In the midst of a losing streak that would tie their worst of the year at nine straight, the Redbirds drew 37,041 fans in a weekend series against the Reno Aces (Arizona Diamondbacks) and Colorado Springs Sky Sox (Colorado Rockies) in what was their best three-game turnout in at least six years. The boost in attendance didn't help the Redbirds woes as they dropped the first three games of a four-game set against the Sky Sox to run their losing streak to nine, sadly tying their worst of the year. Memphis was also swept at home earlier in the week against the Reno Aces in which their pitching was drilled by Reno's batters to the tune of 30 runs over four games.
The Redbirds offense struck out a staggering 56 times over the week and 29 times in the first three games against Colorado Springs. The defense also struggled by committing 15 errors, five from Ryan Jackson (four throwing) and four from Zack Cox (three fielding). Memphis remains the worst offensive team in the Pacific Coast League with a league-low batting average of .242 and OPS of .655 (slugging percentage + on-base percentage). They've stolen the second fewest bases with 18 total and have drawn the second-fewest walks. The team earned run average bumped up to 4.39, which is right in the middle of the league.
The Redbirds nine-game losing streak dropped them back to the cellar of the American Northern standings in the Pacific Coast League, one game behind their cross-state rival Nashville Sounds (Milwaukee Brewers). They dropped further behind the first-place Omaha Storm Chasers (Kansas City Royals) to 11 games, despite the fact that Omaha went 3-5 on the week. Memphis' 13-25 tally is second worst in the PCL, just ahead of the Tucson Padres at 12-27.
Tuesday, May 8th: Reno 9 at Memphis 8 (13 innings)
The Redbirds got off to an early 6-1 lead in the first inning, but the pitching was unable to maintain the edge. Adron Chambers led off the game with a single that led to four more singles, one double, and a triple that added up to six runs in the first. The offense was able to muster just two runs in the following 12 innings off 11 singles. Ryan Jackson had the most hits on the night on either team with four singles.
Brian Broderick lasted just four innings and was unable to hold the sizeable lead by giving up six runs (five earned), eight hits, and three walks. R.J. Swindle walked Cole Gillespie, who advanced on to second on a stolen base then took third as Bryan Anderson threw the ball to center field and subsequently gave up the go-ahead run on a single by Ryan Wheeler.
Wednesday, May 9th: Reno 8 at Memphis 3
Joe Kelly was burned by two errors (both fielding) from Zack Cox that led to three unearned runs and five total runs in five innings. Maikel Cleto came out of the bullpen and had the only solid pitching line from the Redbirds staff with two perfect innings and four strikeouts.
Amaury Cazana (2) and Eugenio Velez (3) both had solo shots added to a double each from Cox, Steven Hill, and Ryan Jackson. The extra-base hits added just three runs on the offense due to the lack of walks (one) surrendered by Reno's pitching staff.
Thursday, May 10th: Reno 6 at Memphis 4
Shelby Miller put the Redbirds in an early 4-1 hole but ended up pitching his way to his longest outing of the year. The ace who has yet to show it this year went six innings and gave up four runs (three earned) off eight hits, one walk, and six strikeouts. All eight hits Miller allowed were singles, which combined with the fact that he issued just one walk and struck out six batters might have been Miller's best start of the season.
Adron Chambers had two singles in the leadoff spot, and Steven Hill added two more as the only batters for the Redbirds to record more than one hit and also drove in half the runs scored. The game was tied until Adam Reifer and Chuckie Fick gave up a run apiece in consecutive innings.
Friday, May 11th: Reno 7 at Memphis 6
Nick Additon fell in line with most of the pitching this week and gave up four runs in six innings off six total hits (one homer, one double), two walks, and five strikeouts. The lefty actually limited the extra-base hits for the most part, which is something he hasn't been able to do this year. Redbirds pitching on the night gave up seven total walks, which led to so many runs.
Memphis' offense matched Reno in total hits at 10 but walked just twice, which ended up being the difference in the one-run game. Matt Adams led the Birds with a home run and four total hits, while Mark Hamilton hit his first homer and Pete Kozma added his third with Hamilton in the fifth inning.
Saturday, May 12th: Colorado Springs 8 at Memphis 3
After a first inning that saw six total runs, the score remained unchanged until the Redbirds plated one in the seventh to bring themselves within one run of the Sky Sox 4-3. Brandon Dickson settled down after the first and pitched six scoreless innings, while giving up five total hits and two walks. Nick Greenwood relieved Dickson to pitch a scoreless eighth inning but gave up four total runs (three earned) off a grand slam from Wilkin Castillo. Adron Chambers had three singles from the leadoff spot and Pete Kozma had two singles, but the rest of the offense faltered on the night and struck out a total of nine times (including Cox with a hat trick).
Sunday, May 13th: Colorado Springs 3 at Memphis 0
Redbirds pitching collectively threw its best game of the week. Brian Broderick led the way, allowing three runs (one earned) off seven hits, two walks, and a hit by pitch. Jess Todd and Chuckie Fick pitched three shutout innings to finish off the game. Drew Pomeranz and the bullpen completely shut down the Redbirds offense. Sadly, Broderick was the only Memphis batter to record two hits (one double) on the night. To make matters worse, the Redbirds struck out nine times and failed to work a walk for the second straight game against Colorado Springs pitching. Ryan Jackson also had three fielding errors.
Monday, May 14th: Colorado Springs 5 at Memphis 3
Colorado Springs pitching once again stymied the Memphis offense. Redbirds batters struck out a total of 11 even times and walked just twice. Shane Robinson made his first appearance since being sent down after Lance Berkman was taken off the 15-day disabled list and went 3-for-4 with a triple. Mark Hamilton added his second home run, Matt Adams drilled his eighth double, and Adron Chambers reached base three times via two singles and a walk.
Joe Kelly pitched a relatively good game despite allowing four runs off 11 hits in 6.1 innings. All but one of the hits Kelly yielded were singles, he recorded 9 of his 12 outs via the groundball, and he struck out five compared to one walk on the night. Maikel Cleto finished off a good week with 1.2 innings scoreless after striking out two without a walk. However, the Redbirds offense couldn't answer back when Colorado Springs took a one-run lead in the seventh inning.
Adron Chambers: This is the third straight week for Chambers to make this list, and he's been one of the only Redbirds players to get on base at a consistent clip. The centerfielder went 11-for-33 on the week with a walk and two stolen bases. If only there were enough people to drive him in batting behind him in the order.
Maikel Cleto: Relievers haven't been mentioned enough in these lists, and Cleto did enough to earn a spot here. The hard-throwing righty pitched 5.2 scoreless innings, struck out seven batters, and walked two. Another string of performances like that, and the Cardinals will most surely look at him for a spot sometime this year if needed.
Eugenio Velez: As hot as Velez was to start the season, he is cold now. Precisely, he is 3-for-21 in his last seven games. Velez walked just once on the week and dropped his season OPS to .712.
Nick Greenwood: This week, two relievers made these lists. Greenwood gave up seven total runs (six earned) in two appearances that amounted to four innings. The lefty is missing a chance to make a positive impression with the big club as they're now down to only one left-handed reliever.
Performance of Top Opposing Prospects (selected from Scout.com's Top 10 of each team)
May 8th, Arizona Diamondbacks
5) Ryan Wheeler (utility player, solid-average hitter, average patience, average power, below average defense): 1-for-3, one RBI, two strikeouts
7) Adam Eaton (centerfield, undersized, high-average hitter, good patience, average at best power, plus speed, range, and arm, struggles against lefties): 2-for-6, one RBI, one walk, one double
May 9th, Arizona Diamondbacks
7) Adam Eaton: 1-for-4, one strikeout
May 10th, Arizona Diamondbacks
5) Ryan Wheeler: 1-for-4, one strikeout
7) Adam Eaton: 3-for-5, one RBI
May 11th, Arizona Diamondbacks
5) Ryan Wheeler: walk
7) Adam Eaton: 3-for-4, one RBI, one walk
May 12th, Colorado Rockies
May 13th, Colorado Rockies
2) Drew Pomeranz (LHP, low-90s fastball, plus curveball, average changeup, average command, high strikeouts): 6 IP, five hits, zero runs, zero walks, five strikeouts
May 14th, Colorado Rockies
The Cardinal Nation Top 40
1) Shelby Miller: The top pitching prospect built upon his longest start last week and went further yet again with a six-inning game. Miller walked just one in his start and maintained his earned-run average of 4.46. The Texan will make two starts next week and will try to build upon his improved command.
5) Zack Cox: The former Razorback is still struggling with the fourth-worst OPS (.546) of qualifying batters in the Pacific Coast League. His errors increased for a second straight week that saw the amount on the year go to 10.
7) Eduardo Sanchez: After exhibiting much better control, Sanchez was called up to the St. Louis Cardinals once J.C Romero was released.
9) Matt Adams: Adams remains the best Redbirds batter by a long margin. His slugging percentage is down a bit this year at .526, but Adams also missed a few games with a hyper-extended elbow.
13) Ryan Jackson: The slick-fielding shortstop actually committed four errors this week. Jackson's slugging percentage at .360 has dipped this year back closer to his career level in the minor leagues, but he's still posting a relatively good batting line of .281/.331/.360.
14) Maikel Cleto: Cleto earned Who's Hot honors and has maintained good control this season with a solid strikeout-to-walk ratio of 23:6.
17) Adron Chambers: The centerfielder also earned Who's Hot honors and remains the second-most effective Redbirds batter. His .388 on-base percentage is very solid for a leadoff hitter but lacks those behind him to drive him in at a consistent rate.
18) Joe Kelly: Kelly gave up nine runs (six runs) during two starts this week, despite having solid groundball numbers and limiting extra-base hits. His 3.18 earned-run average is now best on the club among starters.
19) Adam Reifer: The right-hander made three appearances out of the pen and allowed two runs in 4.1 innings pitched. His earned-run average bumped up slightly to 3.72.
20) Mark Hamilton: Hamilton played his first full week with Memphis and hit two home runs, equaling his 2011 total. The first baseman/left fielder struck out eight times, which added to the Redbirds strike out issues, and has an on-base percentage (.242) lower than his batting average (.250).
25) Bryan Anderson: The catcher sports the lowest OPS of any qualifying batter in the Pacific Coast League. Anderson's .407 OPS is over 100 points lower than the next-to-last place hitter in the league and one has to wonder what he has to do to get out of his serious funk.
32) Brandon Dickson: Dickson made two poor outings in a row and saw his earned-run average rise to 3.42 in eight starts on the year. The Alabaman still maintains solid command and has been a good contributor to an inconsistent pitching staff.
35) Pete Kozma: The second baseman has appeared in the most games (38) of any Redbirds player. Kozma is still struggling with the bat but has looked fairly solid in the field.
40) Chuckie Fick: Fick still has the most appearances out of the pen with 17 and saw his earned-run average increase just slightly to 2.70 in 16.2 innings. The right-hander gave up one run in three appearances this week.
5/13: Shane Robinson optioned to Memphis after Lance Berkman was taken off the 15-day disabled list. Robinson is expected to see time at all three outfield positions but less time at centerfield with Adron Chambers doing well in that role.
5/14: St. Louis Cardinals recall Eduardo Sanchez. Outside of Sanchez's last outing in which he issued two free passes, the right-hander walked just one batter in his past six appearances out of the pen.
5/14: Released Amaury Cazana. The 33-year old outfielder had spent parts of the past five seasons with the Redbirds but struggled with just a .624 OPS this season.
5/14: Sam Freeman promoted from Springfield. The left-hander will make his Memphis Redbirds debut after posting a 1.56 earned-run average in 15 appearances out of the Double-A bullpen with a strikeout-to-walk ratio of 12:4.
The Redbirds will try to end their nine-game losing streak with Shelby Miller taking the hill to close out the four-game series against the Colorado Springs Sky Sox. Memphis will then embark on an eight-game road streak starting with their first series of the year against the Las Vegas 51s (Toronto Blue Jays) and ending in Tucson against the Padres Triple-A affiliate. The Tucson Padres boast the poorest record in the Pacific Coast League, so the match-up will pit the two worst teams in the league vying to escape the cellar.
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