Playoffs start Wednesday, right? Just checking because Colorado Springs and Memphis have played two games in the Springs and they have been very playoff-esque. Friday’s ended 4-3, a come-from-behind victory for the home team and Saturday’s finished 14-11 with the good guys on top in another come-from-behind effort, with a little EXTRA juice. With the win the Sox have won three straight and are 80-55 on the season, the second highest win total in franchise history behind the 84 wins by the 1992 Sky Sox.
The second game of the series got off to a wacky, wacky start right off the bat. Rangel Ravelo was at the dish and Hiram Burgos lost control of a pitch and it grazed off the front arm of the batter, then off the left side of his face. Ravelo left the game after a brief delay. Burgos walked Jordan Schaefer and up stepped Tyler O’Neill and his 29 home runs. He began the scoring with one swing, a three-run blast that put the Redbirds on the board and in front by a trio. Burgos finished the inning, but did not return and was seen sprinting to the clubhouse in the bottom of the first with a towel to his head.
The Sox didn’t get to Memphis righty Kevin Herget in the first, but Michael Blazek (the righty that replaced Burgos in the top of the second) smacked a two-run double against the righty in the second and pulled the Sox within one at 3-2.
After a rare and scoreless third, six runs combined crossed the plate in the fourth. Blazek began to run out of steam in the top half and was greeted by a single, an RBI double, a single, and an RBI single, 5-2 Memphis. Herget hit the RBI single to help his own cause during that sequence and moved to second on Nick Martini’s single, which ended Blazek’s night. Tyler Cravy was next out of the ‘pen and gave up a two-run double to Schaefer, 7-2 Redbirds.
Now, we’ve mentioned Blazek’s two-run double, and Herget’s RBI single, all that was missing was the #PitchersWhoRake hashtag. But the arms weren’t done. Mauricio Dubon singled to start the bottom of the fourth and moved to third on a sac bunt and a ground out, setting the table for Tyler Cravy. The pitcher BELTED his third career homer, second with the Sky Sox, over the wall in left for a two-run shot and made it a 7-4 Memphis lead. Add two more two out RBIs to the board for the Sox too.
The scoring kept coming, a triple and sac fly pushed the lead back to 8-4 in the top of the fifth, but the Sox made it a one-run game with a three-run bottom of the fifth. Chris Colabello hustled down the line for an infield RBI single, Dubon connected on an RBI groundout and Tyler Heineman added a ribby single before the inning closed out.
The sixth inning was the most active, in both scoring and momentum shifting. The top half saw the Redbirds add two runs, one on a Schaefer single, the other on an O’Neill knock, 10-7 visitors on to the bottom of the sixth. Arturo Reyes came out of the pen to face 9, 1, and 2 in the Sox order. Nick Noonan drove a single into left, but Kyle Wren grounded into a double play and it looked like a quiet frame ahead for the Sox. HOWEVA…Quintin Berry singled then stole second and scored on Ivan De Jesus’ single. Chris Colabello tripled De Jesus home and then scored on a Nate Orf single to tie the game. On the next pitch, not even enough time for the crowd to stop applauding the Orf hit, Dubon CRUSHED a two-run homer over the wall in left and the Sox had their first lead of the game 12-10. What. An. Inning.
The seventh was as quiet as they come, but the eighth was about as loud as they come, at least the bottom half. David Goforth retired the side in order in the eighth, but Mark Montgomery found trouble in the Sox half of the inning. He walked Berry, who then stole second, and scored on Colabello’s one out double, 13-10. Nate Orf singled, but Colabello was hosed at the plate for the second out and up stepped Dubon for the fifth and final time. Montgomery threw a fastball that zipped up over the batter’s head and off the barrel of his bat for a foul ball. Dubon squared up to the mound and had words for the reliever and a fracas ensued. Both benches and bullpens cleared, heated words were exchanged in the home plate circle, but cooler heads would prevail and the game resumed with no ejections or punches. Montgomery’s next pitch was hammered to the wall in left in the form of an RBI double. Dubon got the last laugh, no doubt about it, 14-10.
Rob Scahill gave up a run in the ninth, but nothing more and the Sox pulled down the 14-11 win, their third straight.
As if this series needed any extra juice to it! The Sox and ‘Birds are only in game two of what could be a nine-game, 10-day stretch against one another, and the staked were just raised.
Quick Hits from Saturday…The Sox picked up the 14 runs on 21 hits in eight innings…the 21 hits match a season-high for the Sox…Ivan De Jesus and Chris Colabello combined to go 8-for-10 with two doubles, a triple and four RBI from the 3/4 spots in the lineup…Mauricio Dubon had a monster night and tallied three hits and four RBI…he scored two runs and fell a triple shy of the cycle…Quintin Berry reached base four times with two hits and two walks, he stole two bases and scored three runs…Nate orf had two hits, an RBI, and three runs scored…Tyler Cravy had a two-run homer and Michael Blazek added a two-run double…Tyler Heineman had a hit and RBI…Yadiel Rivera went 1-for-3 with a run scored…Nick Noonan came off the bench and went 2-for-2…David Goforth earned the win with three scoreless out of the ‘pen…
Play of the Game –
So many to choose from, Cravy’s homer, Blazek’s knock, Colabello’s big night, the errant pitch by Montgomery, but we’ll go with Dubon’s go-ahead two-run homer from the five-run sixth. However there’s no video because MiLB is lame…So here is Tyler O’Neill’s 30th homer of the year.
Pregame Interview with Dan Acheson and Trainer Aaron Hoback, pt. 2 –
Colorado Springs Sky Sox (80-55) at Memphis Redbirds (89-50) – 1:30 p.m.
Game Notes / Listen Live at 1:00 p.m.
Pitching Probables: RHP Aaron Brooks (8-9, 6.02) vs. RHP Matt Pearce (4-3, 5.51)
Sky Sox Starter: Right-hander Aaron Brooks is slated to make his Sky Sox home debut this afternoon against the Redbirds in the third game of the series at Security Service Field. He was picked up off waivers by Milwaukee on August 23.. Brooks spent all of 2017 with the Iowa Cubs before coming to the Sky Sox where he went 8-9 with a 6.20 ERA in 24 starts, logging 138 innings, during which he allowed 102 runs (95 earned) on 181 hits. He’s walked 28, fanned 105 and allowed 27 homers, while allowing opponents to hit .320 against him. Brooks has not faced the Redbirds this season. His one start with Colorado Springs came against Round Rock and he went four scoreless allowing four hits and striking out one.
The Montclair, California native was originally selected by the Royals in the 9th round of the 2011 draft out of Cal State – San Bernardino. He has pitched in the Royals, Athletics, and Cubs organizations. The Royals traded Aaron Brooks and Sean Manaea to the Athletics for Ben Zobrist in 2015 and the Cubs flipped Chris Coghlan for Brooks in February 2016. All told, the righty is 52-42 with a save and a 4.57 ERA in 143 games (137 starts) in the minors and 3-5 with a 8.38 ERA in 15 MLB games. He made 5 appearances in 2016 due to injury and hasn’t pitched in the bigs since 2015 when he did so for both the Royals and the A’s.
Last Time Out – August 29 – No Decision at Round Rock –
Brooks went the first four innings of the first game against the Express in scoreless fashion. He scattered four hits and struck out one on 46 pitches, 30 strikes.
Redbirds Starting Arm: Memphis will counter with another right-hander in Matt Pearce. The 23-year old is 4-3 with a 5.51 ERA in nine starts with the Redbirds. He’s allowed 32 runs (30 earned) on 64 hits, 7 homers, hit 3 batters, walked 10 and fanned 33. Opponents in the PCL are hitting .323 against him. Pearce has yet to face the Sky Sox in his career. He was called up from Springfield where he made 17 starts to the tune of a 9-5 record and 3.11 ERA. Away from AutoZone Park he is 1-2 with a 7.65 ERA.
Pearce was selected by the Cardinals in the 13th round of the 2014 draft out of Polk State CC in Florida. The Bonita Springs, Florida native has made 85 minor-league starts and is 35-34 with a 3.23 ERA in them. Today will mark his 12th career start in Triple-A.
Last Time Out – August 29 – Win vs. Iowa –
Pearce pitched seven very strong innings against the Cubs and allowed just two runs on nine hits. He walked one and didn’t record a strikeout on 104 pitches, a whopping 73 of which went for strikes.
Dan Karcher (@SkySoxKarch) continues his 28th season behind the mic for Sky Sox games, he and I will have the call of tonight’s game from Security Service Field at 1:30 p.m. Sky Sox Warmup will get fired up at 1:00 p.m. MDT on XTRA Sports 1300.
Thanks for reading – See you on the radio,