Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Redbirds Fall to Tacoma in Game One of PCL Series

Posted By on Wed, Sep 15, 2010 at 7:48 AM

The Memphis Redbirds won a franchise-record 48 home games this year at AutoZone Park. So perhaps their soft showing in Game 1 of the Pacific Coast League Championship Series can be attributed to a scheduling oddity that had the Redbirds playing as "visitors" at Third and Union. With Cheney Stadium — home of the Tacoma Rainiers — undergoing renovations, the entire best-of-five series will be played at AutoZone Park, but with Tacoma "hosting" Games 1 and 2. Batting in the top of each inning and wearing gray uniforms didn't seem to suit the "road" team Tuesday night.

Behind a solid outing from starting pitcher Blake Beaven (six innings, two earned runs, six strikeouts) and home runs from Justin Smoak (yeah, a Smoak bomb) and Mike Wilson, the Rainiers ended a postseason winning streak of 10 games — dating all the way back to the 2000 season — for the Redbirds. Three singles and a walk after the first out was retired in the bottom of the fifth inning were enough to chase Redbird starter Evan MacLane and break a 3-3 tie. Smoak and Wilson drove in the go-ahead runs, after having each gone deep earlier in the contest.

A playoff hero a year ago for Memphis — with two wins and nary a run allowed — MacLane gave up all five Rainier tallies on eight hits in four-and-a-third innings of work.

The Redbirds took a 3-2 lead in the top of the fourth on an RBI single from Donovan Solano, who two innings earlier made a back-to-the-plate, sliding catch in short left field that is among the finest plays in the 11-year history of AutoZone Park. Four stellar plays by Joe Mather in right field kept the score tight, but Memphis simply couldn't reach base as the innings grew late. Following a leadoff double by Jim Rapoport in the seventh, the next nine Memphis batters were retired in order by the Rainier bullpen, six of them via strikeout. The heart of the Redbird batting order — Allen Craig, Mark Hamilton, and Mather — were a combined 2 for 11 with only a pair of singles from Hamilton.

Game 2 is scheduled for Wednesday night, with Tacoma "hosting" once more before the Redbirds can again don their red caps. Brandon Dickson (11-8) will take the mound for the Redbirds against Mauricio Robles (3-1) for Tacoma.

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