Game Notes: Memphis Redbirds (9-2) vs Iowa Cubs (3-6)
Memphis Redbirds (9-2) VS Iowa Cubs (3-6)
Monday, April 16 - 11:05 a.m. (CT) - AutoZone Park (10,000) - Memphis, Tennessee
Game #12 - Home Game #7 (5-1)
RHP Dakota Hudson (2-0, 4.35 ERA) vs. RHP Jen-Ho Tseng (0-2, 6.10)
TODAY'S GAME: The Memphis Redbirds return to action this morning for the series finale against the Iowa Cubs, and the final game of the season's first homestand. The 'Birds dropped yesterday's game 9-4 in the late innings. With a win today, Memphis would win its third-consecutive series to open the 2018 season. A win today would also put the put the team in elite company with the 2000 and 2001 teams with the best 12-game start in franchise history. Today's game will be broadcast live on www.memphisredbirds.com with Steve Selby on the call.
ON THE HILL: Right-hander Dakota Hudson will get the ball for the Redbirds today. So far, Hudson has made two starts, and is 2-0 with a 4.35 ERA. In his previous start against Omaha, Hudson topped his performance from his season-opener against Round Rock. The righty lasted 5.0 innings, allowing just six hits, two earned runs, and two walks, while striking out four. The bullpen backed him up, throwing 4.0 innings of shutout ball to snag the 3-2 win. Last year, Hudson faced Iowa twice in his final two starts of the year. Against the I-Cubs, Hudson was 1-1 in 11.2 innings, allowing nine hits, seven earned runs, one home run, six walks, and two strikeouts, good for a 5.63 ERA.
The Cubs are scheduled to send right-hander Jen-Ho Tseng to the mound. Tseng is coming off the best season of his short career, which saw him earn Chicago's Minor League Pitcher of the Year award, and saw him make his Major League debut. In one start against the 'Birds last season, Tseng took the no-decision in what ended up being a 4-3 win for Memphis. In that game, he pitched 5.0 innings of one-run ball, allowing five hits and no walks, while striking out two.
HISTORY WITH IOWA: The Redbirds and Cubs have played each other every year dating back to 1998. The Redbirds hold the advantage against Iowa with an all-time record of 155-134. At home, Memphis holds a 43-game edge over Iowa, with an all-time record of 94-51, while struggling to a 61-83 record against the Cubs in Des Moines. In 2017, the Redbirds dominated the Cubs, posting a 10-5 season-record.
Manager Stubby Clapp also has a player-coach history with Iowa manager Marty Pevey. In 2004, Clapp joined Triple-A Syracuse, who at the time was the affiliate of Toronto, and was managed by Pevey. Clapp played in 29 games for Pevey that season, hitting .287 (25-for-87).
AROZARENA: Stole three bases in the third game of his Triple-A career, and stole two Saturday night
BARON: Joins St. Louis organization after spending entire career in Seattle organization
GARCIA: Is hitting .312 in 51-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: Making Triple-A debut after hitting .287 in 120 games and stealing 38 bases with Springfield in 2017
O'NEILL: Hitting .410 in ten games this season with two doubles, one triple, four home runs and 14 RBI
RAVELO: Second season in organization and with team. Helped lead Memphis to PCL Pennant in 2017
SCHROCK: Hit home run in first game of Triple-A career, a three-run shot in the sixth inning
TOVAR: Second season with Memphis. Has played in nine MLB games with St. Louis and the New York Mets
URIAS: Is making Triple-A debut after spending last five years in the Mexican League
WISDOM: Reigning PCL Playoffs MVP. Hit career-high 31 home runs for Memphis last season
BY THE NUMBERS
9-2 record through first 11 games is one win short of tying 2000 and 2001 teams for best 12-game start
ABOUT THE LAST ONE: The defending Pacific Coast League champion Memphis Redbirds' bullpen faltered in the late innings, allowing seven total runs between the eighth and ninth innings to fall to Iowa 9-4.
John Gant continued his strong start to the season, allowing just three hits and two earned runs, both of which came off solo home runs.
Iowa took the lead on solo shots in both the third and fourth innings before Patrick Wisdom put the 'Birds ahead with a three-run bomb to left in the fourth. Oscar Mercado also notched his first homer of the year on a solo shot in the ninth.
Arturo Reyes took the loss for Memphis, allowing five hits and four earned runs in 1.2 innings to follow Gant. Sean Gilmartin pitched the ninth for the 'Birds, allowing three hits and three earned runs in the ninth to put the game out of reach.
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)
BEST START IN FRANCHISE HISTORY: The Redbirds have been on fire to start the 2018 season. Despite the loss last night, the team is 9-2. With a win today, Memphis would tie the 2000 and 2001 Redbird teams at 10-2 for the best 12-game start in franchise history. So far, the team has dominated in all aspects of the game. Offensively, they have outscored opponents 73-to-38. The club is hitting .311, has hit 10 home runs, 23 doubles, and two triples, while collecting 36 walks. They also have a collective OBP of .378 and an OPS of .838. The pitching staff has gotten off to a hot start, as well. Despite the bullpen faltering yesterday, the have a collective ERA of 3.31, have allowed just eight home runs, have struck out 91 batters, have a WHIP of 1.23, and are holding opposing hitters to a .235 average.
JUST JOHN BEING JOHN: Pitcher John Gant has been a force on the mound to begin the 2018 season. The righty is 2-0 in three starts with a 1.42 ERA. In yesterday's start, he gave up just three hits, two of them being solo homers, walked two and struck out three. Gant has been able to consistently go deep into games, giving him the league-lead with 19.0 innings pitched. He also owns the ninth-best ERA among qualified pitchers.
HAVE MERCY MERCADO: For the second-consecutive game, outfielder Oscar Mercado led the offensive charge for the 'Birds. After going 2-for-3 with his first Triple-A home run yesterday, Mercado is now hitting .361 (13-for-36) in nine games this season. Mercado has also proven himself to be a force on the bases. A three-time stolen bases champ, Mercado is four-for-six this season in stolen bases, and is tied with teammate Max Schrock for second in the PCL, behind only teammate Randy Arozarena (6).
TAKE OUT THE TAPE MEASURE, THAT ONE IS LONG GONE: Slugging third baseman Patrick Wisdom crushed a three-run home run yesterday to put the Redbirds ahead before they faltered in late innings. The homer was Wisdom's second in three days, having also hit one in the series-opener against Iowa. Wisdom is coming off a career-high 31 bombs last year. The homer gave Wisdom two on the young season through 11 games. He did not hit his second home run until the 20th game last season.
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 10 of the first 11 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. In addition, the 'Birds have now stolen 16 bases as a team through the first 11 games of the season, and have been caught just four times. The 16 stolen bases lead the PCL. Memphis is one of just five PCL teams with at least 10 stolen bases, and among those five teams, they are tied for second in stolen base percentage with Nashville at .800, and are narrowly behind Colorado Springs who lead the PCL with a .833 mark. Last season, Memphis did not record their 16th stolen base of the year until the 47th game on May 24 at Sacramento.
HOT BAT: After going hitless in the first game of the season against Round Rock, Tyler O'Neill has been a force at the plate. The slugging outfielder and No. 4 Cardinals' prospect has been on a tear, hitting .471 (16-for-34) in those nine games. He has 10 runs scored, two doubles, one triple, four home runs, 14 RBI, and just eight strikeouts since the season opener. He is tied for the PCL lead with 14 RBI, is tied for second with four homers, is second with 16 hits, is third with 32 total bases, is fourth with a .821 slugging percentage, and is ninth in the league with a .410 batting average.
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 all 11 games, starting 10 of them, and is hitting a staggering .351 with four doubles, a home run, seven RBI, and has swiped two bases. Garcia is hitting .350 (7-for-20) 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 51 career-regular season games at the Triple-A level, Garcia is hitting .312 (54-for-173) with 29 runs scored, 15 doubles, three triples, four home runs, 17 RBI, 10 walks and 40 strikeouts.
MAD MAX: Infielder Max Schrock has been nothing short of consistent in his first season at the Triple-A level. In 10 games so far this season, Schrock is hitting .386 (17-for-44), has recorded nine runs scored, one double, one homer, seven RBI, and two walks, while striking out just seven times. He is currently tied for the lead-league with 17 hits, one ahead of teammate Tyler O'Neill. He is also second in total plate appearances per strikeout at 23.00.
ICE COLD IN THE FIRST AND LATE: In the 2017 season, the Redbirds dominated the competition in the first inning, outscoring them 118-to-51, and the last three innings, outscoring opponents a combined 213-to-154. However, this season, the Redbirds have scored just two runs in the first, both coming in the last three games. While the 'Birds have only allowed four runs in the first inning, they have made up for their lack of runs in the first by scoring 25 runs combined between the second and third innings in just 11 games. In the last three innings this season, the 'Birds are narrowly outscoring opponents 20-to-14. Without the 12-run seventh inning against Round Rock in the opening series, the 'Birds would be getting outscored 14-to-8 in the last three innings.
CAN'T TOUCH THIS: Daniel Poncedeleon could not be touched Saturday night. After giving up a solo home run in the first inning, the righty went on to strike out a career-high 12 batters, topping his previous high of 10, which he accomplished in 2016. Poncedeleon was making his first start against Iowa since May 9 last season when he was struck in the head by a line drive and missed the remainder of the season. Poncedeleon earned his first win of the season, lasting 5.0 innings, allowing five hits, one run, and two walks.
ALL THEY DO IS WIN, WIN, WIN: 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 9-2, and are one win shy of matching the 2000 and 2001 clubs with the best 12-game start in franchise history at 10-2..
Last season, Memphis became the first PCL team since Tucson in 2006 to win 90 games in the regular season with a win at Colorado Springs on Sept. 3. 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.
MEMPHIS PLAYERS AND COACHES
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 .658. Clapp's regular season record now sits at 100-52.
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, given in honor of developmental excellence.
THE COACHING STAFF: Mark Budaska returns to the coaching staff as the hitting coach. Budaska has held the position since the 2008 season. Pitching Coach Dernier Orozco is set to begin his 13th season in the St. Louis organization, and his first as a Memphis coach. Bench coach Brian Burgamy will round out the staff in his first year in the organization.
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