Memphis Redbirds Notebook: 2014 Week 11

The Pacific Coast League Redbirds slipped into a tie for last place, but are just five games out of first. As outfielders Randal Grichuk, Oscar Taveras and Shane Robinson cooled, Stephen Piscotty is heating up.

The Memphis Redbirds had another 3-4 week, and as a result saw their record drop to 36-38. Memphis had a rough start to the period, dropping three out of four games at home to Reno (ARI), but rebounded by taking two of three games on the road at Salt Lake (LAA).

The Redbirds 36-38 record is tied with Round Rock (TEX) for last in the American Southern Division of the Pacific Coast League. The Nashville Sounds (MIL) are a game and a half ahead in second place, and the New Orleans Zephyrs (MIA) sit atop the division at 40-34.

June 13: Reno at Memphis, Reno wins 4-3

The Redbirds struggled at the plate and were out-hit 12-5 in a one-run loss to Reno.

Reno got on the board in the third inning when Memphis starter Angel Castro gave up RBI base hits from Alfredo Marte and Andy Marte to give the Aces a 3-0 lead. That score remained until the sixth inning when Xavier Scruggs fired a three-run shot to right field to tie the game.

However, those were the first and last runs of the game for the Redbirds and Eric Fornataro allowed an RBI single with two outs left in the top of the ninth to give the Aces the win.

Ed Easley was the only Redbird with multiple hits. The catcher went 2-for-4 with a double. Castro pitched seven innings with three earned runs, eight hits and four strikeouts.

June 14: Reno at Memphis, Reno wins 4-3

For the second consecutive night, Reno topped Memphis 4-3, and once again the Redbirds were out-worked at the plate.

The game got off to a quick start with both sides striking in the opening inning, and the Redbirds emerging with a 2-1 lead. Reno knotted the game at two in the sixth, then pulled ahead in the seventh after Alfredo Marte struck a two-run dinger off Memphis reliever Pedro Feliciano.

The Redbirds nearly came back in the ninth, but the rally was halted following a controversial call from the umpires. With two outs in the inning, Oscar Taveras drilled a line drive to right field, scoring Luis Mateo. Taveras attempted to turn the hit into a double, and was ruled safe sliding into second. But after the umpires discussed the call, it was overturned and the game ended with unsuccessful protests from an enraged Taveras and Redbirds manager Pop Warner.

Greg Garcia led Memphis offensively with three hits. Memphis was out-hit 12-7, but were able to get on base due to nine walks, including seven issued by Reno starter Bo Schultz, who lasted just 3 2/3 innings.

Tyler Lyons made the rehab start for Memphis, allowing one earned run and four hits in a short 2 2/3 innings outing.

June 15: Reno at Memphis, Memphis wins 7-2

Early homers from Xavier Scruggs and Oscar Taveras gave Memphis a 3-0 lead they would not relinquish, and the Redbirds cruised to a 7-2 victory for their first win in the series.

Reno scored a run in the fourth inning to get on the board, but RBIs from Randal Grichuk and Stephen Piscotty in the bottom of the inning extended the Memphis lead to six and put away the Aces.

Piscotty was perfect at the plate, going 2-for-2 with three walks and three RBI. Taveras and Pete Kozma each added two hits, and Tim Cooney's work on the mound earned him his seventh win of the season. In seven innings, Cooney gave up two earned runs, six hits, and struck out six batters.

June 16: Reno at Memphis, Reno wins 3-1

Memphis relievers gave up two late runs, and as a result the Aces won the game and series at AutoZone Park.

Reno first scored in the third inning when Memphis pitcher Boone Whiting walked Alfredo Marte with the bases loaded. Tommy Pham tied the game in the sixth with a double to left field that brought home Greg Garcia, but ultimately the Redbirds were doomed by their hitting woes.

Pedro Feliciano gave up a solo homer to Andy Marte in the seventh, then Heath Wyatt allowed an RBI double in the eighth to give the Aces a 3-1 edge they retained for the duration of the ballgame.

Memphis had only five hits, with two from Piscotty. Whiting received a no-decision after allowing one unearned run and one hit in four innings. Feliciano took his second loss of the week in relief.

June 17: Memphis at Salt Lake, Postponed

The game was postponed due to weather and rescheduled for a doubleheader June 18.

June 18 Game 1: Memphis at Salt Lake, Memphis wins 3-2

The Redbirds received great pitching from starter Zach Petrick, and took the opening contest of the doubleheader after scoring all their runs in the final inning.

Salt Lake struck with solo homers in the second and fourth innings to take a 2-0 lead before Memphis' improbable comeback in the shortened seven-inning contest.

The Bees were an out away from victory before Xavier Scruggs kicked off the scoring for the Redbirds with a solo shot to left field. Ed Easley then lined a double through center field, and Pete Kozma crushed his third home run of the season to put Memphis on top for good.

Zach Petrick pitched six innings for Memphis, allowing four hits and two earned runs while striking out five. Eric Fornataro pitched a perfect inning in the seventh to close out the win.

June 18 Game 2: Memphis at Salt Lake, Salt Lake wins 9-8

The second game of the night was supposed to be a seven-inning contest, but the two teams went into extra innings and played nine anyway with the Bees walking off with the win.

The back-end of the doubleheader was a 180-degree shift from the low-scoring affair in the first game, with the two teams combining for 28 hits and 17 runs. It took another Redbirds comeback to take the game to extras. Salt Lake held a 7-1 advantage after two innings before Memphis scored five in the fourth and two more in the sixth.

Jorge Rondon gave up the game-winning run in the ninth inning, an RBI single from Efren Navarro.

Five Memphis batters recorded multiple hits, and Randal Grichuk was the only Redbird without a hit in the loss. Five pitchers saw time on the mound for Memphis. Justin Wright and Jose Almarante had disastrous starts to the game as they combined to allow seven earned runs and eight hits in the contest's first two innings. Dean Kiekhefer was by far the most reliable, giving up only one hit and no runs in 2 2/3 innings.

June 19: Memphis at Salt Lake, Memphis wins 12-9

It was a hitters' paradise in Salt Lake, with the Redbirds and Bees each with 15 as Memphis held on for a 12-9 victory.

The Redbirds came firing out of the gates with six runs in the top of the first, and held an 8-2 edge after the third inning. In the fourth, the Bees began their comeback with Memphis pitcher Tyler Lyons giving up back-to-back solo homers. Salt Lake scored four runs in the inning to pull within two, but the Redbirds piled on four more in the seventh to finally put away the Bees.

Xavier Scruggs had three hits, and five other Redbirds had two each. Lyons received a no-decision after allowing six earned runs and nine hits in 3 2/3 innings. John Gast picked up his first win of the season after striking out three and giving up three earned runs and six hits in 3 2/3 innings pitched.

Who's Hot

Stephen Piscotty: In Piscotty's last 10 games, his batting average is a blazing hot .441, and the right-handed outfielder has drawn seven walks over that stretch for an incredible on base percentage of .568.

Dean Kiekhefer: Kiekhefer has been unstoppable since first arriving in Memphis in May. On the year, he has allowed only 11 hits and two earned runs in 22 2/3 innings across 14 games for an ERA of 0.79. In his last 10 contests, the lefty has been unscored upon.

Ed Easley: Easley is batting only .227 on the season, but in the last 10 games he has bumped that number up to .270 with three doubles and six runs scored.

Who's Not

Shane Robinson: Robinson has hit a cold stretch in what has been an otherwise spectacular season. The Redbirds outfielder is hitting .194 in his last 36 at bats and has more strikeouts (8) than hits (7).

Randal Grichuk: Grichuk has been ice cold since returning from his second stint in St. Louis. The outfielder is 2-for-21 back with Memphis.

Oscar Taveras: Much like Grichuk, Taveras has struggled to return to form since his time in the Majors. The lefty is 6-for-26 since being sent down. That number could certainly be worse, but Taveras is batting .311 for the season and had that number over .400 in the games leading to his call-up to St. Louis.

Crowded Outfield

The Redbirds have one of the most talented outfields in the Pacific Coast League, but the emergence of Tommy Pham paired with Randal Grichuk and Oscar Taveras returning to Memphis makes the group that much more deadly. Grichuk is the only one of the five Redbirds outfielders hitting below .300, but he's sitting at .291 with a team-leading 11 home runs and .550 slugging percentage.

Transactions

June 13 — Dante Rosenberg assigned to Palm Beach Cardinals from Memphis Redbirds
June 13 — St. Louis Cardinals optioned Oscar Taveras to Memphis Redbirds
June 14 — St. Louis Cardinals sent Tyler Lyons on a rehab assignment to Memphis Redbirds
June 15 — Mike O'Neill assigned to Springfield Cardinals from Memphis Redbirds
June 15 — St. Louis Cardinals optioned Randal Grichuk to Memphis Redbirds
June 15 — Memphis Redbirds released Scott McGregor
June 15 — St. Louis Cardinals selected the contract of Nick Greenwood from Memphis Redbirds
June 17 — Justin Wright assigned to Memphis Redbirds from Springfield Cardinals
June 18 — Luis Mateo assigned to Springfield Cardinals from Memphis Redbirds
June 18 — St. Louis Cardinals optioned Tyler Lyons to Memphis Redbirds

Injuries

June 15 — Memphis Redbirds activated Jose Almarante from the 7-day disabled list
June 16 — Memphis Redbirds activated Boone Whiting from the 7-day disabled list
June 17 — Memphis Redbirds placed David Aardsma on the 7-day disabled list

Up Next

The Redbirds wrap up the series at Salt Lake Friday night, and then continue the western road trip with a four-game series at league-leading Las Vegas. The team is off on Wednesday before returning to AutoZone Park for a series against Round Rock that kicks off Thursday.



Follow Austin Reynolds on Twitter @ReynoldsRant.

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