RedHawks 3, Zephyrs 2

Oklahoma City rallied for two runs in the top of the ninth inning to overtake the Zephyrs in the first midweek day game of the season.

Max Stassi gave Oklahoma City a 1-0 lead in the second inning with a solo home run onto the pool deck. But the Zephyrs regained the lead in the fourth. Justin Bour started the rally with a single and Mark Canha followed with a double off the left field wall. Kyle Skipworth’s single to left scored Bour to tie the game. Juan Diaz then singled to drive in Canha.

Friday’s game

What: Oklahoma City RedHawks at Zephyrs.

When: 7 p.m. Thursday.

Where: Zephyr Field

Probable pitchers: RedHawks RHP Bobby Doran (0-0, 0.00 ERA) vs. Zephyrs LHP Adam Conley (0-1, 15.75)

Radio: WMTI-FM, 106.1.

Prospect watch

With a bevy of pitching prospects, the Houston Astros, the parent club of the Oklahoma City RedHawks, have come up with an innovative way to get their starters their work. Called a “Piggyback” pitching strategy, the Astros pair their starters in an eight-man rotation. Each starter throws five innings or 75 pitches, whichever comes first. Then the starter is removed at the top of the next inning, never in the middle, regardless of the game situation. The same two pitchers are paired in a set rotation, with an occasional reliever in between.

For instance, in Wednesday’s game, RedHawks starter Collin McHugh pitched four innings, throwing 72 pitches. Having met his quota for the day, McHugh was relieved by Jose Cisnero, who pitched the fifth inning, giving up one hit and striking out one. He, in turn, was relieved by Nick Tropeano, who pitched the next three innings, giving up one hit, striking out one and walking one and picking up the win. Closer Jason Stoffel pitched the ninth, retiring the side on six pitches, to pick up his third save of the year. That ties him for the league lead in saves.

The system is not unique to the Astros. The Cardinals used the Piggyback strategy in the low minors in recent years (and current Astros General Manager Jeff Luhnow was with the Cardinals then). The RedHawks did it last year for a while as well, but stopped after just a few weeks. It is rather unique to the upper level minor leagues, however. The Astros are the first Major League club to bring it to the Triple A level.

Extra bases

The Marlins called up right-handed pitcher Arquimedes Caminero on Wednesday. He joined the team in Washington D.C. and was expected to be activated for Wednesday night’s game against the Nationals. Caminero was 1-0 with the Z’s with 2.25 ERA in two games pitches… Zephyrs first baseman Justin Bour extended his hitting streak to seven games on Wednesday when he dropped a flare onto the infield, right in between the RedHawks shortshop, third baseman and pitcher. … RedHawks catcher Max Stassi homered for the second game in a row, hitting virtually the same spot on the pool deck in right field with both.

Lori Lyons