Grichuk capped things off and secured the victory.

The trio of Nick Greenwood, Justin Wright and Jose Almarante pitched three innings each and collectively struck out eight while allowing six hits. Memphis batters hit safely six times with Grichuk, Moore and Tommy Pham hitting each with two.

May 17: Omaha at Memphis, Memphis wins 6-2

The Redbirds finally bumped their record up to .500 with a 6-2 win over Omaha fueled by big nights at the plate from Shane Robinson and Xavier Scruggs.

That duo put Memphis on the board first, with a Scruggs double to left field that scored Scott Moore and Robinson to give the ‘Birds a 2-0 lead, then catcher Ed Easley hit a double of his own to bring home Scruggs and wrap up a three-run inning. Omaha scored one run in the fourth inning by way of a Paulo Orlando RBI single, but the Storm Chasers did not have enough firepower to come back from the early deficit.

Robinson was perfect at the plate for Memphis, going 3-for-3 with three singles and two runs scored, and Scruggs had four RBI due to a double and a triple. Angel Castro improved his record to 5-2 after giving up one earned run and six hits in seven innings pitched.

May 18: Omaha at Memphis, Omaha wins 8-2

Omaha scored eight times on eight hits as the Storm Chasers easily put away the Redbirds in the two teams' series-closing contest.

Tommy Pham's third long ball of the season gave Memphis a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the second, but things quickly got out of hand for pitcher Tim Cooney and the Redbirds. Omaha homered twice in the third and again in the fourth to take a 6-2 lead, then the dingers kept coming in the ninth with two more to put Memphis in an 8-2 hole.

Pham and Shane Robinson each had two hits in the Redbirds loss. Four early home runs ended Cooney's day after four innings pitched, but reliever Heath Wyatt was a bright spot, striking out four and allowing only one hit in three full innings pitched.

May 19: Memphis at Colorado Springs, Colorado Springs wins 1-0

The Redbirds played their first extra innings game of the season in the opener against the Sky Sox, losing a pitchers' duel 1-0 in the tenth.

For Memphis, Zach Petrick gave up three hits and struck out three in seven innings on the mound. Christian Bergman went eight innings for Colorado Springs, yielding four hits.

Memphis squandered opportunities to win the game, going 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position. Reliever Jorge Rondon got himself into some trouble in the tenth, walking two, allowing three hits and the game-winning run in just 1/3 of an inning pitched.

The Redbirds had only five hits total for the game, two coming off the bat of catcher Audry Perez.

May 20: Memphis at Colorado Springs, Memphis wins 6-3

An offensive outburst by the Redbirds produced 16 hits and propelled them to a 6-3 win over Colorado Springs.

Despite the high hit-count, Memphis actually trailed for most of the game until the Redbirds scored four runs in the seventh with RBI by Oscar Taveras, Scott Moore and Pete Kozma.

Taveras shined in the win, going 4-for-5 with a double and two RBI. Shane Robinson and Scott Moore each added three hits in the win. Scott McGregor received a no decision for Memphis, striking out four and giving up three earned runs and six hits over five innings. Reliever Justin Wright was awarded his second victory of the season after allowing no hits and walking one in two scoreless innings.

May 21: Memphis at Colorado Springs, Memphis wins 7-4

The Memphis bats were still hot after the 16-hit game the night before, with the Redbirds knocking 13 hits in their second consecutive victory over the Sky Sox.

Oscar Taveras got things going from the jump with a single that scored Randal Grichuk in the opening inning, then a Scott Moore single and Ed Easley sac-fly gave Memphis a 3-0 lead at the end of the third. The Sky Sox put two on the board in the fourth, but the Redbirds responded with two runs of their own in the sixth and then two more in the seventh to put the game out of reach.

The Memphis outfielders supplied the majority of the offense on the evening. Taveras remained hot with three hits in five plate appearances. Stephen Piscotty contributed three hits of his own while Randal Grichuk hit a double and a homer while adding two RBI.

May 22: Memphis at Colorado Springs, Colorado Springs wins 9-8

The Redbirds' comeback efforts fell short in the series finale, as they were unable to dig themselves out of the seven-run hole they dug in the game's opening inning.

Starting pitcher Angel Castro was yanked after a horrendous 2/3 of an inning in which he gave up seven runs, two earned, five hits and walked two. Memphis started its rally in the second inning with RBI singles from Pete Kozma and reliever Heath Wyatt. The Sky Sox added another run in the third, but Memphis' outfielders would not be denied in the fourth, with Randal Grichuk, Oscar Taveras and Stephen Piscotty driving in four runs total.

A Tim Wheeler double in the bottom of the inning put Colorado Springs' final run on the scoreboard, but the Redbirds retaliated with two more runs in the fifth to draw within one. No more runs were scored for the duration of the contest however, and the Sky Sox escaped with a 9-8 victory.

Grichuk, Taveras and Luis Mateo each had three hits for the Redbirds. Despite the high scoring from both sides, neither team hit a home run in the game.

Who's Hot

Shane Robinson: Robinson's bat was among the hottest in the Pacific Coast League before St. Louis recalled him on May 21. In his last 10 games with the Redbirds the outfielder batted .441 with an OPS of .983.

Oscar Taveras: Taveras closed the week about as well as one could have possibly hoped for at the plate. In the final three games against the Sky Sox, the lefty went 10-for-15 with four RBI.

Tommy Pham: With the depth in Memphis' outfield, Pham's playing time has been sparse, but he has managed to make his mark with the time he has been given. In his last four appearances, the right-hander is hitting 5-for-8 and in the last 10 games, his batting average is sitting at .385.

Justin Wright: Wright stepped to the rubber in two games this week since being called up from Springfield, and so far the left-hander has not had any hiccups at the Triple-A level. Wright pitched five innings between the two contests and allowed three hits and no runs, earning a win in both games.

Sam Freeman: Freeman has been reliable on the mound for Memphis. The left-hander last gave up an earned run on April 20. Since that time Freeman has pitched in eight games.

Who's Not

Greg Garcia: Garcia has struggled mightily as of late. Since returning to Memphis on May 15, the shortstop has only two hits in 27 at bats.

Pete Kozma: A two-hit game May 21 against Colorado Springs was the sole bright spot for Kozma in a week when the shortstop went 3-for-21. That is the latest stretch in what has been a rough season for Kozma at the plate. For the year, he is batting .200 in 100 at bats.

Pitching Powerhouse

The Redbirds are beginning to emerge as one of the better pitching staffs in the Pacific Coast League. Memphis' ERA of 3.82 is good for the third lowest in the league, behind only Nashville and Oklahoma City.

Still Under .500

Memphis had two opportunities to finally get its record over .500 but each time was unable to get the job done. The Redbirds have been at or below the .500 mark since April 25 when an 8-0 win over Round Rock put Memphis' record at 11-10.

Transactions

May 16 — Justin Wright assigned to Memphis Redbirds from Springfield Cardinals
May 18 — St. Louis Cardinals optioned Jorge Rondon to Memphis Redbirds
May 19 — St. Louis Cardinals optioned Sam Freeman to Memphis Redbirds
May 21 — St. Louis Cardinals optioned Joey Butler to Memphis Redbirds
May 21 — St. Louis Cardinals recalled Shane Robinson from Memphis Redbirds
May 21 — Kurt Heyer assigned to Memphis Redbirds from Springfield Cardinals

Injuries

May 16 — Memphis placed Boone Whiting on the 7-day disabled list
May 18 — Memphis placed Jose Almarante on the 7-day disabled list

Up Next

The Redbirds face a busy schedule in the coming week as they begin a homestand that will see them play nine games in eight days. It all starts Friday night with a season-opening game against Oklahoma City (HOU).

After that series wraps up Memphis will play five against Iowa (CHC), including a Wednesday night doubleheader and a Thursday evening contest that will be nationally televised on CBS Sports Network.



Follow Austin Reynolds on Twitter @ReynoldsRant.

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