Memphis Redbirds Notebook: 2014 Week 16

The Pacific Coast League Redbirds had a solid 5-3 week as Xavier Scruggs is heating up at the plate.

The Memphis Redbirds were at home all week long, and were able to give the local fans a winning 5-3 week. The squad started out by taking three of four games from Colorado Springs (COL), then split four games against Omaha (KC).

Memphis now holds a 51-52 overall record, and remains in last place in the American Southern Division. Despite sitting just on the wrong side of .500, the Redbirds are still very much alive in the playoff picture. Memphis is just three and a half games behind division-leading Nashville (MIL).

July 18: Colorado Springs at Memphis, Memphis wins 12-1

The Redbirds kicked off the Colorado Springs series with a bang, scoring 12 runs on 12 hits in a blowout victory over the Sky Sox.

Memphis started with three runs in the first inning by way of a Greg Garcia bases-loaded walk and a Pete Kozma single that brought two runners home. In the second, Angelys Nina hit an RBI single to get the Sky Sox on the board for the first and only time in the ballgame. The Redbirds continued the offensive attack with a six-run sixth inning on their way to a 12-1 win.

Kozma was perfect at the plate with a 3-for-3 outing in which the Memphis shortstop plated three and hit two doubles. Garcia was not far behind, going 2-for-3 with an RBI.

On the mound, Tyler Lyons struck out six in five innings, giving up five hits and one unearned run.

July 19 Game 1: Colorado Springs at Memphis, Memphis wins 1-0 (seven innings)

Hitting was hard to come by for both sides in the opening game of the doubleheader, but the Redbirds were propelled to victory by starting pitcher Zach Petrick’s complete game two-hit shutout.

The teams played five and a half scoreless frames in the abbreviated seven-inning contest before Randal Grichuk finally broke through in the sixth with a two-out solo shot to centerfield. The home run was the only score of the ballgame, as the Redbirds took game one.

Memphis totaled just four hits to Colorado Springs’ two, and no batters reached base more than once. Petrick struck out six and walked only one while pitching the full seven innings.

July 19: Game 2: Colorado Springs at Memphis, Memphis wins 2-0 (seven innings)

The backend of the doubleheader was another contest dominated by pitching, and once again the Sky Sox were held scoreless with only two hits.

Both Memphis runs came in the bottom of the third, when Xavier Scruggs fired his 10th homer of the season to center, scoring Tommy Pham. The dinger was Scruggs’ only hit of the game, as once again neither team had a batter with multiple hits. Pham was the only batter that managed to get on base twice, with a hit and a walk.

Boone Whiting pitched a complete game gem, striking out three and allowing only two hits in the shutout win. The victory improved the Redbirds’ record to 3-0 since the All-Star break.

July 20: Colorado Springs at Memphis, Colorado Springs wins 4-0

After being held to just one run over the first three games of the series, Colorado Springs managed to flip the script in the final game with a 4-0 victory over the Redbirds.

The loss should not be contributed to pitcher John Gast, as the Redbirds once again received an excellent outing from their starter. In six innings, Gast gave up no runs and only three hits while striking out four batters.

The Sky Sox waited until the eighth inning to strike, scoring their first run as a result of a Randal Grichuk fielding error and then adding another with a grounder against Pedro Feliciano that went through to center field for an RBI single.

Angel Castro took over for the ninth inning, but surrendered a two-run shot that sealed the Sky Sox victory.

The Redbirds struggled offensively, with Tommy Pham and Xavier Scruggs each accounting for two of the team’s five hits. While Gast gave Memphis six great innings on the mound, the same cannot be said for the bullpen. Jorge Rondon gave up two earned runs and one hit in only 1/3 of an inning, while Castro allowed two hits and a two-run homer in one inning of work.

July 21: Omaha at Memphis, Omaha wins 4-1

The Redbirds struck first in the opener against the Omaha Storm Chasers, but were unable to get any more runs on the board as they fell 4-1.

Stephen Piscotty scored Randal Grichuk in the first inning with a sacrifice fly to right field that gave Memphis the lead until the fifth inning, when an RBI single to left field off Tim Cooney tied the score at one.

Once again, the bullpen could not come through for the Redbirds. In the seventh inning, Dean Kiekhefer gave up the lead with an RBI single, then Joe Donofrio allowed four hits and two earned runs in the eighth inning.

Ed Easley singled to start the bottom of the ninth for Memphis, but the next three batters were unable to reach base, as the Redbirds were unable to mount the comeback.

Xavier Scruggs was responsible for three of Memphis’ eight hits on the evening, and Randal Grichuk went 2-for-4 with a triple. Cooney pitched six innings, giving up six hits and one unearned run.

July 22: Omaha at Memphis, Memphis wins 6-3

The Redbirds came alive offensively with 13 total hits, and held on to an early lead for a 6-1 victory.

Memphis once again struck quickly, this time with a Shane Robinson leadoff homer to left field. The Storm Chasers pulled even in the second with a solo shot of their own from Justin Maxwell, but in the bottom of the inning, it was Robinson again, hitting an RBI single to give Memphis the lead.

The Redbirds advantage ballooned to five runs by the sixth inning. Omaha added a run in the seventh and eighth innings, but it was too little too late for the Storm Chasers as the Redbirds took the win.

Robinson and Stephen Piscotty both had big games at the plate, with three hits and two RBI, and Tommy Pham added another run driven in a 2-for-4 effort. Marco Gonzales earned his first victory as a Redbird, striking out seven and surrendering five hits and two earned runs in seven innings pitched.

In relief, Angel Castro gave up two hits and one earned run before recording a single out, but Eric Fornataro took over from there and allowed only one hit for the duration of the contest while recording the save.

July 23: Omaha at Memphis, Memphis wins 5-3

Memphis fell behind early, but rallied behind home runs from Randal Grichuk and Xavier Scruggs for a second consecutive win over the Storm Chasers.

Tyler Lyons gave up a three-run bomb from Omaha’s Matt Fields in the second inning, but it was all Redbirds from there. Scruggs hit a solo homer in the bottom of the inning before Jermaine Curtis brought home Pete Kozma to cut the deficit to one run.

The 3-2 score remained until the sixth when a Grichuk solo bomb kicked off a three-run inning that propelled Memphis into a lead that they were able to retain for the 5-3 victory.

Grichuk went 3-for-4 to lead the Redbirds offensively, while Scruggs added two hits in four at bats. Lyons earned his fourth win of the season after allowing three earned runs and eight hits. In relief, Jorge Rondon pitched two perfect innings with three strikeouts to close out the contest.

July 24: Omaha at Memphis, Omaha wins 3-2 (10 innings)

The Redbirds scored the first two runs of the game, but could not hold on as they fell 3-2 in extra innings to Omaha in the series finale.

Scott Moore blasted his 13th longball of the season in the first inning to give Memphis a 1-0 edge, and then Ed Easley added another in the second with a line drive to center that plated Greg Garcia.

The Storm Chasers evened the game up over the next two frames, scoring one in both the third and fourth innings. From there, both sides were scoreless until the game headed into extras.

Omaha had just one hit in the 10th inning, but a sacrifice bunt allowed the runner to get into scoring position and then a Pete Kozma throwing error brought him home for the game-winning run.

Kozma and Ed Easley each went 2-for-4 at the plate for Memphis in the loss, while Zach Petrick received a no-decision after giving up two earned runs and eight hits across five innings.

Heath Wyatt and Jorge Rondon combined to throw three hitless innings. Eric Fornataro allowed only one hit in two innings of work, but it resulted in the 10th inning run that gave the Storm Chasers the victory.

Who’s Hot

Xavier Scruggs: Scruggs’ bat was on fire this week, and as a result, the first baseman has recorded three multi-hit games in his last five contests. Over his last 10 games, Scruggs is hitting a blazing .371 with three homers, three doubles and nine RBI.

Pete Kozma: Kozma has been getting it done at the plate as of late with a .294 batting average in his last 10 games. The Memphis shortstop was extra sharp in the Colorado Springs series, going 5-for-12.

Eric Fornataro: Fornataro has been perhaps the most reliable arm in the Redbirds bullpen in recent contests. The right-handed reliever has not allowed an earned run since July 2. Since then, Fornataro has pitched 12 2/3 innings with only one runner coming home as an unearned run.

Who’s Not

Angel Castro: The Redbirds have been unable to depend on Castro to hold onto leads as of late. In his last five appearances, the right-hander has thrown six innings, giving up 15 hits and 10 earned runs.

Shane Robinson: Robinson is hitting .319 for the season, but outside of a three-hit game on July 22, the Memphis outfielder has been struggling at the plate in recent contests. Over his last 10 games, Robinson is hitting just .219.

Striking First

The Redbirds have developed a knack for opening up the scoring, and it has been an integral part of their recent success. Memphis struck first in six of eight contests this week, and in those games the Redbirds came out with a 4-2 record.

Starting Strong

The early offense has certainly been a major factor contributing to the winning week, but equally important is the strong pitching the Redbirds have received from their starting rotation. Memphis starters were responsible for all five wins and zero losses this week, and no starter has given up more than three earned runs since Marco Gonzales’ debut on July 11.

Transactions

July 18 — Memphis Redbirds activated RHP Jorge Rondon from the temporarily inactive list
July 18 — RHP Seth Blair assigned to Springfield Cardinals from Memphis Redbirds
July 23 — St. Louis Cardinals optioned LHP Nick Greenwood to Memphis Redbirds
July 24 — RHP Joe Donofrio assigned to Springfield Cardinals from Memphis Redbirds

Up Next

The Redbirds have a busy week ahead, starting with five games in three days on the road at Iowa (CHC). The team will then have Monday off before traveling to Omaha for a four-game series against the Storm Chasers (KC).



Follow Austin Reynolds on Twitter @ReynoldsRant.

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