St. Louis Cardinals: Memphis rides a hot streak into their home opener

JUPITER, FL - FEBRUARY 20: Tyler O'Neill
JUPITER, FL - FEBRUARY 20: Tyler O'Neill /

The Memphis Redbirds, the AAA-affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals, are once again out-performing the MLB squad and will bring a nearly perfect season in to their home opener on Tuesday.

During the 2017 struggles of the St. Louis Cardinals, the Cardinals’ minor league affiliate – the Memphis Redbirds – tore through their division on their way to the PCL Championship title. Still under the direction of the great Stubby Clapp, the Memphis Redbirds will host their 2018 home opener on Tuesday.

Oh, and there’s just this one thing too: the Redbirds are already riding a 4-1 record in 2018 while the St. Louis Cardinals currently sit one game behind .500. If you are keeping score at home, this means that the Memphis squad sits comfortably with an .800 win percentage!

While we Cardinals’ fans suffer through frustrating losses (see Russ’ Monday night review), the Memphis team has been showing immense firepower. In their season opener, the birds smashed two home runs in the form of Adolis Garcia and Max Schrock on their way to defeating the minor league team of the Texas Rangers by a score of 8-4.

The opening day starter for the Redbirds was John Gant who pitched six innings, allowed six hits while striking out five. Additionally, Gant allowed only one run before he was removed.

Daniel Poncedeleon – a special player to us at Redbird Rants – appeared in the seventh inning for his first official return to the mound following the terrifying 2017. He allowed only one hit in the seventh but it was inconsequential and did not affect the inning nor the outcome.

The other firepower came from Rangel Ravelo who went 3-for-4 and scoring three of the eight runs, Patrick Wisdom who went 2-for-3 with a double and two RBI, and Carson Kelly (the very one who couldn’t manage to get hits during Spring) who went 2-for-4.

The Memphis Redbirds posted their best single inning offense since 2011. In the seventh inning of their second-game offense, the St. Louis Cardinals’ AAA-team scored twelve runs. 12 runs! In 2011, the Redbirds scored ten runs in one inning but saw this eclipsed in game two of their 2018 season.

Tyler O’Neill smashed two home runs in this routing game, Schrock went 4-for-6, and Randy Arozarena recorded three RBI. On the mound, Dakota Hudson pitched 5.1 innings and allowed six hits and three runs but these didn’t matter as the Redbirds won their second game 17-4.

As though two wins weren’t enough, the St. Louis Cardinals’ minor league team decided to take game three of their opening series all while the Cardinals were dropping their series and/or coming within one win of a sweep. In game three, the Redbirds defeated the Ranger’s AAA squad by a score of 11-6.

Oh, and Tyler O’Neill smashed another bomb. Reminder: the guy is jacked! So much so that he lacks a neck!

The fourth game of the five-game set against the Rangers’ AAA team saw Jack Flaherty strike out 11 batters without surrendering a walk in seven complete innings. The Redbirds took game four by a score of 4-1.

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O’Neill continued his offensive tear (no home runs this time though), and Arozarena stole three bases in the contest.

The Redbirds dropped the fifth game of the series otherwise they would have a perfect season to date. In the loss, however, Kelly blasted his first home run of the 2018 season and Poncedeleon controlled five shut-out innings taking a no-decision in the loss.

That said, they carry with them the highly-respected 4-1 record into their home opener that will take place tonight, Tuesday, April 10.

In tonight’s opener, the St. Louis Cardinals’ farm team will welcome the NBA great, now University of Memphis head basketball coach, Penny Hardaway to throw out the ceremonial first pitch. In addition, the Redbirds ran a ticket special for the opening ceremonies honoring Mr. Hardaway by selling one cent tickets to opening day. The team sold 5,705 tickets under this special.

Next: Cardinals need to make changes

Tuesday night begins the first homestand of the season with a seven-game set facing off against the AAA teams for the Royals and then the Cubs. Fans in and around Memphis should make plans to attend.