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Game Notes: Memphis Redbirds (6-2) vs Durham Bulls (6-3)

September 17, 2018 - Pacific Coast League (PCL) - Memphis Redbirds News Release

Memphis Redbirds (6-2) vs Durham Bulls (6-3)

Tuesday, September 18 - 6:05 p.m. (CT) - Huntington Park (10,100) - Columbus, Ohio

2018 Gildan Triple-A National Championship Game

RHP Kevin Herget (1-0, 4.41 ERA) vs. RHP Chih-Wei Hu (2-0, 1.50 ERA)

THE GAME

TODAY'S GAME: The Pacific Coast League champion Memphis Redbirds will take on the winners of the International League, the Durham Bulls (Tampa Bay), in the one-game Gildan Triple-A National Championship Game at the home of the Columbus Clippers. Memphis won back-to-back PCL Championships for the first time in franchise history. It was the fourth PCL title in Redbirds history, joining the 2000, 2009, and 2017 teams. This year's game will be a rematch of the 2017 game, which Durham won by a score of 5-3. The Redbirds finished the regular-season with a record of 83-57, slightly off their record-setting 91-50 2017 campaign. Memphis topped the Oklahoma City Dodgers 3-1 and the Fresno Grizzlies 3-1 to get to the championship game. Tomorrow's game will be televised on NBC Sports Network with George Grande and Jim Kaat on the call. The game will also be broadcast on www.memphisredbirds.com with Steve Selby and Durham's Patrick Kinas on the call.

ON THE HILL: Right-hander Kevin Herget will take the mound for Memphis in tomorrow's championship game. He made the start in the opening game of both the PCL semifinals and finals. In two postseason starts so far, Herget has tossed 10.2 innings, allowing five earned runs on five hits and six walks, while striking out 12 batters. Memphis has won both of his starts so far. Herget moved to the starting rotation at the end of April, and ended up leading the team in starts, innings pitched, and strikeouts. In 28 regular-season appearances, 22 of them starts, Herget was 9-11 with a 4.61 ERA in 138.2 innings of work. He racked up 121 innings on the year, and had only 34 walks. As a starter, he owned the lowest walks per nine innings pitched ratio in the PCL at 1.82.

The Bulls will send right-hander Chih-Wei Hu to the mound to battle Herget and the Redbirds. Coming into tonight's game, Hu has made two starts this postseason and has dazzled. He is a combined 2-0 in 12.0 innings of work, having allowed just two earned runs. He has allowed only 10 hits during the playoffs, has not walk a batter, and has struck out 11. His playoff ERA is 1.50. In 24 regular-season appearances with Durham, he was 5-7 with 4.66 ERA in 102.1 innings of work. He also made three relief appearances with Tampa Bay, going 0-0 with a 5.40 ERA in 10.0 innings.

HISTORY WITH DURHAM: Memphis and Durham will play each other for the Triple-A National Championship for the second-consecutive season. Since Triple-A switched to a one-game championship in 2006, Memphis and Durham have both made multiple appearances in the game. They have faced off twice, in 2009 and 2017, with Durham coming away with the win both times. Durham also made an appearance in the 2014 game, falling to Omaha. This will be the first time the game has featured the same teams in consecutive seasons since it was switched to a one-game format in 2006.

BIRD BITES

AROZARENA: Named co-MVP of PCL Playoffs; hit two home runs (3R, 2R) in series-clinching game four Saturday

BARON: In game two against OKC last Thursday night, went 1-for-3 with an RBI single, but the comeback fell just short

EDMAN: Was named co-MVP of playoffs after hitting .469 in eight games; .425 in 16 all-time playoff games w/Memphis

KNIZNER: Friday night, snapped three-game playoff hit streak; has hit safely in three of seven games thus far

MEJIA: Hit a bases-loaded triple in Tues night's win, giving him one hit and three RBI; hitting .382 (13-for-34) in playoffs

RAVELO: Has hit safely in all but one playoff game, and hit safely in 15 of last 16 dating back to regular-season

SCHROCK: In series against Oklahoma City, hit .500 (5-for-10) and had walk-off single in game three last Friday

SOSA: Hit .429 (3-for-7) in two starts (three total games) against Fresno in PCL Championship Series

THOMAS: Hit just .133 (2-for-15) in four games against Fresno after hitting .333 (5-for-15) in four games against Okla. City

TOVAR: Tues. night, went 3-for-4 at the plate, driving in two runs and scoring once to help lead Memphis to victory

URIAS: Last Sunday afternoon, moved tying runner to third base on a sacrifice bunt in the seventh inning; run later scored

WILLIAMS: Played with Durham in Triple-A National Championship Game last season; went 1-for-4 with run in game

YOUNG: Joining Memphis for his Triple-A debut; hit .289 between Palm Beach and Springfield with 21 home runs

BY THE NUMBERS

2 PCL Championships won by Memphis within 363 days. They won the title on Sept. 17, 2017, and Sept. 15 this year.

BY THE NUMBERS

59 regular-season quality starts by Memphis pitchers this season, including a stretch of 11-straight. Including one postseason quality start, Memphis has 60 this season. Tomorrow's starter Kevin Herget was tied for the team-lead with 11 quality starts this year.

BY THE NUMBERS

221 transactions for the Redbirds this season, a franchise record. The previous high was 160, which was set in 2016.

BY THE NUMBERS

87 regular-season wins away from AutoZone Park in the last two regular-seasons, a franchise record. Five additional postseason wins at AutoZone Park (two this year, three last season), giving Memphis 92 wins at different parks in the last two seasons.

THE SEASON

ABOUT THE LAST ONE: For the fourth time in franchise history, the Memphis Redbirds were crowned champions of the Pacific Coast League, beating the Fresno Grizzlies 5-0 on Saturday night.

Unlike their three previous home games during the postseason, the Redbirds did not need a walk-off win to clinch their second-consecutive PCL Championship.

PCL Playoff co-MVP Randy Arozarena provided all the offense for Memphis. With two runners on in the first inning, the outfielder blasted a three-run home run. He later hit a two-run home run in the eighth inning, and made a phenomenal catch in left field to rob Fresno of an extra-base hit.

The Redbirds sent Jake Woodford to the mound in the game. The right-hander did not disappoint. He threw 7.1 innings of shutout ball, allowing just three hits and one walk, while striking out six batters. After allowing a hit in the third inning, he retired 15 of the next 16 batters, including 12-straight.

Giovanny Gallegos earned the save for Memphis, getting the last five outs of the game. Infielder Tommy Edman was named co-MVP with Arozarena after hitting .469 (15-for-32) in eight playoff games.

THE BEST ONCE AGAIN: After winning 5-0 Saturday night, the Memphis Redbirds were crowned champions of the Pacific Coast League, defeating the Fresno Grizzlies three games to one. It was Memphis' fourth PCL title in franchise history, and their second-straight. Memphis also won titles in 2000 and 2009. In 120 seasons of professional baseball in Memphis, it is the 16th championship all-time. Infielder Tommy Edman and outfielder Randy Arozarena were named co-MVPs of the PCL Playoffs. Arozarena hit two home runs in Saturday's game, giving Memphis all the offense they needed. Edman hit .469 in eight playoff games, notching a hit in all but Saturday's game. Manager Stubby Clapp has now been part of three of Memphis' four titles since they joined the PCL. He played a crucial role on the 2000 team as a middle infielder, and has now guided the Redbirds to consecutive championships as manager.

HOW WE GOT HERE: For just the second time in franchise history, Memphis made the postseason in consecutive seasons. And, after winning Saturday, they won back-to-back championships for the first time in franchise history. The Redbirds started out the season on fire. They were 9-1 in the first 10 games of the season, and kept pace with the record-setting, 91 win 2017 team until mid-July. They reached their 65th win of the season on July 24, just one day later than the 2017 team's 65th win of the year. Memphis' 83 wins this season tied for the second-most wins in a season in franchise history. At one point, Memphis led the American Southern Division by 16.5 games, and ended up winning the division by 11 games over Nashville. After winning on August 11, Memphis also moved to a season-high 30 games over .500 with a 74-44 record.

RUN TO THE TITLE GAME: After walking-off on the Nashville Sounds on August 25 to clinch the second-straight division title, the Redbirds went on a tear in the postseason. They defeated the Oklahoma City Dodgers and Fresno Grizzlies 3-1 in both series to advance. The split the first two games of both series on the road before winning the final two of each series at AutoZone Park. Memphis outscored the opposition 35-to-29 during their eight postseason games. Three of their four home wins came on walk-off hits. One walk-off hit came off the bat of pitcher Giovanny Gallegos, and the other came on a squeeze bunt from Alex Mejia. Of Memphis' 78 playoff hits, only 15 have been for extra-bases.

ONCE IN A LIFETIME: Professional baseball has been played in the city of Memphis since 1877. In that span, only three teams have won back-to-back league championships in that time. The Memphis Egyptians won back-to-back titles in 1903-04, the Memphis Chickasaws won consecutive titles in 1952-53, and now the Redbirds have accomplished the feat. Additionally, after the Redbirds went 91-50 last season and 83-57 this season, they have won 174 games in the last two years. That is the most wins in a two-year span in Memphis history since 1933-34 when the Chickasaws won 174 games. The 1921-22 Chickasaws set the record for most wins in a two-year span by a Memphis professional team with 198.

NEW FACES, NO PROBLEM: The Redbirds won the PCL Championship for the second-straight season, and advanced to the Triple-A National Championship, despite the fact that the Memphis roster is almost completely different from the playoff roster last season. It is also almost completely different from Opening Day this season. Of the 13 position players who made an appearance in last season's playoffs, only two are still on Memphis' active roster. Wilfredo Tovar and Tommy Edman are those two players. Every other player has either been traded, released, or is at a different level of the organization. Of the 13 pitchers who appeared in the playoffs for Memphis last season, only two remain on the roster. Kevin Herget is the only active pitcher who appeared in the playoffs last season. Ryan Helsley made two appearance in the playoffs last season, but is currently on the Disabled List. Of Memphis' 25-man Opening Day roster, only nine of those players are still with the team today. Position players Steven Baron, Alex Mejia, Rangel Ravelo, Max Schrock, Wilfredo Tovar, and Randy Arozarena remain, while pitchers Kevin Herget, Andrew Morales, and Edward Mujica remain. Only Schrock, Ravelo, and Tovar were in the starting lineup for Memphis on Opening Day.

Memphis has now had a franchise-record 66 players on the roster this season, though two never appeared in a game before being taken off the roster (Jesse Jenner and Michael Wacha). It is the third-consecutive season in which Memphis has used a record number of players. Of the 66 players to be listed on Memphis' roster this year, 22 of them have made their Triple-A debuts with the 'Birds, and six others have been promoted for their Major League debuts.

BACK-TO-BACK FOR CLAPP: Earlier this month, Redbirds manager Stubby Clapp was named the Pacific Coast League Manager of the Year for the second consecutive season. Last season, he led the Redbirds to a franchise-record 91-50 in his first season at the helm of the 'Birds. They won the PCL Championship, winning 97 total games between the regular-season and playoffs. He became the first manager in Memphis history to win the award last season. This season, Memphis finished the year at 83-57. Clapp is the first Memphis manager to lead the Redbirds to back-to-back PCL Championships Clapp is just the third PCL manager on record to win the award in consecutive seasons, joining Dan Rohn of Tacoma (2004, 2005) and Jim Lefebvre of Phoenix (1985, 1986). With the ninth win of the season this year, he became the fastest manager in both Memphis history, and the 116-year history of the PCL to reach 100 wins. He is 174-107 in two seasons with Memphis, a .619 winning percentage, best in franchise history. He also sits fifth in wins among Redbirds' managers.

CAN'T STOP, WON'T STOP: On April 27, 2017, the Redbirds dropped their third-straight game and fell to 10-11 on the year, slipping into second place. The next night, they won their first of 11-straight games, moving into first place and never looking back. The Redbirds played the final 120 games of the 2017 season in first place, and played all 140 games of 2018 in first place. They have been in first place for the past 507 calendar days, and have played 260 regular-season games and 19 playoff games in that span.

PHENOMENAL PITCHING: While many Memphis hitters had successful years at the plate, Memphis rode its pitchers' arms to success this season. Last season, Memphis pitchers set the franchise record for best ERA in a season at 3.77. This season's pitchers shattered that record, posting a 3.54 mark. It was the second-consecutive season they owned the best ERA in the league. Additionally, they set the franchise record for most strikeouts in a season, fewest runs allowed (564), fewest hits allowed (1,152), and lowest opponent batting average (.248). Memphis' entire Opening Day, five-man starting rotation was promoted to St. Louis this season, and all five are still with the big league club. John Gant, Dakota Hudson, Austin Gomber, Jack Flaherty, and Daniel Poncedeleon have all played large roles in St. Louis' second-half turnaround.

TOP NOTCH PERFORMANCES: While Memphis raced to its second-consecutive PCL Championship as a team, they had many outstanding individual performances along the way. On April 23, left-handed pitcher Austin Gomber tied the franchise record with 16 strikeouts in eight shutout innings against the Iowa Cubs. Lance Lynn also had 16 strikeouts in a playoff game in 2010. Gomber's mark set the regular-season record. On June 30, infielder Luke Voit hit for the cycle against Iowa. It was just the second cycle in franchise history and the first since 2000. On July 19 at Omaha, right-handed pitcher Daniel Poncedeleon threw a one-hit, complete game shutout. It was just the 11th one-hit performance in Memphis history and the 17th complete game shutout. One week later, he made his Major League debut and threw seven no-hit innings. On July 22 against Colorado Springs, Tyler O'Neill launched three home runs, recording the sixth three-home run performance in franchise history. Four days later on July 26 at Salt Lake, Adolis Garcia recorded the seventh three-home run performance in franchise history, while also tying the franchise-record with eight RBI. Outfielder Oscar Mercado also had a five-hit, three-steal performance on July 21, the first such performance in Memphis history.

THIS YEAR'S HONOREES: Along with manager Stubby Clapp, many Redbird players took home awards this season. While Clapp took home Manager of the Year honors, pitcher Dakota Hudson and outfielder Tyler O'Neill were named to the All-PCL Team. Hudson was also named the PCL Pitcher of the Year. It was the first time in franchise history that Memphis had two players named to the team in the same season, and Hudson is the first Memphis player to win Pitcher of the Year honors. Earlier this season, Hudson, fellow pitcher Daniel Poncedeleon, and infielder Patrick Wisdom were all named PCL All-Stars. Additionally, Hudson and outfielder Randy Arozarena participated in the MLB Futures Game. Earlier this season, outfielder Adolis Garcia was also named the PCL Player of the Month for July. Four Memphis players also earned Cardinals Minor League Pitcher/Player of the Month honors. Pitcher Austin Gomber took home the award in April, infielder Rangel Ravelo and Hudson doubled up on the awards in June, and Poncedeleon and Garcia doubled up on the awards in July. Wisdom also became the first Redbird in history to participate in the Triple-A Home Run Derby.


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