Faced with an ever-changing lineup, the Memphis Redbirds saw new faces in Brock Peterson and Matt Young join the lineup, though the offense still sputtered. Collecting a dismal 10 extra-base hits, the ‘Birds didn't help their case by batting .172 with runners in scoring position this week.
The pitching has been a bright spot over the month of August, most notably Shelby Miller, Brandon Dickson, and Tyler Lyons. All three pitchers earned spots in the ‘Who's Hot' list, as they have proven efficient in the Pacific Coast League. However, the pitching wasn't strong enough to mask the deficiencies of what might be the worst offense in the Pacific Coast League.
A tally of nine runs created by Memphis' offense led to a 3-1 series loss against the Salt Lake City Bees (Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim) to close out an eight-game home stand. The Redbirds traveled to Iowa to take on the Cubs and dropped the first two games before breaking out with 10 hits and 11 walks on the way to plating 10 runs in a win to avoid a potential sweep.
Including the Tuesday loss to Iowa, the Redbirds fell three games behind the Cubs to take their place in the cellar of the American Northern Division of the Pacific Coast League. The ‘Birds collected their 80th loss of the year on Friday night and now have a record of 48-83 on the season, 29.5 games behind the Omaha Storm Chasers (Kansas City Royals). The Redbirds now claim the worst record in the PCL and all of Triple-A.
Tuesday, August 14th: Salt Lake 5 at Memphis 2
A two-run home run was the only glitch in Jaime Garcia's rehab start. The southpaw fanned eight batters over five relatively strong innings, walking three, and giving up four total hits. Garcia took the loss, as Maikel Cleto and Sam Freeman put the game out of reach by allowing three runs over the next three innings, breaking Freeman's 17-outing scoreless streak.
The Redbirds' offense sputtered by failing to record an extra-base hit and collecting only one hit in eight opportunities with runners in scoring position. Lance Zawadzki and Eugenio Velez each recorded two singles, while Cedric Hunter walked three times in the ninth spot of the order.
Wednesday, August 15th: Salt Lake 5 at Memphis 2
Each team was held scoreless into the seventh inning until Tyler Lyons struck out a batter in the midst of yielding a single and a double. He was relieved by Nick Greenwood, who in turn allowed each runner to score, including two of his own off a two-run homer to give Salt Lake a 4-0 lead. Lyons' final line on the night was solid with 6.1 innings pitched, three hits, two runs, one walk, and four strikeouts.
Though Pete Kozma drilled his 10th home run in the ninth, a two-run shot to left field, the Redbirds attempted comeback fell flat in a scoring line that matched Tuesday night's loss. Collecting one more extra-base hit from the previous night's zero, the team managed to create only two opportunities with runners in scoring position and failed to deliver both times. Lou Montanez and Pete Kozma were the only ‘Birds batters to accrue two hits.
Thursday, August 16th: Memphis 5, Salt Lake 3
Memphis broke a four-game losing streak and avoided a potential sweep by scratching out five runs with their 10 total hits and two walks. Steven Hill's three-run blast in the first gave the Redbirds an early 3-0 lead before they scored another off a sacrifice fly from Cedric Hunter to score Pete Kozma. Though the Redbirds went just 2-for-8 with runners in scoring position, Jose Garcia had one of those hits with a RBI single in the sixth to stretch the lead to 5-3. Garcia ended up with three singles on the night.
Shelby Miller earned the win after a quality start in which he fanned seven batters over six strong innings. The Texas native was bit by the home run bug again with a two-run shot in the sixth, but Miller walked just one batter and surrendered only four other hits. Adam Reifer, Jess Todd, and Maikel Cleto each tossed a scoreless inning out of the pen, the latter nabbing his second save.
Friday, August 17th: Salt Lake 5, Memphis 0
The Redbirds were shut down offensively in an effort that included no extra-base hits and just one single with runners in scoring position over nine opportunities. Though Eugenio Velez and newcomer Matt Young each had two singles in the 2-3 spots of the order, they were the only batters to reach more than one hit.
Receiving no run support, Brandon Dickson suffered his 11th loss of the year in an otherwise productive outing. The right-hander struck out six batters over six innings, yielding seven hits (one homer), two runs, and one walk. Maikel Cleto struck out two over a perfect inning and was the only pitcher who left the game unscathed for the ‘Birds.
Saturday, August 18th: Iowa 3, Memphis 2
The Cubs were never behind in a low-scoring game that produced seven hits for the Redbirds, including two solo homers. Lou Montanez belted his second home run of the year to even the game at 1-1 in the third, as Jose Garcia drilled one of his own in the seventh to bring Memphis within one run. The team once again failed to move runners in scoring position, going 0-for-2.
Scott Gorgen left his start after allowing three runs to cross the plate (two earned) in 3.2 innings. His four strikeouts combined with Jess Todd (four) and Adam Reifer (two) for a total of 10 on the night, while both Todd and Reifer combined to shut down the Cubs through the final 4.1 innings.
Sunday, August 19th: Iowa 6, Memphis 3
John Gast was tagged for six runs (four earned) and failed to complete two innings, leaving the game after he had walked a staggering six batters, including three in the second (one intentional). Nick Greenwood kept the game in check over 3.2 scoreless innings, as Maikel Cleto, John Gaub, and Victor Marte each tossed a scoreless inning of their own.
The Redbirds' offense wasn't able to recover from an early 6-0 deficit and was only able to score two following a pair of fielding errors by the Cubs middle infield in the ninth inning. Adron Chambers posted a single, double, and two walks in the leadoff spot while crossing the plate twice, though the rest of the order outside of Matt Young (two singles of his own) continued their tepid pace with runners in scoring position by going 1-for-14.
Monday, August 20th: Memphis 11 at Iowa 3
The floodgates opened for the Redbirds offensively Monday night in a refreshing change of pace for the team. The Redbirds used four steals, two each from Adron Chambers and Eugenio Velez, eight singles, two doubles, and a staggering 11 walks to plate 11 runs. Chambers induced four walks from the leadoff spot to spark the offense. The Redbirds took advantage of four walks and four singles to score six runs in the seventh inning to put the game out of reach. Memphis took advantage of 21 opportunities with runners in scoring position by collecting six hits.
Though aided by a strong offense, Tyler Lyons fanned seven batters over five solid innings to pick up his third win with Memphis. His eight surrendered hits and one walk led to only one run crossing the plate in that span. Eduardo Sanchez and Adam Reifer followed Lyons with two scoreless innings each before Jorge Rondon and John Gaub each gave up a run out of the pen.
Matt Young: The outfielder made his name heard after starting off his Redbirds career going 7-for-14 in three starts. Young collected three RBI and one double.
Brandon Dickson: The Alabama native is quietly putting up another solid season in the Pacific Coast League. Spanning 41.1 innings over his last six starts, Dickson has struck out 44 batters compared to five walks and has had five quality starts.
Tyler Lyons: The southpaw has also quietly put up very good numbers in his time with the ‘Birds. In August, Lyons has a 2.31 earned-run average with four starts. The Oklahoma State grad has 26 strikeouts and four walks over 23.1 innings in that span.
Adam Reifer: August has been kind to the California native, as well. Reifer has allowed just one run to cross the plate over eight appearances and eight total innings in the month. His zero walks is a major improvement over the seven he issued in July.
The offense: Slugging their way to only 10 extra-base hits and failing to amass any at all in two separate games, the Redbirds also batting .172 over 64 opportunities with runners in scoring position over the past week, an issue that has been prevalent all season. The Redbirds rank dead last, tied with the Nashville Sounds (Milwaukee Brewers) with a .256 team batting average, are second to last in on-base percentage at .326, and are only .004 points ahead of Nashville in the cellar of OPS (on-base percentage plus slugging percentage).
Performance of Top Opposing Prospects (selected from Scout.com's Top 10 of each team)
August 14th: Los Angeles Angels
9) Luis Jimenez (third base, good power but is too much of a free swinger to project same power in majors, solid-average hitter, fringy defender): 2-for-4, double, two RBI, strikeout
August 15th: Los Angeles Angels
9) Jimenez: 0-for-4, two strikeouts
August 16th: Los Angeles Angels
9) Jimenez: 1-for-3, RBI
August 17th: Los Angeles Angels
2) Garrett Richards (starting pitcher, 94-95 mph sinking two-seam fastball, slider with plus potential, average curve and changeup): six innings pitched, seven hits, zero runs, one walk, six strikeouts, HBP
9) Jimenez: 0-for-4, strikeout
August 18th-20th: Chicago Cubs
The Cardinal Nation Top 40
On each player's role going forward:
1) Shelby Miller: With Jake Westbrook locked up next year, the only open spot that might open up in the rotation would be if Chris Carpenter isn't ready to go. Assuming Carpenter is healthy, Miller will most likely return to Memphis. If Carpenter isn't ready to go and Lohse walks via free agency, Miller could compete with Joe Kelly and Trevor Rosenthal for the fifth spot in the rotation.
7) Eduardo Sanchez: A candidate to join the Cardinals bullpen again at the beginning of next season, Sanchez will have to harness his control to hope to repeat the impact he made in 2011. Sanchez should get a fair chance to make the team out of Spring Training, but he will face stiffer competition with Rosenthal, Kelly, and Cleto among others vying for spots.
9) Matt Adams: Unless Carlos Beltran or Allen Craig goes down with injury, Adams will return to Memphis as the team's starting first baseman. Adams will remain the Cardinals' most potent bat outside of Oscar Taveras in the minors and could have a starting role when breaking camp with the Cardinals in 2014. Adams is also a trade candidate due to the other options at first base for St. Louis.
12) Trevor Rosenthal: The right-hander has seen time in the majors with a fastball that can touch 97-98 mph. Rosenthal impressed in his short time with St. Louis and will almost certainly receive the call in September when rosters expand. The 22-year old could make the Cardinals bullpen out of Spring Training next year, could vie for a starting spot with St. Louis, or return to Memphis in a starter's role. All remain options for the intriguing pitching prospect.
14) Maikel Cleto: Harnessing his command this season, Cleto has 18 walks through 48.1 innings in Memphis, while fanning 60 batters. Though his 5.96 earned-run average is not pretty on the eyes, the right-hander has pitched better than his ERA. Cleto will most likely return to Memphis next season but will be given the opportunity to win a spot out of the bullpen in Spring Training.
17) Adron Chambers: The Florida native's .396 on-base percentage has been stellar in Memphis, but he's batting from the wrong side of the plate to get a chance to spell Jon Jay as a backup in St. Louis. He should be a September call-up, but his role with the organization next year is unclear.
19) Adam Reifer: The right-hander will most likely return to the bullpen for Memphis next season to stake his case for a chance in the majors.
21) John Gast: The southpaw will return to Memphis with a rotation spot, though could have a very outside shot at claiming a role as a left-hander out of the Cardinals' bullpen.
25) Bryan Anderson: The catcher's career in the Cardinals organization could likely be over as he has no other place to go.
32) Brandon Dickson: Over the past three years, Dickson has put up strong numbers as a starter for Memphis. Dickson is low enough on the pitching depth chart to not have a chance at a role starting with the big club for next year. The right-hander may receive an opportunity with another team.
34) Sam Freeman: Ending his 17 consecutive scoreless outing streak and landing on the disabled list, the left-hander could pitch his way on the Cardinals' bullpen next year with a solid Spring.
35) Pete Kozma: An outright candidate over the off-season, Kozma hasn't shown enough offensively this season to expect his role to change.
8/14: Trevor Rosenthal promoted to St. Louis.
8/14: Brock Peterson assigned to Memphis. Acquired from the Bridgeport Bluefish of the Independent League, Peterson led the league with 21 home runs and represents impressive power at first base.
8/14: Jaime Garcia assigned to Memphis. The southpaw made one rehab start this week before joining the Cardinals rotation.
8/14: Matt Adams placed on 7-day disabled list. The first baseman will miss the rest of the season after undergoing surgery to remove bone chips from his elbow.
8/15: Sam Freeman placed on 7-day disabled list. The lefty's scoreless streak was stopped after 17 outings, as he will lose time with a right oblique injury.
8/17: Released Mark Hamilton. The outfielder/first baseman was released after collecting 15 home runs with a .231 batting average.
8/17: Signed Matt Young as free agent and assigned to Memphis. The 29-year old last played with the Detroit Tigers and will fill an outfield role with the Redbirds as they finish off the season.
8/19: Trevor Rosenthal sent down to Memphis. The right-hander's promotion didn't last long, though he will likely rejoin the Cardinals bullpen once rosters expand in September.
8/19: Activated John Gast from 7-day disabled list. Missing a start after experiencing shoulder discomfort, the southpaw was lit up to the tune of six runs in 1.1 innings in his first start back.
8/20: Lance Zawadzki placed on 7-day disabled list. The shortstop collected a double and a triple, along with seven singles to the tune of a .200 batting average in 45 at bats with the Redbirds. Zawadzki sprained his right hamstring.
8/20: Activated Eduardo Sanchez from 7-day disabled list. The Venezuelan made his first appearance since July 30th and will try to improve his command in an effort to see time in the Cardinals bullpen in September.
The Redbirds finished up their four-game series against the Iowa Cubs on Tuesday before heading home for their final home stand of the year. The final nine-game home stretch will feature a five-game series against the Albuquerque Isotopes (Los Angeles Dodgers) and will end with a four-game set against the division leading Omaha Storm Chasers (Kansas City Royals).
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