Memphis Redbirds Notebook: 2013 Week 11

The Triple-A Redbirds lost a season-high six games in a row, but are still in first place.

Memphis Redbirds (1-6 this week, 36-38 overall)

It was a rough road trip for Memphis, and the Redbirds were swept by Albuquerque and lost six games in a row, their longest losing streak this season. Saturday night's fight with the Isotopes resulted in four Redbirds suspensions, including manager Pop Warner (served his game already), Rob Johnson (three games), Maikel Cleto (three games), Sam Freeman (three games) and Jorge Rondon (seven games). Despite this week's poor record, Memphis holds on to a slim one-game lead over Iowa.

June 13 vs. New Orleans, Loss 0-7

Six runs allowed by starter Mitchell Boggs were too much, and the Redbirds were shut out for the second time at AutoZone Park this year. Boggs began the game with two walks and a wild pitch to put runners on second and third with one out. A groundout scored one runner and then two straight fielding errors (Greg Garcia and Jermaine Curtis) put the lead at two with two outs. After a conference with manager Pop Warner, Boggs allowed a double that cleared the bases for four tallies by the Zephyrs in the first.

In the following frame, Boggs yielded a lead-off double and that runner scored on the ensuing single. Another single and a sacrifice fly later, the lead had expanded to six in the first two innings.

Nick Additon relieved Boggs in the third and pitched for the next four frames. In the sixth, a runner scored from third on a sacrifice fly for Additon's only run allowed. The left-hander yielded two hits and struck out six with one walk. Jorge Rondon pitched one scoreless and Marc Rzepczynski tossed two scoreless frames.

No Redbird passed second base in the game, and only seven runners reached base (one was a fielders' choice, two walks and four hits).

June 14 at Albuquerque, Loss 2-7

Memphis struggled to put runs on the board on Friday night as well, with the only two runs coming off Brock Peterson's home run in the sixth. The deep fly ball was the 13th on the year for Peterson, but it was not good enough to overcome the five runs yielded by Scott McGregor, or even the two that Eric Fornataro allowed.

The Isotopes started scoring early in the game, and with two outs and the bases loaded, McGregor delivered the 1-0 pitch to Justin Sellers, who sent a grounder right past the mound and into center field to tally two runs in the first. McGregor yielded two more runs in the third, an RBI double on the first pitch to Rusty Ryal, and a single two batters later to score Ryal.

In the following frame, the Redbirds starter allowed another runner to score from third and was replaced by Fornataro. The Houston native got the next two outs to escape the frame, but would face trouble in the fifth. After beaning the first batter, the right-hander served up the 1-1 pitch for a two-run shot to extend the lead to seven at that point. Peterson responded with his own two-run home run but it was for naught.

June 15 at Albuquerque, Loss 10-13

Saturday's game was a record-tying affair headlined by the fourth frame fight that resulted in eight suspensions. Both team managers, four Redbirds and six Isotopes were ejected. Memphis tied the franchise record for walks with 14, including eight (tied single-game pitcher record) from Maikel Cleto. The scoring started in the second with Peterson's solo shot, but the Isotopes responded in the frame with an RBI single followed by another single with the bases loaded that tallied two runs.

A fielder's choice in the third allowed a run to score, and the fourth was when the sparks would fly. Up to that point, Cleto hit Jeremy Moore in the third and after Moore's three-run home run in the fourth; Jorge Rondon hit Sellers in the back and then the benches cleared. Eight players and both managers were ejected, but play resumed after the fight had been separated and Sam Freeman finished out the inning after Rondon's ejection.

Peterson would answer Moore's home run with a three-run dinger of his own for his second on the day and his 15th this year. An Oscar Taveras RBI single added one more in the sixth to tie the game at eight apiece. With the game tied, Rzepczynski blew it in the eighth with a five-run frame. Three errors, one by Chad Huffman, Rzepczynski and Wong each allowed a run and the wheels came off at that point. A two-run ninth made the score closer, but this was definitely a game for the Redbirds to forget.

June 16 at Albuquerque, Loss 5-12

Boone Whiting was shelled by the Isotopes as he yielded eight runs, six earned, in four innings. For the second straight game, the Redbirds scored first and lost. On the year, the Redbirds have only lost 14 times out of 41 games in which they scored first.

In the first inning, Adron Chambers scored from third on a groundout and Chad Huffman added another with a sacrifice fly. Jamie Romak smashed the 2-0 offering over the left field wall in the second to push the lead to three. The Isotopes responded with two in the second frame, one from a double and another on the subsequent fielder's choice.

The home team tallied four more in the third inning and two more in the fourth before Greg Garcia's RBI single in the fifth. Memphis hitters added one more in the eighth on a double play that allowed Romak to score, but it would be for naught as the Isotopes extended the lead with a four-run eighth inning on Victor Marte. Whiting allowed eight runs to score in his four frames on ten hits and Marte faced nine batters and yielded a hit to six of them.

June 17 at Albuquerque, Loss 3-4

In the closest game of the Albuquerque series, the Redbirds could not capitalize with a runner on second with nobody out in the ninth. The Isotopes scored first on an RBI single in the opening frame, and a bases loaded walk by Carlos Martinez sent another runner home. In the following inning, a sacrifice fly scored a runner from third.

Memphis responded in the third, when Travis Tartamella scored on Ryan Jackson's triple into the left-center gap. Wong sent Jackson home with a sacrifice fly to bring the Redbirds within one run. The ball clubs traded runs in the sixth and seventh, with the Redbirds scoring on a wild throw by the Isotopes' pitcher. To start the ninth inning rally, Romak struck a lead-off double to left field. Chambers' sacrifice bunt got him to third, then a nine-pitch at-bat for Tartamella resulted in a grounder to the shortstop, who threw Romak out at home plate.

June 18 at Round Rock, Loss 2-9

Michael Wacha was credited with the loss in his return start from St. Louis, yielding 3 earned runs in the fifth inning. The Redbirds were the first to score with two runs in the second frame. One came from Garcia's RBI triple that deflected off the first baseman's glove and into right field, and Garcia was brought home on Curtis' single. Those would be the only two runs of support for Wacha, who had an alright outing until the fifth.

A lead-off triple signified trouble for the former Aggie and a single scored the runner from third. The 2-1 delivery was rocketed over the right field wall and put the score at 3-2 Express. Wacha finished out the frame and was replaced by Rzepczynski in the sixth. Scrabble tossed two scoreless frames before Fornataro relieved him. The latter allowed three runs before being pulled with one out and runners on the corners. Victor Marte was called upon and yielded back-to-back doubles to credit Fornataro with two more runs and one for himself.

June 19 at Round Rock, Win 9-4

Despite a not-so-stellar outing from Additon, the Redbirds won easily on Wednesday night with all nine runs scored in the first two frames. On Taveras' 21st birthday, he smashed the 2-0 offering over the center field wall for a three-run home run. Not to be outdone, Peterson followed that with a solo shot of his own. That occurrence marked the fifth time this season that the Redbirds have hit back-to-back jacks.

The Express responded with an RBI single in the bottom of the inning, but Memphis scored five in the second. Taveras' RBI single scored Jackson, then Peterson's RBI single brought Wong home and Huffman went yard to bring both Taveras and Peterson home. The lead-off man through the clean-up hitter each scored twice and those four accounted for seven of the ten Memphis hits.

Additon allowed four runs for the third time in his last five appearances and lasted five frames without striking a batter out. St. Louis reliever Fernando Salas tossed a scoreless sixth inning in a rehab appearance after being out since May 21 with shoulder inflammation.

Heating Up

Michael Blazek - The seldom-used Springfield call-up has done well in his Memphis appearances. In 9 2/3 frames, he has only allowed two runs on his June 11 game against New Orleans. The 24-year-old right-hander has struck out 17 in Memphis, and struck out five in two frames on June 17 at Albuquerque.

Brock Peterson – The veteran hit four home runs this week in only 24 at-bats. In the last 35 games, the first baseman has hit safely in 26 games and is batting .354 (46-for-130). He is tied for the league lead in home runs with 16.

Kolten Wong - The 22-year old prospect has registered a hit in nine of his last eleven and has a hit in 38 of his last 44 games for a .335 average (59-for-176). Against opposing left-handers this season, Wong has a .367 average (33-for-90)

Getting Cold

Nick Additon – The left-hander has pitched 20 1/3 frames in June in four appearances, and has yielded nine earned runs. He has allowed the nine runs over his last 13 1/3 innings, and only has one shut-out outing since May 1.

Eric Fornataro - His June ERA is 14.40, after allowing eight earned runs in five frames and two of the four home runs on him this year. If his were applicable, the 6.97 would be the highest in the PCL.

Starters – For June, the starters have combined for a 5.32 ERA (56 earned runs over 94 2/3 innings pitched) and a 4-10 record. This week alone, the starters have a 10.08 ERA (28 earned runs over 25 innings pitched).

Roster Updates

Michael Wacha has returned to the Memphis rotation with the return of St. Louis starter Jake Westbrook. With Rondon suspended for a week, the bullpen will be thin, but expect to see Salas make some more appearances before heading back to St. Louis, as well as more time for Blazek.

Transactions

June 14: Richard Castillo moved to Temporarily Inactive List
June 14: Michael Wacha optioned from St. Louis
June 16: Justin Christian placed on disabled list
June 16: Richard Castillo moved to Springfield

Injuries

June 16: Justin Christian placed on disabled list

Looking Ahead

It can only go up from here as the Redbirds experienced their worst week to date with a 1-6 record. After finishing the series at Round Rock, Memphis heads home Saturday for a series against Iowa before the off day Wednesday. That series will be for first place in the division, and the Redbirds are 3-1 against the Cubs this year.



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