After going 1-5 last week, the Memphis Redbirds (10-14) responded with a 2-3 Week 4. Although St. Louis’ Triple-A affiliate dropped a game to a division rival, the Redbirds won two of their four-game series against the league-leading Omaha Storm Chasers (16-10). Outfielder Charlie Tilson extended his hitting streak to 10 games before going hitless on May 4, and Memphis’ pitching staff is still one of the league’s strongest.
Here’s how the week unfolded:
Friday, April 29: Memphis (STL) 0 at New Orleans (MIA) 7
The Redbirds stalled offensively and lost their fourth-straight game, 7-0, at the New Orleans Zephyrs. Memphis had three hits on the night, and is hitting .164 during the losing streak (22-for-134).
Charlie Tilson (1-for-4) was the highlight of the night for the Redbirds, as the outfielder extended his hitting streak to eight games with a ground ball single in the sixth. Dean Anna (1-for-3) and Anthony Garcia (1-for-3) provided the other hits for the Redbirds. Meanwhile, Jacob Wilson (0-for-4) extended his hitting drought to seven games.
Starter Deck McGuire (0-3, 3.70) took the loss, fanning four, walking none and allowing four earned off 10 hits in 3 1/3 innings. McGuire is still looking for his first win of the season; however, he has only received three support runs in his five starts this season.
Saturday, April 30: Memphis (STL) at New Orleans (MIA) postponed due to weather. To be made up as part of a doubleheader on August 8.
Sunday, May 1: Memphis (STL) at New Orleans (MIA) postponed due to weather. To be made up as part of a doubleheader on August 9.
Monday, May 2: Omaha (KC) 4 at Memphis (STL) 3
The Redbirds returned home after the wet and losing road trip, and dropped a close 4-3 game to the Omaha Storm Chasers.
Patrick Wisdom, who came on with two outs in the ninth as a pinch hitter, plated two runners with a fly ball double to right field, and was in position for the tying run. However, Tilson (1-for-5) grounded out to short to end the game.
Memphis, which extended its losing streak to five games, out-hit Omaha (8-7), and had the leadoff runner on base in the fourth through seventh innings trying, but failing to mount a comeback.
Carlos Peguero (2-for-3) and Jonathan Rodriguez (2-for-4) led Memphis batters, while Tilson extended his hitting streak to nine games with a double in the sixth. Wilson (1-for-4) and Anna (1-for-3) recorded the only other hits for Memphis.
Starter J.C. Sulbaran (2-2, 4.18) earned the loss, striking out four, walking two and allowing four earned and seven hits in 6.0 innings. He was relieved by Heath Wyatt, Juan Gonzales and Sam Tuivailala, who fanned four batters and allowed zero hits total.
Tuesday, May 3: Omaha (KC) 6 at Memphis (STL) 7
Pinch-hitter Peguero was hit by an 0-2 pitch with the bases loaded and two outs in the bottom of the ninth, and the Memphis Redbirds ended a five-game losing streak with a 7-6 win over the Omaha Storm Chasers.
After entering the game with seven first-inning runs in 21 games this season, Memphis opened with three runs to get out to a 3-0 lead in the first.
Tilson’s (1-for-5) single in the first extended his hit streak to 10 games, giving him the longest hitting streak by a Redbird since Greg Garcia hit 10-in-a-row at the start of June last season. Anna (2-for-5) and Nick Martini (2-for-3) had two hits apiece for Memphis, Wilson (1-for-4) recorded his first homer of the season and all Memphis starters reached base during the game.
Starter Jeremy Hefner worked 5.0 innings while striking out five, walking two and allowing three earned on five hits in a no-decision. John Church and Dean Kiekhefer each recorded a hold in relief duty, and Tuivailala (1-1, 4.09) earned the win for the club. The right-hander fanned one and allowed two hits in 1 1/3 innings.
Wednesday, May 4: Omaha (KC) 6 at Memphis (STL) 8
Memphis scored eight in the first four innings to take game three of the four-game series with the Storm Chasers, 8-6. Memphis’ offense has been clicking as of late, as the club has scored 15 runs in the last two games after just 17 in the six games prior.
Michael Ohlman (2-for-2), Patrick Wisdom (2-for-3) and Matt Williams (2-for-4) led Memphis batters with two hits apiece. Tommy Pham (1-for-2), who joined the team from St. Louis on a rehab assignment, recorded a two-run single, a walk and a stolen base before his game was over in the fourth.
No other Redbird recorded a hit, including Tilson (0-for-4), who came into the game with a 10-game hitting streak. However, the Storm Chasers walked a total of eight Memphis batters.
Starter Arturo Reyes (1-2, 5.73) picked up his first win of the season. The right-hander struck out three, walked three and allowed five earned on seven hits in 5 1/3 innings of duty. Wyatt and Justin Wright each recorded a hold, and Church earned his first save of the season.
Thursday, May 5: Omaha (KC) 5 at Memphis (STL) 3
Mempihs dropped the final game of the four-game home series against the Storm Chasers, 5-3.
The Redbirds led 2-0 after three innings, but Omaha stormed back in the fourth to take a 4-2 lead and never looked back.
Anna (2-for-4) scored a run, while Martini (1-for-4) hit a two-run homer – his first of the season. Greg Garcia (1-for-4) added a double, and David Washington (1-for-4) singled in the seventh inning in his Triple-A debut.
Starter McGuire (0-4, 4.50) is still looking for his first win, recording his fourth loss of the season. The right-hander fanned three, walked three and allowed four earned on three hits in 3 2/3 innings.
Memphis’ offense has been inconsistent as of late, and with Carlos Peguero and Michael Ohlman on the disabled list, the Redbirds will be without two of their four best batters. During Week 4, three position players stood out for the Redbirds: Charlie Tilson, Dean Anna and Patrick Wisdom.
Before going hitless May 4 vs. Omaha, Tilson enjoyed a 10-game hitting streak, the longest by a Redbird since Greg Garcia in 2015. Anna has recorded two multi-hit games in the last three games, and at least one hit in five of the last six. Wisdom was a key player toward the end of Week 4, scoring two and being in position to tie the game in the ninth May 2 vs. Omaha.
On the pitching staff, starter Arturo Reyes was awarded his first win of the season May 4 vs. Omaha. The right-hander, who has appeared in one game fewer than the three starters ahead of him, is tied with McGuire and Sulbaran for second on the team in strikeouts (20).
Reliever John Church, who recorded his first save of the season May 4 vs. Omaha, has not allowed an earned run since April 18 at Colorado Springs, and currently posts a 0.71 ERA.
The offense has been the weak link of the 2016 Redbirds. Anthony Garcia recorded one hit during Week 4, and has one hit in his last eight games. The outfielder currently sits last on the team in average (.143, minimum 15 games). Greg Garcia recorded two hits in five games during Week 4.
On the pitching staff, starter Deck McGuire is still looking for his first win, and allowed eight earned runs on 13 hits in seven innings during the week. Reliever Juan Gonzalez allowed three earned in one inning May 3 vs. Omaha.
The Redbirds had to deal with a couple of players being sent to the DL, while being reunited with a former Redbirds star towards the end of Week 4 of the 2016 PCL season. Peguero and Ohlman were both sent to the 7-day DL May 5, and Tommy Pham was assigned from St. Louis to rehab a strained oblique. Meanwhile, a player from Springfield and Palm Beach were called up to replace the DL’ed ones.
Here’s how the week unfolded:
05/04/2016: St. Louis Cardinals send OF Tommy Pham on a rehab assignment to Memphis Redbirds.
05/05/2016: Memphis Redbirds place C Michael Ohlman on the 7-day disabled list.
05/05/2016: Memphis Redbirds place OF Carlos Peguero on the 7-day disabled list.
05/05/2016: David Washington assigned to Memphis Redbirds from Springfield Cardinals.
05/05/2016: Jesse Jenner assigned to Memphis Redbirds from Palm Beach Cardinals.
TCN Top 40 Prospects
The Redbirds have 10 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 underwent Tommy John surgery, ending his season.
5. Tim Cooney: Cooney was placed on the disabled list to open the 2016 season. The starter has shoulder soreness, and is not yet ready to pitch
6. Charlie Tilson: Tilson, who played for Springfield last season, is one of Memphis’ most reliable offensive weapons. Before going hitless May 4, the outfielder was enjoying a 10-game hitting streak. While he went 0-for-7 in the last two games of the week, the leadoff man is tied for fourth on the team in average (.273) and is first in stolen bases (6).
11. Sam Tuivailala: Tuivailala struggled in Week 1 of the 2016 season, but Memphis’ primary closer has been clutch since. The right-hander hasn’t allowed a run since April 21 at Oklahoma City, and has recorded 19 strikeouts compared to five walks. He even earned his first win of the season May 3 vs. Omaha, fanning one in 1 1/3 innings.
19. Greg Garcia: Garcia, who started the 2016 season on St. Louis’ roster before being moved to Memphis in Week 2, was a consistent performer last season for Memphis. However, Week 4 was tough for the infielder, as he recorded two hits in five games.
20. Jacob Wilson: Wilson was terrific at the beginning of the 2016 season (nine hits in six games), but he has mostly struggled since Week 2. After going seven games without a hit, the infielder recorded two hits in his last three games, including his first home run of the season May 3 vs. Omaha.
24. Patrick Wisdom: Wisdom has been off and on to start the 2016 season; however, his Week 4 was productive. The infielder came on as a pinch hitter in the ninth May 2 vs. Omaha, and plated two runners to cut the Storm Chasers’ lead to one. Two days later, Wisdom went 2-for-3 with two doubles against Omaha.
25. Anthony Garcia: Garcia has struggled at the plate in 2016. The slugger recorded one hit during Week 4, and has one hit over his last eight games. The outfielder currently sits last on the team in average (.143, minimum 15 games).
30. Michael Ohlman: Ohlman will not be available for at least the next week as the catcher was placed on the 7-day disabled list on May 5. Ohlman has recorded at least one hit in six of the past eight games, highlighted by a 2-for-2 performance May 4 vs. Omaha.
33. Arturo Reyes: Reyes was awarded his first win of the 2016 season May 4 vs. Omaha. Reyes fanned three batters and allowed five earned on seven hits in 5 1/3 innings.
After Week 4, the Redbirds, statistically, have one of the best pitching staffs in the PCL. The team is third in the league in ERA (3.77) and fewest hits allowed (198).
However, Memphis holds a 10-14 record due to the Redbirds’ unstable offense. The club has been one of the worst teams in plating runners, sitting last in the league in RBI (83), and has not been much better in hits with a .231 average, good for third to last in the league.
After going 2-3 in Week 4, the Redbirds (10-14) still sit last in the PCL American Southern Division, four games out of first. Round Rock (15-11) keeps its place above its division rivals, New Orleans (13-13) sits in second and Nashville (12-15) remains in third.
After the end of the four-game home series against Omaha (16-10) Thursday, the Redbirds (10-14) now hit the road for an eight-game trip that begins Friday, May 6 at the Nashville Sounds (12-15) and ends at Omaha May 13.
Memphis’ offense has played better as of late, and the club hopes to carry that offensive momentum into the road trip. However, the task may be tough as the Sounds sit in second in the league in ERA (3.25) and fourth in hits allowed (207).
After Deck McGuire’s start Thursday, J.C. Sulbaran will start Friday at Nashville, followed by Jeremy Hefner, Thomas Lee and Arturo Reyes.
Follow Thomas Simpson on Twitter @jthomasSimpson.
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