This report covers the week from Thursday, April 21 through Wednesday, April 27.
Manager Chris Maloney's Memphis Redbirds completed their two contests of the road series against the Omaha Storm Chasers (Royals) before returning home to AutoZone Park for four against the Iowa Cubs. The entire Pacific Coast League was off on the final day of this period, Wednesday, April 27.
Perhaps the week marked a turning point for Memphis. The two losses in Omaha capped off a brutal 1-11 stretch for the Redbirds. As the Cubs came to town, the results improved markedly.
With a late comeback over Iowa on Wednesday to close the week, their 3-1 set represented the Redbirds' first series win since their opening four games of the season.
Following the 3-3 period, the 7-12 Redbirds still remain in fourth (last) place in the American North Division, five games behind first-place Omaha.
Thursday, April 21: Omaha 1, Memphis 0
After falling behind in the first inning on a couple of hits and a walk, Lance Lynn allowed just two more Storm Chasers hits over the next seven innings. It didn't matter as the righty took another tough loss. The Memphis offense could not convert time and time again, going 1-for-14 with men in scoring position.
Friday, April 22: Omaha 3, Memphis 2
For the second day in a row, the Redbirds lost by a single run. On the positive side, for three innings, Memphis had its first lead of the four-game series. Adam Ottavino yielded just two runs over six innings, but former Storm Chasers reliever Victor Marte yielded the tie-breaking home run in the eighth and took his first defeat as a Redbird.
Saturday, April 23: Memphis 3, Iowa 2
Home cooking helped the Redbirds improve on their dreadful 1-11 stretch left just behind as they won their last of three consecutive one-run games. Matt Carpenter had the club's first 2011 long ball at AutoZone Park in their ninth date. Adron Chambers' suicide squeeze scored the winner. P.J. Walters allowed two runs over six innings but had a no-decision. Cory Rauschenberger won in relief and Marte collected his first Memphis save.
Sunday, April 24: Memphis 7, Iowa 1
The Redbirds finally put together a complete performance as home runs from Jim Rapoport, Matt Carpenter and Adron Chambers paced the offense. Brandon Dickson tossed seven innings allowing one run on three hits while walking three and striking out six. Despite a 1.73 ERA, it was his first win of the season in his fourth start.
Monday, April 25: Iowa 12 at Memphis 8
The pitching, pretty good in the early going in 2011, yielded season highs in runs and hits (15). The offense got out ahead by 4-0, but Raul Valdes was charged with five earned runs in five innings. The final seven scored against Jason Buursma and Pete Parise, with the latter taking the blown save and loss combination. Nick Stavinoha and Ramon Vazquez plated three runs each.
Tuesday, April 26: Memphis 4, Iowa 3
The Redbirds mounted their first late-game comeback of the season, scoring three runs in the bottom of the ninth. Nick Stavinoha's single plated the game winner. Ramon Vazquez went 2-for-3 with two runs scored. Starter Lance Lynn turned in six solid innings, allowing two runs on seven hits and reliever Blake King picked up his first Triple-A win.
Wednesday, April 27: Off day
On the Mend
Coming back from the concussion suffered in his outfield collision with Shane Robinson last Saturday night, Andrew Brown was activated on Monday/ He was originally in the Tuesday afternoon lineup batting seventh and playing in left field, but was a late scratch. With Wednesday off, perhaps they wanted to take another two days to be careful.
In the corresponding move, 182-hitting Daryl Jones was shuffled onto the disabled list with an undisclosed injury. The Cardinals 2008 Player of the Year last took the field on Sunday, when he went 0-for-3.
Robinson needed two surgeries that were scheduled this week. One was for the fractured second metacarpal in his left hand with the other to repair a fractured orbital bone in his face. Robinson will be out for at least six weeks.
Reliever Adam Reifer is out for the season with a torn knee ligament. One Redbird began the season on the disabled list and remains there, right-handed reliever Francisco Samuel (lat injury).
Matt Carpenter. The third baseman went 6-for-20 (.300) on the week with his first two Triple-A home runs. Carpenter also drew three walks and struck out only once.
Jim Rapoport. Six hits in 17 at-bats (.353) this past week made for the outfielder's best stretch of the young season. Rapoport also collected four walks and was called out on strikes one time only. His Sunday leadoff home run was a rarity - just his third long fly in 443 Triple-A at-bats between this season and last.
Cory Rauschenberger. The reliever has not yet allowed a run in four outings since his promotion from Springfield. The right-hander has allowed just four hits while walking three and striking out four spanning seven innings. Opposing hitters are managing a collective 182 average against him.
Brandon Dickson. Despite being 1-2 in his four starts, the right-hander has an ERA of 1.73 and a 24:8 strikeout to walk ratio in 26 innings.
Adam Ottavino. Through three starts totaling 17 1/3 innings, Ottavino has allowed four earned runs for a 2.08 ERA. Despite that, the right-hander is still looking for his first win after a loss and two no-decisions. While Ottavino has fanned 19, he has issued 10 walks and given up a pair of home runs.
Raul Valdes. The left-hander suffered through his third straight subpar start on Monday as his ERA for the season rose to 7.85.
Bryan Anderson. The catcher has been hovering around the Mendoza Line all season and currently sits right on it at an even .200 (6-for-30). His only two extra-base hits are doubles.
Pete Parise. The right-hander is struggling to shake the rust off after shoulder and ankle surgeries. In his first two relief outings, Parise has been charged with five earned runs in 1 1/3 innings.
Jason Buursma. The sidearming reliever appeared just once during the week and allowed three earned runs in two innings. As a result, his ERA is up to 7.04 and opponents are hitting .412 against him this season.
Pacific Coast League individual leaders
It isn't pretty on the offensive ledger. At an even .300, outfielder Adron Chambers is the only Redbird qualifier (2.7 plate appearances per game minimum) batting better than .273. 50 PCL hitters have a higher average than Chambers.
No Memphis batters are among the top 20 in any individual category with the exception of since-promoted Mark Hamilton, still tied for eighth with 12 walks and Matt Carpenter, knotted with a big group at 14th in the PCL with 11 free passes.
Brandon Dickson (1.73) and Adam Ottavino (2.08) are third and fifth respectively in the league in ERA.
The Redbirds dominate the PCL strikeout leader board with four hurlers in the top ten. Raul Valdes is second with 25, Dickson is third at 24, P J Walters has 20, tied for seventh and Ottavino is ninth with 19.
On the not-positive side, Valdes is among a group tied for fourth most home runs allowed at four. His ERA of 7 85 is tenth-worst among PCL qualifying pitchers (0 8 innings pitched/team game).
Walters leads the league in issuing bruises with six hit batters.
Team stats and rankings – Season to date
Offensively, the Redbirds improved their rate stats, but generally slipped relative to their peers. Memphis is now last in the 16-team PCL in runs scored, doubles and home runs. Pitching continues to be the team's strength.
(Red/yellow/green denotes period-to-period change of the season-to-date totals, where red is decline, yellow is steady and green is improvement since last report.)
|Offense||Prev week||PCL rank||Season||PCL rank|
|YTD||#||of 16||#||of 16|
|BA||0 242||14th||0 248||13th|
|OPS||0 668||14th||0 687||15th|
|Pitching||Prev week||PCL rank||Season||PCL rank|
|YTD||#||of 16||#||of 16|
|ERA||3 57||3rd||3 64||2nd|
|Walks||48||6th fewest||70||7th fewest|
|HR allow||11||8th fewest||16||T7th fewest|
A four-game home set against Round Rock (Texas) begins on Thursday, followed by an eight-game road trip to New Orleans (Florida) and Albuquerque (Dodgers) that commences on Monday, May 2. The Redbirds will be looking to improve on their 1-6 start this season when away from AutoZone Park.
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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