With the Houston Astros calling up multiple players from the RedHawks earlier this week, Oklahoma City has turned to small ball.
And it worked to perfection Saturday night at Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark.
The RedHawks beat the Iowa Cubs 3-2 with the aid of two double steals that resulted in runs as they moved within one game of first place in the American Northern Division standings.
“I just think right now, losing (Domingo) Santana and Kikè (Hernandez) right now, the team trying to find out who they are, we have to play a lot of small ball,” RedHawks manager Tony DeFrancesco said. “Hit and runs, double steals; we just have to play a different style right now.”
Center fielder Robbie Grossman was the catalyst for the RedHawks, scoring from third on a double steal in the first to bring them within 2-1. He later gave Oklahoma City the lead when he scored on a double steal from second base when Iowa catcher Rafael Lopez’s throw went into left field.
Matt Duffy also homered for the RedHawks, a solo shot to left-center to open the second and tie the game.
PITCHING SOLID AGAIN
After a tough stretch on the mount as a team, the RedHawks got their second straight five-inning performance from their starting pitcher.
Paul Clemens pitched five solid innings despite being on a pitch count, allowing two earned runs on four hits and three walks.
Iowa (47-41) scored both runs in the first inning on a double by Javier Baez and a single by Kris Bryant.
Clemens then settled down before turning it over to Oklahoma City’s bullpen, which did not allow a run over the final four innings for the second straight night.
Left-hander Kevin Chapman earned the save — retiring all three batters he faced in the ninth — for the second straight night since returning from Houston.
VILLAR EXITS EARLY
Already dealing with a thin bench, it got thinner for the RedHawks when shortstop Jonathan Villar left the game in the third inning with an ankle injury.
He suffered the injury on the back end of the double steal in the first inning when he jammed his foot into the second-base bag.
DeFrancesco said he is unclear of Villar’s status.
Backup catcher Carlos Perez entered the game at first, moving Duffy to third, Joe Sclafani to second and Ronny Torreyes to shortstop.
“In Triple-A, it just seems that’s the way it is,” DeFrancesco said. “Perez did a nice job over there and guys rotated around the infield. It’s always nice to have like the super-utility guys like a Kikè Hernandez who can play infield and outfield.”
Pacific Coast League All-Star Gregorio Petit has not played since suffering a hamstring strain on June 28.
MANNY CRACKS LINEUP
New player/coach Manny Ramirez was in the Cubs’ lineup at designated hitter, but it didn’t go well for the 42-year-old former MLB slugger.
He went 0 for 3 with a walk, which opened up the ninth inning before Matt Szczur pinch ran. In his first three at-bats, Ramirez was retired on the first pitch.
The RedHawks (47-43) and Cubs finish their three-game set Sunday at 6:05 p.m. A win for Oklahoma City ties it for first place with Iowa.
Left-hander Rudy Owens (4-4, 5.45 ERA) is scheduled to start for Oklahoma City, while right-hander Kyle Hendricks (10-5, 3.58) is slated to start for Iowa.