Game Notes: Memphis Redbirds (23-17) at Colorado Springs Sky Sox (24-13)
Memphis Redbirds (23-17) At Colorado Springs Sky Sox (24-13)
Thursday, May 17 - 7:40 p.m. (CT) - Security Service Field (8,500) - Colorado Springs, Colorado
Game #41 - Road Game #21 (11-9)
RHP Kevin Herget (1-4, 3.96 ERA) vs. RHP Corbin Burnes (1-1, 4.91 ERA)
TODAY'S GAME: The Memphis Redbirds and Colorado Springs Sky Sox will kick off a four-game series tonight at 7:40 p.m. in Colorado Springs. It will be the first time the two teams have met this season, and the first of 16 games they will play against each other this season. Memphis is coming off a series loss to the Nashville Sounds (1-3), while Colorado Springs is coming off a rain-shortened series win over the Oklahoma City Dodgers. Today's game will be broadcast on memphisredbirds.com with Steve Selby on the call.
ON THE HILL: Right-hander Kevin Herget is scheduled to take the mound for the Redbirds tonight. Herget will be making his fourth-straight start after starting the season in the bullpen. So far this season, Herget is 1-4 with a 3.96 ERA in nine appearances. In his last start against Oklahoma City, he pitched 6.2 innings of one-run ball, his best outing of the season, but the Redbirds were shutout, and he took the loss. Herget faced Colorado Springs three times in 2017, two in relief, and one start. Across those three appearances, he pitched 8.0 innings, allowing 15 hits, 10 runs, nine earned runs, three home runs, and four walks, while striking out six batters. He did not post a record against the Sky Sox, but Memphis went 0-3 in his appearances.
The Sky Sox are scheduled to send right-hander Corbin Burnes to the mound to battle Herget. Burnes has made seven starts this season, and is 1-1 with a 4.91 ERA in those games. The game will be Burnes' first-career appearance against the Redbirds. In his last start, he took the loss against Nashville, pitching 5.0 innings, allowing six hits and four runs en route to the loss.
HISTORY WITH COLORADO SPRINGS: Memphis and Colorado Springs have played every year dating back to 1998 when the Redbirds joined the PCL. The Redbirds hold the advantage in the all-time series record at 93-82. Memphis holds the advantage at home, as well, going 54-33 against the Sky Sox, while Colorado Springs holds the advantage in Colorado with a 49-39 record. The two teams have split the season-series over the last two years, posting 8-8 records in both years.
GARCIA: Recorded his league-leading sixth outfield assist Saturday night, cutting down a runner trying to take third
KNIZNER: Will be making Triple-A debut; was hitting .333 in 27 games with Double-A Springfield before promotion
MARTINEZ: Recorded a ground-rule double and scored in his season-debut with Memphis Saturday night
MEJIA: Notched three hits in Sunday's loss, his first game with three hits since August 27, 2017
MERCADO: Is hitting .167 (8-for-48) over last 13 games after hitting .341 (28-for-82) in 22 games to start the season
MUNOZ: Went hitless Friday, snapping 10-game hitting streak .385 (15-39); hit first-career grand slam Thursday
O'NEILL: Is 12-for-30 with eight runs scored, six home runs, and eight RBI against Nashville this season
RAVELO: Has hits in just one of last four games after recording hits in eight of his previous nine games
SCHROCK: Has struck out 11 times in last 17 games; had struck out just four times in first 19 games of season
TOVAR: Is hitting .200 (3-for-15) over last five games; was hitting .438 (14-for-32) in previous nine games
VOIT: Nine of 20 total hits this season are doubles, and one is a home run, making 50 percent of his hits for extra bases
WISDOM: Is hitting .333 (10-for-30) in last eight games after hitting .211 (8-for-38) in previous 11 games
BY THE NUMBERS
58 transactions for Memphis through the first 40 games of the season, including two today. That is 25 more than Memphis had on May 17, 2017
ABOUT THE LAST ONE: The Memphis Redbirds dropped the series-finale to the Nashville Sounds 7-4 on Tuesday, falling to 2-6 on the year against the Sounds.
Memphis starter Austin Gomber struggled for the third-consecutive start, allowing four earned runs and eight hits over five innings.
The bullpen did not fare much better against the Sounds. Arturo Reyes and Andrew Morales combined to throw the final four innings, allowing three runs on four hits, while walking three and striking out six.
The 'Birds were shutout until the seventh inning when they scored four runs to make the game close.
Offensively, seven of the Redbirds starters recorded hits, with Patrick Wisdom leading the charge, going 3-for-4 at the dish. Adolis Garcia, Wilfredo Tovar, Steven Baron, and Max Schrock all knocked in a run for the 'Birds.
POWER SURGE: Slugging outfielder and Cardinals' No. 4 prospect, Tyler O'Neill blasted his 12th and 13th home runs of the season in Monday's win. It was the third time this season that O'Neill had hit two homers in a game, and with home runs in Saturday and Sunday's games, it marked the second time this season that he had hit home runs in three-straight contests. While he did not hit a home run in Tuesday's loss, he did record a hit and a walk, extending his hitting streak to four games. So far this season, O'Neill is hitting .333 (36-for-108) in 28 games. Eight of O'Neill's last 12 games have come against the Nashville Sounds. In those games, he is hitting .400 (12-for-30) with nine runs scored, one double, six home runs, and eight RBI. Against the Sounds, O'Neill is also posting a .419 on-base percentage, a 1.033 slugging percentage, and a 1.453 OPS. O'Neill's 13 home runs put him second in the PCL, as well. In addition, he also sits in second with a .741 slugging percentage, and sits in first in home runs per at-bat ratio at 1/8.31.
WHERE'S WALDO?: The real question is where are Mike Mayers and John Brebbia? After Brebbia was recalled again by St. Louis yesterday, the two have combined to be recalled to St. Louis eight times over the first six weeks of the season. Since May 6 alone, both pitchers have been recalled twice and optioned once. So far, the Redbirds have had 58 transactions through the first 40 games of the season. The Redbirds are averaging 1.5 transactions per game. Last season, the Redbirds had just 33 transactions through May 17. They did not reach their 58th transaction until June 13 last season. Nine total Redbirds have been promoted to St. Louis this season, five of them being pitchers. Carson Kelly, Tyler O'Neill, and Luke Voit have each spent time with the Cardinals, while Brebbia and Mayers have made multiple appearances. Jack Flaherty, John Gant, and Austin Gomber have all been recalled at least once, as well. Steven Baron was purchased by St. Louis today.
APRIL TO MAY PITCHING DECLINE: Since the calendar switched over to May, the Memphis pitching staff seems to have hit a wall. In April, the Redbirds played 25 games, and the pitching staff owned a dominant 17-8 record, and posted a 3.17 ERA with 223 strikeouts, and 16 home runs allowed. In 15 games in May, the pitching staff has struggled. The Redbirds are just 6-9 this month, and are posting a 4.22 ERA with 145 strikeouts and 19 home runs allowed. In April, the Memphis starters were 13-3 with a 2.60 ERA and 13 quality starts. The starters struck out 127 batters, walked just 42, and allowed only seven home runs. This month, the Redbird starters are 5-7 with a 3.69 ERA and just five quality starts. In just 83.0 innings, the starters have struck out 95 batters, walked 29, and allowed 12 home runs. In April, the relievers were 4-5 with a 4.12 ERA and were 10-for-16 in save chances. They also struck out 96 batters and walked 29 in 83.0 innings, while allowing nine homers. In May, the relievers are 1-2 with a 5.17 ERA and are 5-for-7 in save chances. In 47 innings so far, the bullpen has struck out 51 and allowed seven homers.
GOMBER'S RECENT STRUGGLES: Starting pitcher Austin Gomber has struggled mightily in his last three starts. On Tuesday, the lefty lasted five innings, allowing four earned runs and two home runs, while striking out just four batters. Since tying the franchise record with 16 strikeouts against Iowa on April 23, Gomber has struggled to keep runs off the board. In his first four starts with Memphis, Gomber was 2-0 in 25.2 innings, allowing just seven earned runs on 21 hits and one home run, while striking out 27 batters, good for a 2.45 ERA, tied for 17th best in the PCL. Opposing hitters were hitting just .228 (21-for-93) off him, as well. After a brief recall to St. Louis, in which he did not pitch, the lefty started pitching for the Redbirds again on May 5. In those three games, he is 0-3 with an 8.22 ERA in just 15.1 innings. He has allowed 23 hits and 14 earned runs, along with six home runs, while striking out 21 batters. Opposing hitters are also hitting a combined .329 (23-for-70) off the lefty. His 8.22 ERA in that span is fifth-highest in the PCL, as well.
DOUBLES FOR DAYS: Infielder and Cardinals' No. 16 prospect Luke Voit has been a doubles-machine this season. Voit played in the first game of the season before being injured and missing 12 games on the disabled list. Since he was activated from the disabled list on April 19, Voit has collected 19 total hits, nine of which have been doubles. Voit has also hit one home run since coming off the disabled list, giving him 10 extra-base hits since being activated. The nine doubles in that time span is tied for fifth-most in the PCL. On May 9 at Oklahoma City, Voit went 4-for-5 with three doubles. It was the first time in his career that he had recorded three doubles in a game. Voit is second on the Redbirds in doubles, one behind Max Schrock for the team-lead, despite playing in 13 fewer games than Schrock.
WIZ SHOWING SOME LIFE: In Tuesday's loss, slugging infielder Patrick Wisdom recorded his first three-hit game of the 2018 season, going 3-for-4 at the dish, and scoring a run. Wisdom has now hit safely in six of his last eight games, and is hitting .333 (10-for-30) in those eight games. In his previous 11 games, he was hitting just .211 (8-for-38), and was hitless in five of them. After Tuesday's three-hit performance, Wisdom is now hitting .273 on the season with four home runs and 21 RBI. His batting average is now 18 points higher than it was nine games ago when he was hitting just .255.
STRUGGLING IN THE FIELD: Since recording five-straight games with no errors from May 5 to May 9, the Redbirds have struggled mightily on defense. After their five-game errorless streak, the Redbirds sat in second in the PCL on May 10 with a .986 fielding percentage, behind only Albuquerque. Since May 10, the Redbirds have made seven errors in six games, including two games where they made three. With the sharp decline in defense, Memphis now sits in fifth place in the PCL with a .983 fielding percentage. The Redbirds are now 6-9 in games they make an error in, and 17-8 in all other games.
SOMETHING ABOUT NASHVILLE: So far this season, the Redbirds have struggled mightily against the Nashville Sounds. In eight games against the Sounds this season, Memphis is 2-6, and is hitting just .243 against them. The Redbirds are 21-11 against every other team. They have hit eight homers against the Sounds, and are posting just a .270 on-base percentage, and a 4.70 ERA against them, by far their lowest and highest on-base and ERA marks against any opponents this season. Through 40 games this season, Memphis has faced five opponents and has an above .500 winning percentage against three of them, is notched at exactly .500 with Oklahoma City, but they have just a .250 winning percentage against Nashville. The only team the Redbirds have a lower batting average against is the Omaha Storm Chasers. However, despite their .238 batting average against Omaha, the 'Birds are posting a .306 on-base percentage, and the pitching staff has posted a 2.30 ERA, giving the 'Birds a 5-2 record against the Storm Chasers. The only Redbird who has had consistent success against the Sounds this season is Tyler O'Neill. In eight games against the Sounds this season, he is hitting .400 (12-for-30), with six home runs, and eight RBI.
BETTER SIDE OF THE STRIKEOUTS: Memphis is among the PCL leaders for strikeouts by the pitching staff, and is towards the bottom of the league in strikeouts by batters. The pitching staff has struck out 368 batters through the first 40 games (9.2/game), which is just behind Fresno (378) for the best mark in the PCL this season. 'Birds batters are also towards the bottom of the league in total strikeouts. Memphis batters have struck out just 280 times through the first 40 games, the second-lowest mark in the league behind Omaha (278). Through the first 40 games of the season, three Memphis starters have also set their career-highs in strikeouts. Daniel Poncedeleon set a career-high with 12 strikeouts on April 14 against Iowa, Austin Gomber set his career-high and tied the franchise record on April 23 at Iowa with 16 strikeouts, and Jack Flaherty set his career-high with 13 strikeouts Wednesday at Oklahoma City.
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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