This report covers the week from Thursday, August 25 through Wednesday, August 31.
Manager Chris Maloney's Memphis Redbirds opened the period with the final four of five at Nashville (Milwaukee), followed by a move back to AutoZone Park to face Albuquerque (Dodgers) to begin the season-ending homestand.
The Redbirds suffered through a rough 3-4 week, including their last two defeats at home on Tuesday and Wednesday. They ended August with a very good 19-11 record, but it wasn't enough to make the post-season for the third consecutive year as they were eliminated on Wednesday night.
The Redbirds' current record is 73-65 and they remain in second place in the American North Division. During the week, Memphis lost one game against first-place Omaha and sit five back in the standings with five to go. As Omaha owns the tie-breaker advantage, the race is over. Nashville is in third, 3 ½ games behind Memphis.
The other three Pacific Coast League division races are also decided. Winners include Round Rock (Texas-American Southern), Reno (Arizona-Pacific Northern) and Sacramento (Oakland-Pacific Southern). Omaha and Round Rock face off in round one of the playoffs as will Reno and Sacramento.
Thursday, August 25: Memphis 9 at Nashville 6
Shane Robinson had two hits, stole a base and scored three times. Nick Stavinoha went 4-for-6 and Matt Carpenter singled, doubled and scored twice. Maikel Cleto started and picked up the win, allowing four runs in seven innings. Victor Marte converted save number 27.
Friday, August 26: Nashville 7, Memphis 1
After Shane Robinson's first-inning double, 19 Redbirds in a row were retired until Nick Stavinoha's seventh-inning solo home run. By then, Memphis starter Brian Broderick had yielded four runs on eight hits over six frames. Bryan Augenstein gave up three more runs in the seventh and that was that. The hitters drew zero walks on the evening for the first time this season.
Saturday, August 27: Nashville 6, Memphis 3
Reliever Jess Todd let a 3-3 game slip away as the Sounds batted around in the bottom of the eighth. Andrew Brown plated two but no Redbird had more than one hit and their total of 13 strikeouts was a season worst. The hitters did draw a season-high 11 walks, including three by Tyler Greene, but were just 2-for-13 with runners in scoring position. Starter Nick Additon allowed three runs, two earned, over six innings.
Sunday, August 28: Memphis 7 at Nashville 5
Andrew Brown's grand slam in the first inning got the Redbirds' final road game of the season started right. Matt Carpenter was on base five times and drove in three with two walks, a single, double and homer. His two-run shot in the seventh broke the 5-5 tie. Nick Stavinoha's hitting streak ended at 17 games but he walked twice and scored both times. Brandon Dickson, on a 50-pitch limit in preparation for his Thursday start with St. Louis, yielded all five runs in three frames. Four relievers added six scoreless innings – Cory Rauschenberger (winner), Chuckie Fick (hold), Rich Rundles (hold) and Victor Marte (save).
Monday, August 29: Memphis 3, Albuquerque 1
Adam Ottavino started and allowed one run in four innings but Bryan Augenstein earned the win as he threw two scoreless. Victor Marte recorded his Cardinals minor league leading 29th save. Adron Chambers tripled and Nick Stavinoha had a pinch hit double to drive in a run.
Tuesday, August 30: Albuquerque 7 at Memphis 3
The Redbirds gave starter and loser Maikel Cleto a two-run edge in the first inning, but he could not hold it. The right-hander yielded seven runs, six earned, on seven hits and four walks while fanning five in just four innings. The offense managed just four hits on the evening while former Redbird Mike Parisi went six innings for the Isotopes in their win.
Wednesday, August 31: Albuquerque 3 at Memphis 2 (11 innings)
Matt Carpenter's two-run single in the eighth tied the game at two, but the visitors scratched out a run in the 11th against Chuckie Fick, who took the loss. Redbirds starter Brian Broderick allowed two runs on four hits over six innings while walking one and striking out six. The offense managed just eight hits over the 11 innings and went 2-for-12 with runners in scoring position.
On the Move
St. Louis infielder Nick Punto joined the Redbirds on a rehab assignment on Tuesday. In his first two games, the 33-year-old went 1-for-5 with a walk and a run scored.
Brandon Dickson was named St. Louis' Thursday afternoon starter, though his transaction was not official when this report was published on Thursday morning.
On the Mend
Catcher Nick Derba remains on the disabled list for a third week. He has been out since August 16.
On Monday, Victor Marte was named the reliever on the 12-man 2011 All-Pacific Coast League Team. The Redbirds' closer, acquired from Kansas City on April 13, is 29-of-36 in save opportunities and his 29 is the most in the league. The 30-year-old has allowed only two earned runs over his last 18 outings, totaling 19 innings pitched.
On the season, Marte is 2-4 with a 1.50 ERA. He has fanned 49 and walked just 18 in 60 innings of work. PCL hitters are batting just .213 against him.
Newcomer David Kopp has been named as one of the seven Cardinals farmhands to participate in the Arizona Fall League. The reliever has five scoreless outings in six Memphis appearances for a 2.25 ERA. The right-hander has fanned seven and walked three in eight innings of work.
Outfielder Shane Robinson continued his comeback, batting .313 for the month, walking more than he struck out (13 to 9) and even blasting four home runs and driving in 15. He scored 27 runs in 27 games.
The curious season of Mark Hamilton continues. The first baseman finished August with 14 doubles, 14 RBI and a solid line of .366/.421/.498, but has not homered since May. He has just two in 242 Redbirds at-bats this season.
Shortstop Tyler Greene completed his second straight month with an OPS over 1.000, at 1.026 in August. He homered eight times, was 9-for-9 in steals and scored 28 runs in 30 games.
Third baseman Matt Carpenter plated 23 in 29 games and finished August with a line of .342/.419/.532.
Shortstop Pete Kozma's .228 average in August was actually his second-best month this season (.245 in May). He did drive in 20 runs in 30 games, but a .606 August OPS and a .574 season mark remains a disappointment.
Lefty Nick Additon had his best start of the month in his most recent outing last Saturday (see above), but finished August with an ERA of 8.18. His walks and strikeouts were equal at nine and PCL hitters batted .348 against him.
In his last two starts, Maikel Cleto has allowed 11 runs, 10 earned, in 10 innings of work. Prior to that, he had yielded just three runs in total over his first four August starts. His recent performances are not the kind of momentum he would like to show St. Louis in trying to secure a call up.
Normally dependable Chuckie Fick took two losses in August, with ten walks compared to ten strikeouts in 14 2/3 innings. His ERA was still 1.84, however.
Reliever Jess Todd has allowed multiple runs in three of his last five outings and ended the month with a 6.75 ERA.
Pacific Coast League individual leaders
Carpenter is the lone bright spot in the week-to-week movement compared 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.)
Team stats and rankings – Season to date
The offense slipped while the pitchers generally held their ground this past week.
|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||126||5th fewest||132||T4th fewest|
|Saves||31||T5th fewest||34||T8th most|
After the final game of the four vs. Albuquerque (Dodgers), the Redbirds conclude the 2011 season with four against Nashville (Brewers). All remaining contests will be at AutoZone Park.
My prediction of call ups to St. Louis are the following seven: Dickson, Cleto, Cruz, Greene, Hamilton, Carpenter and Brown. I would expect skipper Maloney to join them.
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Brian Walton can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. 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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