What We Learned From NOLA
The Redbirds can hit! The OKC series brought a unimpressive 2.33 runs per game average / 6.67 hits per game average from the ‘Birds. But the NOLA series greatly improved both averages to 5.75 runs / 9.25 hits. Shane Robinson continues to have a hit in each game he has started (for a six-game streak) and leads the team in the category with 11. Allen Craig and Nick Stavinoha are on five-game hit streaks.
The ‘Birds saw 6.1 innings against two lefties this series to make it 7.1 innings and 27 at-bats on the year. New Orleans’ John Koronka and Willie Collazo allowed five hits and two earned runs, fanning five Redbirds. Brian Barton and Allen Craig were responsible for four of those five hits (both have a .667 average versus lefties). The team totals a .185 average against southpaws.
On the Mound:
From 2.12 ERA to 3.23 ERA during the series, a lot of that has to do with Maekawa’s 9-3 loss in place of Mitchell Boggs. The team still ranks 3rd in the PCL for the category.
Aside from a productive outing by Clayton Mortensen, the ‘Birds starters looked a little dicey in the four-game series. A consistent theme has been falling behind early, with runs coming in the first inning in each game of the series’ four games.
Blake Hawksworth and Clayton Mortensen each picked up wins against the Zephyrs in their first starts of the season. Mortensen went five innings in his debut Tuesday night, giving up a run on two hits. Hawksworth overcame some early struggles in the first to post a solid five innings of work, allowing two earned runs with two walks and six strikeouts.
Left-hander Kat Maekawa turned in the only real stinker of the series,
filling in late after Mitchell Boggs was recalled by St. Louis. Used
solely as a reliever this season, the Japan-born Maekawa gave up a
team-high eight earned runs on 11 hits in the loss in his first start
in the U.S.
Adam Ottavino got the nod in the series final in his second start of the season and struggled through four innings of work. He finished the day allowing five hits and three earned runs.
Obviously, the state of the rotation is going to be flux with both P.J. Walters and Boggs now wearing Cardinals unifroms, so it should be interesting to see who all takes the mound in the coming days. If the’Birds can level the ship a little faster and not put themselves in bad situations early, they can improve on a fairly consistent first seven games.
The bullpen was called in to chew up some crucial innings against the Zephyrs in each of the teams’ match-ups. In total, the ‘Birds gang of relievers came in for 16 innings, giving up three earned runs.
Recalls by St. Louis hit the relief staff as well, with saves-leader Chris Perez making the move up to the big leagues. In his absecence, the ‘Birds are left with a revolving door of closers. Most recently, Jess Todd earned a save after two shutout innings in the eighth and ninth Thursday.
Other notables from the series include Royce Ring’s return to the mound aftering beginning the season on the disabled list, posting a one-hit appearance Thurdsday. Left-hander Charlie Manning notched three innings against the Zephyrs, giving up two hits over three innings.
Marco Gonzalez and Ian Ostlund each made two-inning appearances in the series, with both giving up one run.
Team Rating: B-
Heading in to Oklahoma City is kind of like starting over for the ‘Birds. The new pitchers will now have their chance at winning the series against the same OKC against which the ‘Birds original five went 2-1. Also, offensively we will see if the increased amount of hits is a product of the ‘Birds adjustments or a loose NOLA pitching squad.