This report covers the week from Thursday, April 14 through Wednesday, April 20.
Manager Chris Maloney's Pacific Coast League club completed its final contest of the eight-game homestand against New Orleans (Florida) last Thursday before heading onto the road to play the Iowa Cubs and Omaha Storm Chasers (Royals).
As the result of the 1-5 week, the 4-9 Redbirds fell to fourth (last) place in the American North Division, three games behind first-place Iowa.
After starting the season 3-1, Memphis has won only one game in its last nine attempts. The Redbirds haven't struggled this much during the month of April since 2006, when they began the season 0-9.
Thursday, April 14: Oklahoma City 6 at Memphis 5 (10 innings)
Starter Raul Valdes yielded five runs on four hits while walking three and fanning nine over six innings. Memphis tied the game at five in the bottom of the seventh inning on a two-run triple by Shane Robinson, but lost in the tenth inning on a solo home run by former Redbird Ruben Gotay hit off Adam Reifer.
Friday, April 15: Memphis at Iowa (postponed)
Due to inclement weather in Des Moines, the game was postponed. A second game was added for Wednesday, June 22, making the next Redbirds visit to Iowa a five-game series.
Saturday, April 16: Iowa 4, Memphis 3
Behind Lynn, the Redbirds entered the bottom of the seventh with a two-run lead. After an RBI single, Victor Marte came into the game. He was victimized by an RBI squeeze bunt and allowed the game-winner to score on a wild pitch. Lynn took the tough loss, having been charged with all four runs on eight hits while striking out eight. The offense consisted of solo home runs by Mark Hamilton, Tony Cruz and Nick Stavinoha. They were the first Redbirds home runs of the season - in the club's ninth game.
Sunday, April 17: Memphis 7 at Iowa 5 (11 innings)
Starter Adam Ottavino pitched six innings, giving up two runs on four hits while walking three and striking out nine. The Redbirds pen blew the 5-2 lead in the seventh as Blake King walked two and Rich Rundles yielded a three-run home run. The game went into extra innings with Mark Hamilton's two-run double in the eleventh inning being the difference. In his first day active, Freddie Bynum drove in three runs, going 3-for-6 with a solo home run. Cory Rauschenberger tossed three scoreless innings in his Redbirds debut for the win. Chuckie Fick picked up his first Triple-A save.
Monday, April 18: Iowa 5, Memphis 2
The pen let down the Cardinals for the third consecutive game. Starter P.J. Walters left after throwing 119 pitches and holding a 2-1 lead but with the bases loaded in the bottom of the seventh. By the time the inning ended, the home club was up 5-2 as Jason Buursma and Rich Rundles let all three inherited runners score plus one more.
Tuesday, April 19: Omaha 2, Memphis 0
Both runs scored on Redbirds throwing errors, one by starter Brandon Dickson and the other on catcher Tony Cruz. The sputtering offense managed just four hits with only one through the first six innings. They were 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position. Freddie Bynum had a single and a double.
Wednesday, April 20: Omaha 10, Memphis 4
Starter Raul Valdes lasted just one batter into the third inning, having yielded six runs, five earned. Daryl Jones had a triple, home run and three RBI, raising his average to .238. Struggling Matt Carpenter (.220), now dropped down to sixth, showed a bit of life at the plate. He was on base three times in four plate appearances via a single, double and walk.
On the Move
The Redbirds roster (always kept up to date at TheCardinalNation.com) underwent even more change this week than last.
The weekend injury to St. Louis' Allen Craig meant a recall of first baseman Mark Hamilton to the majors on Tuesday. The 26-year-old appeared in nine games in his St. Louis debut last September after Memphis' season ended. The left-handed hitter has a .297/.469/.432 line in 37 at-bats for the Redbirds this season, his third in Memphis. Hamilton has one home run and four RBI. His strikeout to walk ratio is an impressive 7:12.
Outfielder Aaron Luna was promoted from Double-A Springfield to replace Hamilton on the Redbirds' roster. The 23-year-old had a 17-game Triple-A debut with the Redbirds last summer before being returned to Double-A. Luna's Springfield line this season was .281/.410/.406 in 32 at-bats.
On the Mend
Andrew Brown and Shane Robinson collided in the outfield on Saturday night. Their heads hit as they each went for a sinking line drive. Robinson was the most seriously injured with a fractured orbital bone in his face that requires surgery. Brown could be on the DL for just a week with a concussion.
To replace Brown and Robinson on the active roster, outfielder Jim Rapoport and infielder Freddie Bynum were activated. Rapoport, 25, first joined Memphis in 2010 when Robinson went down with a shoulder injury. Bynum, 31, is well-traveled. He signed with the Cardinals as a minor league free agent after playing for the Orix Buffaloes in Japan last season. The two began the season on the DL with undisclosed injuries.
On Monday, right-handed reliever Adam Reifer joined those on the disabled list. The 24-year-old suffered a season-ending injury, a torn knee ligament, while fielding a bunt in Sunday's game. Reifer had a 1.42 ERA in five games before landing on the DL.
The Redbirds activated right-handed reliever Pete Parise from disabled list to replace Reifer on the active roster. Parise had not appeared in a game since last June 18. Since then, the 26-year-old has had to come back from shoulder and ankle surgeries. He gave up a home run in his one-inning 2011 debut on Wednesday.
One other Redbird began the season on the disabled list and remains there, right-handed reliever Francisco Samuel (shoulder).
Brandon Dickson. Despite being 0-2 in his three starts, the right-hander has an ERA of 1.89 and an 18:5 strikeout to walk ratio in 19 innings.
Adam Ottavino. Through two starts totaling 11 1/3 innings, Ottavino has allowed just two earned runs for a 1.59 ERA. Like Dickson, he is still looking for his first "W." While the right-hander has fanned 14, he has issued seven walks.
Road offense. Memphis hitters have been held to an abysmal .212 average (36-for-170) on the current road trip.
Raul Valdes. After a strong first outing, the left-hander has been roughed up for ten earned runs in his last eight innings over two starts. His season ERA is up to 7.43.
Bryan Anderson. The catcher is just 5-for-23 (.217) on the season with one extra base hit.
Pete Kozma. After nine games in the first or second spot in the order, the shortstop batted eighth on Wednesday. It didn't help as Kozma's average dropped to .173 following another 0-for-4.
Blake King. Only the erratic King could have a season line like this: three hits, four earned runs, five walks and nine strikeouts for a 6.75 ERA in 5 1/3 innings. If only for some control…
Jason Buursma. In his first six Triple-A games totaling 5 2/3 innings, the side-arming reliever has issued six walks and allowed ten hits for an ugly 2.82 WHIP, about double the baserunners compared to average performance. Three of his four inherited runners have scored and he has retired just two of his six first batters faced. Buursma's ERA is 4.76.
The relievers. As noted above, Redbirds bullpenners blew save opportunities in three consecutive games this past week. With the promotions of Eduardo Sanchez and Fernando Salas and injuries to Adam Reifer and Francisco Samuel, all four relievers with closing experience are now off the active roster.
Pacific Coast League individual leaders
The only Redbird batting .300 or more is Adron Chambers at .316. He is 43rd in the league. No Memphis hitters are among the top 20 in any individual positive category.
Pete Kozma cracked the PCL top ten with 15 strikeouts. Nick Stavinoha is right behind with 14.
Adam Ottavino (1.59) and Brandon Dickson (1.89) are ninth and tenth in the league in ERA.
Raul Valdes leads the PCL with 21 strikeouts. Dickson is fourth with 18.
Team stats and rankings – Season to date
The sea of red says it all. The offense is either dead last in the league or approaching it while the pitching staff is still better than most after a week that showed mostly declines from the first. (Red/yellow/green denotes period-to-period change of the season-to-date totals.)
|Offense||Prev week||PCL rank||Season||PCL rank|
|YTD||#||of 16||#||of 16|
|Pitching||Prev week||PCL rank||Season||PCL rank|
|YTD||#||of 16||#||of 16|
|Walks||18||T2nd fewest||48||6th fewest|
|HR allow||4||T4th fewest||11||8th fewest|
The final two games of the road set at Omaha are Thursday and Friday with Lance Lynn and Adam Ottavino starting before the Redbirds return home. They play four against the same Iowa Cubs beginning on Saturday night before getting their first day off of the season on Wednesday the 27th.
Brian Walton can be reached via email at email@example.com. Also catch his Cardinals commentary daily at The Cardinal Nation blog. Look for his weekly minor league column on Thursdays at FOXSportsMidwest.com. Follow Brian on Twitter.
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