Memphis Redbirds (3-3 this week, 39-41 overall)
The Memphis Redbirds managed to regain the division lead. After losing three at Round Rock, Memphis trailed Iowa by two games before winning three of four at AutoZone Park against the Cubs.
This week was highlighted by starter Tyler Lyons' return from St. Louis, another good outing from Carlos Martinez, reliever Sam Freeman extending his scoreless innings pitched to 17 2/3 frames and outfielder Oscar Taveras re-injuring his ankle on June 23.
June 20 at Round Rock, Loss 7-8
A five-run eighth frame by the Redbirds was enough to tie the game at seven, but the Express tallied one more in the ninth to win the game. Maikel Cleto allowed six runs in his start, but Victor Marte was credited with the loss for the ninth inning run.
The Redbirds struck first and took an early two-run lead in the second. Greg Garcia's third triple scored a runner and Chad Huffman singled him home. The Express responded with a five-run second inning that started with three straight walks drawn from Cleto. Those walks were followed by a single that tallied two, an RBI double and a single that added two more.
In his final Redbirds outing, Cleto did not give any more free passes and struck out three batters before being pulled for Marc Rzepczynski in the fifth after pitching 4 2/3 for the day. Scrabble struck out the batter to escape the jam but gave up two singles and a double in the sixth to yield another run to the Express.
Memphis' five-run eighth frame was a result of Huffman's three-run home run and a two-RBI single by Brock Peterson.
June 21 at Round Rock, Loss 2-13
Starter Boone Whiting and reliever Eric Fornataro yielded 10 earned runs between the fifth and sixth frames. Memphis hitters only scored twice, once in the third on a sacrifice fly and the other as Adron Chambers scored on Taveras' RBI double in the sixth.
It was not enough as six of the seven batters Whiting faced in the fifth singled, and he was relieved with the bases loaded and one out for the often-used Fornataro. The 2-2 delivery against the first batter he faced was high and inside on the batter but pulled over the left field fence to attribute two more runs to Whiting and one for himself.
Fornataro struggled again in the sixth, getting two outs before loading the bases. A double cleared the sacks and put the Express ahead by six runs. St. Louis reliever Fernando Salas threw one scoreless with one strikeout in another rehab appearance, but Mitchell Boggs struggled. In the eighth, Boggs yielded four straight singles for two runs scored, and another scored on a one-out single. .
June 22 vs. Iowa, Win 6-2
Scott McGregor had his first quality start with Memphis, allowing two runs in seven frames. The former University of Memphis Tiger yielded a run apiece in the first and sixth innings. The first run scored came on an RBI double, on a 2-2 count that McGregor hung outside to Brian Bogusevic, who drove it off the left field wall. In the sixth, Bogusevic got another extra-base hit off McGregor and tripled to lead off the sixth. The subsequent sacrifice fly scored the right-fielder, but it was the Cubs' last run on the day.
Both Brock Peterson and Jamie Romak went yard, moving into the one and four spots for most home runs in the PCL this season. Memphis tied the game at one in the third when Rob Johnson scored on a sacrifice fly. In the next inning, Romak's two-run shot carried out onto the bluff past left field in the fourth. Brock Peterson smacked his 17th home run over the short fence in left field to put the lead at five. Freeman closed out the game with six straight outs in two frames tossed.
June 23 vs. Iowa, Win 6-0
Carlos Martinez pitched a gem with 7 2/3 shutout innings with eight strikeouts. A good win for the team left mixed emotions after Oscar Taveras limped to the dugout following his run around the bases for Brock Peterson's two-run home run. The top prospect re-aggravated his ankle injury and had to be pulled in the third. He was placed on the seven-day disabled list on June 24, and had already missed a 12-game stretch because of the same injury.
Martinez' struck out eight in the 87-degree weather, but it was the 98 mph fastballs that had hitters sweating. His fastball was fast and pinpoint accurate. It was the best outing for any Memphis starting pitcher this year, as Martinez only allowed four runners on base (two singles, a double and his own error).
Redbird hitters backed up Martinez well, scoring one in the second and five more in the third frame. Brock Peterson scored from third on a double play. The third was highlighted by Taveras' bases-clearing double, followed by Peterson's two-run shot, after which Taveras was removed from the game.
June 24 vs. Iowa, Loss 1-6
Nick Additon was credited with a loss despite throwing seven shutout innings before walking two runners on in the eighth and being pulled for Marte. The game was scoreless when Marte took over with two on and nobody out. A bunt single loaded the bases, and a full count walk with the bases full scored a run.
Manager Pop Warner replaced Marte with Rzepczynski, who allowed a sacrifice fly and three singles to score four runs before getting the third out. On the day, all three pitchers were credited with two runs over the course of the inning. With two runs scored, that marked eight in Scrabble's last four appearances (6 2/3 frames / three earned runs). Rehab assignee Fernando Salas tossed another scoreless inning and has not allowed a run in his four Memphis appearances.
June 25 vs. Iowa, Win 7-0
Tyler Lyons looked good in his return from St. Louis with seven shutout frames and only one hit allowed (in the first). A knock for the 2010 ninth-round pick has been his inability to strike hitters out, and he only had three on Tuesday night. Along with Mitchell Boggs and Springfield call-up Deryk Hooker each pitching a scoreless inning, the three Memphis pitchers shut out Iowa, for 11 shutouts on the year already (the club record is 12 set in 2000).
All nine Redbirds got to bat in the first, as the Redbirds shelled Cubs starter Yoanner Negrin for six runs, who only got two outs before being pulled. Chambers led off with a triple, scoring on Kolten Wong's single. With the bases loaded, Huffman's two-RBI ground-rule double pushed the lead to three. Peterson scored from third on a fielding error, and Chambers drove in two more runs with an RBI-single for six runs in the first. Romak added one more with a solo shot in the fifth for his 16th home run of the year, ranking him second in the PCL.
Sam Freeman - Currently holds the team's longest scoreless streak for a Redbirds reliever with 17 2/3 frames over his last ten outings and has not allowed a runner to score since May 26. The southpaw's opponents are batting .131 over his last ten appearances and he has struck out 20.
Solid Starters – Additon, Lyons, Martinez and McGregor pitched for 28 2/3 frames combined in their starts and allowed four earned runs total on 11 hits. The remaining two starters, Cleto and Whiting, yielded 11 earned runs between their 9 1/3 frames pitched. Cleto gave away six free bases, whereas the four quality starts only yielded three. With four starters performing solidly, and John Gast recovering, the rotation has a good outlook.
Veteran Hitters – Romak and Peterson have smashed five home runs in the last six games, and have combined for 12 RBI over that span. With Peterson, it has been bomb or bust, as he has gone 5-for-22 over the stretch with eight strikeouts. Romak has been the same way, scoring five times on four hits in 20 at-bats, with seven strikeouts. Peterson is first in the PCL for home runs (18) and Romak is second with 16.
Mitchell Boggs - The veteran right-hander has strung together a few bad outings recently. June has been his worst month by far, with 13 runs (eight earned) in 12 1/3 frames with 10 walks and only 11 strikeouts.
Jermaine Curtis – Over his last ten games, Curtis has seven hits in 37 tries (.189), with only one RBI and two runs scored. The right-hander has a .239 average against left-handers, and is third on the team in RBIs.
Boone Whiting - 25 1/3 frames across his last five starts and 20 runs yielded (18 earned) in those five games. A walk/strikeout ratio of 9:26 is good, but over his last two starts he has clearly struggled.
Tommy Pham will be seeing extended playing time with Taveras out for at least seven days, but a roster replacement has not yet been announced for Taveras. With Lyons returning to the rotation and Cleto leaving it, the five-man rotation has improved greatly.
June 22: Outfielder Tommy Pham promoted from Springfield
June 22: Reliever Michael Blazek promoted to St. Louis
June 22: Starter Tyler Lyons optioned to Memphis
June 23: Starter/Reliever Maikel Cleto designated for assignment (picked up by Kansas City Royals via waivers)
June 24: Reliever Eric Fornataro sent to disabled list (retroactive to 6/22)
June 24: Reliever Deryk Hooker promoted from Springfield
June 25: Outfielder Oscar Taveras sent to disabled list (retroactive to 6/24)
June 22: Reliever Eric Fornataro strained his oblique (retroactive disabled list)
June 23: Centerfielder Oscar Taveras re-aggravated his ankle, seven day disabled list on June 24.
Following the Wednesday off-day, the Redbirds play four in Memphis against Albuquerque and then three in Iowa. The Albuquerque set is the last one against the Isotopes this season, and the Redbirds look to improve the 2-10 mark against the club this year.
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