Game Notes: Memphis Redbirds (9-8) vs. Round Rock Express (10-7)
Memphis Redbirds (9-8) vs Round Rock Express (10-7)
Monday, April 22 - 11:05 a.m. (CT) - AutoZone Park (10,000) - Memphis, Tennessee
Game #18 - Home Game #11 (6-4)
LHP Genesis Cabrera (0-0, 10.80) vs RHP Brady Rodgers (1-0, 1.50)
TODAY'S GAME: The Memphis Redbirds and the Round Rock Express are set to meet for the final time in this four-game series. In yesterday's game, the Redbirds earned their first walk-off win of the season in their first extra innings contest of the year. Edmundo Sosa launched a two-run shot on the first pitch he saw in the 10th to give the 'Birds the 5-3 victory. Today marks the last time that the two teams will meet at AutoZone Park this season until August 19-22. Today's game will be broadcast live on www.memphisredbirds.com with Steve Selby on the call.
ON THE HILL: Left-hander Genesis Cabrera is scheduled to take the mound in today's game, closing out this six-game homestand, and make his fourth appearance and second start of the season. In his last time out, his first career Triple-A start, on Tuesday vs. San Antonio, Cabrera tossed 3.2 innings, allowing three runs on five hits while also giving up three solo home runs. Today marks his first career appearance against Round Rock and first appearance against the Astros Triple-A affiliate. The Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, native is in his sixth professional season and second with the St. Louis organization. Cabrera entered this season ranked as the No. 6 prospect in the Cardinals system by Baseball America. He spent the bulk of last season at Double-A Montgomery, going 7-6, 4.12 (52 ER/113.2 IP). He was named a Southern League All-Star and ranked 3rd in the league with a .218 batting average.
The Express are scheduled to start right-hander Brady Rodgers today. The 28-year-old is slated to make his fourth start of the season and third road start. In his last time out, Tuesday at Nashville, Rodgers tossed his second straight quality start, going 7.0 innings and only giving up two runs on three hits. The Richmond, Texas, native has allowed two earned runs or less in all three of his starts this season and has held opposing batters to a .219 average (14-64). He is even stingier with runners on, yielding just four hits in 24 at-bats (.182). Rodgers is in his eighth professional season, having spent all of them with the Houston organization. He made just three starts in 2017 with Triple-A Fresno before having Tommy John ligament replacement surgery on May 2 of that year. Rodgers made 13 starts last year during his recovery, going 3-3, 5.07 (31 ER/55.0 IP) across various levels.
HISTORY WITH ROUND ROCK: The two clubs have met every year since 2005, with the Redbirds taking a slight 122-106 edge overall. The 'Birds also hold a 63-50 advantage at AutoZone Park and have gone 11-6 at this facility the past two seasons. The Redbirds and Express finished all-square at 8-8 in 2018, which was only the second time in 14 seasons that the two teams had split the season series. Memphis has not lost a season series to Round Rock since 2015.
After eight years as the Rangers Triple-A affiliate, the Express are the Astros top affiliate for the first time since 2010. The Express spent their first six years in the Pacific Coast League as the Astros Triple-A team, where the Redbirds went 55-38 from 2005-10, including 12-4 in each of the last two seasons before the Express switched affiliations.
ABOUT THE LAST ONE: Edmundo Sosa hit a walk-off two-run home run in the bottom of the 10th inning to propel the Memphis Redbirds (9-8) to a 5-3 win over the Round Rock Express (Astros) Sunday afternoon at AutoZone Park.
With the game tied at 3 heading into the top of the 10th, Jesus Cruz entered with the runner placed on second base as part of Minor League Baseball's extra-innings rules. He promptly got a pop-out and a strikeout, and then he took a comebacker off his back but kept his composure for a put-out to end the inning.
Max Schrock was placed on second to start Memphis' 10th inning, and he was bunted over by Ramon Urias before Sosa launched the game-winning home run to left field to cue the celebration.
Jake Woodford was outstanding in a start for Memphis, working 7.0 innings and giving up just one run on three hits with four strikeouts. He lowered his season ERA to 1.16 over four starts.
Facing many of the same Astros prospects he faced in last season's Pacific Coast League championship-clinching win at AutoZone Park on September 15, Woodford again had their number after 7.1 three-hit, shutout innings last season. In two starts at AutoZone Park against the Triple-A Astros, Woodford is 2-0 and has a 0.64 ERA with just one run and six hits allowed in 14.1 innings.
Sosa started the scoring for Memphis with an RBI single in the bottom of the second. The game was tied at 1 until the bottom of the sixth, when Adolis Garcia hit a sacrifice fly ahead of Andrew Knizner sneaking an RBI knock up the middle. The Express tied the game in the eighth with two runs off Chris Ellis.
Tommy Edman was 0-for-4 with a strikeout, ending his 10-game hitting streak. He hit .413 (19-46) during the stretch.
WALKING IN MEMPHIS: After matching a season-high nine walks in the second game of Saturday's doubleheader, the Memphis Redbirds rank 2nd in the Pacific Coast League with 80 walks through the first 17 games of the season. The Redbirds' .363 on-base percentage also ranks 7th in the PCL. John Nogowski holds the team lead by drawing 12 free passes.
TWO-HIT TOMMY: Through his first 14 starts of the season, INF Tommy Edman has seven multi-hit games, including three, three-hit performances, April 12 at San Antonio, April 13 at Round Rock and Wednesday vs. San Antonio. His team-high 10-game hitting streak came to end yesterday, but he has reached safely in 12 of 14 contests. His 21 hits and five doubles are most among the current Redbirds roster and he also ranks 2nd on the team with a .344 batting average.
EXTRA! EXTRA!: The Redbirds have recorded at least one extra-base hit in every game this season, collecting 29 doubles, three triples and 17 home runs. Adolis Garcia leads the team with eight extra-base hits, slugging three doubles and five home runs.
WALK IT OFF: The Redbirds walk-off defeat to the Missions on April 9 was the first time since Aug. 5, 2017 that the Redbirds had lost in such fashion. The following night, it marked the first time since June 23-24, 2014 that the Redbirds had lost consecutive games in the last at-bat of the game. The two walk-off defeats this season have already matched last year's total.
CAUGHT IN A STORM: The Redbirds' 11-run defeat on April 8 marked the first time that Redbirds lost by 11 runs or more since June 16, 2018, when the Redbirds fell 13-1 at El Paso. Additionally, Omaha's 12-run second was the first time since May 12, 2016 against the Storm Chasers, that the Redbirds had given up more than 10 runs in an inning.
Elier Hernandez and Nick Dini became the first two opponents to hit back-to-back home runs against the Redbirds since May 8, 2017 and Hernandez became the first player to post a 6 RBI against Memphis since June 9, 2018.
FIRST NO MORE: Following Memphis' defeat on April 6, the Redbirds fell out of first place for the first time since April 28, 2017. It also marked the first time since April 27, 2017 that their record fell below the .500 mark. 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 had been in first place for the 708 calendar days, playing 262 regular-season games and 20 playoff games in that span.
The Redbirds entered April 7 in T-3rd place in the division, which marked the first time since April 12, 2016, that they had fallen out of the top two spots in the standings.
WELCOME HOME BEN: Hailing from nearby Germantown, Tenn., new Redbirds manager Ben Johnson earned the first win of his managerial career on April 4 with the 'Birds 9-2 victory over the Storm Chasers. Johnson spent last season at Triple-A Durham (Tampa Bay), as part of a staff that captured the International League title before falling to the Redbirds in the 2018 Triple-A National Championship. The 37-year-old is also the youngest manager in team history, a mark that was previously held by Danny Sheaffer, who was 41 years old when he was named manager on June 10, 2003.
NEW KIDS ON THE BLOCK: The Opening Night roster featured 20 players that were not on the roster for Opening Night last season. Of the five returning players (Adolis Garcia, Austin Gomber, Daniel Ponce de Leon, Rangel Ravelo, Max Schrock) only three (Garcia, Ravelo, Schrock) were starters in the 2018 opener against Round Rock at Dell Diamond. Garcia, Gomber and Ponce de Leon all went on to make their big-leauge debuts last season with St. Louis.
FARM RAISED: Memphis' Opening Night roster featured 11 of St. Louis' top-30 prospects (Baseball America), including three of the top-10. Current prospects on the roster are: Genesis Cabrera (No. 6), Lane Thomas (No. 7), Andrew Knizner (No. 8), Ryan Helsley (No. 11), Tommy Edman (No. 12), Daniel Ponce de Leon (No. 13), Adolis Garcia (No. 15), Jake Woodford (No. 16), Edmundo Sosa (No. 22), Max Schrock (No. 25) and Giovanny Gallegos (No. 29).
BEAK-TO-BEAK-TO-BEAK?: 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 with their successive PCL titles in 2017-18. No team in Memphis, however, has been able to capture a third successive title.
WINNING WAYS: After the Redbirds went 91-50 in 2017 and 83-57 last 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 also 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.
KINGS OF THE HILL: After setting the franchise record for best ERA in a season at 3.77 in 2017, last year's staff 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 (1,160), fewest runs allowed (564), fewest hits allowed (1,152), and lowest opponent batting average (.248). Memphis' entire 2018 Opening Night, five-man starting rotation was promoted to St. Louis last season. John Gant, Dakota Hudson, Austin Gomber, Jack Flaherty, and Daniel Ponce de Leon all played large roles in St. Louis' second-half turnaround.
THE 2018 SEASON
THE BEST ONCE AGAIN: After a 5-0 victory on Sept. 15, 2018, 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 Game 4, giving Memphis all the offense they needed. Edman hit .469 in eight playoff games, notching a hit in all but the final game of the series. 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.
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 was almost completely different from the playoff roster during the 2017 season. It was also almost completely different from the 2018 Opening Day roster. Of the 13 position players who made an appearance in the 2017 playoffs, only two were 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.
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