Memphis Redbirds Notebook: 2013 Week 9

The Triple-A Redbirds look to build on their four-game winning streak and 5 ½ game divisional lead.

This week in Memphis: 4-3 (31-27 overall)

The Redbirds started the week by losing the last two games of the Albuquerque series at AutoZone Park and the first game in Omaha. Following the three losses, Memphis won four straight in Omaha to finish out the week.

In the Redbirds' four wins, the pitching was strong as the Storm Chasers scored only two runs, and were shut out in both games of the June 2 doubleheader.

Iowa struggled this week as well, giving the Redbirds a 5 ½ game lead in the American North Division over both Iowa and Omaha. An interesting stat is that this season so far, Memphis has fared better on the road than at home (19-13 away, 12-14 home).

May 30 vs. Albuquerque, 7-5 Loss

Despite Brock Peterson's multiple home run effort against the Isotopes, a four-run sixth frame was too much for the Redbirds to overcome. Boone Whiting made the start and retired 11 straight from the first to the fourth frames, but left the game in the sixth with three runners on and one out.

Ramon Delgado inherited those three runners, and all of them scored when the Double-A call-up served up a grand slam to Isotopes' first baseman Rusty Ryal. Delgado allowed another run to score in the seventh on a two-out RBI single to put the lead at two for the Isotopes.

Peterson went yard twice with a solo shot in the second frame as well as another solo home run in the sixth, pushing his total to 10 dingers this year. Ryan Jackson and Rob Johnson had RBI doubles in the fourth and ninth, respectively. Jorge Rondon allowed two tallies in the ninth on a two-RBI double to push the score out of the Redbirds' reach.

May 31 vs. Albuquerque, 2-0 Loss

Richard Castillo made his second solid start for Memphis, and yielded two runs in 6 2/3 innings. The right-hander struck out four. The two tallies were scored on a solo home run in the fourth and a two-out RBI single in the seventh.

Marc Rzepczynski got the last out of the seventh and retired the side in the eighth with three straight groundball outs. Another member of the 2012 Texas League champion Springfield team, Michael Blazek, made his Redbirds debut and threw a scoreless inning while striking out two.

Isotopes starting pitcher Blake Johnson did not allow a Memphis runner past second base in his seven innings, and the Redbirds were unable to give Castillo any run support, registering only two hits against Johnson.

June 1 vs. Omaha, 8-5 Loss

Saturday nights' game was an example of the inexperience of the starting pitching. Starting pitcher Scott McGregor got shelled by the Storm Chasers and allowed seven runs in two frames. In the second, back-to-back doubles scored two and another came home on a sacrifice bunt. The right-hander got into more trouble in the fourth with the bases loaded and nobody out. Four batters later, four runs had scored and McGregor only had one out with runners on first and second, but a double play got him out of the inning.

Behind the plate for Memphis, some unusual contributors were headlining the first game in Omaha. The first pitch of the first at-bat for Adron Chambers was served up and Chambers drove it over the right field wall. Another unusual home run suspect, Jermaine Curtis, went yard in the third, tallying two runs, tying the game at three. Curtis also scored in the seventh on Jamie Romak's double, and Chambers scored on Peterson's single in the eighth.

A four-run fourth by Omaha was too much for Memphis to overcome, and McGregor earned a loss after yielding 12 hits and seven earned in five frames.

June 2 vs. Omaha, 7-0 Win (Game 1, 7 innings)

Jamie Romak's grand slam highlighted a six-run second frame to give the Redbirds the win in the opener of the Sunday doubleheader. His four RBI on Sunday increased his total to seven in his last four games.

Carlos Martinez got the start, but did not last long enough (four innings) to factor into the decision. On the year for Memphis, Martinez has not allowed a run in his two starts, striking out eight in seven innings. Rondon earned the win with two scoreless innings and Delgado continued the shut-out effort for another scoreless frame.

The six runs in the second came with the bases loaded and two outs. Organizational May Player of the Month Kolten Wong singled to score two runners before Peterson walked to load the bases again with two outs. The 2-2 delivery was tattooed over the left field wall by Romak to give the Redbirds a six-tally lead. Not to be outdone, Peterson stroked his own solo home run in the fourth.

June 2 vs. Omaha, 5-0 Win (Game 2, 7 innings)

Nick Additon threw a seven-inning shutout and was supported by Travis Tartamella and Rob Johnson home runs to score five in the doubleheader finale. Tartamella's three-run shot came in the second with Johnson and Christian on base. Johnson, playing in the designated hitter spot, launched a two-out home run in the deepest part of the ballpark to score Curtis.

The Storm Chasers were shut out in both games of the doubleheader. Memphis moved to 5-1 in doubleheader games, as well as 9-3 in shutout games.

June 3 vs. Omaha, 7-1 Win

Replacing Maikel Cleto, Mitchell Boggs made the start and threw two scoreless in his first start this year after working out of the pen. Sam Freeman earned the win by pitching three scoreless innings. The Cardinals' Pitcher of the Month for May, Kevin Siegrist and Marc Rzepczynski also contributed two frames apiece, and Siegrist allowed the only run when a runner scored from third on a groundball out.

Memphis scored early and often on the Storm Chasers. Lead-off man Ryan Jackson singled, and Justin Christian was next up. Christian struck a ground ball towards the pitcher, and a throwing error by the second baseman to first accompanied with the pitcher's throwing error were enough to get Christian to third and allowed Jackson to score from first.

Jackson scored again in the third frame from second base on Peterson's single, and hit a solo home run in the fifth to put the lead at four for the visitors. Christian scored in that inning as well on Jermaine Curtis' double. In the seventh, Johnson singled with the bases loaded to bring home Peterson and Romak to put the lead at seven before Omaha put a tally on Siegrist.

June 4 vs. Omaha, 2-1 Win

Romak's two-out solo home run and Peterson's RBI single in the sixth provided enough run support for Boone Whiting to earn the win. Whiting served up a home run in the second frame, but did not give up another run to give the Redbirds a chance to come back. Rondon and Blazek pitched two innings apiece, and Blazek earned his first save on the year.

Tallies were hard to come by for both teams, as the two teams had only five hits apiece. For the five game series, Memphis outscored Omaha 29-7. On the year, the Redbirds have averaged five runs per game against opponents' nearly four per game.

Heating Up

Bullpen – Only two runs were allowed this week by the bullpen in 19 1/3 frames with 11 strikeouts. Two wins and a save capped off the week, and what was at one point the Redbirds' weakness has developed into a strong point for the club.

Marc Rzepczynski – Has not given up a run in his last five appearances. Over the last five, the optioned St. Louis reliever has thrown 6 2/3 frames with four hits, no walks and two strikeouts.

Jamie Romak – The 11th-year-pro has been an extra-base hit machine this year, tied for second in home runs in the PCL with Peterson (11), tied with Peterson for fourth in doubles (17), and second on the team in RBIs with 35. With two home runs and three doubles this week on six hits, it seems as though Romak is swinging for the fences.

Home run swings – Brock Peterson smacked three home runs this week (two on Thursday), Romak smashed two home runs this week, as well as Chambers, Johnson, Jackson, Tartamella and Curtis each going yard to push Memphis to sixth in the PCL with 58 this season, nine behind Tacoma in first.

Brock Peterson – The right-handed first baseman was 12-for-28 (.429) this week with three home runs, seven RBI, and six runs scored. He is currently riding a five-game hit streak headed into the ten-game home stand.

Getting Cold

Starters from Springfield – McGregor, Castillo and Whiting each lost this week. Even with Castillo's good game with only two earned runs in 6 2/3 frames, the starters transferred to Memphis from Springfield have thrown 22 frames with 13 earned runs this week, or a 5.32 ERA overall.

Chris Swauger – Although he is acting as a band-aid for the Redbirds' two missing outfielders, Swauger has struggled behind the plate relative to his Double-A numbers. In his seven Memphis games, the Florida native has only registered three hits and struck out eight times in 23 at-bats.

Roster Updates

The next four projected starters for Memphis at AutoZone Park will be Castillo, McGregor, Martinez, and Additon. Mitchell Boggs threw 38 pitches in his two inning start on Monday in place of Maikel Cleto, who was called up to St. Louis to provide another reliever. Many are hopeful that Taveras will be playing this week, as he has served as first base coach some this week and been moving around alright on his ankle.

Injuries

Oscar Taveras – The outfielder has not played since May 12. The next ten games at home may be a good time to return to the line-up.
Chad Huffman – Placed on the seven-day disabled list on May 28.
Eric Fornataro – Placed on the seven-day disabled list on May 29.

Transactions

May 30: Michael Wacha promoted to St. Louis
May 30: Michael Blazek optioned to Memphis from St. Louis
May 31: Eric Fornataro placed on disabled list (retro to 5/29)
June 1: Mitchell Boggs optioned to Memphis from St. Louis
June 5: Maikel Cleto promoted to St. Louis

Looking Ahead

The Redbirds will play nine games in seven days starting on Thursday in Memphis, playing four games against Nashville and six games against New Orleans (making up for a postponed and suspended game).

Nashville sits 12 ½ games behind Memphis for the American Northern Division lead (18-39) and look to gain some ground and improve their miserable 6-20 road record. New Orleans has a 28-30 record and is fourth in the American Southern Division.



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