Memphis Redbirds Notebook: 2015 Week 5

St. Louis’ Triple-A club is tied for third place in the division, but has dropped to eight games back. Greg Garcia is having a hot May while displaying exceptional defense in the infield.

Editor’s note: Please welcome Thomas Simpson, The Cardinal Nation’s new Memphis reporter. At the University of Memphis, Thomas is a journalism major and a sports reporter and copy editor for the Daily Helmsman.



The Memphis Redbirds, who came into Week 5 with an 11-16 record, had a difficult seven-game stretch to say the least. The club went 1-3 in their home series against New Orleans (MIA) before traveling to Colorado Springs (MIL) and going 1-2 against the Sky Sox with one game remaining. As a result, the Redbirds dropped to 13-21 on the year and are tied with Nashville (OAK) for third place in the PCL American Southern Division.

Here’s how the week unfolded:

Friday, May 8: New Orleans 13 at Memphis 1

The Redbirds were throttled by the Zephyrs (MIA) in the opening game of Memphis’s home series against New Orleans.

Redbirds starter Kyle Hald recorded his second loss of the season after fanning two, walking two and giving up four runs on eight hits in six innings.

Relieving in the seventh, Boone Whiting gave up six runs in six hits and two walks in one inning-plus (he pitched to three batters in the eighth.) Kurt Heyer took over in the eighth and closed the game with two strikeouts, one walk, and three runs on six hits.

Aside from shortstop Greg Garcia’s three hits and outfielder Rafael Ortega scoring Xavier Scruggs on a sac fly in the ninth, the Redbirds’ offense was stifled by the Zephyrs defense, led by starting pitcher Jose Urena. Urena threw 7 1/3 innings with four strikeouts, two walks and seven hits with zero runs earned and dropping his ERA on the year to 0.77. The Redbirds fell to 11-17 on the season and 1-4 against the Zephyrs in 2015.

Saturday, May 9: New Orleans 5 at Memphis 2

In his first start for the Redbirds since being activated from the disabled list, lefty Marco Gonzales (0-1) threw 2 1/3 innings while giving up four runs on five hits.

The Zephyrs jumped out to a quick 4-0 lead that included a Derek Dietrich RBI and a three-run homer from Brady Shoemaker in the first. Gonzales also walked one and struck out none in his first start in almost 2 ½ weeks.

The Redbirds got some help from catcher Ed Easley’s first inning homer, his second of the season, and Garcia recording his second consecutive three-hit game. Dean Anna also walked twice in the game to extend his on-base streak to a league-leading 16 home games.

Nick Greenwood relieved Gonzales, stranding two inherited runners and ending his night with a season-best 4 2/3 scoreless innings and one strikeout. Keith Butler came in in the eighth and closed the game out with one walk, one strikeout and one run on zero hits.

The Redbirds dropped to 11-18 on the year and 1-5 against the Zephyrs.

Sunday, May 10: New Orleans 7 at Memphis 0

After a promising showing in game two of this home series, the Redbirds were dismantled by the Zephyrs in game three.

St. Louis lefty Jaime Garcia, who was sent to the Redbirds on a rehabilitation assignment while recovering from a left shoulder injury, recorded his first loss for the Redbirds. Garcia threw 2 2/3 innings, 72 pitches, while fanning three, walking two and giving up five runs on six hits.

After a hot start in which Garcia threw two scoreless innings, he gave up all five of his runs with two outs in the third inning. New Orleans finished the game with runs in the sixth and eighth innings.

The Redbirds produced a measly two hits, one each from Ty Kelly and pitcher Tyler Waldron, as the Redbirds were stifled by a Zephyrs’ defense that has held the Redbirds to two runs in the last three games. Anna failed to reach base for the first time at home this season, snapping a 16-game streak.

The Redbirds went down to 11-19 on the year and 1-6 against the Zephyrs.

Monday, May 11: Memphis 2, New Orleans 1 (10 innings)

Pinch hitter Ed Easley hit a heroic walk-off RBI single in the bottom of the tenth to give the Redbirds a 2-1 win, avoiding a home sweep from the Zephyrs and finishing the eight-game home stand with a record of 4-4.

After Ortega reached on a fielder’s choice and advanced to second on a wild pitch, Easley nailed a line drive to right field and Ortega rounded third and slid under the tag to end the game.

The Redbirds jumped out to an early one-run lead in the bottom of the first as Anna reached on an infield single, stole second, and was brought in by Scott Moore’s two-out base hit to left.

Redbirds lefty Tim Cooney threw seven strong innings that included three strikeouts, one walk and six hits. The one run Cooney gave up was a sixth-inning solo homer by Brandon Bantz.

The Redbirds rose to 12-19 with the win and ended the Zephyrs’ home-and-away series with a 2-6 record.

Tuesday, May 12: Memphis 3 at Colorado Springs 10

The Redbirds suffered their fourth road loss in a row as they conceded the first of their four-game road series against the Sky Sox (MIL).

The Redbirds jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the top of the third thanks to outfielder Stephen Piscotty’s two-run homer, his fifth of the season. The Sky Sox answered back with four unanswered runs (an unearned run in the fifth off a Memphis throwing error, a solo homer in the sixth by Matt Clark and a run from Pete Orr batted in by a Matt Long single and a Ben Guez run batted in by a Donnie Murphy sac groundout in the seventh.)

The Sky Sox put the game away in the eighth as the first seven batters of the inning reached base safely with six of them coming home.

Redbirds starter John Gast produced a no-decision, giving up two runs (one earned) on five hits and fanning eight in 5 2/3 innings. Reliever Keith Butler (0-2) received the loss after being charged with two runs in 2/3 of an inning.

Easley, Garcia and Mike O’Neill provided two hits each as the Redbirds dropped to 12-20 on the season and 3-2 against the Sky Sox.

Wednesday, May 13: Memphis 9 at Colorado Springs 4

The Redbirds snapped their four-game road losing streak as they beat the Sky Sox handily.

The Sky Sox jumped to an early 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first, but the Redbirds answered with a five-run second inning. Scruggs, Cody Stanley and Rafael Ortega each started the inning with a walk and Matt Williams and Zach Petrick each recorded an RBI to give Memphis a 2-1 lead. After Anna recorded another RBI for the ‘Birds in the inning, Garcia brought the lead to 5-1 after a two-RBI double over Sky Sox right fielder Shane Peterson.

Redbirds starter Petrick (1-3) threw five innings and allowed only one run on five hits while striking out a season-high six batters. Petrick was relieved by Justin Wright, who had been promoted from Double-A Springfield and made his first appearance for the Redbirds this season. Wright gave up two runs in two innings pitched.

The Redbirds added four more runs in the ninth with Anna and Garcia each recording an RBI. Dan Johnson later recorded a two-RBI single, snapping his hitting drought over his last 14 at-bats.

Marcus Hatley relieved Wright in the eighth and recorded his second save of the season while protecting Petrick’s first win of the year. The Redbirds rose to 13-20 on the season and 4-2 against the Sky Sox.

Thursday, May 14: Memphis 7 at Colorado Springs 8

The Sky Sox offense overwhelmed the Redbirds pitching staff as Colorado Springs edged out a close win against Memphis.

It was another tough start for Memphis starter and top Cardinals prospect Marco Gonzales as he gave up seven runs, including three homers, over only four innings. Both the runs and home runs yielded are career highs.

The Redbirds jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the top of the first before the Sky Sox responded with a two-run first and a five-run second. The Redbirds fired back with four runs in the third as Garcia singled Anna home, Moore drove in two runs and Ty Kelly hit an RBI single.

After a scoreless fourth and fifth, the Redbirds again responded in the sixth as Johnson tied the game with a two-run triple, his first three-base hit since 2012, which brought home O’Neill and Piscotty. The Sky Sox regained the lead off a Ben Guez home run, his second of the afternoon, and eventually won the game.

The Redbirds dropped to 13-21 on the year and 4-3 against the Sky Sox.

Who is Hot

Greg Garcia: Did you know Garcia is hitting .419 on 18-43 at the plate in the month of May, including a three-RBI game Wednesday against the Sky Sox? Did I also mention that he has reached base safely in 11 of the past 13 games? Garcia has stepped up big for the Redbirds this month in a time when the Redbirds really have needed him.

Ed Easley: I’m going to add Easley here because of his late game heroics in the Monday’s game against the Zephyrs. The veteran catcher went 4-for-8 with two driven in this week, including a walk-off RBI in extra innings against the Zephyrs.

Who is Not

Redbirds’ Pitching Staff: The Redbirds pitching has been below par this season, and this week was no exception. You can give Marco Gonzales a pass on his first start after being on the disabled list, but his second start back from the DL was bad to say the least as he allowed seven earned runs, including three home runs, over just four innings. Jaime Garcia, who was shipped down for rehabilitation training from St. Louis, gave up five runs in three innings. In total, the Redbirds pitching gave up 48 runs in seven games; that’s almost seven runs a game.

Transactions

Several transactions occurred during Week 5 of the Redbirds season. Out of the five player moves: three were pitchers and two were position players. The Redbirds are currently one player short.

05/09/2015: LHS Kyle Hald returned to Springfield Cardinals from Memphis Redbirds
05/09/2015: Memphis Redbirds activate LHP Marco Gonzales from the 7-day disabled list.
05/10/2015: St. Louis Cardinals send LHP Jaime Garcia on a rehab assignment to Memphis Redbirds.
05/12/2015: LHP Justin Wright promoted from Springfield Cardinals to Memphis Redbirds.
05/12/2015: Memphis Redbirds place C Travis Tartamella on the 7-day disabled list.
05/14/2015: St. Louis Cardinals recall 1B/OF Xavier Scruggs from Memphis Redbirds.

What is Next

The Redbirds will finish their road series against Colorado Springs Friday before beginning their four-game home series against the Omaha Storm Chasers (KC). The Redbirds then travel out west to begin a four-game road series against the Sacramento River Cats (SF), starting on Thursday evening.

Although they are not divisional foes, Omaha and Sacramento could prove to be a tough match as both teams are each in second place in their divisions.



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