The Memphis Redbirds endured their worst week of the season, nearly going winless until a 7-5 win on Thursday gave the team its lone victory for the week, as the Redbirds finished 1-4. Two games against the Round Rock Express (TEX) were rained out at AutoZone Park, and have been rescheduled for when Memphis visits Round Rock the first weekend in August.
The Redbirds remain last place in their division with a record of 39-46.
June 27: Round Rock at Memphis, Round Rock wins 8-7
The Redbirds soared to a three-run lead after a six-run seventh inning, but were upended 8-7 by the Express after giving up four runs in the following frame.
Ed Easley kicked off the scoring run in the seventh with a two-run shot to left field, then Stephen Piscotty singled to plate two runners and give Memphis its first lead of the night. The Redbirds appeared to be in control, but in the eighth Dean Kiekhefer allowed four straight Round Rock runs, including a three-run homer, to put the Express on top for good.
Piscotty led Memphis with three hits while infielders Greg Garcia and Pete Kozma each added two singles. Joe Kelly made the rehab start for the Redbirds, walking three batters and giving up two earned runs in two innings. Tim Cooney took over for the next five innings, walking three of his own and allowing four earned runs.
June 28 and June 29: Round Rock at Memphis, Postponed
Round Rock and Memphis were postponed due to rain in their Saturday evening contest, and the game was rescheduled for a Sunday night doubleheader. The heavy rains had mostly subsided by game-time, but the contests were once again postponed as the field was unfit to play on, according to Redbirds general manager Craig Unger.
"We received record rainfall in downtown Memphis and the warning track was unplayable," Unger said in a statement. "We had water pooling in left field as a result of a leak behind the retaining wall, and the safety of our players is a top priority."
The games are scheduled to be made up when the Redbirds play at Round Rock in early August.
June 30: Memphis at Nashville, Nashville wins 9-4
Memphis was once again unable to take advantage of an early lead, and allowed eight runs in Nashville's final three innings en route to a 9-4 loss.
Tommy Pham gave the Redbirds a 2-0 edge in the second inning with a two-run bomb to left field, and then drove in another run in the fourth on a groundball through to center. Memphis starter Boone Whiting walked three batters in the sixth inning, then reliever Joe Donofrio was unable to stop those three runners from coming home.
The Sounds (MIL) led 4-3 until the eighth inning, when they blew the game wide open with five runs, mostly off Memphis miscues. Pete Kozma's throwing error caused the first two runs then a wild pitch by Seth Blair brought home the next.
The loss was Boone Whiting's sixth of the season, as the right-hander still has yet to earn his first win. In five innings, Whiting walked four and allowed four earned runs. At the plate, the Redbirds had only six hits, with Scott Moore and Tommy Pham accounting for two each.
July 1: Memphis at Nashville, Nashville wins 8-5
The Redbirds' losing streak reached six games, and yet again poor pitching was to blame for the loss.
Zach Petrick entered the game in the fifth inning in relief of Joe Kelly who made his second rehab start. Petrick pitched only 1 1/3 innings, but managed to let the Sounds explode for eight hits and eight earned runs during his time on the mound.
Each of Memphis' five runs was the result of home runs. Rehabbing MLB second baseman Kolten Wong blasted a three-run shot to give Memphis a 3-0 advantage in the fifth inning, and Randal Grichuk crushed his 13th dinger of the season in the ninth to bring the Redbirds to within three runs.
Kelly was solid, giving up three hits and no runs.
July 2: Memphis at Nashville, Nashville wins 5-0
The Redbirds were lifeless at the plate, and Nashville out-hit Memphis 12-4 for an ugly 5-0 loss that saw the downward spiral stretch to seven games.
The Sounds scored two quick runs in the game's opening inning, and Memphis never seriously threatened. The Redbirds were able to get runners in scoring position on seven occasions, but came up hitless every time.
Tyler Lyons was handed his first defeat of the season after giving up four earned runs and nine hits in six innings pitched. Jorge Rondon pitched a perfect inning in relief, but Eric Fornataro let the Express score once and on three hits in their final inning.
Ed Easley, Tommy Pham, Stephen Piscotty and Kolten Wong each had a hit for Memphis as the Redbirds struggled to get anything going offensively.
July 3: Memphis at Nashville, Memphis wins 7-5
The Redbirds were finally able to put away their opponent, as they temporarily stopped their slide with a 7-5 win in the series finale to avoid the sweep.
Pete Kozma struck first with a first-inning RBI single to plate Randal Grichuk and Xavier Scruggs. The Sounds scored one in the bottom of the inning, but then the Redbirds poured on four more in the third to take a 5-1 edge. In the bottom of that inning, Jeremy Hermida smashed a three-run shot off John Gast, but just like in the first inning, the Redbirds were able to keep things under control and stay on top. Both teams scored once in the seventh, with Memphis' run coming by way of Stephen Piscotty's sixth homer of the season.
Kozma carried the torch for Memphis on offense, going 2-for-3 with three RBI. Tommy Pham also went 2-for-3, adding one RBI. Gast picked up the win for the Redbirds, despite giving up four earned runs and four hits in five innings.
Ed Easley: Playing time has been inconsistent for Easley this season with the right-handed hitter splitting starts with fellow catcher Audry Perez, but lately the Mississippi State product has been making the most of his time on the field. Easley is riding a seven-game hitting streak and is batting .382 over his last 10 contests.
Scott Moore: Moore continues to improve his swing, with his last 10-game batting average at .273. With three home runs and a pair of doubles, the lefty's OPS is an impressive .957 over the stretch. Moore has been doing this while playing some games in the outfield while the Redbirds are down to just three on the roster.
Jorge Rondon: Rondon's ERA is down to 2.25 over his last 10 contests and 3.22 for the season. The right-hander has held his opponents scoreless in five of his last six appearances.
Randal Grichuk: Grichuk pulled through with a three-hit game July 1, but is hitting .174 in his last 46 at-bats. In his last 10 games, the outfielder has gone without a hit in five.
Tyler Lyons: In his last three starts, the lefty has given up 13 earned runs and 23 hits in 13 2/3 innings. That includes four home runs.
All-Star in the Outfield
On Thursday, the Pacific Coast League announced that outfielder Stephen Piscotty will represent the Redbirds in the Triple-A All-Star Game July 16. For the season, Piscotty is hitting .304 with six home runs, 46 RBI and 24 doubles. Piscotty has appeared in 82 games this season, more than any other Redbird.
Piscotty was a Florida State League All-Star last season and also participated in the Arizona Fall League's Fall Stars Showcase in 2012.
Despite the seven-game slide dropping Memphis to 39-46, the Redbirds are still very much alive in their division. Memphis is in last place, but only 5.5 games out of first with two full months left to play. The Nashville Sounds lead the division at 46-42, but the top three teams are all within a game and a half of each other.
June 27 — St. Louis Cardinals sent RHP Joe Kelly on a rehab assignment to Memphis Redbirds
June 28 — LHP Justin Wright assigned to Springfield Cardinals from Memphis Redbirds
June 29 — St. Louis Cardinals recalled RHP Jorge Rondon from Memphis Redbirds
June 29 — St. Louis Cardinals optioned RHP Eric Fornataro to Memphis Redbirds
June 30 — St. Louis Cardinals optioned RHP Jorge Rondon to Memphis Redbirds
July 1 — St. Louis Cardinals sent 2B Kolten Wong on a rehab assignment to Memphis Redbirds
July 1 — St. Louis Cardinals recalled Oscar Taveras from Memphis Redbirds
Memphis will have a great chance to make up some ground in its division this week. The Redbirds will be at AutoZone Park playing divisional opponents all week long, with a three-game series against New Orleans (MIA) from Friday to Sunday, then a four-game series against division-leading Nashville starting Monday.
Follow Austin Reynolds on Twitter @ReynoldsRant.
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