Everything came together for the Memphis Redbirds for the first time this season in an offensive breakout that plated 64 total runs, 28 extra-base hits, and a .453 batting average with runners in scoring position. The Redbirds averaged just over nine runs per game, despite playing two seven-inning games as the result of a double header against the Albuquerque Isotopes (Los Angeles Dodgers). Their dominating week at the plate included a record-setting night on Sunday that included the most hits (24) and runs (24) in team history, grand slams in one inning from Steven Hill and Pete Kozma, and Hill recording eight straight hits.
Memphis split a four-game series against Albuquerque before returning home to face the first-place Oklahoma City Redhawks (Houston Astros). The Redbirds went on to trounce Oklahoma City in their first four-game sweep of the season by outscoring the RedHawks 47 runs to 18 over the series.
The Redbirds moved ahead of the Iowa Cubs to climb out of the cellar in the American Northern standings of the Pacific Coast League. They remain four games behind the second place Nashville Sounds (Milwaukee Brewers) and 19.5 behind the Omaha Storm Chasers (Kansas City Royals).
Tuesday, July 17th: Memphis 11 at Albuquerque 4
A four-run fourth led the way to a rout of the Isotopes as they split the first two games of the series. Matt Adams belted his 15th home run, a two-run shot in the fifth that increased the lead to 6-0. Adams finished 2-for-5 on the night, as Eugenio Velez added two doubles, and Adron Chambers with two hits and a walk of his own from the leadoff spot. Redbirds batters showed good discipline with seven walks, though they also struck out 11 times.
John Gast dominated his way for seven innings by issuing no walks, striking out four, and surrendering one run off seven hits (two doubles). The southpaw threw 59 of his 90 pitches for strikes and had a groundout-to-flyout ratio of 9:5.
Wednesday, July 18th: Postponed
Thursday, July 19th: Albuquerque 4, Memphis 3 (Game one, 7 innings)
The Redbirds mounted a rally in the seventh inning of game one of the double header, as Ryan Jackson singled to open the frame, Nick Derba walked with two outs, and Matt Adams reached first on an error to load the bases with two outs. Adron Chambers ripped a double to bring the tying run in Adams to the plate, but he was thrown out to end the game. Ryan Jackson hammered his sixth home run and was the only Memphis batter to finish with two hits.
Taking the loss with a full six innings, Lyons yielded four runs, but did strike out six batters compared to one walk. The southpaw coughed up a solo home run in a three-run first inning from which the Redbirds were unable to recover.
Thursday, July 19th: Memphis 3, Albuquerque 2 (Game two, 7 innings)
Memphis broke a one-run tie in the seventh inning with a two-out, two-run homer by Adron Chambers, his second this season, scoring Eugenio Velez, who had walked in front of him. Chambers also walked twice, while Zack Cox ripped his eighth home run and Matt Adams hit his 15th double.
Resting the whole first game, Nick Greenwood tossed two scoreless innings to begin game two for the bullpen. John Gaub, Jess Todd, and Adam Reifer followed up with three shutout innings of their own, before Eduardo Sanchez made things interesting in the bottom of the seventh. He issued two walks, a single, and a run scored before retiring Elian Herrera to end the game.
Friday, July 20th: Memphis 8, Oklahoma City 1
Back-to-back home runs by Zack Cox and Ryan Jackson amounted for three of the five runs that the team would tally in the first inning on the way to a beat down of the Redhawks in the first game of a four-game set. Steven Hill added his sixth homer, while Mark Hamilton finished out the home run bonanza with a two-run shot of his own to complete the Redbirds rout. Zack Cox and Steven Hill both finished 2-for-4.
Shelby Miller churned out his best start of the year with six dominant innings, allowing only four base runners on the night via four singles. The Texas native struck out three batters with a fastball hovering around 93-95 and a more consistent curve ball, as he finished out the night with 66 strikes over 98 pitches. Sam Freeman followed him up by striking out the side in the seventh.
Saturday, July 21st: Memphis 6, Oklahoma City 2
The Redbirds took another early lead by plating five runs in the first two innings, including a grand slam to the fans in the left field bluff off the bat of Ryan Jackson, his third home run in the past four games. Jackson finished with two hits, as Matt Adams combined for two doubles and Pete Kozma with a single and triple in their two-hit efforts.
Though Nick Additon put up a big goose egg in his return from the disabled list, the lefty gave up four hits and three walks, striking out five over 3 2/3 innings. Additon finished with 72 pitches and decreased his overall earned-run average to 4.66.
Sunday, July 22nd: Memphis 24, Oklahoma City 7
In a record-setting night, Memphis compiled the most hits (24) and most runs (24) in franchise history, including grand slams from Pete Kozma and Steven Hill (both to the left field bluff) in the fourth inning (another record), an eight-run fourth and seven-run seventh inning.
Hill had the best line on the night by going 5-for-5 with five RBI, as Ryan Jackson and Kozma both finished with four hits. Mark Hamilton walked three times with two hits, while Adron Chambers, Eugenio Velez, and Bryan Anderson all had two hits of their own. Shane Robinson had the worst batting line of the night, going 1-for-5 with two walks and three runs scored.
Lost in the shuffle of an historic offensive night, Brandon Dickson coasted through six innings by striking out seven batters, walking one, and yielding two runs off seven hits. Maikel Cleto finished it out in the ninth with a scoreless inning.
Monday, July 23rd: Memphis 9, Oklahoma City 8
Climbing out to a 6-1 lead in the third inning, Memphis wasn't able to sustain the sizeable lead as John Gast surrendered five of his runs (one unearned) in the third and fourth innings. The Redbirds held an 8-6 lead in the eighth before Adam Reifer coughed up a game-tying two-run bomb to Fernando Martinez that hit the trees in straight-away centerfield.
Eduardo Sanchez nabbed the win to complete the four-game sweep of Oklahoma City after tossing 41 pitches with a fastball hovering around 97-98 through his first 20 pitches that decreased to 94-96 after, as well as a curveball that he had trouble locating. Though the right-hander served up two walks, he tossed 1.1 scoreless innings.
Mark Hamilton drove in the winning run in the ninth with a line drive to left field that plated Shane Robinson after both he and Velez stole second and third, respectively. Matt Adams slammed his 16th bomb of the year to left field, and Steven Hill hit his second grand slam in two nights, another bomb to the left field grass area. Hill set a Redbirds record with eight straight hits going back to Sunday night and finishing 3-for-4 on the night with six RBI. Also contributing offensively was Shane Robinson and Eugenio Velez (three stolen bases on the night, 22 on the year) with two hits each and scoring six times combined. Ryan Jackson, Pete Kozma, and Nick Derba finished a combined 0-for-12 in the six through eight spots in the order.
Overall hitting: Memphis slugged their way to 28 extra-base hits this week, including a .452 batting average with runners in scoring position over 73 opportunities. The Redbirds totaled 64 runs, averaging over nine runs per game, including two seven-inning games that were shortened because of a double header.
Steven Hill: Though the utilityman started off the week 0-for-5, he finished with 10 for his last 17, including two grand slams, three total homers, 12 runs batted in, and a Redbirds record with eight straight hits.
Shelby Miller: This season has presented struggles that Miller has yet to resolve, but his last two starts have gone a long way to righting the ship. The top pitching prospect has tossed 11 shutout innings over his last two games, including seven strikeouts compared to three walks.
Sam Freeman: Since surrendering two runs in an appearance on July 1st, the southpaw has tossed 8.1 shutout innings, striking out seven, and walking three.
Nick Greenwood: Coming off a spectacular June, Greenwood has surrendered five runs (four earned) over his past three appearances spanning four innings.
Chuckie Fick: The right-hander has given up a run in each of his last four appearances, totaling six (five earned), as he has surrendered two homers to bring his yearly total to six.
Performance of Top Opposing Prospects (selected from Scout.com's Top 10 of each team)
July 17th, 19th: Los Angeles Dodgers
July 20th: Houston Astros
3) (via Miami) Matt Dominguez (great fielder, underperforming hitter): 0-for-3, strikeout
6) Brett Oberholtzer (LHP, no plus pitch, 88-92 mph fastball, inconsistent slider, average changeup, funky delivery that leads to some deception but also inconsistent command): six innings pitched, seven hits, six runs, zero walks, seven strikeouts
July 21st: Houston Astros
July 22nd: Houston Astros
7) Paul Clemens (RHP, 93-96 mph fastball, wild command, curveball can be plus at times, hard cutter/slider, and a solid changeup): three innings pitched, 10 hits, eight runs, three earned, two walks, zero strikeouts
July 23rd: Houston Astros
3) Matt Dominguez: 2-for-4, double, two RBI
7/21: Released Brian Broderick. Struggling this season with a 5.04 earned-run average over 22 appearances (15 starts), Broderick was let go. He quickly signed with the Washington Nationals, the club that selected him in the 2010 Rule 5 Draft.
7/21: Activated Nick Additon from 7-day disabled list. Missing time since June 17th, the lefty made his return to the rotation on Saturday night with a short, 3 2/3 inning scoreless outing that dropped his earned-run average to 4.66.
7/22: Zack Cox placed on 7-day disabled list. The third baseman will miss some time with a strained hamstring. Cox had a torrid June with a .998 OPS, though he cooled off somewhat in July with a .738 OPS with four home runs.
7/22: Lou Montanez activated from 7-day disabled list. Returning from a left hand abrasion, Montanez will try to add to his solid .405 on-base percentage.
Coming off their best stretch of the season, Memphis will head to Nashville to face their cross-state rival Sounds (Milwaukee Brewers) in a short four-game road trip. The Redbirds will then head home on Saturday to take on the Round Rock Express (Texas Rangers) including a double header on Sunday to make up a rainout on July 15th.
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