VOL. 133 | NO. 98 | Wednesday, May 16, 2018
Redbirds Snap Four-Game Losing Streak
By Don Wade
As the Memphis Redbirds rolled up 91 wins in the 2017 regular season and won their division by an overwhelming 22 games, they had their hot streaks. But they also never really had a cold spell.
Outfielder Tyler O’Neill, who was called up by St. Louis in April for a brief stint, is still slugging home runs for the Memphis Redbirds. (Daily News File/Houston Cofield)
The longest losing streak of the season last year came in April and it was only four games long. That’s how a team goes 91-51.
But on Monday, May 14, the Redbirds were for the second time this season faced with the prospect of a five-game losing streak. As they did in early May, they avoided a fifth straight defeat. Outfielder Tyler O’Neill supplied the power and all the scoring the Redbirds would need by hitting two home runs in a 2-1 victory over the Nashville Sounds at AutoZone Park.
Recently at Oklahoma City, O’Neill hit a ball on top of a parking garage. It traveled so far, the stadium’s TrackMan Doppler radar system couldn’t track the ball, so the distance he hit it will forever be a mystery.
“He’s a guy that can mishit a ball and it can leave the park,” said Memphis manager Stubby Clapp, whose team improved to 23-16 and increased its first-place lead over the Sounds to three games. “When he does square it up, it’s a no-doubter.”
O’Neill had a call-up to St. Louis in April, but in eight days he got only seven at-bats.
“When those guys go up and don’t get regular at-bats, you do lose their timing a little bit,” Clapp said. “And he did a nice job coming back and working at that.”
With the Redbirds, O’Neill has homered twice in a game three times and now also homered in three straight games for the second time. He has 13 home runs through 27 games this season and is second in the Pacific Coast League in home runs. Since being acquired in a trade with the Seattle Mariners on July 21 last season, O’Neill has hit 25 home runs in 64 regular season games with the Redbirds.
He could be frustrated by sitting in Memphis, but instead has taken the approach that it’s a chance to improve his game.
“He’s humble,” Clapp said.
As for the losing streak, O’Neill says he wasn’t even aware the Redbirds were on the verge of losing five games in a row for the first time over the last two seasons. To him, it was just another day at the office.
“We show up at the ballpark every day expecting to win,” he said. “Most of the time we do.”
Starting pitcher Dakota Hudson picked up the victory, allowing one run in five innings. Hudson walked the bases loaded in the sixth inning, but reliever Edward Mujica worked out of the jam by getting two strikeouts and a fly out. Ryan Sherriff tossed one scoreless inning and Preston Guilmet closed the game with two scoreless frames for his seventh save.
“Every team goes through a rut,” O’Neill said. “Hopefully, we just finished ours.”
Not that this year’s team is comparing itself to last year’s record-setting team. That would just be an exercise in frustration.
Said Clapp: “We all knew what happened last year was very rare and special.”