Nearing the end of the season, the disappointing Memphis Redbirds offense has struggled with runners in scoring position in recent weeks. Though it wasn't hard to improve upon a .156 batting average with runners in scoring position last week, the Redbirds' .250 average in the same category over the past six games was nothing to be happy about. The Redbirds lost their most productive hitter of the year this week when it was announced that Matt Adams would be out for the rest of the season to remove bone chips from his elbow, an issue that has been bothering him for much of the season.
Memphis dropped the final two games against Fresno (San Francisco Giants) on Tuesday and Wednesday to lose the four-game series three games to one before receiving their final off-day of the year on Thursday. Receiving solid starting performances from Tyler Lyons and Shelby Miller, the ‘Birds picked up the first two games against the Tacoma Rainiers (Seattle Mariners) by outscoring their opposition 10 runs to six. The Rainiers fought back by taking the final two games to split the series.
Remaining in third place of the American Northern Division of the Pacific Coast League, the Redbirds still lead the Iowa Cubs by only one game and are 27 games back of the Omaha Storm Chasers (Kansas City Royals) with an overall record of 46-77.
Tuesday, August 7th: Fresno 6, Memphis 4
Upon being named organizational Pitcher of the Month for July, John Gast posted his worst start since June 30th, as he put the Redbirds in 5-0 hole in the third inning they wouldn't recover. Gast lasted just 4.1 innings and surrendered six runs (five earned) off five hits and five walks. The wildness ended there as John Gaub, Jess Todd, Sam Freeman, and Adam Reifer all combined to shut Fresno down through the final 3.2 innings.
Matt Adams blasted a two-run homer, his 18th, to bring the Redbirds within two runs in the eighth inning. Memphis collected four runs with the help of three errors from Fresno, despite racking out only six hits, striking out 11 times, and going 0-for-4 with runners in scoring position.
Wednesday, August 8th: Fresno 7, Memphis 6 (11 innings)
Most of the offense on Wednesday night was collected through the first six innings, which began for Memphis in the fourth after Matt Adams scored following his double, a single by Eugenio Velez, and a run scoring groundout from Mark Hamilton. The big damage came off the bat of Nick Derba in the inning when he ripped his first home run for Memphis, a three-run shot to right field to bring the Redbirds within one run. Eugenio Velez roped a triple in the sixth, falling a home run short of the cycle, and later scored on a sacrifice fly from Derba to tie the game.
Trevor Rosenthal followed up a stellar debut by failing to take advantage of the offense the Redbirds provided him by coughing up six total runs through five innings off six hits (one homer), two walks, and two hit batsmen. The right-hander's positive contributions on the night included five strikeouts and a groundout-to-flyball ratio of 7:0. The bullpen was stellar for a second consecutive night until John Gaub surrendered the final run in the 11th despite not allowing a hit. The southpaw walked two batters, which led to a sacrifice bunt to move the runners over, and a sacrifice fly to end the game.
Thursday, August 9th: Off
Friday, August 10th: Memphis 3, Tacoma 1
Memphis began an eight-game home stretch with a strong performance from left-hander Tyler Lyons. He picked up his second Memphis win after fanning seven batters compared to one walk, and allowing one run and five hits through six innings. Jess Todd, Sam Freeman, and Jorge Rondon shut Tacoma down for the final three innings to preserve the win.
Every run for the ‘Birds was scored in the sixth inning, which began with two walks, a missed catch error from Vinnie Catricala to load the bases, a run scoring single from Cedric Hunter, a bases loaded walk issued to Pete Kozma, and a run-scoring force out off the bat of Adron Chambers. Chambers and Bryan Anderson each collected two hits, which were four of the Redbirds' six total hits. Memphis walked a total of six times and put plenty of runners on base, but the team went just 2-for-17 with runners in scoring position.
Saturday, August 11th: Memphis 7, Tacoma 5
Hitting with runners in scoring position wasn't a problem for the Redbirds Saturday night, as the team finished 5-for-8 in that category. Tied at two apiece in the fifth, Memphis used five singles and a double to plate four runs and give the Redbirds a lead they wouldn't relinquish. Bryan Anderson slammed his sixth homer of the year, a solo-shot to right field in the eighth to push the lead to two. New addition Brett Zawadzki collected three singles in his debut for the home team, as Adron Chambers and Lou Montanez had two hits of their own. Montanez and Steven Hill each ripped a double.
Shelby Miller displayed a resurgence in recent starts and struck out 10 batters on this night compared to zero walks, though he fell one out shy of completing a quality start. The Texas native did cough up a towering bomb that went completely out of the ballpark in left center to yield two runs to Tacoma in the second, but he didn't allow another run until his final inning in the sixth. Maikel Cleto earned the save by fanning three batters over 1.1 perfect innings.
Sunday, August 12th: Tacoma 4 at Memphis 2
Memphis' hopes of a sweep were dashed Sunday night, though Brandon Dickson did all he could to get the win. The 27-year old suffered his 10th loss of the year, despite striking out a whopping 11 over seven innings compared to zero walks. The long-ball bit Dickson, which was the cause of two of the three runs he surrendered.
The Redbirds mustered just two runs on the night but still kept the game close, as Adron Chambers was the only ‘Birds batter with two hits. Lance Zawadzki's RBI double in the ninth brought the game within two runs, but the Redbirds failed to bring across another.
Monday, August 13th: Tacoma 6 at Memphis 4
Starter Scott Gorgen left with a 3-2 to lead after the third inning, both runs surrendered on a two-run shot in the second inning. Jess Todd and John Gaub did a poor job following him up, leaving the Redbirds in a 5-3 hole after completing three total innings.
Memphis took a brief 3-2 lead in the third inning with the help of a single from Pete Kozma, a run scoring triple off the bat of Zawadzki, a sacrifice fly from Adron Chambers, and a RBI double courtesy of Steven Hill. Eugenio Velez also legged out a triple in the sixth inning and was brought home as the last run scored when Cedric Hunter grounded out to second base. The ‘Birds mounted one final comeback in the ninth with a first and third situation with one out, but Adron Chambers grounded into a double play to end the threat and the game.
Adron Chambers: The speedy leadoff hitter reached base safely in all but one start over six games the past week. Chambers has two hits in each of the past four games, including three runs batted in, two walks, and a stolen base. The 25-year old's on-base percentage still remains very solid at .389.
Sam Freeman: Running his scoreless outing streak to 15 games, the southpaw has lowered his Memphis earned-run average to 1.65. Freeman is an obvious September call-up candidate for the Cardinals.
Mark Hamilton: The first baseman/outfielder went just 1-for-19 the past week with eight strikeouts. Hamilton has yet to hit a home run in the month of August.
Performance of Top Opposing Prospects (selected from Scout.com's Top 10 of each team)
August 7th: San Francisco Giants
7) Francisco Peguero (outfield, very aggressive hitter, potential for average power that hasn't emerged, rarely walks, plus defender with above average arm): 1-for-4, double, two strikeouts
August 8th: San Francisco Giants
7) Peguero: 3-for-5, double, RBI
August 9th: Off
August 10th: Seattle Mariners
5) Nick Franklin (SS/2B, switch-hitter with solid power, good hand-eye coordination, hits to all parts of park): 0-for-4
6) Vinnie Catricala (UTIL, short swing, potential for solid-average hitter, good patience, average defender): 1-for-3, strikeout
10) Carlos Triunfel (SS, solid hand-eye coordination, aggressive at the plate, no power, below-average speed, plus arm): 1-for-4
August 11th: Seattle Mariners
5) Franklin: 0-for-4, two strikeouts
6) Catricala: 0-for-4, two strikeouts
9) Chance Ruffin (RHP reliever, undersized, plus slider, fastball that sits between 92-95, slurvy curve): two innings pitched, two hits, one run, one walk, one strikeout
10) Triunfel: 1-for-4, double, strikeout
August 12th: Seattle Mariners
10) Triunfel: 1-for-4, double, two strikeouts
August 13th: Seattle Mariners
6) Catricala: 0-for-4, strikeout
10) Triunfel: 1-for-4
The Cardinal Nation Top 40
1) Shelby Miller: The former first-round pick's 125 strikeouts rank third in the Pacific Coast League, though the leader has tossed over 35 more innings than Miller. However, Miller's 5.22 earned-run average ranks 20th out of 34 qualifying starting pitchers in the league.
7) Eduardo Sanchez: The right-hander hasn't pitched since July 30th, and it is unknown when he will return from the disabled list.
9) Matt Adams: Though the first baseman will miss the rest of the season due to elbow surgery to remove bone chips, Adams' .986 OPS (on-base percentage plus slugging percentage) would have ranked third in the PCL had he qualified with enough at-bats.
12) Trevor Rosenthal: The Missouri native surrendered six runs over five innings before being recalled to St. Louis following Brian Fuentes landing on the restricted list.
13) Ryan Jackson: The shortstop's batting line was at .269/.331/.398 before he took the place of Tyler Greene on the Cardinals' 25-man roster.
14) Maikel Cleto: The reliever calmed down over his past three outings to shut down the opposition over 3.2 innings. Cleto's strikeout-to-walk ratio of 56:16 remains stellar, though the 6.23 earned-run average isn't.
17) Adron Chambers: See ‘Who's Hot'.
19) Adam Reifer: The California native took Cleto's path this past week and tossed 3.1 shutout innings after getting shelled in recent outings. Reifer has coughed up 10 home runs over 57 innings this season.
20) Mark Hamilton: See ‘Who's Not'.
21) John Gast: The southpaw landed on the 7-day disabled list due to fatigue.
25) Bryan Anderson: The starting catcher's OPS is dead last among PCL qualifiers at .628 over 307 at-bats as he hasn't been able to get anything going this season.
32) Brandon Dickson: The Alabama native's earned-run average of 3.58 is sixth in the PCL, though his strikeout-to-inning ratio remains a modest 90:128.
34) Sam Freeman: See ‘Who's Hot'.
35) Pete Kozma: Sitting with a .650 OPS, Kozma resides next to Anderson with the second worst OPS in the Pacific Coast League.
8/10: Ryan Jackson promoted to St. Louis. Upon the trade of Tyler Greene, Jackson was promoted after posting a battling line of .269/.331/.398 in 427 at bats with Memphis this season. The shortstop will spend time at both shortstop to give Rafael Furcal rest and at second base.
8/10: Lance Zawadzki signed as a free agent and assigned to Memphis Redbirds. The shortstop will take Ryan Jackson's place in the lineup and will spend time at both shortstop and second base.
8/11: John Gast placed on 7-day disabled list. The organizational pitcher of the month for July has a 4.79 earned-run average in 16 starts for Memphis.
8/11: Scott Gorgen promoted from Springfield. The California native is back again in Memphis and will temporarily take Gast's place in the pitching rotation.
Tuesday night was the debut of a four-game series against the Salt Lake Bees (Los Angeles Angels), which will end on Friday and wrap up an eight-game home stand. The Redbirds will then travel to face the Iowa Cubs in a short four-game road stretch before heading back home to encounter their last home stand of the year.
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