Memphis Redbirds Notebook: 2011 Week 7

The Cardinals' Triple-A club had a 4-3 week on the road as the offense welcomed the return of first baseman Mark Hamilton.

The big picture

This report covers the week from Thursday, May 19 through Wednesday, May 25.

Manager Chris Maloney's Memphis Redbirds are finishing up a West Coast trip that began with four at the home of defending Pacific Coast League champion Tacoma (Seattle) followed by three of the first four scheduled at Salt Lake (Angels). The final contest of the road trip is ahead on Thursday night.

As the result of the 4-3 period, the 19-26 Redbirds remain in third place in the American North Division. They picked up 1 1/2 games on first-place Omaha this past week and are six games out of first.

Game summaries

Thursday, May 19: Memphis 8 at Tacoma 2
In the series opener, Memphis scored four early and made it hold up. Lance Lynn limited the Rainiers to two runs on eight hits over six innings. Nick Stavinoha had three hits, including a double and home run and drove in two. Donovan Solano hit his first home run of the season and plated three on the evening.

Friday, May 20: Tacoma 9, Memphis 7
Redbirds pitching was bombed for six Tacoma home runs, including three in the eighth as Chuckie Fick and Victor Marte blew a 7-4 lead. Marte absorbed his third loss and fourth blown save since joining the Redbirds. Mark Hamilton went 3-for-3 and drove in three and Andrew Brown had a two-run homer in the losing effort.

Saturday, May 21: Memphis 4 at Tacoma 3
Adron Chambers was the hero, launching a solo home run in the ninth to break a 3-3 tie. The Redbirds pitching allowed Tacoma just three hits. Raul Valdes picked up the win in relief of P.J. Walters, charged with three runs over six innings. Cory Rauschenberger earned his first save and just the fourth of a pro career that began in 2005.

Sunday, May 22: Tacoma 5, Memphis 2
Brandon Dickson held the home club to two runs until the seventh when top prospect Dustin Ackley took him deep for a two-run shot. Jess Todd yielded a solo home run to the next Rainers hitter, MLB veteran Ryan Langerhans. Bryan Anderson hit his first home run of the season and Andrew Brown doubled home the other Memphis run.

Monday, May 23: Memphis 6 at Salt Lake 2
Andrew Brown put the Redbirds ahead early with a two-run home run in the first and an RBI single in the third. Mark Hamilton singled and doubled and Jim Rapoport had two hits and scored three. Nick Additon had his best start since joining Memphis, yielding two runs on seven hits in 6 2/3 innings.

Tuesday, May 24: Memphis 8 at Salt Lake 1
Rehabbing Angels starter and former AL All-Star Scott Kazmir didn't scare the Redbirds as they chased him with a six-run second inning. Bases loaded walks by Nick Derba and Jim Rapoport opened the scoring, followed by two-run singles by Aaron Luna and Mark Hamilton. Lance Lynn allowed just the one run in 6 1/3 innings of work.

Wednesday, May 25: Salt Lake 10, Memphis 0
The Redbirds offense was totally absent, as they struck out 11 times. Adron Chambers fanned in three at-bats and ground into a double play in the other. Mitchell Boggs made his first start and allowed one earned run in 1 1/3 innings. Adam Ottavino followed and was charged with six runs, three earned, in 3 1/3 innings.

On the Move

With the activation of Brian Tallet in St. Louis last Thursday, the Redbirds got their cleanup hitter back as first baseman Mark Hamilton returned to the Memphis lineup.

Sunday's injury to Gerald Laird meant catcher Tony Cruz received his first call up to the major leagues. More on his story at Nick Derba, who had a brief appearance with Memphis last season, was promoted from Springfield to replace Cruz.

In a surprise move, St. Louis reliever Mitchell Boggs was optioned to Memphis on Monday. He will be starting to improve his secondary pitches and will next appear on Saturday as he is temporarily in a piggyback starting arrangement with Nick Additon.

When Boggs was activated to make his first start on Wednesday, sidearming reliever Jason Buursma was given his release.

Taken by Washington in the Rule 5 draft in December before making the Nationals out of spring training, right-hander Brian Broderick was returned to the Cardinals and assigned to the Redbirds on Monday. He has not yet been activated nor has the corresponding transaction to make room for him on the roster been announced.

On the Mend

Infielder Freddie Bynum, who was injured on May 19, remains out with a left groin strain.

Left-handed reliever Rich Rundles is still on the disabled list because of a bruised left hand. He has been out since May 6.

Outfielder Shane Robinson remains out 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.

One Redbird began the season on the disabled list and remains there, right-handed reliever Francisco Samuel (lat injury). Samuel was pitching in extended spring training games.

Who's Hot

Andrew Brown. After a recently-ended 11 game hitting streak, the longest by a Redbird this season, Brown quickly started another. It is currently at seven games and counting. In May, Brown is batting .338 with six home runs and a whopping 20 RBI in 22 games.

Mark Hamilton. In the six games since rejoining the team from St. Louis, the big first baseman had no trouble shaking the rust off. The left-handed hitter is 9-for-21 (.429) with three doubles and eight RBI.

Raul Valdes. Since the left-hander was moved out of the rotation, he has tossed four scoreless innings of relief with a 6:1 strikeout to walk ratio and an opponent batting average of just .143.

Who's Not

Nick Stavinoha. The outfielder is batting just .187 in May and .182 over his last ten games. The slugger isn't slugging this month with a .396 SLG.

Bryan Anderson. The catcher is just 4-for-22 (18 percent) in stopping opposing basestealers. The team's ERA when he pitches is 5.25 and the club has a 7-13 record in his starts. Anderson is batting .217 in May and .213 overall this season, his fourth with Memphis.

Jim Rapoport. The centerfielder is batting just .175 over his last ten games and .228 in May. He did score five runs last week.

Adron Chambers. The outfielder is batting just .162 in his last ten contests and .167 overall this month.

Victor Marte. In three of his four outings since May 14, the closer has allowed a total of four runs. Since joining the Redbirds, the 30-year-old has a 0-3 record and has blown 4 of 9 save opportunities.

Pacific Coast League individual leaders

At .330, Andrew Brown is 25th in the league in batting average and the only Redbirds qualifier above .293. Brown is 16th in on-base percentage at .421 with Matt Carpenter next in the league at .419. Carpenter is tied for fourth with 30 walks and Adron Chambers has 22, tied for 16th in the PCL.

Adam Ottavino (3.58) is 12th in the league in ERA, yet has just one win through seven starts. Lance Lynn is tied for fifth with 48 strikeouts and Ottavino is seventh with 47 Ks. Raul Valdes is tied for 12th with 43.

On the less-positive side, Walters' 28 walks are fourth-most in the league with Ottavino tied for seventh place at 26 free passes issued. Walters holds the league lead with eight hit batters. Brandon Dickson is tied for eighth with nine home runs allowed. With seven long balls yielded each, Valdes and Ottavino are tied for 13th.

Team stats and rankings – Season to date

The offense made progress with the long ball last week, but backslid a bit in average and remains at or near the bottom of the PCL across the board. The ERA of the pitching staff is holding as the second-best in the league.

(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 0.251 15th 0.250 16th
Runs 167 14th 202 14th
OPS 0.703 16th 0.707 16th
Doubles 56 16th 65 16th
HR 25 15th 31 T14th

Pitching Prev week PCL rank Season PCL rank
YTD # of 16 # of 16
ERA 4.19 2nd 4.19 2nd
Ks 278 T11th 327 10th
Walks 154 7th most 174 9th most
HR allow 35 5th fewest 44 T7th most
Saves 8 12th 9 T12th

Up Next

After the road trip-concluding game at Salt Lake on Thursday, the Redbirds head home for four with Omaha (Kansas City) starting on Friday. Next up is a four-game set with Albuquerque (Dodgers) that begins next Tuesday. Memphis' next scheduled off day is Wednesday, June 8.

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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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