This report covers the week from Thursday, June 30 through Wednesday, July 6.
Manager Chris Maloney's Memphis Redbirds began the week with a sweep of their four-game home series against the Oklahoma City Redhawks (Houston). The Redbirds then hit the road for a rare three-game set at Nashville (Milwaukee). All three games were one-run contests decided in the final inning. Memphis lost the first two on walkoffs before winning Thursday night in the 13th. That was the same night their big-league parent also played 13 innings against the Reds.
The Redbirds finished a very successful June at 19-10 and began July at 4-2. They are 46-40 on the season and remain in second place in the American North Division. Memphis was 1.5 games behind first-place Omaha both coming into and exiting from the week.
Thursday, June 30: Memphis 3, Oklahoma City 1
Adron Chambers (two-run) and Nick Stavinoha (solo) homered for all of Memphis' runs. Stavinoha and Pete Kozma were 2-for-4. Nick Additon earned the win as he threw 5 1/3 scoreless innings and struck out seven. Victor Marte picked up the save.
Friday, July 1: Memphis 5, Oklahoma City 2
Steven Hill smacked a grand slam in the sixth. Aaron Luna hit a solo shot and added a double as he finished 2-for-2. Maikel Cleto started his second game with Memphis and struck out six over five innings while allowing two runs on three hits. Pete Parise picked up the win as he threw two scoreless innings and Victor Marte collected the save, his 14th.
Saturday, July 2: Memphis 5, Oklahoma City 1
Nick Stavinoha hit a pair of home runs and finished with three hits. Andrew Brown and Bryan Anderson each finished 2-for-4 and Aaron Luna added two hits. P.J. Walters earned the win as he allowed one run on six hits while striking out five over 6 1/3 innings.
Sunday, July 3: Memphis 2, Oklahoma City 1
The Redbirds completed the home sweep as Nick Stavinoha launched his fifth home run in his last six games and finished 2-for-3. Aaron Luna also homered and singled. Brian Broderick started and picked up the win as he threw 5 1/3 scoreless innings allowing just four hits. Victor Marte earned his 15th save of the season by throwing one scoreless inning.
Monday, July 4: Nashville 5, Memphis 4
The visiting Redbirds gave back 2-1 and 3-2 leads before pulling even at four in the eighth. The game ended on a bases-loaded hit-by-pitch thrown by Chuckie Fick after a Nick Stavinoha error. Cory Rauschenberger took a blown save and Rich Rundles received the loss. Adam Ottavino allowed two runs in six innings. Tyler Greene homered and drove in two to lead the offense.
Tuesday, July 5: Nashville 9, Memphis 8
Another Nashville game, another disappointing walk-off defeat. This time, the Redbirds lost on a walk-off single in the ninth against Cory Rauschenberger. Gerald Laird was 2-for-4 with a double and an RBI in his first rehab start. Aaron Luna was 3-for-4 and Adron Chambers had two hits and three RBI. Nick Additon started and went five innings, allowing four runs on six hits.
Wednesday, July 6: Memphis 6 at Nashville 5 (13 innings)
Protecting a 5-4 lead in the eighth, Jess Todd gave up a run and took a blown save. That was the last score until the top of the 13th when Andrew Brown doubled and scored on an error. Chuckie Fick fanned four over two scoreless to get the win with the save going to Pete Parise. Starter Maikel Cleto was charged with four runs over five innings. Aaron Luna homered and plated four.
On the Move
For the second consecutive Thursday, a Memphis pitcher was placed on the 40-man roster and promoted to St. Louis. Two weeks ago, it was lefty reliever Raul Valdes. This time, it was right-handed starter Brandon Dickson, called to the bigs to serve as a long reliever.
With no left-handers in the pen since Valdes was promoted and no candidates ready in Springfield, the organization returned to a familiar face. Also on Thursday, the Cardinals re-signed veteran reliever Rich Rundles. He had been released one month before, on May 29.
Also on Tuesday, the Cardinals signed a pair of well-traveled veteran relievers, each carrying 2011 Triple-A ERAs over ten and each having already been released by two other organizations in 2011 – 40-year-old left-hander Ron Mahay and right-hander Blaine Boyer, who turns 30 next week. The latter pitched in 15 games for St. Louis in 2009, but neither had previously worn a Redbirds uniform. As of Thursday morning, neither had been activated nor had the corresponding roster moves to accommodate them been announced.
On the Mend
On Tuesday, St. Louis catcher Gerald Laird joined the Redbirds on a pre-defined three-game rehab stint. He started his initial game at first base and caught in the second while going 3-for-7 at the plate.
Second baseman Freddie Bynum has been on the DL since June 28 with an undisclosed injury.
Outfielder Shane Robinson continues to recover from a concussion, facial fractures to the right side of his face and a fractured left hand as the result of his April 16 collision with Andrew Brown. The 26-year-old began a rehab stint with the Gulf Coast League Cardinals on Wednesday.
Reliever Adam Reifer is out for the season with a torn knee ligament.
Starting pitcher P.J. Walters was named The Cardinal Nation Pitcher of the Month for June. During the month, he had a 4-1 record with an ERA of 2.10. In his five starts, Walters averaged almost a strikeout an inning while registering a strikeout to walk rate of 34-to-8. Link to detailed article.
Aaron Luna. After a disappointing .211 June, the outfielder began July on fire, with a six-game hitting streak. This month, Luna is 11-for-20 (.550) with three home runs and seven RBI for a 1.665 OPS.
Nick Stavinoha. On Friday, the veteran set a new Memphis franchise record with his 58th home run as a Redbird. He didn't stop there, registering five home runs in a six-game span (a week ago Monday through Sunday).
Adron Chambers. The outfielder had a five-game hit streak that ended Wednesday night. It was his longest hit streak of the season thus far. Chambers is 10-for-36 (.278) over his last ten games, with six RBI and six runs scored.
Bryan Anderson. Mired in a season-long slump, the catcher is showing recent signs of life, having gone 10-for-30 (.333) in his last ten games.
The bullpen. The Redbirds' relievers gave up only one run against Oklahoma City in the series opener and blanked the RedHawks for 10 innings in the last three contests. They then struggled in their first two games against Nashville, surrendering eight runs over six innings before bouncing back with an excellent performance on Wednesday. In the 13-inning win, the pen pitched eight innings of one-run ball.
Andrew Brown. The outfielder has struggled over his last nine games since rejoining the Redbirds on June 27. In that time, the PCL All-Star has gone 6-for-31 (.194) with only two RBI.
Pete Kozma. After a .220 June, the shortstop has dropped into a deeper slump in July, having just two hits in 19 at-bats (.105). His season average is once again approaching the Mendoza Line at .210.
Jim Rapoport. Only playing sporadically, the outfielder has been struggling. His last RBI was on June 22 and he is just four for his last 24 (.167).
Pacific Coast League individual leaders
The hitting leaders slid this past week, specifically Brown.
|HR allow||Dickson||14||T11th most|
(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.)
Team stats and rankings – Season to date
Though there was some mild improvement in team rate stats, overall the offense remains among the bottom three in the PCL. The pitching staff continues to be the most effective in the league with a team ERA more than half a run lower than the second-place club. The only reason for yellow on the pitching table is that it is impossible to be better than number one. With Lance Lynn and Brandon Dickson now in St. Louis, the numbers may begin to erode, however.
|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|
|HR allow||78||7th fewest||84||6th fewest|
|Saves||16||T2nd fewest||20||7th fewest|
The seven-game road trip leading up to Triple-A All-Star Break concludes with the final four at Round Rock (Texas) Thursday through Sunday. The PCL is off Monday through Wednesday with the All-Star Game set for Salt Lake City on Wednesday, July 13. Andrew Brown will be representing Memphis as a starting outfielder.
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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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