The Buzz have had a rocky June. They followed up a seven-game win streak, the longest in Buzz history, with a six-game losing streak. They've blown leads in the late innings and won some close ones as well. So what the Buzz needed was a new start, against a new team in the Pacific Coast League, the Memphis Redbirds. Monday's series opener at Franklin Quest Field was the first visit the Redbirds have made to Salt Lake, and it ended with an 8-7 Buzz victory.
"We haven't won the first game of a series in a long time," said Buzz manager Phil Roof. "Our biggest objective is to stay loose and play winning baseball."They looked too loose, almost like the Buzz of Sunday night who blew an 8-4 lead going into the eighth inning. The Buzz came out with the win Monday night, but the game was in question at times. Especially when Pop Warner led off the ninth inning with a blast off Travis Miller into center field, which was caught at the top of the wall by Marc Lewis. A couple of feet right or left and the game would have been tied at 8.
The first 41/2 innings were back and forth. The Redbirds would score and the Buzz would retaliate with a run of their own. Placido Polanco started it off early for Memphis with a single up the middle. Then Buzz starter Mark Redman walked Warner, and a McDonald single scored Polanco for a 1-0 lead. Chris Latham smacked a deep homer down the right-field line to tie it at 1-1.
Jon Shave led off for the Buzz in the second with a hard-hit grounder down the first-base line that Brian Rupp misplayed. Shave advanced on Jamie Ogden's groundout, then scored on an overthrown ball.
Memphis shortstop Luis Ordaz, who went 4-for-4 with two doubles, a single and a triple, led off the Redbirds' third with a double. He scored on a McEwing double to tie the game at 2-2. But Shave put the Buzz back in front with a double that scored Brian Buchanan.
The Buzz opened the fifth inning with consecutive singles by Latham, Beltre and Koskie, followed by Chad Rupp's three-run homer that moved Salt Lake into a seemingly comfortable 8-3 lead.
Buzz manager Phil Roof didn't get to enjoy the lead too long. He was thrown out of the game early in the sixth for contesting pitches that resulted in strikeouts for two of his hitters.
"I'm out there to fight for my guys," Roof said. "I felt like the pitches were very questionable, and I went out to vent my frustration."
Going out meant that Roof would get thrown out of his first game this year. But he didn't seem to mind. "We got the win we wanted," he said. "We're starting out on the right foot."
A new homestand, against a new team, with a win in their pocket. Sounds like the first step to end a rocky June.