Memphis Redbirds Notebook: 2011 Week 17

The Cardinals Triple-A club is treading water as Matt Carpenter shows his good eye at the plate.

The big picture

This report covers the week from Thursday, July 28 through Wednesday, August 3.

Manager Chris Maloney's Memphis Redbirds opened their week with the final two games of the road series at Round Rock (Texas) before returning home to AutoZone Park on Saturday. The short homestand consisted of four against the Iowa Cubs before the club headed west to Reno (Diamondbacks) starting on Wednesday.

Wrapped around a home sweep of the Cubs were three away losses, making the week's tally 4-3. The Redbirds' record stands at 56-55 and they remain in second place in the American North Division. Memphis fell two more games behind first-place Omaha this week and is now six games back in the standings.

The Redbirds finished July with a 12-16 record. It was their third losing month in four this season, with their 19-10 June the clear highlight to date.

Game summaries

Thursday, July 28: Round Rock 9, Memphis 8 (11 innings)
The Redbirds took a painful defeat, blowing a 7-4 lead after yielding four unearned runs - two in the eighth and two more in the ninth. The game ended on a wild pitch by Jess Todd in the bottom of the 11th after the Round Rock runner stole both second and third. Brandon Dickson surrendered four runs on six hits and two walks over five innings. Todd took the loss. Shane Robinson had two-out RBI double and Bryan Anderson added a solo homer. Greene was the hero and the goat. The shortstop was 3-for-5 with double, two home runs and a walk but committed all three Memphis errors.

Friday, July 29: Round Rock 10, Memphis 1
Round Rock won the series, three games to one. Memphis fell behind 4-0 in the first and never threatened. Adam Ottavino was charged with nine earned runs in 3 1/3 innings. The Redbirds had 11 hits, but they were all singles. Adron Chambers had the lone RBI.

Saturday, July 30: Memphis 6, Iowa 3
.113-hitting Nick Derba had two hits and drove in two. Freddie Bynum and Adron Chambers each scored twice. Starter Maikel Cleto allowed all three runs in six innings of work and added an RBI double. Just down from St. Louis, Raul Valdes picked up the win and Victor Marte the save.

Sunday, July 31: Memphis 5, Iowa 1
Brian Broderick's strong performance paced the victory as he threw seven shutout innings on just four hits. Broderick added two hits at the plate and Adron Chambers doubled as part of a two-hit ninth. Rehabbing Allen Craig went 1-for-2 with a walk and a run scored.

Monday, August 1: Memphis 8, Iowa 7
Shane Robinson made good on the Redbirds' "Guaranteed Win Night" promotion as he smacked two home runs and drove in five, including a walkoff grand slam. Starter Blaine Boyer put Memphis in a big hole as he allowed six of the seven Cubs runs on 10 hits over three innings of work, but the bullpen yielded just one run the rest of the way.

Tuesday, August 2: Memphis 2, Iowa 1
A sweep over the Cubs at any level is worth celebrating. Adron Chambers scored on a sacrifice fly by Tyler Greene in the eighth for the eventual game winner and a sweep of the four-game home series. Matt Carpenter had two hits. Starter Brandon Dickson allowed one run on three hits over seven innings while Ron Mahay was awarded the win after throwing one scoreless. Victor Marte picked up his 21st save.

Wednesday, August 3: Reno 8, Memphis 7 (13 innings)
Another really tough loss. After Adam Ottavino was torched for six runs in the first two innings, the Redbirds fought back. Following five scoreless innings on both sides, Memphis plated a run in the top of the 13th, but Victor Marte could not collect the save. The closer yielded two runs, including the walkoff single for Reno. Nick Stavinoha singled, doubled and homered.

On the Move

Pitcher Raul Valdes was sent down by St. Louis last Thursday. Valdes had success as a reliever with the Redbirds before receiving the call on June 23. He now becomes the third left-hander in the pen, joining Rich Rundles and Ron Mahay. Both were signed while Valdes was with St. Louis.

On Friday, shortstop Tyler Greene was recalled by St. Louis, coming off a game in which he doubled, hit two home runs and committed three errors. Greene had raised his average to .327 when promoted. He lasted just two days in St. Louis, however, as the acquisition of Rafael Furcal bumped him right back down to Memphis.

To make room for Greene and give Springfield some compensation for the loss of Alex Castellanos in the Furcal trade, the organization sent outfielder Aaron Luna back down to Springfield on Monday. The 24-year-old joins Jim Rapoport and Daryl Jones as outfielders having made that step backward in 2011. Luna also made the same move last season. In 71 Redbirds games this year, Luna posted a respectable .266/.354/.448 line but was batting just .174 in his last ten games.

On the Mend

First baseman Mark Hamilton remains on the seven-day disabled list due to a sprain of his right thumb.

Freddie Bynum was activated off the seven-day disabled list on Friday. In his third DL stint of the year, the second baseman had been out with a sprain of his left thumb.

Well, the Redbirds will not have three left-handed relievers right away, after all. Rich Rundles went onto the disabled list on Saturday with an undisclosed injury. The move coincided with Valdes' arrival from St. Louis and activation.

Two Redbirds are done for the season - reliever Adam Reifer with a torn knee ligament and catcher Steven Hill with a broken foot.

Who's Hot

June organizational Player of the Month Adron Chambers is batting .389 over his last ten games. The outfielder finished July at .310.

Matt Carpenter ended July with 19 walks compared to just 12 strikeouts. It was the third month in four this season in which he accomplished the feat and he has a 67 to 51 edge on the year (walks compared to Ks). The third baseman is also batting .375 over his last ten games.

Bryan Anderson's seven-game hitting streak ended on Monday, but he batted .351 during July.

Shortstop Tyler Greene has hits in eight of his last nine games, finishing July with a .351 average (same as Anderson). He began August 3-for-10 with a home run and four RBI.

Reliever Chuckie Fick has not allowed an earned run since July 10. Since then, he has tossed 10 1/3 innings over eight outings. The right-hander's season ERA sits at 2.22.

Who's Not

PCL All-Star Andrew Brown's terrible funk continues. He is coming off a .207 July during which he plated just six runs. He is 1-for-9 in August with a whopping seven strikeouts.

Shortstop Pete Kozma finished July with a .190 average and began August with an 0-for-11 skid.

Rehabbing Cardinal Allen Craig is batting .240 (6-for-25) with two doubles and no home runs as he comes back from a shattered kneecap.

After two PCL starts, veteran Blaine Boyer's ERA stands at 14.09. League batters are teeing off against him at a .487 clip. How much longer will this experiment last?

Adam Ottavino went seven innings recently. The problem is that is his total for his last three starts combined, a period during which he allowed a whopping 20 earned runs. Something is amiss.

Pacific Coast League individual leaders

Andrew Brown's continued slump has knocked him entirely off the PCL leaderboards. Carpenter's continued ability to take a walk is the lone bright spot as no Redbird is in the top 40 in the league in batting average.

Perhaps in a microcosm of the Redbirds' offensive struggles, Carpenter leads the league in walks and is first on the team in batting average at .292, yet he has scored just 43 runs this season. That is tied for 89th in the PCL.

What is not obvious from the pitching list is the disappearance of Adam Ottavino from the ERA leaders, preceded by the departures Lance Lynn and P.J. Walters. That has an effect on the team numbers below.

Offense # PCL rank
BA no one in top 20
OBP Carpenter 0.424 3rd
SLG no one in top 20
OPS no one in top 20
BB Carpenter 67 1st
Pitching # PCL rank
ERA Dickson 4.23 7th
Strikeouts Ottavino 99 T5th
Dickson 95 7th
Saves Marte 21 2nd
Wins Lynn 7 T15th
Walks Ottavino 55 5th
HR allow Dickson 19 T6th

(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

Like the parent club enjoys having Houston in the NL Central, the Redbirds are fortunate Oklahoma City is in the PCL. Only because the Astros' Triple-A club is in the league are the Redbirds not at the bottom of the PCL across the board offensively.

Memphis' staff still has the best ERA in the league but that is due to the past, not the present. Team ERA is continuing to erode and at this rate, this could be their last week on top. One month ago, the Redbirds' season ERA was a quarter of a run per game better, at 3.81.

Offense Prev week PCL rank Season PCL rank
YTD # of 16 # of 16
BA 0.263 15th 0.264 15th
Runs 488 15th 525 15th
OPS 0.750 15th 0.753 15th
Doubles 175 14th 182 15th
HR 91 14th 101 T14th
Steals 51 15th 51 15th
Pitching Prev week PCL rank Season PCL rank
YTD # of 16 # of 16
ERA 4.03 1st 4.07 1st
Ks 745 6th 797 6th
Walks 353 Fewest 376 Fewest
HR allow 98 2nd fewest 104 2nd fewest
Saves 24 T5th fewest 26 T6th fewest

Up Next

The Redbirds finish the final three of the four at Reno (Diamondbacks) before moving to Colorado Springs (Rockies) for four more. Their next day off on Thursday, August 11 will end a grueling stretch of 20 consecutive games, including 16 on the road.

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