Expectations arose after the Memphis Redbirds put together a 9-2 record in their first 11 games after the All-Star Break. However, those expectations came crashing back to reality after the Redbirds' much improved offense diminished from 64 runs through seven games to only 25 runs over their past eight games, including a double header. Memphis posted a .221 batting average with runners in scoring position over their recent stretch, which was a leading cause of their low run-scoring totals.
Memphis dropped the first three games against the Nashville Sounds (Milwaukee Brewers) before salvaging a 4-3 victory in 10 innings to avoid the four-game sweep. The Redbirds began a home stand against the Round Rock Express by dropping their first game on Saturday and both games of a double header on Sunday before taking the fourth game 5-4 to finish out the week with a 2-6 record.
Despite dropping six of eight games, the Redbirds still remain in third place ahead of the Iowa Cubs in the American Northern division. Memphis remains six games behind the Nashville Sounds and 22 behind the leading Omaha Storm Chasers (Kansas City Royals).
Tuesday, July 24th: Nashville 4, Memphis 1
Memphis got out to a 1-0 lead in the first off a double from Eugenio Velez, who was then brought home on a single by Mark Hamilton, but that would be the only run the Redbirds scored on the way to breaking their five-game winning streak. Starting pitcher Tyler Lyons had the best batting line of the night, going 2-for-2 with a double.
Solid at the plate, Lyons also delivered a quality start, though it led to his sixth loss in eight starts for the ‘Birds. The southpaw surrendered three runs on five hits, one walk, and six strikeouts. Of his 89 pitches, 56 were recorded as strikes.
Wednesday, July 25th: Nashville 7, Memphis 1
Scoring just one run in consecutive nights, the Redbirds offense accounted for only five hits, as the three through six spots in the order (Adams, Hamilton, Velez, and Jackson) went a combined 0-for-14. Bryan Anderson drilled his third home run of the season, a solo-shot in the fifth that broke up the shutout. It ended up being the sole Memphis run of the night. Shane Robinson collected two singles and a double and was the only Redbird with a multi-hit game.
Shelby Miller issued no walks and tallied 61 strikes in 86 pitches, though the right-hander yielded two home runs and five total runs over just four innings pitched. Miller may have caught too much of the strike zone, as he also rung up only two batters. Sam Freeman was the only Redbirds pitcher who wasn't scored upon, as he came out of the bullpen to complete a shutout eighth inning.
Thursday, July 26th: Nashville 7, Memphis 3
The Redbirds cut a three-run deficit in the sixth inning to one after Mark Hamilton walked to lead off the inning, followed up by a double from Steven Hill, a run inducing groundout, and then a run scoring double by Lou Montanez. But Pete Kozma and Nick Derba struck out to end the threat. The Redbirds mounted another threat with a bases-loaded sacrifice fly by Ryan Jackson, but Hamilton struck out swinging to end the game. Redbirds batters struck out a total of 13 times, while Adron Chambers in the leadoff spot was the only Memphis batter with two hits.
Nick Additon struck out an impressive nine batters but lasted only four innings after issuing three walks and three runs (one earned). Maikel Cleto added to a one-run deficit by surrendering three runs over 1.1 innings during which he struck out three. Eduardo Sanchez struck out the side in a perfect eighth inning, though by then, the damage had been done.
Friday, July 27th: Memphis 4 at Nashville 3 (10 innings)
It took the Redbirds 10 innings to amass their highest number of runs scored this series and avoid a four-game sweep. It happened on four straight singles in the final inning to give the Redbirds a 4-1 lead. Eugenio Velez produced in the cleanup spot with two singles, a double, and two runs driven in, while Shane Robinson and Bryan Anderson both finished with two hits.
Brandon Dickson was taken out in the eighth after allowing two singles to close out an extremely solid start. The 27-year old struck out six batters, giving up one run and six hits over his quality start. Eduardo Sanchez attempted to close out the game in the bottom of the tenth but was taken out after allowing two runs to score on a single and two doubles. John Gaub collected the save by striking out the final batter.
Saturday, July 28th: Round Rock 8 at Memphis 4
Jumping out to a 2-0 lead in the third, John Gast coughed up three runs on a walk and four singles to put the ‘Birds behind in the fourth. Those three runs were all the southpaw gave up over a quality start through six innings, but Jess Todd and Maikel Cleto yielded five runs in back-to-back innings in the seventh and eighth to put the dagger in the Redbirds' chance at a victory.
The offense collected 10 hits for the second straight night, seven of which came from Matt Adams, Steven Hill, and Lou Montanez, hitting in the three through five spots in the order. Hill belted two doubles, as Montanez added another.
Sunday, July 29th: Round Rock 4 at Memphis 2 (Game 1, 7 innings)
Matt Adams, Shane Robinson, and Lou Montanez each collected a double, but the team's six total hits and 1-for-12 line with runners in scoring position continued their offensive drought. Down 4-0 in the sixth inning, the Redbirds put up a run in both the sixth and seventh but fell in the first game of the double header.
Tyler Lyons absorbed his seventh loss, though the lefty struck out 11 total batters in a complete, abbreviated start to give the bullpen a rest in anticipation for action in the second game. Lyons' four runs surrendered increased his overall earned-run average to 5.03 on the season.
Sunday, July 29th: Round Rock 8, Memphis 5 (Game 2, 7 innings)
Nick Greenwood and Adam Reifer (taking the loss) yielded all eight runs by surrendering 10 hits and three walks in the first four innings in the bullpen start. John Gaub and Sam Freeman finished out the loss with six strikeouts over the final 3.1 innings.
Lou Montanez slammed a two-run bomb in the third, while Mark Hamilton added a solo-shot (his 15th) in the sixth, but the Redbirds couldn't answer back with only six total hits and one walk in the game. Montanez was the only Redbirds batter with two hits.
Monday, July 30th: Memphis 5, Round Rock 4
In what could go down as his best start of the season, Shelby Miller dominated through seven innings, striking out eight batters, issuing zero free passes, and allowing two runs (one home run). The Texas native picked up his sixth win and dropped his earned run average to 5.44. Jess Todd shut down Round Rock in the eighth as Victor Marte picked up his first save by striking out two batters and leaving the tying run stranded at second.
Steven Hill staked the Redbirds to a 2-1 lead with a two-run blast in the first inning, his ninth of the year. Ryan Jackson also drilled his seventh for his lone hit of the night. Eugenio Velez collected two hits and his 24th stolen base to remain the only ‘Bird with a multi-hit game. The Redbirds scored five runs despite failing to put a runner in scoring position.
Sam Freeman: The lefty's last 10 games: 11.1 innings pitched, seven hits, zero runs, four walks, 10 strikeouts. Freeman's time in the major leagues must have made an impression, as he continues to get better since being sent down.
Overall hitting: A week after hitting .452 with runners in scoring position and belting out 28 extra-base hits, the Redbirds batted .221 in the same opportunities this week with 21 extra-base hits. Memphis also scored just 25 runs in one more game played compared to the 64 they plated last week.
Adam Reifer: The California native has been scored upon in each of his last four appearances out of the pen, surrendering nine total runs over 4.1 innings with five walks compared to three strikeouts.
Performance of Top Opposing Prospects (selected from Scout.com's Top 10 of each team)
July 24th-25th, 27th: Milwaukee Brewers
July 26th: Milwaukee Brewers
1) Wily Peralta (RHP, 91-95 mph fastball, throws both four-seam and two-seam, good slider, inconsistent changeup, improved his control but still inconsistent): six innings pitched, five hits, two runs, two walks, 11 strikeouts.
July 28th-30th: Texas Rangers
The Cardinal Nation Top 40
1) Shelby Miller: The Good: two earned runs over past three of four starts spanning 18 innings; 107 strikeouts in 99.1 innings. The Bad: 5.44 earned-run average is by far a professional career high; 20 home runs surrendered.
5) Zack Cox: After posting a disappointing batting line of .254/.294/.421, the third baseman was traded to the Miami Marlins in return for reliever Edward Mujica Tuesday afternoon.
7) Eduardo Sanchez: The Good: Scored upon in only two of first eight relief appearances since being demoted. The Bad: 6.35 earned-run average; 18 walks in 22.2 innings.
9) Matt Adams: The Good: Great batting line of .342/.374/.644 showing ability to hit for power and high average at the top level of minor league play. The Bad: Only 13 walks through 219 Triple-A at bats.
13) Ryan Jackson: The Good: .736 OPS (on-base percentage plus slugging percentage) is similar to career minor league production, showing that he can maintain offense through higher levels. The Bad: Questions still remain about his offense being good enough for a starting role in majors.
14) Maikel Cleto: The Good: 48 strikeouts and only 10 walks through 37 innings in Memphis is a huge improvement over his minor league career. The Bad: 5.84 earned-run average through 32 appearances out of the pen for Redbirds.
17) Adron Chambers: The Good: Hitting for a high batting average (.329) and getting on base at great clip for a leadoff hitter (.400). The Bad: Only seven steals in 64 games, down from earlier seasons.
19) Adam Reifer: See "Who's Not".
20) Mark Hamilton: The Good: 15 home runs this season compared to only two in a similar number of at bats last season in Memphis; 47 walks in 260 at bats. The Bad: 73 strikeouts haven't helped his .250 batting average.
21) John Gast: The Good: 2.70 earned run average in five July starts spanning 30 innings with only five walks and 30 strikeouts. The Bad: Has only gone seven plus innings in one start over his past 10.
25) Bryan Anderson: The Good: A great head of hair. The Bad: .216 is by far a career low with little to no power this season.
32) Brandon Dickson: The Good: 3.63 earned-run average leads current Redbirds starters. The Bad: Only 65 strikeouts through 106.2 innings.
34) Sam Freeman: See "Who's Hot".
35) Pete Kozma: The Good: .659 OPS in 2012 is nearly 100 points higher than last season in Memphis. The Bad: His .659 OPS.
40) Chuckie Fick: The Californian was designated for assignment and picked up by the Houston Astros after posting a 4.68 earned-run average in 42 relief appearances. Fick trailed only Adam Reifer in appearances out of the pen for the Redbirds.
7/25: Optioned Victor Marte to Memphis Redbirds. The 31-year old posted a 4.46 earned-run average in 43 appearances out of the Cardinals bullpen before being sent down due to the acquisition of Brian Fuentes.
7/27: Placed Nick Additon on seven-day disabled list. After making two starts since his last injury stint, the lefty was again placed on the DL with a 4.55 earned-run average.
7/27: Designed Chuckie Fick for assignment. The Astros claimed Fick after he was removed from the 40-man roster due to the promotion of Brian Fuentes to the major league club. Fick ended his time with the Redbirds with a 4.68 earned-run average in 42 appearances in Memphis for 2012 and also appeared in a brief stint with the big club.
Having wrapped up their five-game home stand against Round Rock, the Redbirds have departed for Sacramento to take on the River Cats (Oakland Athletics), who hold first place in the Pacific Northern Division. The Redbirds will finish up the week with the Fresno Grizzlies (San Francisco Giants) on Sunday through Wednesday to complete their West Coast trip.
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