After two productive weeks to start the season, the Memphis Redbirds (8-11) struggled in Week 3. The club went 1-5 during the week, with the Redbirds needing a late rally to earn the lone win. Memphis still fields one of the best pitching staffs in the PCL, but the inconsistent lineup has been a different story.
Here’s how the week unfolded:
Friday, April 22: Memphis (STL) 1 at Oklahoma City (LAD) 7
Redbirds hitters struck out 12 times in a 7-1 loss at the Oklahoma City Dodgers, and are still looking to win their first series of the season.
The Redbirds’ lone run arrived in the top of the fourth via Nick Martini’s (1-for-3) RBI single that brought home Anthony Garcia (1-for-4 with a 2B). Michael Ohlman (1-for-3) and Jonathan Rodriguez (1-for-3) provided the other Memphis hits.
Starter Arturo Reyes (0-2, 6.75) took the loss after allowing seven earned runs on nine hits in 5 2/3 innings. The right-hander struck out five and walked two. Heath Wyatt and John Church worked the final innings, giving up just one hit and fanning four.
Saturday, April 23: Round Rock (TEX) 3 at Memphis (STL) 0
The Redbirds allowed a pair of home runs to the Round Rock Express in a 3-0 loss in front of a sellout crowd of 10,171 at AutoZone Park. The sellout is the first in the regular season since the renovations before the 2015 season.
Greg Garcia and Carlos Peguero went 2-for-4, while Charlie Tilson (1-for-3), Rodriguez (1-for-4 with a 2B) and Martini (1-for-4) had one. With their efforts, Peguero has only been kept off base in two of his 11 starts, and Martini has reached base in 10 of his last 12 games.
Starter Deck McGuire (0-2, 2.57) took the loss after pitching 5 2/3 innings and walking one, fanning five and giving up three earned on six hits. Though he leads the starters in ERA, McGuire is still looking for his first win of the season.
Ryan Sherriff, Miguel Socolovich and Justin Wright followed McGuire, giving up three hits total over 3 1/3 innings of relief.
Sunday, April 24: Round Rock (TEX) 4 at Memphis (STL) 6
Down 4-2 and heading into the sixth inning, a solo shot from Anthony Garcia in the sixth and a three-run homer from Peguero in the eighth powered the Redbirds to a 6-4 win over the Round Rock Express.
Anthony Garcia (3-for-4) led all Memphis batters, while Greg Garcia (2-for-4) and Martini (2-for-2) recorded two hits apiece. Tilson (1-for-4), Peguero (1-for-4) and Rodriguez (1-for-4) rounded out the rest of Memphis’ 10 hits.
Starter J.C. Sulbaran pitched three innings, but reliever Juan Gonzalez (2-0, 3.86) picked up his second win in 2016 by working the final two outs of the seventh and starting the eighth. Sulbaran walked and struck out five while allowing three earned off seven hits. Gonzalez walked three and allowed two hits.
Sam Tuivailala relieved Gonzalez in the ninth with one out, and struck out the two batters he faced for his second save of the season.
Monday, April 25: Round Rock (TEX) 6 at Memphis (STL) 5
The Redbirds rallied back from an early deficit, but Joey Gallo’s solo home run in the 12th inning gave the Round Rock Express a 6-5 win. Gallo, one of the top prospects in baseball, had two homers on the night, bringing his season total to a league-leading seven.
Patrick Wisdom (1-for-5) sparked a three-run fourth inning with a two-run home run – his first of the year – and Peguero (1-for-4) followed with a solo shot, his third homer of the season, in the fifth to give Memphis a 5-3 lead. However, the Express scored two in the eighth and another in the 12th to rally and win.
Tilson (2-for-4 with an RBI) extended his hitting streak to five games after recording two hits, while Martini (1-for-6) moved his own streak to six hits, the longest of the season by a Redbird. Matt Williams (1-for-4) and Ohlman (1-for-4) recorded doubles.
Starter Jeremy Hefner fanned four, walked three and allowed three earned on five hits in a no-decision. The starter allowed only six baserunners and nobody past second in his final 4 2/3 innings
Church struck out one in 1 1/3 innings of relief duty, but Wright blew a save in 1/3 of an inning, allowing two earned on three hits. Socolovich and Tuivailala followed, but Wyatt (1-1, 4.05) took the loss, yielding two hits and one earned (the walk-off home run).
Tuesday, April 26: Round Rock (TEX) 3 at Memphis (STL) 2
In the final game of the home series, the Redbirds dropped a 3-2 decision to the Express.
Round Rock limited Memphis’ offense to five hits, with Peguero (2-for-4 and an RBI) leading all Redbirds batters. Tilson (1-for-2) extended his hitting streak to six games, tying Martini for the longest hit streak for a Redbird this season. Ohlman (1-for-3) and Rodriguez (1-for-3) provided one hit each to round out Memphis’ offense.
Starter and hard-luck losing pitcher Thomas Lee (1-2, 5.48) pitched a terrific game, fanning six, walking one and giving up six hits and two earned in a Redbirds season-best seven innings. In relief duty, Wright yielded one earned on one hit in 1 1/3 innings, and Gonzales struck out the two batters he faced in the ninth.
Thursday, April 28: Memphis (STL) 1 at New Orleans (MIA) 2 (10 innings)
Memphis extended its losing streak to three games after a close 2-1 loss at the New Orleans Zephyrs in extra innings.
Memphis fell behind early after Cole Gillespie’s RBI single gave New Orleans a 1-0 edge, but the Redbirds responded in the fourth with a Dean Anna (1-for-3) RBI single to knot the game at 1-1. The game went in to extra innings after six scoreless innings before former Redbird Xavier Scruggs’ walk-off ground ball that plated Issac Galloway.
Peguero (2-for-5 with a 2B) led Memphis batters, and Tilson (1-for-3) extended his hit streak to seven games. Anna, Ohlman (1-for-3) and Greg Garcia (1-for-3) recorded one hit apiece.
Starter Arturo Reyes pitched six innings of no-decision baseball, striking out four, walking three and allowing one earned on three hits. Church pitched two innings of relief, fanning one and walking another, before Socolovich (0-2, 2.70) arrived in the ninth, recording his second loss of the season. Socolovich struck out two batters in 1 1/3 innings, but gave up the game-winning run in the 10th.
A trio of position players starred for Memphis during Week 3 of the 2016 season: Nick Martini, Carlos Peguero and Charlie Tilson. Although Martini’s hit streak ended at six games on Thursday, the outfielder leads the team in average (.318). Meanwhile, Peguero and Tilson are both enjoying hitting streaks of their own; Peguero’s sits at five, while Tilson’s sits at a team-best seven.
Tilson, who sports a .305 average, has proven to be one of the best additions of the 2016 season – the speedster leads the team in stolen bases (6) and is tied for the lead in hits (18). Peguero is on a serious hot streak, posting three multi-hit games with two home runs and four RBI this week.
On the pitching staff, Thomas Lee had one of the best starts of the week, fanning six in a loss to Round Rock April 26, while Sam Tuivailala, who recorded his second save of the season April 24 vs. Round Rock, struck out five batters and allowed no runs in 2 2/3 innings pitched.
While Memphis’ lineup has played fairly well this season, there are a few players who struggled in Week 3.
Jacob Wilson, who once led the team in average, has not recorded a hit since April 21 at Oklahoma City.
Although Patrick Wisdom hit a two-run homer April 25 vs. Round Rock, the infielder still posts a below-.200 average (.182).
Dean Anna, who was one of the most consistent batters in Memphis in 2015, is in a slump as well; the infielder’s recorded his first hit since April 18 at Colorado Springs on Thursday, and boasts the lowest average on the team (.163, min. 10 games).
On the pitching staff, Arturo Reyes, in his second start of the season, allowed seven runs on nine hits in 5 2/3 innings April 22 at Oklahoma City.
In another quiet week regarding Memphis Redbirds’ Transactions, Luis Cruz was assigned to Springfield to make room for veteran Alberto Rosario. Rosario was activated from the disabled list after suffering a non-disclosed injury.
Here’s how the week unfolded:
04/24/2015: C Luis Cruz assigned to Springfield Cardinals from Memphis Redbirds.
04/24/2015: Memphis Redbirds activate C Alberto Rosario from the 7-day disabled list.
TCN Top 40 Prospects
The Redbirds have nine of The Cardinal Nation’s Top 40 Prospects on their active roster, with another on the restricted list. Here is how they have performed recently:
1. Alex Reyes: Reyes is currently on the restricted list. The 21-year-old spent time in Springfield, Palm Beach and GCL Cardinals in 2015. The right-hander went 3-2 with a 3.12 ERA in Springfield, and 2-5 with a 2.26 ERA in Palm Beach.
3. Marco Gonzales: Gonzales remains on the disabled list. The lefty underwent Tommy John surgery, which ended his season.
5. Tim Cooney: Cooney was placed on the disabled list to open the 2016 season. The starter went through some shoulder soreness in the spring, and is not yet ready to start. The lefty was arguably Memphis’ best starter last season before being sidelined with appendicitis.
6. Charlie Tilson: Tilson may turn out to be the club’s best addition for the 2016 season. The outfielder, who was promoted from Springfield, is one of Memphis’ most reliable offensive weapons. Not only is he great at the plate (.318 average), but he is also the team’s best base runner, with a team-leading six stolen bases.
11. Sam Tuivailala: While Tuivailala struggled in Week 1 of the 2016 season, the right-hander had a terrific Week 3 after improving in Week 2. He recorded his second save of the season April 24 vs. Round Rock, and left five batters swinging in 2 2/3 innings pitched.
19. Greg Garcia: Garcia, who started the 2016 on St. Louis’ roster before being sent down, played in five games this week, going 6-for-19 with one RBI and posting two multi-hit games.
20. Jacob Wilson: Wilson’s struggles continue into Week 3. The hometown product, who was Memphis best hitter in Week 1 (team-leading .375 average), has not recorded a hit since April 21 at Oklahoma City. The infielder currently has a .204 average and three RBI – by comparison, Greg Garcia has two RBI in nearly half the amount of games played.
24. Patrick Wisdom: Although he blasted his first homer of the season, a two-run shot April 25 vs. Round Rock, Wisdom continues to struggle offensively. The third baseman, who has hit more than 10 home runs each year since 2013, posts a .182 average after going 1-for-15 this week.
25. Anthony Garcia: Aside from a 3-for-4 performance April 24 vs. Round Rock that included a solo home run (his second of the season), Garcia had a quiet week. The outfielder’s other hit came April 22 at Oklahoma City and he currently has a .204 average.
30. Michael Ohlman: Ohlman had a productive week at the plate. The catcher recorded a hit in four of his last five games, and currently has a .255 average. One area of concern is his strikeout rate: the 25-year-old has 21 in 51 at-bats (41.2 percent).
33. Arturo Reyes: After a terrific performance in Week 1 and a break in Week 2, Reyes’ performance dipped in Week 3. The right-hander started twice this week. He allowed seven earned runs on nine hits in 5 2/3 innings on April 22 at Oklahoma City. However, Reyes respondd with a good performance Thursday, fanning four and allowing one earned on three hits in six innings at New Orleans.
After Week 3, the Redbirds, statistically, have one of the best pitching staffs in the PCL. The staff leads the league in ERA (3.30), but posts an 8-11 record. How so?
While Memphis pitchers have kept runners from scoring, Memphis’ lineup has not performed well recently. The offense, which started the season strong, sits last in the 16-team league in runs scored (66), with the next-worst team at 78.
The Redbirds are also among the league’s worst in batting average (.239). While they are fourth-to-last in that category, the Redbirds only have a .005 cushion between them and cellar-dweller Oklahoma City (.234).
Martini, Tilson and Peguero have above-.300 averages, but the rest of Memphis’ lineup needs to contribute if the club wants to get above .500.
After going 1-5 in Week 3, the Redbirds (8-11) sit last in the PCL American Southern Division. Round Rock (11-8) keeps its place above division rivals, New Orleans (10-11) rise to second after going 7-3 in its last ten games and Nashville (9-11) falls to third.
After Thursday night’s extra-inning loss, the Redbirds look to finish their road series with the New Orleans Zephyrs (MIA) before coming back home for a four-game series against league-leading Omaha Storm Chasers (KC, 14-7).
The Storm Chasers, who took down the Oklahoma City Dodgers 10-2 on Thursday, boast a strong lineup, led by outfielders Travis Snider (team-leading .348) and Jorge Bonifacio (.329). Memphis’ pitching staff has looked shaky at times, but they rank second in the league in ERA (3.38).
Deck McGuire will start Friday at New Orleans, followed by J.C. Sulbaran, Jeremy Hefner, Thomas Lee and Arturo Reyes.
Follow Thomas Simpson on Twitter @jthomasSimpson.
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