Memphis Redbirds Notebook: 2010 Week 22

The Redbirds return to the Pacific Coast League playoffs representing the American North. They face Oklahoma City starting Wednesday at AutoZone Park.

This report covers the period from Thursday, September 2 through Tuesday, September 7.

 

Manager Chris Maloney's defending Pacific Coast League champion club finished the regular season with an 82-62 record after a 3-2 final week. In the process, the Redbirds tied the Iowa Cubs for first place in the American North Division and enter the playoffs via tie breaker. The two clubs' 82 wins are the most in the Triple-A league this season.

 

Recapping the week, the Redbirds achieved a first-place tie with a win to close off the home series against New Orleans on Thursday, taking three of four. It was their only day holding even a share of the lead during the entire second half until the final day.

 

Heading to Des Moines for the season-ending four-game series against the Iowa Cubs, the Redbirds needed just a split to reach the playoffs due to the tie breaker advantage, a better intra-divisional record.

 

Memphis dropped games one and two set up a game three elimination contest on Sunday. After forfeiting leads of 4-0 and 7-2, Redbirds relievers tossed nine scoreless innings in relief until they took the lead and the win in the 15th inning on an Allen Craig RBI single.

 

On Labor Day, the Redbirds again got out ahead of the Cubs in the final game of the regular season. Their 2-0 lead was short-lived as soon they were behind 6-3, but knotted the game in the seventh. Memphis took the lead for good on Mark Hamilton's dramatic ninth-inning home run.

 

During the period, the Redbirds starters could not translate their efforts into wins as relievers Rich Rundles (7-1), Tyler Norrick (3-1) and Adam Reifer (1-0) took victories. Losses were assumed by Matt Scherer (4-2) and Lance Lynn (13-10). Josh Kinney (17) converted both his save opportunities, including in the final, clinching game on Monday.

 

On the Move

 

One thing that always changes is the Redbirds' roster. This past week was no exception.

 

On Saturday, infielder Kevin Howard was placed on the suspended list. He is not expected to return this year and most likely will depart as a minor league free agent during the off-season.

 

In the corresponding transaction, infielder Donovan Solano was activated off the disabled list. He had been placed there on the 26th retroactive to the 24th with an undisclosed illness.

 

Because of the 15-inning game on Sunday, the Cardinals promoted reliever Adam Reifer from Double-A Springfield. He tossed a scoreless eighth inning in Sunday's clincher, picking up the win in his initial Triple-A appearance.

 

In a bit of a surprise, the parent Cardinals recalled shortstop Tyler Greene on Tuesday, leaving Solano to man shortstop for the Redbirds in the playoffs.

 

On the Mend

 

Right-handed reliever Pete Parise (shoulder surgery) and outfielder Shane Robinson (shoulder separation) are the only Redbirds that remain on the disabled list. Both are out for the remainder of the season.

 

Franchise Milestones

 

When P.J. Walters collected his eighth win of the 2010 season on August 28, he broke a tie with Larry Luebbers (1998-99) to become the club's career leader in wins with 25.

 

Earlier, Walters also eclipsed Anthony Reyes' previous Memphis career high of 298 strikeouts. The 25-year-old now has 341 in a Redbirds uniform since first joining them partway through the 2008 season.

 

Who's Hot

 

Mark Hamilton has been strong down the stretch for the Redbirds. The former Tulane star is hitting .293 (34-for-116) with 10 home runs, 27 RBI and 25 runs scored over his last 31 games. Despite playing in just 72 games for Memphis this year, Hamilton leads the club with 18 home runs. He is 18-for-44 (.410) with five homers and 15 RBI over the last 11 games.

 

Outfielder Allen Craig is 21 for his last 56 (.375).

 

Outfielder Joe Mather is 10-for-33 (.303) with six RBI in his last eight games.

 

Though he is not a regular, when Donovan Solano is called upon, he is ready. The infielder has hits in 19 of his last 23 games, during which he is 34-for-92, .370. As a pinch hitter this season, Solano is 6-for-17, .353, tops on the active roster.

 

Reliever Eduardo Sanchez hasn't allowed an earned run since his July 28 appearance. That is 16 1/3 innings of shutout baseball spanning 14 outings while striking out 20 batters. His ERA has dropped from 4.22 to its current 1.67 in that same stretch.

 

Veteran lefty Rich Rundles has put together six straight scoreless outings (5 2/3 IP).

 

Josh Kinney has converted his last 12 save opportunities and has 17 on the season. He hasn't had a blown save since July 9. The veteran right-hander has lowered his season ERA to 1.80 after eight consecutive scoreless outings.

 

Who's Not

 

Shortstop Tyler Greene departed on an ice-cold streak, going 1-for-17 (.059) during the Iowa series, apparently his last four games in a Redbirds uniform this season.

 

Outfielder Amaury Cazana is 7-for-36 (.206) over his last 11 games. As a pinch hitter this season, the Cuban native is just 1-for-12 (.083).

 

Outfielder Adron Chambers has just two hits in his last 18 at-bats for a .118 average.

 

Swingman Chuckie Fick has allowed six earned runs over his last three outings, 5 1/3 innings in total. He yielded nine hits and four walks.

 

Pacific Coast League leaders

 

Ruben Gotay ended the regular season as the league leader in walks with 95 but fell short of Jon Nunnally's franchise record of 98 free passes set in 2003. Gotay's on-base mark of .410 was second-best in the PCL. No other Redbirds rank among the top ten in the PCL in any significant offensive categories.

 

Despite his six St. Louis call-ups this season, Fernando Salas finished third in the league with 19 saves. Josh Kinney tied for fourth with his 17 saves.

 

Lance Lynn's 164 innings was eighth-highest in the PCL. Lynn led the league with 141 strikeouts and tied for fifth in the league in walks issued at 62. He yielded 21 long balls, tied for sixth-most in the league.

 

Brandon Dickson's 3.23 ERA was third-best among qualifiers while his 167 innings on the mound is fifth-most in the PCL. His 137 strikeout total was second-best, after Lynn, and he tied for ninth in hit batters with nine.

 

Team stats and rankings – Season to date

 

Final regular season stats and rankings follow. Despite having an offense that ranked in the middle of the pack in the PCL, the Redbirds amassed a win total that tied for tops in the league. The pitching led the way, ranking among the leaders with the exception of home runs allowed.

 

Offense Last week PCL rank Season PCL rank
YTD # of 16 # of 16
BA 0.274 9th 0.272 10th
Runs 729 8th 754 8th
OPS 0.768 12th 0.762 12th
Doubles 260 9th 268 9th
HR 130 7th 133 7th

 

Pitching Last week PCL rank Season PCL rank
YTD # of 16 # of 16
ERA 4.42 7th 4.42 6th
Ks 979 4th 1032 4th
Walks 470 5th fewest 495 7th fewest
HR allow 138 T5th most 143 6th most
Saves 44 1st 46 1st
 

(red/yellow/green denotes period-to-period change of YTD stats)

 

Up Next

 

The Redbirds welcome PCL American South champion Oklahoma City (Texas) to AutoZone Park for games one and two of the American Conference championship on Wednesday and Thursday. Memphis owns a 9-7 regular season edge over OKC in each of the last two seasons.

 

Games three, four and five of the best-of-five series (as needed) will be held in Oklahoma City on Friday and Saturday nights and Sunday afternoon. The PCL finals will begin on Tuesday the 14th.

 

 

Brian Walton can be reached via email at brian@thecardinalnationblog.com. Also catch his Cardinals commentary daily at The Cardinal Nation blog.

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