The Memphis Red Birds (AAA - St. Louis) visited Zephyr Field in Metairie, Louisiana tonight to take on the New Orleans Zephyrs, the Miami Marlins AAA affiliate, in the first of a four game series.
Andre Rienzo, formerly of the Chicago White Sox has a career MLB record of 6-8 with a 5.89 ERA spread over the 2013 and 2014 seasons got the start for Zephyrs. He came out of the gate with a wild top of the first inning that featured two walks and a hit batsmen, with all the action coming with two outs already recorded in the inning.
In the bottom of the first, Zephyr’s backstop Vinny Rottino hit a home run that also plated third baseman Derek Dietrich and gave the Zephyrs the lead, 2-1.
The next Memphis offense came in the top of the third when Moore hit a dinger to right center off Rienzo tying the game at 2-2.
In the bottom of the fourth, the Zephyrs pulled ahead when Isaac Galloway hit a line drive single to center field that brought in the Jordany Valdespin from second base. After the fourth, the score stood at 3-2 with the hometown Zephyrs taking the lead.
Rienzo (4.35 ERA) struck out nine in six innings, but gave up two big home runs. Rienzo’s strikeout total was the season best for any Zephyr.. In the top of the 6th, Piscotty hit a long triple for Memphis that almost made it over the wall. The next batter, Red Birds first baseman Xavier Scruggs, took Rienzo deep to the same spot with Piscotty missed his home run. Memphis was back on top, 4-3
A little Zephyrs gamesmanship was on display when Valdespin in the bottom of the sixth was beaned hard by John Gast. After taking his base and and getting a visit from the trainer, Valdespin stole second base on the very next pitch.
Gast pitched six full innings for the Redbirds giving up three earned runs, while striking out two.
The bullpens held the score at 4-3 in the seventh, eighth and ninth innings. Right-hander Sam Tuivallala came in the top of the ninth and earned the save (3) for the Red Birds striking out two. Tuivaillala is one of the top prospects in the Cardinals organization with a fastball that can hit 100 mph.Gast earned his first win of the season (1-2, 6.75). Rienzo fell to 0-3 despite his 9 strikeout performance. Overall, the Zephyr’s fell to 8-11 on the season and the Red Birds improved to 8-12. The two clubs will fight it out three more times in New Orleans, with the next game coming on 5/1 with top prospect Justin Nicolino (2-0, 0.79 ERA) doing battle against the Redbirds’ Boone Whiting (0-1, 6.57 ERA).