The Memphis Redbirds saw their losing streak stretch to nine games as they got off to the worst start of any Pacific Coast League team before they were able to salvage two wins to even up the first home series against Oklahoma City. Hitting with runners in scoring position once again plagued the Redbirds in all of their losses. They were shut out twice, but only one of their losses was a deficit of more than two runs.
The Redbirds are in the cellar of the American Northern Division, one game behind the third-place Nashville Sounds and 5 ½ away from first-place Omaha. Their batting average of .239 is tied for 12th of 16, and they have the third-most strikeouts in the league at 100. The pitching hasn't been much better on the season as they rank 10th with a team earned-run average of 4.44. Memphis ranks in the top third of the league in strikeouts and in the middle of the pack in issuing free passes.
Tuesday, April 10th: New Orleans 2, Memphis 0
The pitching fared well in limiting runs starting with Brandon Dickson, who struck out six over six innings. The right hander gave up two runs off nine hits and one walk. Jess Todd struck out three over two scoreless innings out of the pen. The hitting didn't fare as well as Matt Adams and Eugenio Velez were the only two batters to record two hits. No Redbirds player managed an extra-base hit. Zack Cox had the hat trick (three) in strikeouts.
Wednesday, April 11th: New Orleans 2, Memphis 0
The Redbirds were shut out for the second straight game, stretching their losing skid to six. Velez added two singles again in four at-bats with one walk, and Adams finished 1-for-3 with a walk and double, which was the team's sole extra-base hit. The Redbirds struck out a total of 14 times in the game led by Amaury Cazana with the golden sombrero (four) and Pete Kozma with the hat trick. The pen was the star of the night as Barret Browning fanned four over two scoreless innings and Eduardo Sanchez struck out the side with 13 pitches in a perfect inning of work.
Thursday, April 12th: New Orleans 3, Memphis 2
The Redbirds continued to struggle with runners in scoring position by hitting a paltry 1-for-14. They were able to get 13 men on base but continued to fail to drive them in at a consistent rate. Adams had a noteworthy night once again by going 4-for-5 with his third double on the year. The slugging first baseman also stole his first base since 2010. Velez had his third two-hit night in a row but failed to cross home plate. Joe Kelly had a solid outing in his second starter of the season as he gave up two runs off four hits, one walk, and five strikeouts in seven innings.
Friday, April 13th: Oklahoma City 11 at Memphis 3 (Redbirds Home Opener)
Shelby Miller coasted until the fourth and fifth inning when he gave up all four of his runs, all but one of which came via two home runs. The system's top prospect struck out six in four innings but struggled with the location of his secondary offerings throughout the night. Ryan Jackson was the only Redbirds batter to record more than one hit. The slick-fielding shortstop finished a triple short of the cycle, which included a laser beam homer to left field, and drove in all three runs.
Saturday, April 14th: Oklahoma City 4 at Memphis 3
The losing streak reached nine as the Redbirds offense once again failed to produce extra-base hits. A running count on how many times Adams' name appeared in these reports should be taken as he went 2-for-4 with his fourth double of the year. Velez had the only other extra-base hit for the home team and finished 3-for-4. Bryan Anderson may have been the goat of the night after he struck out three times (batting average dropped to .029) and allowed three stolen bases behind the plate (all with Nick Additon). Additon limited the Redhawks to one run over five innings with four strikeouts, but he was also wildly effective with four walks.
Sunday, April 15th: Memphis 4, Oklahoma City 3
Memphis took the lead in the eighth inning when shortstop Angel Sanchez made an error on a groundball off the bat of Mitch Canham. Despite scoring four runs, Jermaine Curtis was the only home player to get two hits. Dickson was solid once again after giving up just two runs in six innings off eight hits, a hit-by-pitch, and six strikeouts. Both of his walks were intentional. Sanchez closed out the game with two strikeouts in a perfect inning of work.
Monday, April 16th: Memphis 2, Oklahoma City 0
The Redbirds threw their first shutout of the season and started their first winning streak at two games. Brian Broderick led the pitching staff with six great innings. He gave up just five hits, struck out six batters, didn't allow a free pass, and eight of his ten outs recorded in the field came via the groundball. The bullpen pitched three perfect innings led by Nick Greenwood and Maikel Cleto, both of whom struck out two batters. Zack Cox showed his first signs of power this season with a home run that landed in the bullpen in left field. Adams contributed three hits in his four plate appearances.
Matt Adams: The 2011 Texas League MVP is making an early case for MVP honors in the Pacific Coast League. Adams remained blistering hot by slugging half of the Redbirds total extra-base hits over the past seven days and maintaining a slugging percentage hovering around .700. The first baseman is one of the few shining stars for the Redbirds offense early this season.
Eugenio Velez: The switch-hitting second baseman started six out of the past seven games and recorded multi-hit games in four of those starts, all of which were singles. Velez has gotten on base at an impressive clip but astonishingly has yet to cross home plate.
Brandon Dickson: Dickson has enjoyed a good start in his third season pitching for the Redbirds. The right-hander made two very similar starts the past week. In both starts, Dickson went six innings and struck out six batters. Each time, he gave up two runs on a combined 17 hits and three walks.
Zack Cox: You don't want to make this list two weeks in a row, and Cox has found himself off to slow start once again in a new league. Cox has been a slow starter when being introduced to a new level throughout his minor league career, so it's way too early to press the panic button. However, there's no way to spin a stretch where the former Razorback went 0-for-19 with nine strikeouts. The third baseman hit his first home run and extra-base hit of the season on Monday night, so maybe that will wake up his bat.
Bryan Anderson: Anderson has exactly one hit on the season in 37 at-bats. You read that right. Anderson has nine strikeouts in his five starts behind the plate over the past week and had his first and only hit of the season to bring his average to .027.
Extra-base hits and hitting with runners in scoring position: The Redbirds have hit .118 with runners in scoring position and managed just eight extra-base hits over the past seven games. They have the hitting talent this year to be good, but they are off to an incredibly sluggish start. Averaging 1.86 runs per game, the Redbirds were lucky to get the pitching to nab the two wins they managed in that stretch.
Performance of Top Opposing Prospects (selected from Scout.com's Top 10 of each team)
April 10th, Miami Marlins
3) Matt Dominguez (third base, great fielder, underperforming hitter with potential for average hitting and power): 1-for-4, one strikeout
April 11th, Marlins
3) Dominguez: 1-for-4, two strikeouts
April 12th, Marlins
3) Dominguez: 0-for-2, one walk
April 13th, 14th, 16th, Houston Astros
April 15th, Astros
7) Paul Clemens (RHP, effectively wild, 93-96 mph fastball with potential plus curve and solid changeup; wildness may lead to future in bullpen): 6 IP, 3 H, 1 R/ER, 2 BB, 5 K
4/13: Luis De La Cruz returned to Palm Beach Cardinals.
4/13: Mitch Canham signed as free agent to Memphis. The former supplemental first-round pick by San Diego will provide backup relief for Bryan Anderson, who is off to a rough start.
4/15: Skip Schumaker assigned to Memphis. Schumaker can spend up to 20 days splitting time between second base and right field on a rehab assignment in Memphis before being recalled to St. Louis to make his 2012 debut.
The Redbirds will take on the New Orleans Zephyrs Tuesday night for a four-game home stretch before departing for Iowa to oppose the Cubs for the first time this season. Shelby Miller will be making two starts over the next week as the Redbirds offense will try to awaken from their slumber.
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