Memphis Redbirds Notebook: 2014 Week 23

The Pacific Coast League Redbirds finished a successful season with a first-round playoff loss. Scott Moore swung one of the very few hot bats in the slumping and depleted Memphis lineup.

Despite holding home field advantage, the Memphis Redbirds dropped consecutive games at AutoZone Park Friday and Saturday. Their season came to a close as they lost their playoff series with the Omaha Storm Chasers (KC) three games to one.

Many of Memphis’ elite hitters went cold in the series, and the team also lost several key weapons to major league call-ups.

September 5: Omaha at Memphis, Omaha wins 2-0

The Redbirds managed only five hits throughout the contest, and were unable to cash in any of them for runs as the Storm Chasers took a 2-0 victory in the game and a 2-1 lead in the playoff series.

The only runs of the ballgame came in the top of the first inning. With one out, Boone Whiting gave up a line drive single to Pedro Ciriaco, and in the following at bat, Paulo Orlando crushed a two-run homer over the left field wall to put Omaha on top for good.

Despite the poor hitting effort, Memphis was able to get runners in scoring position five times thanks in large part to the team drawing five walks. But the Redbirds came up hitless in those situations, going 0-for-5.

Jermaine Curtis and Scott Moore each walked twice, and were the only Redbirds to reach base on multiple occasions. Starter Whiting struck out six batters over five innings, but also yielded seven hits and two earned runs. Mitch Harris, Dean Kiekhefer and Sam Tuivailala combined to allow three hits, two walks and no runs over the final four frames.

September 6: Omaha at Memphis, Omaha wins 6-2

Omaha scored the first five runs of the contest, and the Redbirds were unable to recover as the Storm Chasers clinched the playoff series with a 6-2 victory at AutoZone Park.

Omaha went up 1-0 in the opening inning via a Brett Eibner RBI single given up by Redbirds starter Mike Mayers. It was quiet on the offensive front for both sides until the fifth inning, when the Storm Chasers erupted for four runs, kicked off by a Whit Merrifield solo homer. Heath Wyatt took over for Mayers after the first two runs, but a throwing error on a pickoff attempt and a sacrifice fly meant Omaha held a five-run advantage by the middle of the inning.

Memphis was able to pull two runs back in the bottom of the frame with an Ed Easley RBI grounder and a Stephen Piscotty sac-fly, but the Redbirds’ postseason offensive struggles kept them from climbing all the way back.

Easley led the Redbirds at the plate, going 1-for-4 with a walk and an RBI as Memphis again totaled only five hits over the course of the game. On the mound, Mayers surrendered eight hits and five earned runs in four innings. Wyatt and Mitch Harris also had troubles toeing the rubber, but David Aardsma took control by tossing two hitless innings. Justin Wright pitched the final inning, striking out two while giving up no hits.

Who’s Hot

Scott Moore: Moore went 4-for-13 with two RBI in the four-game postseason series with Omaha, and also drew three walks as he got on base more than any other Redbird. Memphis found the offense hard to come by in the postseason, but Moore was a bright spot.

Justin Wright: Wright was the only Memphis reliever to not surrender a hit while appearing in multiple games this postseason, as he took the mound in two contests, tossing a total of two hitless innings. The lefty struck out two batters over the stretch, and did not give up a single walk.

Who’s Not

Tommy Pham: The Redbirds could depend on Pham for hits all season long, but when the postseason rolled around his bat came up cold. Pham went 2-for-15 in the series and failed to drive in a single run.

Audry Perez: Perez was one of Memphis’ most consistent hitters, batting .292 on the season, but came up empty in the postseason. The Redbirds catcher appeared in three games, going 0-for-10 and only reaching base once with a walk.

Stephen Piscotty: Much like Pham and Perez, Piscotty’s bat was red hot all season long but disappeared in the playoff series. The Memphis outfielder went 1-for-14, striking out four times.

Ed Easley: A hot hitter in August, the catcher went cold in September, going just 2-for-16 with one RBI in his four games played against the Storm Chasers.

Lost Firepower

The Redbirds caught a bad break with many of their big hitters going cold in the playoffs, but their parent club in St. Louis provided no help in terms of the roster.

Memphis trotted out a depleted lineup each night, with Randal Grichuk, Pete Kozma, Greg Garcia all being called up just prior to the start of postseason play. .286-hitter Xavier Scruggs played the first game of the series for Memphis, but then was also promoted to join the Cardinals as the Redbirds totaled only 21 hits in the four-game series.

On the pitching side, lefty starters Marco Gonzales and Tyler Lyons were with St. Louis, requiring the Redbirds to start reliever Heath Wyatt and Double-A call-up Mayers against Omaha.

Transactions

September 8 — St. Louis Cardinals recalled Greg Garcia from Memphis Redbirds
September 8 — St. Louis Cardinals selected the contract of Tommy Pham from Memphis Redbirds
September 8 — St. Louis Cardinals selected the contract of Sam Tuivailala from Memphis Redbirds
September 10 — St. Louis Cardinals sent Audry Perez outright to Memphis Redbirds
September 10 — St. Louis Cardinals sent Rafael Ortega outright to Memphis Redbirds

What’s Next

Before the Memphis Player and Pitchers of the Year are named, check out our 2014 Redbirds team recap, scheduled to run here at The Cardinal Nation on September 22.

The 2015 season will kick off with an exhibition game against St. Louis at AutoZone Park on Friday, April 3, with the home opener against Iowa on Thursday, April 9.



Follow Austin Reynolds on Twitter @ReynoldsRant.

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