Memphis must’ve heard that chicks dig the longball because they have brought the lumber hitting 6 bombs through the first two games in the series and a PCL-high 14 blasts in the first week of the season. The last two homers they hit, both solo shots, helped propel them to the 2-1 win over Colorado Springs Wednesday night at AutoZone Park. The Sky Sox have now lost three in a row and they have not led in a game since Saturday.
Wednesday’s tilt was a matchup of two rehabbing arms with righty Matt Garza going for the Sox and lefty Tyler Lyons for the ‘birds. Both arms threw well, but Garza was tagged for a leadoff solo homer on the fourth pitch he tossed to Todd Cunningham and just like that it was 1-0 bad guys. It was the second game in a row that began with a Memphis leadoff homer… What are the odds of that?!
Lyons was dominant from the start. He retired the first 12 batters he faced before Garrett Cooper (of course) ripped a double to open the 5th. The next three would go in order and the same happened in the 6th, after a Tyler Heineman leadoff two-bagger, the next three sky Sox were retired. If you’re keeping track that’s 0-for-6 with RISP. Lyons’ night came to an end after that sixth inning and there’s a good chance he’s already in St. Louis, because it looks like he’s more than ready to return to the Bigs.
The Sox showed some life in the eighth and tied the game with three singles, but left a pair on to end the threat. With the score tied 1-1 in the bottom of the eighth, Chad Huffman hit against Rob Scahill and untied the game with a solo homer. Colorado Springs had the tying run at second with two down in the ninth, but could not score.
The Sky Sox scored one run on six hits, left six men on base and went 1-for-11 with runners in scoring position in the 2-1 loss Wednesday. Over the last three contests, Colorado Springs has 5 runs on 16 hits and have left 16 men on base. In the three wins to start the season, the Sox had 21 runs on 34 hits and 21 men left of base.
Lewis Brinson went through batting practice yesterday, was available to pinch run, and should be a full go tonight.
Tyler Heineman did his best to spark the Sky Sox offense and had the lone multi-hit game of the series so far for the team. He smacked a leadoff double in the 6th and legged out a bunt single in the 8th for his two knocks. It was the first multi-hit game of the season for the catcher.
Garrett Cooper extended his hit streak to six games with a double in the fifth. That stretch marks the second longest in the PCL behind Dustin Ackley and Raimel Tapia’s 7 gamers. He reached again in the 7th on an E6.
Yadiel Rivera returned to the hit column with an infield single and run scored in the 8th inning. He now has a hit in 4 of the 5 games he’s played in. He is 7-for-20 (.350)
Kyle Wren put the Sox on the board with an RBI single in the 8th. It was his sixth hit and second run batted in of the season.
Nick Noonan picked up his fourth hit of the season with a two-out single in the ninth, he moved to second on a balk, but advanced no farther as the game came to a close. He has reached safely in four of the five games he’s played in this season.
Matt Garza had himself a tough Spring Training with an ERA over 8.00 across six appearances and a strained right groin that put him on the DL in late March. Last night was the first 2017 appearance for the righty and he looked in good shape as he got through five innings with just the one run allowed on the leadoff blast by Cunningham. He finished up allowing two hits in total, he walked two and struck out four on 72 pitches, 42 of which went for strikes. He did not allow more than one baserunner to reach in an inning.
Stephen Kohlscheen tuned in a scoreless performance with two innings of work.
Rob Scahill retired three of the four batters he faced in the eighth, unfortunately the one he didn’t retire was Chad Huffman who took him deep to left for the go-ahead solo homer.
Play of the Game –
Cunningham’s leadoff homer against Matt Garza –
Pregame Interview – Dan Karcher caught up with Tim Dillard:
Enough about yesterday… On to tonight’s matchup.
Colorado Springs Sky Sox (3-3) at Memphis Redbirds (6-1) – 6:05 p.m. MST
RHP Paolo Espino (0-0, 4.76) at RHP Chris Ellis (0-0, 3.60)
NOTE: C Andrew Susac is slated to join the Sox on a MLB rehab assignment tonight in Memphis. Susac landed on the DL at the end of spring training with a Trapezius injury and will kick of 2017 with the Sox. The catcher played in 11 games with Colorado Springs last season before landing on the DL with an oblique injury. He was acquired by the Brewers from the Giants in a trade that sent Will Smith to San Francisco on August 1, 2016.
Sky Sox Starter: Paolo Espino readies for his second start of the season and first of his career against the Redbirds. He threw well in his first outing, delivering 5 2/3 innings allowing three runs on nine hits, he did not walk a batter and struck out seven. He has a very similar pitching style to fellow right-hander Hiram Burgos.
Espino was signed by the Brewers as a free agent in November, marking the fourth franchise he has been with. He was originally selected by the Cleveland Indians in the 10th round of the 2010 draft and spent the first seven years of his career there before joining the Cubs’ franchise late 2013. He was released by Chicago prior to the 2014 season and signed with the Nationals as a free agent where he pitched 2014-16. He has yet to crack the big leagues. Last season saw the 30-year old righty go 8-11 with a 3.30 ERA in 26 Triple-A starts. The 30-year old is 72-63 with a 3.73 ERA in 285 MiLB appearances, 185 of which have been starts.
Last time out: Espino climbed the hill against the Omaha Storm Chasers in his first start of the season and was effective, working into the sixth inning. He logged 5 2/3 frames and allowed three runs, all earned, on nine hits; he didn’t walk a batter and struck out seven. Two of the three runs came on a two-run homer by Whit Merrifield in the fifth inning. He finished with 82 pitches, 61 went for strikes.
Redbirds starting arm: RHP Chris Ellis gets the call for the Redbirds in game three of the four game series tonight in Memphis. Ellis has no record and a 3.60 ERA following one start in 2017. He faced the Baby Cakes on April 8 and gave up a pair of runs on three hits, walked two and struck out one. Ellis was originally drafted by the Angels in the third round of the 2014 draft out of Mississippi then traded to the Braves in the Adrelton Simmons exchange before the Cardinals collected him in a deal that sent Jaime Garcia to the Braves in December 2016. Being traded for two bona fide big leaguers must mean this kid is pretty good. According to Brooks Baseball, Ellis features a low-90s fastball, slider, curve and change.
Enjoy the game!