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Game Notes: Memphis Redbirds (83-56) at Nashville Sounds (71-68)

September 3, 2018 - Pacific Coast League (PCL) - Memphis Redbirds News Release

Memphis Redbirds (83-56) At Nashville Sounds (71-68)

Monday, September 3 - 12:05 p.m. (CT) - First Tennessee Park (10,300) - Nashville, Tennessee

Game #140 - Road Game #70 (43-26)

RHP Chris Ellis (6-4, 3.86 ERA) vs. RH Sam Bragg (NR)

THE GAME

TODAY'S GAME: The Memphis Redbirds and Nashville Sounds will play the final game of the 2018 regular-season today at 12:05 p.m. With their walk-off win last Saturday night, the Redbirds secured their second-consecutive American Southern Division title. It is the second time in franchise history they have won back-to-back division titles, the other time being in 2009 and 2010. Memphis is coming off a 1-2 series loss to the Round Rock Express, and Nashville is coming off a 1-2 series loss to the New Orleans Baby Cakes. Awards have been flying in for the Redbirds this week. Earlier this week, pitcher Dakota Hudson was named PCL Pitcher of the Year. Earlier this week, manager Stubby Clapp won the Pacific Coast League Manager of the Year award for the second-consecutive season, and Hudson and outfielder Tyler O'Neill were named to the All-Pacific Coast League Team. Today's game will be broadcast on www.memphisredbirds.com with Steve Selby on the call.

ON THE HILL: Right-hander Chris Ellis will take the mound for the Redbirds in today's season finale. Coming into today's game, Ellis is 6-4 with a 3.86 ERA in 15 appearances, 13 of which have been starts. Ellis has been phenomenal for the Redbirds over the last month. He was roughed up by Fresno on August 6, allowing eight earned runs in just five innings of work. However, since that rough outing, he has been nearly untouchable. In two piggy-back outings and two starts, Ellis has not allowed a run, earned or unearned. In those four games, he is 3-0 in 16.2 innings of work. He has allowed just nine hits and two walks in that span, while striking out 22 batters. Opponents are hitting just .158 (9-for-57) off him in this span.

The Sounds will send right-handed pitcher Sam Bragg to the mound to battle Ellis and the Redbirds. Bragg will be making his Triple-A debut against the Redbirds today. In 33 games, five starts, with Oakland's Double-A affiliate Midland this season, he is 4-5 with a 3.62 ERA in 69.2 innings of work.

HISTORY WITH NASHVILLE: Memphis and Nashville have played every season dating back to 1998 when the Redbirds joined the PCL. In that span, Nashville has been affiliated with Pittsburgh, Milwaukee, and now Oakland. This will be the final series the two teams will play against one another this season, and the final series of the regular-season for both teams. They have played 15 games so far this year, and Nashville leads the series 8-7. They won each of the first two series 3-1 before Memphis took last week's series 3-1. Memphis will have to win today's game to secure a season series tie. So far, Nashville is outpitching the Redbirds, while Memphis is outhitting the Sounds. Nashville has a 3.21 ERA, while Memphis has a 3.64 ERA. Memphis has a .254 average, while Nashville has a .233 average.

BIRD BITES

AROZARENA: Was placed on the Temporary Inactive List before Friday night's game

BARON: Has hit safely in 16 of his last 20 games since June; had a season-long eight-game hitting streak in that stretch

EDMAN: Saturday night, went 3-for-5 at the plate, scoring three times; hitting .323 (20-for-62) with Memphis

KNIZNER: Saturday night, rejoined Memphis for second stint of season and picked up where he left off; went 2-for-5

MEJIA: Friday night, drove in lone Memphis run with his fourth home run; is hitting just .184 (7-for-38) in last 13 games

RAVELO: Recently went hitless in three-straight but has dominated in last seven, hitting .346 (9-for-26) in that stretch

SCHROCK: Went 2-for-4 with an RBI Wednesday night; hit just .200 (11-for-55) in August

SOSA: Recently had back-to-back games with a home run for the first time in his Triple-A career; 5 HR with Memphis

THOMAS: Had three of Memphis' seven hits Friday night, recording his second three-hit game since joining Memphis

TOVAR: Last night, went 1-for-3 with a two-run double, giving Memphis the win; Sat. night, went 3-for-5 with two RBI

URIAS: Last night, went 2-for-3 at the plate with two doubles, snapping a three-game hitless stretch

WILLIAMS: Drove in all three runs Memphis scored from 8/19-8/22 on a solo home run and two-run home run

BY THE NUMBERS

493 calendar days since Memphis was not in first place (April 27, 2017); they have played 258 regular-season games since then

BY THE NUMBERS

112 steals for the Redbirds this season is a new franchise-record. The previous high was 110, set in 1999. The 'Birds stole three bases in the sixth last night to set the record.

ON THIS DATE

In 2005, Redbirds LHP pitcher Bill Pulsipher struck out 15 batters in eight innings against Albuquerque to tie the franchise record for most strikeouts in a regular season game. RHP Anthony Reyes had set the record three weeks earlier

THE SEASON

ABOUT THE LAST ONE: The Memphis Redbirds won last night's game in a close contest, 2-1 over the Nashville Sounds. There was no score until the sixth inning, but the 'Birds held on.

Memphis starter Jake Woodford was solid after having a rough stretch coming into the game. The righty threw 6.0 innings, allowing just one run on three hits and three walks, while striking out three batters.

Tommy Layne threw two innings, and Edward Mujica threw one inning to close the door on the Sounds. Mujica earned his 13th save of the season in the win.

Wilfredo Tovar drove in both of the Memphis runs with a two-run double in the sixth inning. Ramon Urias had the lone multi-hit game for Memphis, going 2-for-4 with two doubles to snap a hitless streak.

WOODFORD BOUNCES BACK: In last night's win over the Nashville Sounds, right-hander Jake Woodford had his best start since the first week of August. Last night, Woodford threw six shutout innings before getting into a jam in the seventh inning. He exited the game and the bullpen allowed one of his runners to score. He finished the game with a final line of six innings pitched, allowing one run on three hits and three walks, while striking out three batters. It was his best start since August 2 when he threw six scoreless innings against Sacramento. Since that time, he had started five games before last night's game and had struggled in all but one of them. In those five starts, he was 1-3 with a 7.56 ERA. He had allowed 21 earned runs in 25.0 innings of work. Opponents were hitting .343 (35-for-102) off the righty in those five games, and he had walked 13 batters, while striking out just 15. After last night's rebound performance, Woodford improved to 5-5 with a 4.50 ERA in his first season at the Triple-A level.

TOVAR STILL AT IT: Last night, infielder Wilfredo Tovar went 1-for-3 at the dish, hitting a two-run double in the sixth inning. His double provided the only two runs of the game for Memphis. This came one night after he went 3-for-5 at the plate, driving in two runs in the Memphis win. His last two performances continued his recent dominance at the plate. Since returning from the Disabled List on August 14, Tovar has appeared in 16 games, and has hit safely in 13 of those contests. In that stretch, he is hitting .364 (21-for-58), scoring seven times, hitting four doubles, one triple, one home run, and driving in nine runs. With his recent dominance at the dish, Tovar is now hitting .296 (105-for-355) in 107 games with Memphis this season. The 105 hits are his most in a season since having 112 with Triple-A Rochester of the International League in 2016. Tovar struggled at the plate in May and early June before flipping the switch. On June 21, he went 0-for-4 at the plate, falling to a .259 batting average. In 46 games since June 21, he is hitting .340 (55-for-162).

RAVELO GOES ON A TEAR: On August 15, infielder Rangel Ravelo left the Redbirds' game against New Orleans after being hit in the face with a pitch. He spent more than a week on the Disabled List before returning to the lineup on August 25. At the time of his injury, Ravelo was riding a 16-game hitting streak, tied for the longest such streak of his career. Ravelo went 0-for-8 in his first two games back with the 'Birds. However, in the last seven games, he has been finding some consistency. Saturday night, he went 3-for-4 at the plate, scoring once, walking once, and driving in two runs. Before Saturday night, he had recorded one hit in each of the previous five games, and had recorded at least one RBI in three of those five games. Thursday night, Ravelo drove in two of the three Memphis runs via a single and a sacrifice fly. The other run scored on a Lane Thomas solo home run. After last night's 1-for-3 performance, Ravelo is now 9-for-26 (.346) in the last seven games with six RBI and four walks. He leads current Memphis players with a .305 (105-for-344) batting average, and .390 on-base percentage.

URIAS BOUNCES BACK: Last night, designated hitter Ramon Urias bounced back to have a solid night at the dish. Before being transferred to Springfield a little over a week ago, Urias was one of the Redbirds' most consistent hitters. He had hit in eight-consecutive games, and had raised his batting average by .58 points from .221 to .279. However, when he was transferred back to the team earlier this week, he initially struggled. He went 0-for-13 in his first three games with the team before last night. In last night's win, he went 2-for-3 with two doubles and a run in the Memphis win. He is now hitting .261 (36-for-138) with the Redbirds this season.

QUALITY STARTS GALORE: After Jake Woodford's performance last night, 'Birds starters have thrown 59 quality starts in 139 games this season. They threw 55 total in 2017. Earlier this season, the Redbirds staff had a streak of 11-straight quality starts. Of the 18 pitchers that have made a start for Memphis this season, 11 of them have thrown at least one quality start. Sam Tuivailala, Sean Gilmartin, Luke Weaver, Tyler Webb, Tyler Lyons, Adam Wainwright and Connor Jones combined for 18 starts, and have not thrown a quality start. Dakota Hudson and Kevin Herget lead the team with 11 apiece, John Gant has seven, Daniel Poncedeleon has six, Austin Gomber and Jake Woodford have five, Jack Flaherty and Chris Ellis have four apiece, Ryan Helsley has three, Austin Warner has two, and Alex Reyes has one.

NEW STEALS RECORD: Friday night, Memphis stole three bases in the sixth inning to set the franchise record for steals in a season. The Redbirds came into the game with 109 steals, one shy of tying the franchise record. Max Schrock tied the record, swiping second and then set the record by swiping third. Edmundo Sosa stole second in the inning as well to extend the new record to 112 steals. This season is the first time the Redbirds have recorded at least 100 steals in a season since 2013 when they stole 104 as a team. In the 21-year history of the franchise, the 'Birds have only stolen 100 bases seven times in a season (1998, 1999, 2000, 2002, 2009, 2013, 2018). The 'Birds have only stolen 100 bases as a team four times since 2002. The previous franchise record for steals was 110, set in 1999. Before he was traded, outfielder Oscar Mercado led the team with 31 steals on the season. Randy Arozarena now has the team lead with 17 steals so far. The Redbirds also have the third-most steals in the PCL this season behind Colorado Springs' 161 and Fresno's 122. The Redbirds have only been caught 38 times on the base paths this season, giving them a 75 percent success rate.

THOMAS ON A ROLL: Last night, outfielder Lane Thomas went 1-for-4 at the plate in the Memphis win. Two nights before, he went 3-for-4 in the game, and he had home runs in each of his previous two games, hitting a two-run shot and a solo shot. It was the first time in his Triple-A career that he had homered in consecutive games. In 31 games with Memphis since being promoted from Springfield last month, Thomas is hitting .269 (34-for-127). Thomas is having a breakout season in his first year in the St. Louis organization. Between the two levels of the organization, he is hitting .262 (134-for-511), the second-highest average of his career. He has also scored 83 runs, hit 22 doubles, hit 26 home runs, driven in 85 runs, and walked 49 times, all career-highs. His six triples, and 16 stolen bases are just shy of his career-high marks. He has hit safely in eight of his last 10 games and is hitting .306 (11-for-36) in those 10 games.

INFIELDERS IN THE OUTFIELD: Friday night, usual infielders Alex Mejia and Max Schrock both played in the outfield for the first time this season. Schrock played left field, while Mejia played right field. It was the first outfield appearance for both players in their entire professional careers. Schrock has spent four years in the Minor Leagues, and has appeared in 319 games. He had played 2,721.1 innings in the infield before making his outfield debut last night. Mejia has spent seven years between the Minor Leagues and St. Louis. Mejia had appeared in 643 games in the field in his professional career before his outfield debut last night. He had played in 5,152.2 innings in the infield. They both appeared in the outfield again last night and Saturday night in the same positions. In Saturday's game, they each recorded the first outfield assists of their careers. Schrock cut down a runner trying to take third, while Mejia cut down a runner trying to take home.

STRUGGLES WITH THE DIVISION: Despite having a strong overall record of 83-56, and winning their division, Memphis has struggled mightily against its own division this season. Memphis has had to rely on their dominance over other divisions to get the job done. The 'Birds are 7-8 against Nashville, 7-9 against New Orleans, and 8-8 against Round Rock. Memphis has one game remaining this season. They lost the season series with New Orleans, and tied the season-series with Round Rock, and have to win this last game against Nashville to secure a season-series tie with the Sounds. Memphis has struggled to hit and pitch against the division this season. Memphis is hitting .274 (859-for-3136) against opponents in other divisions, and are hitting much lower at .260 (404-for-1555) against the division. Memphis pitchers are posting a 3.73 ERA (170ER, 410.0IP) against the division, while posting a 3.42 ERA (308ER, 811.2IP) against everyone else.

BACK-TO-BACK FOR CLAPP: Earlier this week, 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 is 83-56 with one game remaining. After winning last Sat. night, the Redbirds clinched their second-consecutive division title for the first time since 2009-2010. 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 174-106 in two seasons with Memphis, a .621 winning percentage, best in franchise history. He also sits fifth in wins among Redbirds' managers.


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