The Memphis Redbirds offense exploded for their best week of the season, as the surge up the standings continued with a 6-1 record. The Redbirds dropped the first game of the week to New Orleans (MIA), but then rattled off six straight victories, three against the Zephyrs and three against the Albuquerque Isotopes (LAD).
Memphis is now 10 games over .500 at 68-58, and is only a half game back from Nashville (MIL) in the race for the American Southern Division’s title.
August 8: New Orleans at Memphis, New Orleans wins 5-4
The Redbirds held a late one-run lead, but were sunk by a two-run New Orleans inning in the ninth as the Zephyrs took the 5-4 victory.
Each team scored two runs in the opening frame. The 2-2 score remained until the bottom of the third when the Redbirds took their first lead of the game by way of a Scott Moore line drive that brought home Randal Grichuk. The advantage did not last long, as Rob Brantly launched a solo homer to right off Marco Gonzales to even the score in the back-and-forth contest.
In the seventh, it was again Moore that pulled Memphis ahead, singling to center to plate Tommy Pham. The lead held until the ninth inning, but Eric Fornataro surrendered two RBI singles in his failed save attempt.
Moore, Grichuk and Greg Garcia recorded multiple hits for the Redbirds, with Moore leading the team with two RBI. Gonzales earned a no-decision after seven solid innings of work on the mound. The lefty allowed five hits, three runs, two earned and struck out five batters.
August 9: New Orleans at Memphis, Memphis wins 21-3
The Memphis offense erupted for 21 runs and 21 hits as the Redbirds torched the Zephyrs for a 21-3 win.
New Orleans held a 3-2 lead after the top of the fourth, but Tommy Pham and Randal Grichuk each drove in runs in the bottom of the inning to give Memphis the lead. The Redbirds followed up with an eight-run fifth inning kicked off by home runs from Scott Moore and Pete Kozma. The ‘Birds refused to let off the gas, adding four more runs in the sixth and five in the eighth en route to the blowout victory.
Pham led the charge with four hits and four RBI in five at bats, while Grichuk delivered a 3-for-5 effort with three RBI. Tyler Lyons improved his record to 7-1 on the season, giving up nine hits, three runs and striking out eight batters in six innings pitched.
August 10: New Orleans at Memphis, Memphis wins 12-0
For the second consecutive evening, the Redbirds dominated both offensively and defensively as they crushed the Zephyrs at AutoZone Park.
Xavier Scruggs opened things up with a three-run shot in the first inning, and in the third, he homered again to plate Stephen Piscotty and put Memphis up 5-0. Ed Easley also went yard in the third to extend the lead to six. The Redbirds added another run in the fifth and then five more in the sixth, including a two-out grand slam from Easley to seal the win.
Scruggs was a perfect 3-for-3 with two walks, and batted in five runs while hitting two home runs. Easley also homered twice, going 4-for-5 with five RBI. Tommy Pham also went 4-for-5 for the second game in a row.
Carlos Martinez picked up the win in his second start for the Redbirds this season, allowing three hits and no runs in six innings pitched. Zach Petrick yielded one hit and two walks in two innings of relief work, while Justin Wright pitched a perfect inning.
August 11: New Orleans at Memphis, Memphis wins 6-3
The Redbirds pulled away late to earn a third straight victory over division rival New Orleans.
Randal Grichuk blasted his 22nd homer of the season in the first, and in the following frame, Pete Kozma lined an RBI signle to center to put the ‘Birds on top 2-0. The Zephyrs equalized in the fifth behind an RBI single and an RBI sacrifice fly given up by John Gast.
In the sixth, it was Redbirds catcher Ed Easley who broke the tie, singling to right field to score both Xavier Scruggs and Greg Garcia. Rob Brantly pulled one back for New Orleans with an RBI grounder to right off Eric Fornataro in the seventh. But the Redbirds put the game to bed in the eighth, when Garcia and Mike O’Neill both hit one-run RBI singles to help Memphis to the 6-3 win.
Easley was strong at the plate with two hits and two RBI in four at bats. Garcia was 2-for-3, knocking in one run and walking once. Gast received a no-decision in the start, allowing two earned runs and five hits in five innings while striking out four and walking two. Dean Kiekhefer picked up the win in relief, striking out three and giving up one unearned run and one hit.
August 12: Memphis at Albuquerque, Memphis wins 5-3
The Redbirds fell behind early, but rallied for two runs in the ninth inning to win the series-opener at Albuquerque 5-3.
Tim Cooney gave up a leadoff homer to Mike Baxter to start the contest, and then a sacrifice fly from Jamie Romak brought in another to give the Isotopes a 2-0 lead after one. The Redbirds finally pulled one back in the fourth with a Scott Moore RBI line drive, and in the sixth Stephen Piscotty fired a two-run shot to center to push the Redbirds into the lead.
Joc Pederson tied the game at three in the eighth when he launched a solo homer off Dean Kiekhefer, but Xavier Scruggs hit a home run of his own in the ninth, a two-run bomb that plated Moore and gave the Redbirds the victory.
Piscotty and Xavier Scruggs each drove in two runs, while Greg Garcia had a single and a double in a 2-for-4 effort. On the rubber, Cooney received a no-decision after allowing two earned runs and five hits in six innings of work. Eric Fornataro was credited with the win, giving up one hit, one walk and no runs in 2/3 of an inning.
August 13: Memphis at Albuquerque, Memphis wins 6-5
For the second night in a row, the Redbirds broke a tie in the ninth inning to come away with a victory in Albuquerque.
The Isotopes again struck first with an RBI single off Marco Gonzales in the second inning, but Xavier Scruggs answered with an RBI line drive of his own in the fourth that scored Tommy Pham and tied the game at one. The fourth inning scoring did not stop there, as Audry Perez and Greg Garcia each drove in runs to give Memphis a 3-1 advantage.
The lead did not last long. Former Redbird Jamie Romak launched a two-run dinger against Gonzales in the bottom of the inning, tying the contest at three before Gonzales gave up another homer in the fifth, a solo homer by Joc Pederson that propelled the Isotopes into the lead.
The teams continued to exchange long-balls from there, with Pete Kozma launching a two-run shot in the top of the sixth and Romak answering with a solo bomb in the bottom that knotted the contest at five. That score remained until the top of the ninth, when Stephen Piscotty won the game with an RBI single to left field that brought home Jermaine Curtis.
In addition to bringing home the game-winning run, Piscotty was the Redbirds best option at the plate, going 3-for-4. Kozma also delivered with a 2-for-3, two RBI, one walk performance. Gonzales was a little shaky in five innings, yielding four hits, four earned runs, two walks and two homers. Justin Wright picked up the win, allowing no hits, no runs and one walk in two innings pitched.
August 14: Memphis at Albuquerque, Memphis wins 17-7
Memphis lit up the scoreboard for the third time this week, as the Redbirds exploded for 17 runs and 21 hits in the team’s sixth consecutive victory.
The Isotopes led 5-3 after two innings, but the Redbirds exploded for seven in a third inning effort headlined by a Tommy Pham two-run RBI triple. Memphis added two more runs in the fourth and five in the fifth to ensure the victory.
The Redbirds had an astounding three hitters with four hit games. Pete Kozma, Stephen Piscotty and Xavier Scruggs each went 4-for-6, and Scruggs added six RBI. Pham and Randal Grichuk delivered three hits each as well, as the five Memphis batters went a combined 18-for-29.
Tyler Lyons surrendered 13 hits and seven earned runs in six innings pitched, while Zach Petrick got the save after allowing only one hit and no runs in three innings.
Tommy Pham: Pham’s bat has been red hot for the majority of the season, but the Memphis outfielder kicked it up to another level this week with two four-hit games and a three in another. Over his last 10 games, Pham is hitting .409. He was named the Pacific Coast League Player of the Week for the period of August 4-11.
Stephen Piscotty: In the last two contests against Albuquerque, Piscotty is a combined 7-for-10. Over the last 10 games as a whole, the outfielder’s batting average is sitting pretty at .395, over 100 points better than his solid seasonal average of .292.
Scott Moore: Moore has been an integral part of the Redbirds hitting machine in recent games, hitting .350 over his last 10 games, well up from his seasonal average of .247. In addition to the hits, the third baseman is adding runs to the scoreboard with 10 RBI in his last 10 contests.
Xavier Scruggs: Scruggs is hitting .350 in his last 10 games, but more important is the 20 RBI he’s accumulated in the stretch. For perspective, the first baseman has appeared in 117 games this season and has 73 total RBI. Over 31 percent of those RBI have been racked up over the last 10 contests.
Greg Garcia: Garcia is currently riding a nine-game hitting streak, and is 13-for-34 with six RBI over that stretch. The second baseman is finding other ways to get on base as well, with five walks in his last 10 appearances.
Nobody: In what was easily the Redbirds’ best offensive week of the season, nearly all Memphis hitters have been blowing away their typical averages over the last few games, and the ones that are not as hot have last 10 games numbers right in line with their seasonal averages.
With the exception of the Thursday night game in Albuquerque, it has been a fantastic week for pitching as well. It was a great week for the Redbirds, and no one was worthy of a “Who’s Not” appearance this time around.
Racking Up the Runs
126 games into the season, the Redbirds have scored 12 runs or more in a contest just nine times. Three of those games took place this week. Before Memphis exploded for 21 runs against New Orleans on Saturday, the last time the Redbirds offense totaled 12 runs or more was July 18 in a 12-1 win against Colorado Springs.
Aardsma Readying for Return
Memphis reliever David Aardsma has been out of action since June 16, but the St. Louis Post-Dispatch is reporting that the right-hander could return from his groin injury and resulting surgery by the end of the week. Before the injury, Aardsma pitched 29 2/3 innings for the Redbirds with an ERA of 0.91.
August 8 — St. Louis Cardinals recalled LHR Nick Greenwood from Memphis Redbirds
August 9 — LHR Justin Wright assigned to Memphis Redbirds from Springfield Cardinals
August 9 — LHR Ryan Sherriff assigned to Memphis Redbirds from Springfield Cardinals
The Redbirds close out the series at Albuquerque Friday night as they attempt to go for the four-game sweep. The road trip continues with a four-game series against El Paso (SD). The team returns to Memphis Wednesday to start a four-game series against Sacramento that kicks off the final homestand of the season.
Follow Austin Reynolds on Twitter @ReynoldsRant.
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