The Memphis Redbirds put their abysmal first half in the rearview mirror after the All-Star break by shutting down the Round Rock Express (Texas Rangers). In the process, they completed their first sweep of the season, though the final game was postponed until July 29th due to rain. Redbirds pitching held the Express scoreless through the first 23 innings of the series. The week didn't prove to be flawless, however, after Maikel Cleto lost an 8-5 lead on Monday by surrendering four runs and suffering his second blown save of the season.
Bringing their record to 35-60, the Redbirds pulled ahead of the Tucson Padres by .002 percentage points to wrestle themselves out of the worst record in the Pacific Coast League. The Redbirds trail the Omaha Storm Chasers (Kansas City Royals) by 22 games.
Thursday, July 12th: Memphis 3 at Round Rock 0
Memphis came out of the break and responded in a huge way by shutting down the Express. John Gast followed up his best start in a Redbirds uniform last week with another dominant performance Thursday night. The southpaw shut down Round Rock with six strikeouts over five shutout innings, as he surrendered six singles, one double, and walked one batter.
Eduardo Sanchez made things interesting in the bottom of the ninth when he loaded the bases with a walk, single, and a hit batsman with two outs but got Yangervis Solarte to pop out to Zack Cox to end the game and pick up his seventh save.
The Redbirds scored their first run in the sixth inning, a solo-shot off the bat of Pete Kozma, his seventh on the season. Bryan Anderson drove in another as he grounded out to first with the bases loaded and one out. The final run to score came in the eighth when Mark Hamilton brought in Adron Chambers with a sacrifice fly. Memphis ended the night with five hits.
Friday, July 13th: Memphis 5 at Round Rock 0
Tyler Lyons led the Redbirds to their second straight shutout with seven dominant innings in his best start as a Memphis Redbird. The Texas native struck out four batters and yielded three hits and two walks to complete his second straight quality start and nab his first Redbirds win. John Gaub and Jess Todd followed up with an inning apiece to finish the game.
Singles from Bryan Anderson, Adron Chambers, and Ryan Jackson in addition to a double from Jose Garcia paved the way to a three-run inning in the second to give the Redbirds all they would need in the victory. Zack Cox belted a solo homer in the ninth inning to push the lead to 5-0. Both Cox and Chambers finished the night with two hits each.
Saturday, July 14th: Memphis 5 at Round Rock 3
Tied at one in the ninth inning, the Redbirds used a four-run rally to move one step closer to their first sweep of the season, one in which would ultimately happen by default when Sunday's game was rained out.
Shelby Miller needed a solid start to right his ship and was able to do so Saturday as the former first-round pick tossed five shutout innings and surrendered only one hit, three walks, and struck out four. Nick Greenwood coughed up a solo homer in the sixth to tie the game. Eduardo Sanchez completed his eighth save after replacing Chuckie Fick in the ninth once the right-hander surrendered a solo shot and two total runs in Fick's brief appearance.
Cedric Hunter and Bryan Anderson both walked in the ninth, as Hunter scored on a throwing error to allow Ryan Jackson to reach base. Adron Chambers and Shane Robinson followed up the error with a single each to drive in three more runs. Robinson finished a perfect 3-for-3 with a walk and stolen base in his first start since being sent down from St. Louis.
Sunday, July 15th: Postponed
Monday, July 16th: Albuquerque 9, Memphis 8
Matt Adams slugged his way back into the lineup as he belted his 14th home run for Memphis and fell a triple short of the cycle, collecting both of Memphis' extra-base hits and walking once. Mark Hamilton contributed four singles in the cleanup spot, while Bryan Anderson collected two of his own. Though the Redbirds combined for 12 hits and four walks, the team went just 2-for-10 with runners in scoring position.
Brandon Dickson wasn't able to follow up the solid pitching performances this week, as the right-hander yielded five runs on 10 hits and two walks over five innings. The Redbirds carried an 8-4 lead in the seventh inning before Maikel Cleto allowed four runs to cross the plate in two-thirds of an inning.
Adron Chambers: Providing a spark in the leadoff spot, Chambers continued his torrid July hitting by collecting a hit in each game after the break, driving in five runs, and walking twice. Chambers' stolen base numbers are down this year, but his .396 on-base percentage is a personal best.
Adam Reifer: Appearing in three games and recording 2.2 shutout innings this week, Reifer hasn't allowed a run through 5.2 innings in July. Reifer's strikeout-to-inning ratio of 27:45 isn't where you'd like it to be for a reliever, but he's shown good control with 12 walks on the year.
Performance of Top Opposing Prospects (selected from Scout.com's Top 10 of each team)
July 12th-14th: Texas Rangers
July 16th: Los Angeles Dodgers
The Cardinal Nation Top 40
1) Shelby Miller: What has been a bumpy road this season, including a "no-shake off" policy that the organization recently implemented, the Texas native followed through with one of his better starts this season on Saturday. Miller limited the opposition to one hit as he struck out four and walked three through five scoreless innings.
5) Zack Cox: The former Razorback belted his seventh home run of the season shortly after the All-Star break and will look to raise his .250 July batting average to track more closely to his June batting average of .377.
7) Eduardo Sanchez: Since being demoted from St. Louis, Sanchez has walked three batters, struck out four, and yielded two runs spanning five innings.
9) Matt Adams: Making his first start in July coming off injury, the burly first baseman belted his 14th home run and double in a three-hit effort Monday night.
13) Ryan Jackson: The shortstop has maintained a linear OPS (on-base percentage plus slugging percentage) through the past three seasons in the minors (.721, .749, .720) over four different levels. Whether Jackson will have the bat to be a starter in the major leagues is still a question mark, but it's comforting to see that he hasn't struggled to adapt.
14) Maikel Cleto: Making his first appearance since being demoted to make room for Trevor Rosenthal in the bullpen, the right-hander yielded four runs to lose the lead against Albuquerque.
17) Adron Chambers: See "Who's Hot."
19) Adam Reifer: See "Who's Hot."
20) Mark Hamilton: The Baltimore native has walked an impressive 36 times in 224 at bats this season, but his .806 OPS this season in Memphis is his lowest since his PCL debut in 2009.
21) John Gast: The southpaw shut out the Express over five dominant innings this week and has allowed only one run in his last two starts.
25) Bryan Anderson: Following a brief promotion to St. Louis and seeing no action, Anderson returned at the plate to go 4-for-14 with two walks in four starts after the All-Star break.
32) Brandon Dickson: The Alabaman posted what was probably his worst outing of the year but still maintains a steady 3.87 earned-run average with only 22 walks in 93 innings. His strikeout-to-inning ratio of 52:93 is less favorable.
34) Sam Freeman: The southpaw is actually holding righties to a lower batting average (.200) than lefties (.261) in 12 appearances for Memphis.
35) Pete Kozma: The second baseman started each game after the break and went 3-for-11 with his seventh long ball.
40) Chuckie Fick: Allowing his first runs of the month with two earned in a third of an inning, Fick (39) fell to Reifer (40) in most appearances out of the bullpen for Memphis this season, though Fick saw a little time in St. Louis.
7/14: Shane Robinson optioned to Memphis. Aside from a brief appearance on May 14th, Robinson has been with St. Louis all season. After hitting .256 in 125 at bats, Robinson has come back to Memphis to make room for Lance Berkman.
7/14: Placed Lou Montanez on the 7-day disabled list. The outfielder shouldn't miss much time with a left hand abrasion.
7/16: Maikel Cleto optioned to Memphis. The right-hander has been shuffled quite a bit between St. Louis and Memphis. This time, Cleto returns to make way for Trevor Rosenthal in the St. Louis pen.
7/16: Jose Garcia assigned to Springfield Cardinals. Appearing in only two games and going 1-for-6, the second baseman returns to Springfield upon the activation of Matt Adams.
7/16: Scott Gorgen assigned to Springfield Cardinals. Making four starts and leaving with a 5.89 earned-run average, Gorgen made only one start in Memphis that went beyond 4.1 innings.
7/16: Matt Adams activated from 7-day disabled list. Adams made his first appearance in July after missing time since June 30th with a right elbow injury.
Memphis will finish off a four-game series against the Albuquerque Isotopes (Los Angeles Dodgers) on Thursday before heading home for a weekend series against the Oklahoma City Redhawks (Houston Astros) that will last four games. Promotional highlights to the weekend home series include a Memphis Chicks t-shirt giveaway, Saturday fireworks, and a Redbirds replica jersey giveaway.
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