Memphis Redbirds (3-2) vs. El Paso Chihuahuas (3-0)
Wednesday, September 13 • 7:05 p.m. (CT) • AutoZone Park (10,000) • Memphis, Tennessee
PCL Championship Series Game #1 • Series Tied 0-0
RH Dakota Hudson (1-0, 1.50) vs. RH Chris Huffman (1-0, 1.42)
TODAY’S GAME: The Memphis Redbirds and El Paso Chihuahuas (Padres) begin the 2017 Pacific Coast League Championship Series tonight after last night’s scheduled opener was postponed until tomorrow. The Chihuahuas are the defending PCL champions, and Memphis is making its first finals appearance since 2010 (lost 3-0 to Tacoma). The Redbirds needed five games to defeat Colorado Springs in the opening round, while El Paso swept Reno in three contests. The Chihuahuas have not played in four days after the sweep and yesterday’s rainout. Today’s game will be broadcast live on Sports56/87.7 FM and internet webcast at MemphisRedbirds.com, with Steve Selby on the call.
ON THE HILL: Dakota Hudson is scheduled to start Game 1 of the PCL finals after also starting the opener of the semifinals last Wednesday. Hudson worked 6.0 innings against Colorado Springs in that game, giving up just one run on five hits. Hudson has won back-to-back starts dating back to his final start of the regular season and has a 3.21 ERA (4er/11.2ip) in those outings. He also pitched twice in the postseason last year for Springfield (AA), both out of the bullpen, without allowing a hit in 1.1 innings and recording a save. The Redbirds are slated to face El Paso’s Chris Huffman, who went 3-1 with a 3.31 ERA in seven regular-season starts for the Chihuahuas. He also started their playoff opener, giving up one run on six hits in 6.1 innings at Reno. He pitched across three levels in 2017, going a combined 8-8 with a 3.18 ERA in 24 starts and two relief appearances in Advanced-A, Double-A, and Triple-A. He struck out 116 and walked 30 in 144.1 innings this season.
SCHEDULE WITH EL PASO: The Redbirds took three-of-four games against El Paso earlier this season at AutoZone Park, and the all-time series is now tied at eight games apiece entering the 2017 playoffs. The clubs have never met in postseason play since El Paso debuted in 2014.
THIS DATE IN REDBIRDS HISTORY: In 2000, the Redbirds played Game 2 of the PCL Championship Series at Salt Lake. After winning Game 1, 12-4, the Redbirds lost to the Buzz, 8-4. Jose Rodriguez took the loss.
BIRD BITES (INCLUDES REGULAR SEASON AND POSTSEASON PLAY)
CALDWELL: Back for third stint with Memphis (5/28-6/13, 7/26-8/1, 9/1- ); hit .247 with 14 HR and 54 RBI in 92 AA games
DIAZ: Hits in six of his last eight games with five multi-hit contests; has made 11 starts at 2B, 28 at SS, 8 at 3B
EDMAN: Making Triple-A debut after hitting .261 with 22 doubles and eight triples in 119 games with A, A+, and AA
GARCIA: On base in all eight of his starts since returning from Double-A Springfield; .474 playoff BA is 3rd in PCL
LINO: Hit .381 (8-21) on recently-ended six-game hitting streak after having hits in seven of his first 16 games with MEM
MARTINEZ: Making Triple-A debut; played 60 games for Advanced-A Palm Beach and one for Double-A Springfield
MARTINI: Scored a run in six of the last eight games; 14-for-71 (.197) in his last 20 games
O’NEILL: Driven in 10 runs in the playoffs, most in PCL; has eight home runs in his last 12 games
TOVAR: Hitting .348 (40-115) with 23 RBI in his last 30 starts after going 5-for-45 (.111) with one RBI in the 14 games prior
VALERA: Played three games for STL 9/5-11 (1-5); .314 average in 117 games with MEM ranked 14th in PCL
WILSON: 5-for-10 with 5 runs, 3 RBI, 2 BB in 1st 4 gms with MEM; hit .248 with 17 HR and 66 RBI for Springfield (AA)
WISDOM: 31 home runs were t-5th in a season in Redbirds history and 89 RBI were t-7th; HRs ranked 4th in PCL
BY THE NUMBERS
2,554 days since the PCL Championship Series was last at AutoZone Park (9/17/10); Friday’s game will be 366 days since El Paso last hosted (9/14/16)
5 franchise playoff records for hits in the five games against Colorado Springs, two lows (2, Game 2; 4, Game 1), and three highs (19, Game 3; 18, Game 5; 15, Game 4)
ABOUT THE LAST ONE: The Redbirds became the Pacific Coast League American Conference champions after a 13-10 win over Colorado Springs in Game 5 of the series Sunday afternoon. Memphis trailed the best-of-five series 2-1 and needed to win two games to keep its season alive. The Redbirds also trailed the 2000 PCL semifinal series 2-1 before winning that series and ultimately winning the PCL.
The Redbirds hit three first-inning home runs to set the tone. Tyler O’Neill went deep for the third time in the series, followed by Adolis Garcia for the second time, and then Patrick Wisdom’s first blast of the set. Memphis led 8-3 until Colorado Springs scored three times in the bottom of the sixth to make it 8-6, but a Wilfredo Tovar two-run home run in the seventh was part of a three-run inning that essentially sealed the game. Mike Mayers earned the win with 2.1 innings of shutdown relief, pitching in back-to-back games for the first time this season. Josh Lucas came on and got the final out of the game to record the save.
FOR THE RECORD:
– Memphis’ 91 wins 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 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)
CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES RECAP: The Redbirds needed five games, and a lot of offense, to defeat Colorado Springs in the PCL semifinals. Memphis trailed 2-1 before winning the last two games, and the clubs combined to score 73 runs in the final three games in Colorado Springs after scoring 10 in the first two games in Memphis. Adolis Garcia hit .474 with four doubles and two home runs in the series, and Tyler O’Neill had three doubles, three home runs and 10 RBI. Aledmys Diaz added five doubles and two home runs and hit .348, while Jacob Wilson was 5-for-10 with five runs in his first four games of the season at Triple-A.
HOW’S THIS FOR CHANGE: The 2017 Redbirds put together their remarkable season despite nearly a complete overhaul of their Opening Day roster throughout the season. The Redbirds went from having 22 players with Triple-A or higher experience entering this season on April 6 to 15 on their first playoff roster Sept. 6, and the average age decreased by 1.5 years from 26 to 24.5.
Even in the span of clinching a playoff spot three-and-a-half weeks ago, the Redbirds have seen significant changes. (BOLD indicates now with St. Louis)
Opening Day (April 6) Division Clincher (Aug. 13)
Bader, CF Valera, 2B
DeJong, SS Mejia, SS
Pham, RF Martini, LF
Voit, 1B Piscotty, RF
Wisdom, 3B Ravelo, DH
Kelly, C O’Neill, CF
Garcia, Ant., LF Diaz, 3B
Valera, 2B Wisdom, 1B
Weaver, P Rosario, C
Also on Aug. 13, Harrison Bader was a pinch-runner and defensive replacement.
THE WINS KEEP COMING: 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. At the time the record was set, 17 Redbirds had also played for St. Louis this season, including six making their Major League debuts.
The Redbirds then became the first PCL team since Tucson in 2006 to win 90 games in the regular season with a 15-7 win at Colorado Springs on Sept. 3.
CHAMPIONS!: With a 12-7 win at Nashville Aug. 13, the Redbirds clinched the PCL American Southern Division title, with 21 games to play in the regular season. The playoff trip is Memphis’ fifth in franchise history, alongside 2000, 2009, 2010, and 2014. The Redbirds went on to win the PCL Championship in both 2000 and 2009.
IT’S NOT JUST ERA: Memphis’ pitching staff led the PCL in ERA (3.77), which is a franchise record (3.89, 1998 and 2003), and Memphis was the only club in the PCL with a team ERA under 4.20. The Redbirds allowed 4.0 runs per game, issued the fewest walks (366, 2.6 BB/9), and gave up the second-fewest hits (1216, 8.6 per game) in the league. Additionally, Memphis pitchers were second in the league in strikeouts (1121, 8.1 K/9).
MEMPHIS MASHERS: Memphis hit 164 home runs this season, which was the third-most in the PCL and its most since also hitting 164 in 2005. Memphis hit 107 all of last season and 97 in 2015. The Redbirds hit 83 homers at AutoZone Park this season after blasting 51 in The Bluff City all of last year and 49 in 2015. The club record for home runs in a season is 174 (2004).
STARTING OUT QUICK, FINISHING STRONG: The Redbirds scored 118 runs in the first inning and 78 runs in the second inning of regular-season games, outscoring the opposition 196-93 in the game’s first two frames. Additionally, the club outscored opponents 64-33 in the ninth inning and 16-2 in extras this season. Memphis scored first in 92 of its 141 games, which was the most in the PCL.
PROCEED WITH CAUTION: The Redbirds were 84-for-132 (.636) in steal tries this year but rounded into form after the early portion of the season. After starting the year 18-for-42 (.429), Memphis was 66 for its last 90 attempts (.733).
IN A PINCH: After starting the year by going 5-for-24 (.208), Redbirds pinch-hitters were 25 for their last 59 (.424). Overall, pinch-hitters were 30-for-83 (.361) on the season. Thirteen different players recorded a pinch hit, led by Rangel Ravelo’s six.
GOING EXTRA TIME: The Redbirds excelled in extra-inning games this regular season, posting a perfect 11-0 record in such contests while being the only team in the PCL undefeated in extra frames. The 11 wins were the most in the circuit. The ‘Birds outscored the opposition 16-2 in extras this year.
AMONG THE ORGANIZATION: The Redbirds peppered the Cardinals full-season minor league affiliate leaderboard in multiple categories:
– AVG: Valera (1st, .314), Martini (3rd, .294)
– HR: Wisdom (1st, 31)
– RBI: Wisdom (1st, 89), Martini (3rd, 70), Garcia (5th, 65)
– Stolen Bases: Tovar (t-3, 19)
– Wins: Pearce (t-1, 14), Helsley (4th, 11)
– ERA: Helsley (3rd, 2.72), Gallen (4th, 2.90), Hudson (5th, 3.01)
– Saves: Lucas (1st, 17)
– Strikeouts: Helsley (3rd, 137)
STREAKS GALORE: Part of Memphis’ success this season was due to long winning streaks. The Redbirds won a franchise-record 11-straight games April 28-May 8, bettering nine-straight wins during the 2000 and 2014 seasons, and then had streaks of seven-straight and nine-straight in July. The ‘Birds also won 12-straight home games from July 3-27 and seven-straight road games from May 2-8.
The Redbirds also won or split 27-straight series from April 18-21 at Colorado Springs through Aug. 15-18 versus Nashville (17-0-10).
MEMPHIS PLAYERS AND COACHES
CLAPP-ING FOR STUBBY: First-year skipper Stubby Clapp was named the PCL Manager of the Year, becoming the first Redbirds skipper to earn the honor in the franchise’s 20th season in the league.
WISDOM WOWS IN 2017: Patrick Wisdom was an All-PCL Team performer, Memphis’ first since Brock Peterson in 2013, thanks in part to a career-high 31 home runs and 89 RBI. The 31 homers ranked fourth in the PCL and were tied for the fifth-most in a season in Redbirds history, and the 89 RBI were tied for the seventh-most in a campaign in franchise history.
TWENTY-TWO TO ST. LOUIS: Magneuris Sierra became the 22nd different Redbirds to also appear on the big league club’s roster this year. Of the 22 players, 17 (Bader, Brebbia, DeJong, Flaherty, Gant, Grichuk, Kelly, Martinez, Mejia, Pham, Piscotty, Rosario, Sherriff, Sierra, Tuivailala, Voit, Weaver) still remain with the Cardinals as of today.
Nine of the 21 (Bader, Brebbia, DeJong, Flaherty, Lucas, Mejia, Sherriff, Valera, Voit) made their Major League debuts when promoted from Memphis.
VERY GOOD, VALERA: Breyvic Valera has hit in 39 of his last 47 starts (.359, 69-192) and 46 of his last 58 (.361, 83-230). After an 8-for-48 skid (.167) over 16 games dropped his average from .292 to .259, he is back at .314 after his last 64 games overall.
FULL MONTY: Mark Montgomery led league relievers in lowest opponent batting average (.193) and fewest baserunners/9ip (9.18) and was third in fewest BB/9ip (1.89).
He allowed runs in only 14 of his 46 outings and posted a declining ERA April-July this season (2.92, 2.45, 2.03, 1.35).
LUCAS LOCKS IT DOWN: Josh Lucas was third in the PCL in saves (17) and led the league in fewest walks/9ip (1.65). He also had eight wins in relief this season. In the last three seasons, Lucas has saved 41-of-50 chances.
MIDSEASON HONOREES: Carson Kelly and Ryan Sherriff represented the Redbirds at the Triple-A All-Star Game in Tacoma, with Luke Weaver selected but unable to play due to a promotion to St. Louis. Kelly started at catcher and singled, and Sherriff had a key strikeout in the ninth to help the PCL win. In addition, Jack Flaherty participated in the MLB Futures Game during All-Star festivities in Miami. Flaherty allowed two runs in the sixth inning but added a strikeout.