One thing that Memphis has been the past three weeks is consistent, as the Redbirds continued a trend of three wins and four losses in all three weeks. Despite hitting with a Pacific Coast League worst batting average of .256 and going 2-for-20 on Sunday and Monday with runners in scoring position, the ‘Birds kept up one good trend of the past week and batted .333 in those situations to keep up an improved offense. Redbirds batters also blasted nine home runs this period and ended an eight-game home run streak on Monday night.
Facing off against the New Orleans Zephyrs (Miami Marlins), Albuquerque Isotopes (Los Angeles Dodgers), and Oklahoma City Redhawks (Houston Astros), Memphis' 3-4 record kept them in the cellar of the American Northern Division with an overall record of 31-54, three games below the Iowa Cubs and 23 behind the Omaha Storm Chasers (Kansas City Royals).
Barret Browning was named as the sole Redbird to the Pacific Coast League roster in the Triple-A All-Star game to be played on July 11th after posting a 1.89 earned-run average in 30 appearances, but he will most likely be replaced by Brandon Dickson, since Browning was called up to the St. Louis Cardinals.
Tuesday, June 26th: New Orleans 6, Memphis 4
Though Memphis pounded out 12 hits, the Redbirds posted just two hits in nine opportunities with runners in scoring position. Held scoreless until the sixth inning, Steven Hill reached first via an error followed by a double off the bat of Matt Adams. Hot-hitting Zack Cox drove in Hill with a single, while Pete Kozma plated Adams with a sacrifice fly. Mark Hamilton drilled his ninth home run on the season, a two-run shot in the ninth, but it wasn't enough to cover the two-run deficit. Adams and Cox ended up with three hits apiece.
Tyler Lyons put the Redbirds in an early 5-0 hole in his third and final inning. The southpaw teed up a home run, three other hits, and three walks. Brian Broderick was able to limit the damage after he followed Lyons with three shutout innings, but the five runs were all the Zephyrs would need to close out the four-game set with a 3-1 series win.
Wednesday, June 27th: Memphis 3, Albuquerque 2
Shelby Miller impressed in his second "no shake-off" start and first since being skipped for rest. The Cardinals top pitching prospect retired the first nine batters he faced with five strikeouts before surrendering a solo-shot that landed in the right field picnic seats. The home run would be the only hit Miller would give up through his five inning start in which he threw 87 pitches, 50 for strikes. The Texas native successfully mixed in and kept batters off balance with a low-90s fastball and a relatively consistent curveball, striking out eight total batters. Though Miller encountered trouble in the fifth by walking two batters and hitting another to lead off the inning, he struck out two of the next three batters to escape his final inning unscathed.
For as much as Miller did on the mound, the offense won a close game due to a solo-blast from Eugenio Velez to lead off the game, his 10th on the season. Back-to-back home runs from Mark Hamilton, which was also his 10th in 2012 and second in consecutive days, and Zack Cox to lead off the seventh inning, accounted for Memphis' only other runs.
Thursday, June 28th: Albuquerque 10 at Memphis 8
Ryan Jackson caused a stir with his best outing for Memphis by pounding out four hits, which accounted for half of what Memphis was able to offer Thursday night, and he also stole his first base on the year. The shortstop drove in five runs, one of which was the result of a solo-shot, his fifth with the Redbirds. No other Redbirds batter was able to muster more than one hit to help the team overtake the Isotopes.
Though the Redbirds were able to establish a 5-2 lead, disaster struck in the seventh inning to the tune of six runs with John Gaub on the mound. Gaub allowed the first four batters to reach off three singles and a walk, as Chuckie Fick allowed all runners to score and two of his own with four straight singles before retiring the next three batters to end the inning. Scott Gorgen started the game and was unable to last long after walking an astounding five batters and surrendering four hits, though the right-hander allowed only two of those runners to score.
Friday, June 29th: Memphis 9, Albuquerque 5
Memphis responded to Albuquerque's offensive night on Thursday by plating nine of their own on Friday. Getting out to a 6-2 lead in the fourth inning, Memphis would score all they would need to finish out the Isotopes for a 2-1 series victory.
Matt Adams mirrored an incredible game last week with two bombs (his 12th and 13th for Memphis) and a double to drive in five runs and equal what the Isotopes were able to score all game. Zack Cox continued his blistering hot streak with two singles and a double. Adron Chambers nabbed two steals, though only had one hit in five attempts.
Brandon Dickson picked up his fourth win and lowered his earned-run average to 3.39 after he finished out a quality start. The Alabama native threw six innings and surrendered two runs off four hits, one walk, and four strikeouts. Though Brian Broderick and Jess Todd yielded three runs in their two total innings of work, Maikel Cleto struck out two in a perfect inning to close out the victory.
Saturday, June 30th: Memphis 20 at Oklahoma City 6
Falling behind 5-0 and held hitless through four innings, Memphis answered back with eight runs in the fifth on the way to a complete rout of the Redhawks to open up a four-game set in Oklahoma City.
Adron Chambers led the way to Memphis' biggest offensive night of the season with five hits (one double) and one walk in seven plate appearances. Ryan Jackson and Zack Cox drilled two doubles each, while Mark Hamilton blasted a three-run shot and fell a triple short of the cycle. The offense combined for seven doubles, one triple (Eugenio Velez pinch-hit), and a home run. Cedric Hunter replaced Matt Adams after two at-bats and was one of three batters to nab three total hits, Hamilton and Cox being the other two.
John Gast had a less than desirable start, but was able to win his fifth game for Memphis after he allowed five runs (four earned) off eight hits (one homer), two walks, and five strikeouts. John Gaub and Nick Greenwood completed a shutout inning each.
Sunday, July 1st: Oklahoma City 6, Memphis 2
After serving up a grand slam in the first inning to Marwin Gonzalez, Tyler Lyons kept the Redhawks scoreless and surrendered just one more hit through the next four innings. The lefty struck out an impressive nine batters compared to one walk, but the Redbirds batters weren't able to answer back, handing Lyons his third loss in four starts.
Adron Chambers followed a five-hit night with another three Sunday but was unable to cross the plate as the next three batters - Ryan Jackson, Zack Cox, and Mark Hamilton - finished 2-for-14. The entire team went hitless in 10 opportunities with runners in scoring position. Cedric Hunter was the only other Redbirds batter with a multi-hit game after he smoked two doubles, while Eugenio Velez drove in the only runs with a two-run blast in the second inning. Velez also stole his 15th and 16th bases on the season.
Monday, July 2nd: Oklahoma City 7, Memphis 1
Shelby Miller wasn't able to maintain any momentum from his previous start and struggled with command Monday night in his third start since the "no shake-off" rule. The Texas native's five walks on the night led to an abbreviated start of four innings after he surrendered four total hits (one home run) and four runs, though he struck out five.
The offense provided no great shakes tonight, either. Though Lou Montanez produced three singles in the leadoff spot and drove in their only run in the fifth inning, Zack Cox drilled the only extra-base hit for the Redbirds, his 22nd double of the year.
Cedric Hunter: The Georgia native has quietly put up relatively solid numbers with a .790 OPS (slugging percentage plus on-base percentage) in 218 at bats. Hunter went 12-for-26 with five multi-hit games this past week. In June, the outfielder posted a batting line of .373/.448/.482.
Zack Cox: June was a smoking hot month for Cox, who went 12-for-27 with five extra-base hits on the week and maintained a batting line of .377/.424/.574 throughout the month. The third baseman has been a notoriously slow starter and it seems as if he's finally found his groove against Triple-A pitching.
Mark Hamilton: Adding three home runs of his own this week, the outfielder belted out five extra-base hits this period and had a very productive month with a .958 OPS.
Power and clutch hitting: Redbirds batters brought their big bats this week and slugged 29 total extra-base hits, nine of which were long balls. Their .333 batting average in scoring position actually surpassed their .323 average in the same situations last week.
Adam Reifer: Though tied with Chuckie Fick for the most appearances out of the bullpen with 35, Reifer was scored upon in two of three relief appearances this week, which increased his earned-run average in the past 10 days to 7.20. The former 11th-round pick's strikeout percentage has decreased from 22.1% and 22.7% in 2009-2010 to 14.2% this season.
Tyler Lyons: Pacific Coast League batting hasn't been kind to the southpaw, and that continued this week in two starts in which Lyons surrendered nine total runs over eight innings, increasing his earned-run average to 7.40 in four starts. The good news is that he struck out 12 batters.
Performance of Top Opposing Prospects (selected from Scout.com's Top 10 of each team)
June 26th: Florida Marlins
June 27th-29th: Los Angeles Dodgers
June 30th: Houston Astros
July 1st: Houston Astros
6) Brett Oberholtzer (LHP, no plus pitch, 88-92 mph fastball, inconsistent slider, average fastball and changeup, funky delivery that leads to some deception but also inconsistent command): 6.1 IP, six hits, one run, four walks, four strikeouts
The Cardinal Nation Top 40
1) Shelby Miller: It was a Jekyll and Hyde week for the top pitching prospect, as Miller struck out eight in five innings and surrendered just one hit, but then followed that up with four walks and four earned-runs in an abbreviated four-inning start to maintain his 6.00 earned-run average from the past week.
5) Zack Cox: See "Who's Hot".
7) Eduardo Sanchez: After walking 13 batters in 15 innings for the St. Louis Cardinals, Sanchez was sent back down to Memphis to work on his control, something that has been an issue for him this year between Memphis and St. Louis.
9) Matt Adams: The first baseman belted two home runs and two doubles in three and a half starts this week but was taken out of the game on Saturday with a right elbow injury. Adams hasn't seen any playing time since and was listed as day-to-day before being placed on the disabled list Tuesday night.
13) Ryan Jackson: The Florida native had a productive week, which included a four-hit night and another multi-hit game. Jackson slugged four doubles and his fifth long ball of the season and increased his battering average by a point to .282.
14) Maikel Cleto: Upon returning to Memphis, Cleto yielded one run in five appearances for the Redbirds before being promoted yet again to St. Louis to try to level out an inconsistent bullpen.
17) Adron Chambers: See "Who's Hot".
19) Adam Reifer: See "Who's Not".
20) Mark Hamilton: See "Who's Hot".
21) John Gast: June hasn't been a kind month for the southpaw, as he has seen his earned-run average balloon with a 6.23 ERA in six starts this month. Tossing four quality starts in his first six games for Memphis, it hasn't all been bad for the lefty in the Pacific Coast League.
25) Bryan Anderson: Despite collecting one hit in each of his final three starts this week, Anderson's struggles have continued. His June batting average was .197 and he has just 10 extra-base hits in 216 at bats this season.
32) Brandon Dickson: Though sporting a win-loss record of only 4-7, Dickson picked up his fourth win this week with a solid performance on Friday against the Isotopes. The right-hander has been the most consistent current starting pitcher for the ‘Birds with an earned-run average of 3.39 in 14 starts.
34) Sam Freeman: The southpaw reliever returned to Memphis after posting a 6.00 earned-run average in 12 innings for the Cardinals. His major league experience will be invaluable as Freeman will try to improve his control back in the Redbirds bullpen.
35) Pete Kozma: The second baseman's June .260 batting average has been his best month this year but he has struggled to maintain any type of offensive consistency. Kozma's .657 OPS is among the worst in the Pacific Coast League, and his future is unclear with Kolten Wong's impending promotion.
40) Chuckie Fick: Tying Reifer with the most appearances out of the pen for the Redbirds at 35, Fick surrendered two runs in 3.1 total innings this week.
6/30: Recalled Maikel Cleto to St. Louis. In a shakeup of the St. Louis Cardinals' bullpen, Cleto was recalled after yielding one run in six innings through five appearances in Memphis and dropping his earned-run average to 3.94. This will mark Cleto's second time in the big club's bullpen this season.
6/30: Called up Barret Browning from St. Louis. Making his first appearance in the majors, Browning set down all six batters he faced on Saturday night in a 7-3 loss to the Pirates. The southpaw posted the lowest earned-run average at 1.89 for the Redbirds before being promoted to St. Louis.
6/30: Optioned Eduardo Sanchez to Memphis. In 15 innings with St. Louis, Sanchez walked 13 batters after failing to maintain the improved control the righty had established in his final several appearances with Memphis before being promoted in May.
6/30: Optioned Sam Freeman to Memphis. The second left-handed reliever spot in the bullpen has caused troubles for the Cardinals, and Freeman was the latest victim. Though he struck out 10 batters in 12 innings with a mid-90s fastball, Freeman walked seven batters and posted a 6.00 earned-run average.
Memphis completed a four-game series in Oklahoma City Tuesday night and headed home to Memphis for an Independence Day home stand, in which all five games will be against their cross-state rival Nashville Sounds (Milwaukee Brewers). The Redbirds will then head into the All-Star Break for a three-day rest, while the Pacific Coast League will take on the International League in a Triple-A showdown in Buffalo, New York on Wednesday, July 11th.
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