Memphis Redbirds Notebook: 2011 Week 4

Our weekly report on the St. Louis Cardinals Triple-A Pacific Coast League affiliate.

The big picture

This report covers the week from Thursday, April 28 through Wednesday, May 4.

Manager Chris Maloney's Memphis Redbirds began with a four-game home set against Round Rock (Texas), followed by three first three games of an eight-game road trip that began in New Orleans (Florida).

Following the 3-3 period which included two extra-inning games and one rainout, the 10-15 Redbirds improved to third place in the American North Division, 5.5 games behind first-place Omaha and one game out of the cellar.


Game summaries

Thursday, April 28: Memphis 6, Round Rock 5 (10 innings)
Tony Cruz drove home Freddie Bynum with a walk-off single and Rich Rundles picked up the win after a scoreless 10th inning. Adam Ottavino started the game and allowed just one run on five hits in six innings, but took a no-decision as the pen struggled. Cory Rauschenberger and Blake King were charged with two runs each as Victor Marte blew his second save opportunity. The Memphis offense rapped out a season-high 15 hits. Cruz finished 3-for-4 with a triple and three RBI and Bynum went 2-for-4 with a double and two runs scored.

Friday, April 29: Round Rock 5 at Memphis 4 (13 innings)
In the Redbirds' second straight extra-inning game, Rich Rundles again took the decision, but this time, it was a loss. P.J. Walters started and allowed four runs on five hits in six innings. Nick Stavinoha was 2-for-5 with his third home run of the season, a two-run shot in the sixth as the Redbirds came back from a 4-0 deficit to tie. Andrew Brown went 3-for-6. Jason Buursma, Chuckie Fick and Cory Rauschenberger combined to toss six scoreless innings of relief.

Saturday, April 30: Memphis 10, Round Rock 7
In the seventh, Memphis came back from a 7-3 deficit, plating seven runs, a team single-inning best in 2011. Tony Cruz hit his first career grand slam as he and Aaron Luna hit back-to-back jacks. Cruz finished the night 2-for-5 and Luna went 2-for-4 with three RBI. Matt Carpenter was 3-for-3 and Freddie Bynum was 2-for-4. Brandon Dickson started the game and allowed five runs on 12 hits in 6 2/3 innings of work. Despite allowing five baserunners and two unearned runs in just 1/3 of an inning, Blake King was the pitcher of record at the right time to pick up the win. Victor Marte threw two shutout innings in relief to finish.

Sunday, May 1: Round Rock at Memphis (postponed)
This contest was rained out due in part to several inches of standing water on AutoZone Park's warning track. It has been rescheduled as part of a pair of seven-inning games to be held on Friday, July 15.

Monday, May 2: Memphis 4 at New Orleans 1
Adron Chambers broke a 1-1 tie with a two-run home run in the fifth and Tony Cruz added a solo shot in the seventh to lead Memphis. Raul Valdes scattered seven hits over six innings to earn the win, while Victor Marte induced a crucial inning-ending double play in the eighth. The closer recorded the final five outs in earning his second save in four opportunities since joining the Redbirds.

Tuesday, May 3: New Orleans 7, Memphis 5
The Redbirds grabbed an early 4-0 lead, but Lance Lynn couldn't hold it. With winds blowing at 25 MPH, Lynn was roughed up for seven runs in 4 1/3 innings, walking four and striking out five. The last two tallies were inherited runners that scored on a double against Jason Buursma. Still, the Redbirds showed fight as they mounted a rally with two out in the ninth, but fell short. After a Nick Stavinoha RBI single, Andrew Brown struck out swinging with the tying run on base.

Wednesday, May 4: New Orleans 2, Memphis 0 Miscues did in the Redbirds. In the second, centerfielder Adron Chambers dropped a routine fly ball and that runner later came around to score on a double. The unearned run was the only blemish on Adam Ottavino's six innings of work. Five innings later, Chambers had trouble with another fly that was scored a double. That runner crossed the plate on Cory Rauschenberger's wild pitch. The offense managed just five hits and a walk all day. Stavinoha singled and doubled.

On the Mend/Move

After a very eventful opening three weeks that included 19 player transactions, the Redbirds had a definite change of pace with no roster changes this period.

Outfielder Shane Robinson will be out a considerable length of time following surgeries on his face and hand as the result of his April 16 collision with Andrew Brown.

Reliever Adam Reifer is done for the season with a torn knee ligament.

Outfielder Daryl Jones has been on the disabled list since April 25 with an undisclosed injury.

One Redbird began the season on the disabled list and remains there, right-handed reliever Francisco Samuel (lat injury).

Who's Hot

Matt Carpenter: The third baseman went 6-for-17 (.353) on the week and raised his season mark to .265 in the process. Carpenter also drew four walks, increasing his season on-base percentage to an impressive .398 and his strikeout to walk ratio is a stellar 13:15.

Tony Cruz. The catcher went 6-for-16 (.375) with a home run and seven RBI in four starts behind the plate this past week.

Jim Rapoport. The outfielder and leadoff man is 12 for his last 32 (.375) with five walks and seven runs scored over his most recent eight games.

Aaron Luna. Despite playing sparingly, the outfielder has a slash line of .286/.423/.429 in his first ten games with the Redbirds this season.

Chuckie Fick. Able to throw multiple innings out of the pen, Fick has yielded just two runs over his first 14 innings this season for a 1.29 ERA. In ten outings, he has 12 strikeouts but has also issued seven walks. Opponents are batting just .173 against him.

Who's misfortunate

Adam Ottavino. Ottavino needs his own special category as doesn't really belong in either "hot" or "not". Despite a stellar 1.53 ERA through five starts, he has become the Redbirds version of Chris Carpenter. The right-hander is still looking for his first win after two losses and three no-decisions. Further, he did not allow an earned run in either defeat. A concern is that while Ottavino has fanned 29, he has also issued 19 walks.

Who's Not

Adron Chambers. Two weeks ago, the outfielder was hitting a team-best .316. Now, he is down to .247 on the heels of a 1-for-17 (.059) slump this past week.

Bryan Anderson the hitter. The backstop is hitting just .205 on the season and has been losing playing time to Tony Cruz (93 1/3 innings caught vs. 130 2/3).

Bryan Anderson the catcher. Anderson's caught stealing rate is just .100 (1-for-10) and his catcher's ERA is over two runs higher than Cruz (4.92 to 2.82).

Donovan Solano. The reserve infielder is one for his last ten and is batting just .156 in 16 games.

Pacific Coast League individual leaders

No improvement on the offensive ledger. Nick Stavinoha is the highest-ranked Redbird qualifier (2.7 plate appearances per game minimum) in batting average at .275. 65 PCL hitters have a higher average than Stavinoha.

No Memphis batters are among the top 20 in any individual category with the exception of Matt Carpenter, knotted with a big group at eighth in the PCL with 15 free passes.

Adam Ottavino (1.53) and Brandon Dickson (2.76) are second and tenth respectively in the league in ERA.

The Redbirds place well in the PCL strikeout leader board with three hurlers in the top ten. Ottavino is tied for fourth with 29, Raul Valdes is tied for eighth with 28, Dickson is 10th at 27.

Walters leads the league in issuing bruises with six hit batters.

Team stats and rankings – Season to date

It was a mixed bag in terms of year-to-date changes from last week. For every increase, there was a decrease. Offense remains very week in comparison to the rest of the PCL.

(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 0.248 13th 0.252 14th
Runs 71 16th 100 15th
OPS 0.687 15th 0.697 15th
Doubles 21 16th 31 16th
HR 11 16th 16 T15th

Pitching Prev week PCL rank Season PCL rank
YTD # of 16 # of 16
ERA 3.64 2nd 3.68 2nd
Ks 160 5th 193 9th
Walks 70 7th fewest 101 8th fewest
HR allow 16 T7th fewest 19 T2nd fewest
Saves 4 T10th 5 T10th

Up Next

The final game in New Orleans (Florida) is on Thursday before the Redbirds travel west to Albuquerque (Dodgers) for four over the long weekend. Sacramento (Oakland) arrives at AutoZone for a four-game set starting Tuesday.

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Brian Walton can be reached via email at Also catch his Cardinals commentary daily at The Cardinal Nation blog. Look for his weekly minor league column on Thursdays at Follow Brian on Twitter.

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