Memphis Redbirds Notebook: 2012 Week 21

The Triple-A Redbirds showed some offensive life as a difficult season enters its final week.

Overview

As the 2012 season draws to a close, Memphis is trying to put a positive note on what has been a trying time for the club. Though the Redbirds finished with a losing record of 3-4 over the past seven games and started off their first three games by plating only five runs and batting 0-for-21 with runners in scoring position, they were able to pick up their offense by scoring 21 runs to finish off the week. Memphis nearly doubled their extra-base output from last week with 19 compared to 10 the week prior. In another positive note, Shelby Miller won PCL Pitcher of the Week honors for the second time this season by leading the league in strikeouts over the week at 19 over 12.2 innings and yielding three total runs in two starts.

After dropping their final game against the Iowa Cubs, the Redbirds took the Albuquerque Isotopes (Los Angeles Dodgers) to extra innings in a winning effort to open up their final home stand with the help of a strong performance from Trevor Rosenthal. The Redbirds went back-and-forth with Albuquerque to win two and lose two to finish out the five-game series. The Omaha Storm Chasers (Kansas City Royals) brought their offensive clout to drop 11 runs in the first game of a four-game series on Monday night to show why they're leading the ‘Birds by 30 games in the standings.

In a fight to finish above the Iowa Cubs and escape the cellar of the American Northern Division of the Pacific Coast League, the Redbirds remain two games behind Iowa. The Redbirds will use the final week of their season to try to cap off a positive note on what has been a forgettable season for many Memphis players.

Game Summaries

Tuesday, August 21st: Iowa 2, Memphis 0
Another solid outing from Shelby Miller went for naught as the ‘Birds were held scoreless by going 0-for-11 with runners in scoring position. They collected only six hits (two from Matt Young), with Pete Kozma's double being the only extra-base hit for the road team. Miller's only blemish came in the seventh when he coughed up a two-run homer, a recurring theme for the right-hander this season. The Texas native dominated with 12 strikeouts compared to no walks and lowered his earned-run average on the season to 5.04. Maikel Cleto finished off with a scoreless inning.

Wednesday, August 22nd: Memphis 2, Albuquerque 1 (10 innings)
Memphis fell flat offensively but used a double from Adron Chambers and a bases loaded walk to Matt Young in the bottom of the 10th to bring home the winning run. In his Memphis debut, Vance Albitz brought home the only other run for the Redbirds with a solo-shot in the fifth to give the home team a 1-0 lead. The Redbirds finished 0-for-4 with runners in scoring position.

Trevor Rosenthal fanned eight batters over five scoreless innings for the ‘Birds in a great start for the 22-year old. The right-hander yielded two hits and two walks on the way to what is probably his last appearance for Memphis this season. Eduardo Sanchez, Victor Marte, and Nick Greenwood finished out the eighth through 10th inning without a blemish, the latter collecting his second win.

Thursday, August 23rd: Albuquerque 6 at Memphis 3
Falling behind 3-0 in the fourth inning, the Redbirds answered back with single runs in the fifth, sixth, and seventh innings to tie the game. Pete Kozma scored the first run off a wild pitch, then the Redbirds used two throwing errors in the sixth to bring home another run home. Steven Hill smacked his 13th home run of the year, a solo-bomb to center field to tie the game in the seventh. The team finished 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position to run their hitless streak in those situations to zero for their last 21.

Two of Scott Gorgen's three earned runs over five innings in his effort Thursday night were unearned due to two errors (fielding and throwing) by Eugenio Velez in the fourth inning, as Gorgen struck out four, walked three, and yielded two hits. Victor Marte picked up the loss after allowing three runs to cross the plate and failing to finish out the ninth inning.

Friday, August 24th: Memphis 9, Albuquerque 8
The Redbirds responded in a huge way after falling behind 4-0 in the first inning by plating four runs of their own. Adron Chambers was hit leading off the game, presenting a bad omen to the Isotopes, as it was followed up with a walk to Lance Berkman, a run-scoring single by Steven Hill, a walk to Eugenio Velez, and two run-scoring singles by Pete Kozma and Vance Albitz before the inning was over.

Memphis kept answering Albuquerque in a back-and-forth game after Pete Kozma belted a two-run homer in third to tie the game at 6 apiece. They took their first lead in the sixth off a two-run round-tripper by Brock Peterson, and extending it to 9-7 when Kozma scored after stealing a base before Albitz brought him home with a single. Kozma finished 3-for-3 with a stolen base.

John Gast coughed up six runs on five hits and three walks in just three innings but the damage was held in check by the strong offense. Nick Greenwood kept the game close with three innings, issuing one unearned run. Eduardo Sanchez picked up his ninth save with a scoreless ninth inning.

Saturday, August 25th: Albuquerque 4 at Memphis 2
The Isotopes plated two in the first off a home run issued by Tyler Lyons and took a lead they wouldn't relinquish. Lyons suffered his ninth loss but went six innings and picked up the quality start after surrendering three runs on eight hits, zero walks, and five strikeouts.

Steven Hill slammed a two-run homer in the third to score Adron Chambers and cut the deficit to one run, but they were the only runs the ‘Birds were able to muster the entire night. Chambers and Hill were the only batters with two hits, while Chambers also swiped two bases.

Sunday, August 26th: Memphis 7, Albuquerque 1
Memphis' on-again, off-again offense this series was flipped to the "on" switch, as the ‘Birds plated seven runs, three coming as the result of a stellar night from Steven Hill. The utility man belted two solo-home runs and brought home another with a double.

Adron Chambers led off the game with home run roped to the right field picnic area. Though the Redbirds collected only one hit with 10 opportunities in scoring position, they were able to use four home runs and six total extra-base hits to dominate. Brock Peterson collected his second home run of the week, a two-run shot in the fifth inning.

Shelby Miller fell one out shy of earning a quality start, though the right-hander picked up his 10th win by fanning seven batters and allowing one run to cross the plate on three walks and two hits, a solo-homer in the fifth. Maikel Cleto and Victor Marte finished out the game by striking out five total batters over 3.1 nearly perfect innings.

Monday, August 27th: Omaha 11 at Memphis 7
Nick Greenwood made the start in a bullpen game that went for naught. After yielding five runs in the first inning, Greenwood settled in to shutout the Storm Chasers over the next two innings. However, the rest of the bullpen couldn't deliver, as John Gaub, Adam Reifer, and Eduardo Sanchez combined to surrender six runs to put the game out of reach. Only Jorge Rondon came out unscathed with two scoreless innings.

Trailing 11-3 in the ninth inning, the Redbirds used three singles and a three-run home run from Cedric Hunter with one out to make it interesting, but Steven Hill flied out to right field to end the game. Adron Chambers tallied three singles and a walk from the leadoff spot, while Eugenio Velez and Vance Albitz collected two hits each.

Who's Hot

Vance Albitz: After receiving only 55 at bats in 25 games for the Springfield Cardinals, Albitz was promoted to finish out the season in Memphis. This week, the shortstop posted a batting line of .300/.417/500 in six starts. The California native also walked four times.

Steven Hill: The utility man flexed his power this week by belting out six extra-base hits, including four home runs, to bring his home run total to 16. Hill is fighting for a chance to be promoted to St. Louis as an extra player in September and would be available to serve as an extra catcher and pinch-hitter.

Shelby Miller: Winning PCL Pitcher of the Week for the second time this season, the former first-round pick's velocity has picked back up, and he is utilizing his secondary pitches much better over the past month and a half. In August, Miller has an earned-run average of 3.16 over five starts, fanning 44 batters and walking only four in 31.1 innings.

Who's Not

John Gaub: The southpaw has yielded 14 runs over 11 appearances in August, running up his earned-run average to 7.12 in 30.1 innings for Memphis this season.

Performance of Top Opposing Prospects (selected from Scout.com's Top 10 of each team)

August 21st: Chicago Cubs
None

August 22nd-26th: Los Angeles Dodgers
None

August 27th: Kansas City Royals
1) Wil Myers (outfield, one of the best hitting prospects in baseball, above-average power, solid patience, high average hitter, average speed, plus arm): 1-for-5, RBI

Transactions

8/22: Vance Albitz promoted from Springfield Cardinals. Appearing in 25 games for Springfield after being promoted from Palm Beach, the shortstop collected only six hits in 55 at bats for the AA affiliate. Albitz already amassed six hits through his first 20 at bats for the Redbirds.

8/22: Jose Garcia placed on 7-day disabled list. Working on a six-game hitting streak, Garcia was limited with a right hamstring strain. The second baseman could finish out the season with a batting line of .270/.357/.378 for Memphis.

8/24: Brandon Dickson promoted to St. Louis. Already briefly seeing time in St. Louis this season, Dickson rejoined the Cardinals' bullpen after an extremely solid season for the Redbirds with an earned-run average of 3.55.

8/24: Barret Browning sent down to Memphis. The southpaw excelled initially out of the Cardinals' bullpen but recently faltered to post an overall earned-run average of 5.12 in 19.1 innings for the big league team. Browning returns to Memphis but could be promoted in September.

8/24: Lance Berkman assigned to Memphis. The All-Star will likely finish out the home stand with Memphis on his rehab assignment before re-joining the Cardinals for their September playoff push.

Upcoming

Memphis will finish out a four-game series with the Omaha Storm Chasers, their final home game landing on Thursday, which will feature an afternoon start time of 1:05 pm. The Redbirds will then head out to Nashville (Milwaukee Brewers) to take on their cross-state rival Sounds for four games to round out the 2012 season.



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