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Game Notes: Memphis Redbirds (12-3) at Omaha Storm Chasers (3-11)

April 20, 2018 - Pacific Coast League (PCL) - Memphis Redbirds News Release

Memphis Redbirds (12-3) at Omaha Storm Chasers (3-11)

Friday, April 20 - 7:05 p.m. (CT) - Werner Park (9,023) - Omaha, Nebraska

Game #16 - Road Games #9 (6-2)

RHP Daniel Poncedeleon (1-0, 0.82) vs. RHP Heath Fillmyer (0-1, 9.00)

THE GAME

TODAY'S GAME: After the doubleheader yesterday, Memphis and Omaha are scheduled to play the series finale of a four-game set tonight at 7:05 p.m. The 'Birds swept the games yesterday winning 6-2 and 2-1. Jack Flaherty pitched a complete-seven inning game in the first game, while the bullpen combined to shutdown the Storm Chasers in the second game. Memphis has now moved past the 2000 team for the best start in franchise history. Memphis is now 12-3 through 15 games. Today's game will be broadcast live on www.memphisredbirds.com with Steve Selby on the call.

ON THE HILL: Right-hander Daniel Poncedeleon is set to take the mound for the 'Birds tonight. Poncedeleon will be taking the mound for the first time since last week when he struck out a career-high 12 batters. In three appearances this season, including two starts, Poncedeleon is 1-0 with a 0.82 ERA in 11.0 innings. He has allowed just 8 hits, and one run, coming off a solo home run, and has struck out 17 total batters.

Right-hander Heath Fillmyer will square off against Poncedeleon for the Storm Chasers. His Triple-A debut came against the 'Birds last week, and he was hammered for seven earned runs in just 1.2 innings. He performed better in his last start against Nashville, lasting 5.1 innings without allowing a run.

HISTORY WITH OMAHA: The Redbirds and Storm Chasers have played each other every year dating back to 1998. The Redbirds hold the advantage against Omaha with an all-time record of 155-136 against the Storm Chasers. Memphis also holds the upper-hand on the road, with a slight three-game advantage in the all-time series record at 74-71. After yesterday's doubleheader sweep, the 'Birds have won nine of 10 against Omaha dating back to the end of the 2017 season. So far against the Storm Chasers this year, Memphis is hitting .262 against Omaha pitching compared to .212 for Omaha. Memphis also holds the pitching advantage, boasting a 1.95 ERA compared to a 4.31 ERA for Omaha pitching.

BIRD BITES

AROZARENA: Six stolen bases is tied with Mercado for PCL lead; stole three bases in the third game of his Triple-A career

BARON: Joins St. Louis organization after spending entire career in Seattle organization

GARCIA: Is hitting .313 in 52-career Triple-A games with 15 doubles, three triples, and four home runs

KELLY: Third stint with Memphis; spent second half of 2017 on St. Louis roster backing up Yadier Molina

MEJIA: Fourth stint with Memphis, appearing with team in each of the last four years; made MLB debut last season

MERCADO: Six stolen bases is tied with Arozarena for PCL lead; currently on a seven-game hitting streak (.444, 12-27)

MUNOZ: Joins the team after spending the first three weeks of the season with St. Louis

RAVELO: Second season in organization and with team; helped lead Memphis to PCL Pennant in 2017

SCHROCK: Ranks second in the PCL in hits and eighth in batting average

TOVAR: Second season with Memphis; has hits in seven games this season

URIAS: Is making Triple-A debut after spending last five years in the Mexican League

VOIT: Played in the first game of the season before going on the Disabled List; Redbirds went 9-3 in absence

WISDOM: Reigning PCL Playoffs MVP; hit career-high 31 home runs for Memphis last season

BY THE NUMBERS

10-0 record for Memphis starting pitchers this season with nine quality starts and a 2.54 ERA

THE SEASON

ABOUT THE LAST ONE: The defending Pacific Coast League champion Memphis Redbirds' swept their first doubleheader of the season, topping the Omaha Storm Chasers 6-2 and 2-1 last night.

In the first game, Jack Flaherty dazzled the opposition. Flaherty threw the complete seven innings, allowing just two hits and two runs, only one of which was earned. The righty also struck out six Storm Chasers.

Wilfredo Tovar led the charge on offense, going 2-for-3 with a run, and his first home run of the year, a three-run shot in the second.

Sean Gilmartin made the spot-start for the 'Birds in the second game. The lefty pitched two innings, allowing three hits, one earned run, and one ball.

Adolis Garcia provided the only offense Memphis needed in the second game. The outfielder slugged his second home run of the year, a two-run shot in the fourth to put the 'Birds ahead for good. Edward Mujica earned the win in relief, and John Brebbia earned his first save of the year, striking out four in 1.2 innings.

BEST START IN FRANCHISE HISTORY: The Redbirds have been on fire to start the 2018 season. After the doubleheader sweep last night, the 'Birds have moved to 12-3 through 15 games. After those two wins, Memphis moved past the 2000 team that started 10-4 for the best start in franchise history. So far, the team has dominated in all aspects of the game. Offensively, they have outscored opponents 91-to-49. The club is hitting .305, has hit 15 home runs, 26 doubles, and two triples, while collecting 49 walks. They also have a collective OBP of .373 and an OPS of .825. The pitching staff has gotten off to a hot start, as well. The staff has a collective ERA of 3.10, have allowed just nine home runs, have struck out 117 batters, have a WHIP of 1.23, and are holding opposing hitters to a .233 average.

WELCOME BACK, LUKE: Slugging infielder and Cardinals' No. 16 prospect Luke Voit missed 12 games after being injured in the initial game of the season. The 'Birds went 9-3 in Voit's absence, and with his help, swept the doubleheader yesterday. Voit started both games yesterday, the first at first base, and the second as designated hitter. Voit went a combined 2-for-7 with a double and three strikeouts.

MAD MAX: Infielder Max Schrock has been nothing short of consistent in his first season at the Triple-A level. In 13 games so far this season, Schrock is hitting .397 (23-for-58), has scored 11 runs, has two doubles, one homer, eight RBI, and two walks, while striking out just three times. He currently is second in the PCL with 23 hits, and he is also third in total plate appearances per strikeout ratio at 20.33. Schrock also comes into tonight's game with the fifth-best batting average in the PCL at .397. Schrock has been a force on defense, as well. Despite making his first error of the season Tuesday night, the infielder has made just seven errors in his last 118 games dating back to the beginning of the 2017 season.

GARCIA'S GAME: Outfielder and No. 9 prospect in the organization, Adolis Garcia has proven he's a hitter at every level, and has been dominating this season with the Redbirds. So far, Garcia has played in 14-of-15 games, starting 13 of them, and is hitting .326 with four doubles, two home runs, nine RBI, and has swiped two bases. Garcia is hitting .308 (8-for-26) with runners on so far, and is hitting .571 (4-for-7, 2 2B, 4 RBI) with runners on with two outs and .750 (3-for-4, 2 2B, 4 RBI) with runners in scoring position with two outs. In his 52 career-regular season games at the Triple-A level, Garcia is hitting .308 (56-for-182) with 30 runs scored, 15 doubles, three triples, five home runs, 19 RBI, 12 walks and 42 strikeouts.

JACK WILL MAKE YOU MISS: Jack Flaherty has been dominant in his three Triple-A starts this season. The Cardinals' No. 2 prospect has dazzled, starting 3-0 in 20.0 dominant innings. Flaherty has allowed just 12 hits and six runs, five of which were earned. He has struck out 22 and walked just three in his starts.

FLASHIN' THE WHEELS AND POP: Outfielder and Cardinals' No. 13 prospect Oscar Mercado has gotten off to a hot start this season. Through the first 13 games of his Triple-A career, Mercado is hitting .347 (17-for-49). He has also recorded a hit in his last eight of the last nine games. Mercado has crushed two home runs in the last week, and has also continued his dominance on the base paths. A three-time stolen base leader, he has gotten off to a quick start this season. After stealing two bases Tuesday night, he has six steals on the season, second in the PCL with teammate Randy Arozarena.

BLINK AND YOU MIGHT MISS THEM: While the Redbirds have proved they can smash the baseball, starting the season by notching at least one extra-base hit in the first 14 of the first 15 games, they have also proved that they can put runs on the board by dominating on the base paths. On Saturday, they stole five bases as a team for the first time since June 13, 2016 at Nashville. The 'Birds have now stolen 20 bases as a team through the first 15 games of the season, and have been caught just eight times, good for a .714 stolen base percentage. The 20 stolen bases lead the PCL, three ahead of Colorado Springs. Memphis is one of 11 PCL teams with at least 10 stolen bases, and among those teams, they are seventh in stolen base percentage (.760) behind New Orleans, Colorado Springs, Oklahoma City, Albuquerque, Reno, and Nashville. Last season, Memphis did not record their 20th stolen base until the 52nd game on May 29.

GIVE ME GUILMET: After spending the 2017 season in Japan trying to get his stuff back, reliever Preston Guilmet is turning heads out of the Memphis bullpen. The veteran righty has been manager Stubby Clapp's most reliable arm out of the 'pen. So far, he has made five appearances, spanning 8.2 innings, allowing just two hits and one run, while striking out 12 and holding batters to a .077 (2-for-26) average. Guilmet leads the PCL with four saves, is tied for the lead with five games finished, and leads the league in fewest baserunners per nine innings at 3.12.

PITCHING PROWESS: Memphis' 2017 pitching staff was one of its main reasons for success. The 'Birds led the PCL in ERA (3.77), which was a franchise record (3.89, 1998 and 2003), and Memphis was the only club in the PCL with a team ERA under 4.20. They have gotten off to a hot start this season, as well. Memphis boasts a 3.10 ERA through the first 15 games, including a 2.54 ERA and nine quality starts from the starting rotation. The 3.10 team ERA is third in the PCL behind Nashville (2.27) and Oklahoma City (2.76).

CAN'T STOP HITTING: Before his promotion to St. Louis for his Major League debut, outfielder and No. 4 Cardinals' prospect Tyler O'Neill was on a tear to start the season. O'Neill played in 12 of 13 games for Memphis this season, and had hit safely in 10-straight before Tuesday night. Since the season-opener, O'Neill hit .432 (19-for-44) in those 11 games. O'Neill was tied for the PCL lead in home runs (6) and lead in RBI (18), total bases (41), and was tied for third with nine extra-base hits. The slugging outfielder was also tied for fourth in hits (19) and tied for fifth in runs scored (13), second in slugging percentage (.837), and third in home runs per at-bat ratio (1/8.17).

WINNING WAYS: The 2017 Redbirds became the winningest club in the franchise's 20 seasons with their 84th win on Aug. 21 against New Orleans. The previous record was 83 wins, set by the 2000 team. The 'Birds have continued their winning ways to begin the 2018 season. They have started 10-3, and have matched the 2000 and 2001 clubs with the best 15-game start in franchise history. With a win tonight, they would move into sole possession of the best 14-game start in franchise history.

Last season, Memphis became the first PCL team since Tucson in 2006 to win 90 games in the regular season. They finished the season with a record of 91-50, and went on to win an additional six games in the PCL playoffs, giving them a total of 97 for the year.

FASTEST TO 100: With the win Saturday night, second-year manager Stubby Clapp secured his 100th regular season win as manager of the Redbirds. The accomplishment made him the fastest manager in Redbird history to reach 100 games. He also sits at sixth on the all-time win list for the Redbirds and has the best winning percentage at .656. Clapp's regular season record now sits at 103-53.

2017 PCL CHAMPIONSHIP SEASON

START THE SLOW CLAPP: In 2017, first-year skipper Stubby Clapp led the Redbirds to their best season in franchise history. The 'Birds soared to a 91-50 record in the 2017 regular season and added six more wins in the PCL playoffs to win 97 total games on the year. Clapp was named the 2017 PCL Manager of the Year for his efforts, and was also named the 2017 Baseball America Minor League Manager of the Year. Clapp became the first minor league manager in the history of the St. Louis organization to win the Baseball America award. Clapp also earned the organization's prestigious George Kissell award.

FOR THE RECORD:

- Memphis' 91 wins in 2017 were the 10th-most in 119 seasons of professional baseball in Memphis dating back to 1877, and the season's .645 winning percentage was fourth-best

- Memphis was one of four teams in MiLB in 2017 with 90+ wins (Trenton Thunder [AA], 92-48; West Michigan Whitecaps [A], 91-45; Chattanooga Lookouts [AA], 91-49; Memphis Redbirds [AAA], 91-50)

- Memphis went 41 games over .500 during the regular season, the most by a PCL club since Albuquerque was 56 games over at 94-38 in 1981

- The Redbirds won the PCL American Southern Division by 22.0 games, and since divisions were established in the PCL in 1963, only two other teams won their division by 20 or more games (1970 Spokane Indians, 26.0 games; 1981 Albuquerque Dukes, 25.0 games)

- Memphis ended the season with its best ERA in franchise history (3.77) (3.89, 1998 and 2003), matched its best fielding percentage (.984) (.984, 2014), and had its third-best batting average (.278) (.284, 1999; .279, 2004)


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