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.
At the plate:
Center-fielder Shane Robinson has come out strong, posting a hit in each game of the series and leading the team in hits with six. All of the ‘Birds regular starters have recorded a hit, but have been fairly quiet at the plate, averaging 6.67 hits a game, not helping the run production of 2.3 runs per game. With 2008 sluggers Nick Stavinoha and Joe Mather not getting a hit until Saturday night, the offense just has not been able to find its groove.
Against Rangers Top Prospects:
No. 1 Neftali Feliz pitched four scoreless innings against the ‘Birds. He walked a ton of people, but looked pretty great doing. Those balls were crossing the plate at a lethal speed.
No. 2 Derek Holland was scheduled to start on Sunday’s game, but the rain helped the ‘Birds dodge those left-handed bullets.
Avoiding Holland, the ‘Birds only faced one inning of left-handed pitching. Gabbard came in on Friday to deliver a HBP on Jay and a walk to Mather before being relieved. Quite the different story on Saturday, when Ballard came in to pitch a hitless inning. Still, the LHP remains an untested facet of the game for the ‘Birds thus far.
On the mound:
The Redbirds have a certain standard to live up to this season after leading the PCL with a 4.34 ERA in 2008. So far so good, we thinks.
Mitchell Boggs started the’Birds season off right after getting the Opening Day nod for Memphis. He showed flashes of the same pitcher who lead the PCL in ERA last year, staying on the hill for six innings and allowing just one run on five hits. Boggs was a consistent starter for the ‘Birds and I think Memphis fans can expect much of the same in ’09. Boo-yah
Adam Ottavino might have collected the loss in his first taste of Triple-A action, but he put together a fairly solid performance in his Redbird debut Friday night. The right-hander allowed just one earned in a little over five innings of work, issuing three walks and fanning five.
P.J. Walters absolutely dominated in his first start of the year, with a seven-inning performance that saw the pitcher not allow a single RedHawk on base until he issued a walk in the top of the fourth and was hitless through five and two-thirds innings of work. If he stays on this kind of pace, opposing batters are going to be in for a long season.
Right-hander Chris Perez was the star of the bullpen over the weekend, adding a save Saturday to a resume that already included a win he collected the previous Thursday. In his two appearances over the weekend, Perez posted three shut-out innings with three strikeouts and two walks. Each of his two outings came when the game was within a run, which shows he’s a go-to-guy in tight spots.
Jess Todd was another member of the ‘Birds staff that had a couple of appearances over the weekend. His first came Thursday night in relief for Mitchell Boggs when Memphis was clinging to a one-run lead going into the seventh. He started off with a 1-2-3 seventh, but struggled some in the eighth and let the lead slip away when the ‘Hawks drove in two runs at the top of the inning. His appearance Saturday went a little smoother, as the right-hander went one inning without any Oklahoma City batters getting on base. If the last couple of games are any indication, Todd should be capable of chewing up some crucial middle innings when getting the call from the bullpen this season.
Team Rating: B-
With a solid starting rotation (still yet to see Hawksworth and Mortenson) and a few choice closers, the pitchers look to be a strong part of the team. Probably an A for starters and a B+ for relief. However, it’s the offense that is the biggest question mark. Where are our heavy-hitters? Giving the team a C for hitting is still probably generous. Average it together and there you have a B-.