Memphis Redbirds (4-3 this week, 45-49 overall)
The seven-game home stand was a winning effort for the Redbirds, with four wins in AutoZone Park bringing them within two games of the Iowa Cubs for the division lead.
Opening and closing with a loss leaves a bad impression, and allowing 13 home runs in the last seven games is also sign of a pitching staff that has struggled. Over the last seven games, the starters have a 4.03 ERA (20 earned runs over 44 2/3 innings pitched) and the relievers have a 3.62 ERA (11 earned runs over 27 1/3 innings pitched). Oddly enough, the starters have allowed 11 of the 13 home runs over the seven games.
July 4 vs. Nashville, Loss 7-0
Memphis was shut out for the just the third time at home this season, a combination effort by former Redbird Chris Narveson and Kyle Heckathorn. Redbirds pitchers did not have the same luck as Scott McGregor allowed five runs in the first three frames.
In the first inning, McGregor got the first out, but allowed three straight singles to plate one runner. With two outs, the Sounds added one more with an RBI single to push the lead to two runs. After escaping the first, the Redbirds' starter left his 0-1 offering over the middle of the plate for eighth hitter Blake Davis, who hammered the pitch for his first home run of the year. Narveson was due up and helped his own case by doubling into left field. A passed ball and a wild pitch later, Narveson crossed the plate for the Sounds' fourth run.
The visitors plated one more on McGregor in the third on a solo home run by Khris Davis (no relation to Blake). One more walk, then McGregor retired five straight before turning the game after four frames to Victor Marte. Marte got all three outs in the fifth, but a lead-off single in the sixth scored when Robinson Diaz hammered the high fastball for the Sounds' seventh run on the day. Sam Freeman relieved Marte and struck out four in two more scoreless frames to extend his scoreless inning streak to 22. Rondon got the final three outs without consequence.
July 5 vs. Nashville, Win 6-2
Carlos Martinez earned his third win of the year in his eighth start. The 21-year-old only allowed one run on a solo shot (his first home run allowed in Triple-A) in 5 1/3 innings pitched. It marked the seventh start overall he has allowed two runs or less, culminating in a 1.67 ERA in AutoZone Park.
The Sounds' home run came in the third, but the Redbirds responded with two of their own in the bottom of the fourth. With Greg Garcia on, Jamie Romak rifled a shot onto the bluff to give the Redbirds the lead. Jermaine Curtis followed that home run with a one of his own onto the bluff for the sixth time this year the Redbirds have hit back-to-back jacks.
Memphis added two more in the sixth frame with two outs. Romak doubled into left field and the Sounds intentionally walked Curtis to face Chris Swauger. The young outfielder took offense to the gesture and smacked a double into left field to score both runners. In the next frame, Adron Chambers scored on Ryan Jackson's sacrifice fly to put the Redbirds ahead by five. Nashville responded in the next frame with a solo shot served up by Mitchell Boggs, but that was the last run of the day.
July 6 vs. Nashville, Win 7-2
Romak hit his second home run in as many days for his 18th of the year. It came on the first pitch he saw in the second inning and Chambers added one more in the frame with his sacrifice fly to score Garcia. Kolten Wong's solo shot in the third extended the lead to three before Nashville put a run on Nick Additon in the fifth.
The 6-foot-5 lefty retired the first 14 batters, including striking out the side in the third. Unfortunately for Additon, the 15th batter, Hainley Statia, took the 3-1 offering over the left field wall for Additon's 12th allowed this season.
Memphis responded in the bottom of the fifth after Chambers scored from third on the shortstop's throwing error. Tim Dillard yielded three more runs in the sixth. The inning started off with a single by Garcia, Rob Johnson and Chambers. Garcia scored on Chambers' single, and Additon advanced Johnson and Chambers with a sacrifice bunt. Tommy Pham singled to send Johnson home, and Wong's groundout scored Chambers.
Additon yielded his second run on the day in the seventh on a sacrifice fly. Out of 24 batters faced, the southpaw retired 21, with five strikeouts in 92 pitches for 61 strikes. Freeman relieved the starter with a scoreless eighth frame, and Fernando Salas closed the game with a scoreless ninth.
July 7 vs. Nashville, Win 13-3
The home team started in a rhythm against Nashville starter Hiram Burgos. Wong singled in the first, Huffman walked and Romak singled to quickly load the bases with one out. Chambers got the sacrifice fly to score one, but that was it for the first. In the third frame, Wong got it started again with a solo home run for the second straight night. Chad Huffman walked and Romak drove him in with his third home run in the previous three nights. Burgos got the next three outs, but that was the end of his night.
Tyler Lyons started the game for Memphis and struck out nine batters for his second start in a row with nine strikeouts. Since his return from St. Louis, the left-hander has struck out 22 batters in as many frames, with only three runs allowed, all coming on Friday night. His three runs yielded came on his first pitch to Hunter Morris in the fourth, Morris' 18th home run this year. That three-run shot brought the score within one, but the Redbirds never yielded the lead.
The next run came in the sixth from Johnson's two-out RBI single that plated Chambers. That extended the lead to two runs, before an eight-run eighth by the Redbirds put the Sounds away. Jackson walked with one out, Garcia bunt singled before Johnson sent them both home with an RBI-double. Lyons helped his cause with a single, and Pham singled to score Johnson. Wong walked to load the bases and Romak walked with two outs to send another home. Chambers hit a grand slam in his second at-bat in the inning to put the total at 13 runs for the Redbirds.
July 8 vs. Omaha, Loss 5-1
Losing the series opener against Omaha marked the 29th time in 40 attempts that the Redbirds had lost a game when the opponents scored first. Omaha scored in the second on a single, but Memphis responded with their own RBI single in the bottom of the second. A solo shot in the third was the second run scored on Boone Whiting, who has allowed two or more in the four of his last five starts. Those were the only two he allowed in his five frames, but that was enough to win the game.
The home team could never get two hits in one inning until the ninth frame, with two singles left stranded. By that time however, Omaha had scored three insurance runs in the eighth, two on double and that runner scored on a single. Those three runs came against Scrabble, the first runs he had yielded in his last five appearances.
July 9 vs. Omaha, Win 2-1
For the second straight game, the Storm Chasers scored first, but it was a different outcome as the Redbirds earned the win behind Scott McGregor's six frames. His only run yielded came on a solo shot to lead off the second inning.
Freeman followed McGregor's six frames with two scoreless to extend his streak, and the Redbirds' franchise record for scoreless innings for a reliever to 25. His six outs came on two strikeouts and four groundouts. Salas relieved him and earned his second save of the year.
Brock Peterson was responsible for one run on an RBI single in the third and Pham scored Curtis from second with a ground-rule double for the go-ahead score in the sixth.
July 10 vs. Omaha, Loss 8-3
Omaha won the game in the last two frames, scoring four in the eighth and one more in the ninth. The Redbirds had tied the game going into the eighth, but there was not enough momentum to overcome the late Storm Chasers rally. The story of the game was the Redbirds' ineffectiveness with runners on. 20 runners left on base were too much, and former Redbird Maikel Cleto earned the win for Omaha.
In the bottom of the first, Peterson homered for the 21st time this year on the 0-2 offering on the outside of the plate, pulled deep onto the bluff down the left field line. Michael Wacha was unable to hold the lead, as he left a changeup hanging over the plate with two outs in the third. Anthony Seratelli smoked the pitch into center to score two runners.
Nick Greenwood relieved Wacha but did not provide any relief as he yielded four runs in his two innings pitched. One came in the seventh before the Redbirds tied the game again with Pham's single in the bottom of the frame. Greenwood allowed a double to score another before he was pulled with two runners in scoring position for Jorge Rondon.
Curtis was unable to field the groundball and a runner scored. A single scored another and a sacrifice fly added the fourth run in the frame. A wild pitch by Rondon in the ninth added one more for a five-run loss.
Adron Chambers – Over his last six games, Chambers has scored seven runs, and is 9-20 (.450) with two doubles, a grand slam, and seven RBI.
Tommy Pham – The current seven-game hitting streak is his longest in his Redbirds' debut season. His first multiple-hit game in Triple-A was on June 29; since then he has three. Pham seems to be hitting his stride behind the plate and on the field as well. He made a leaping catch on July 6 as well as one on July 10 where he ran boldly into the wall and hung onto the ball.
Jamie Romak – In his last 20 starts, Romak has seven home runs and six doubles. This week, the slugger with the second most home runs in the PCL hit a home run in three straight nights from July 4-7, with six RBI in those three games. In the fifth spot this year, Romak is 24-for-61 (.393) with six home runs, eight doubles and 17 RBI. The Redbirds are 11-6 when Romak homers.
Come-back efforts – When trailing after six frames, the Redbirds have only won once in 36 tries. When trailing after seven, the Redbirds have lost all 36 times. The Redbirds are the only team in the PCL without a win when trailing after seven. Another close-call statistic is that the Redbirds are third in the PCL with 16 of their 49 losses (nearly 1/3) coming within one run.
Jermaine Curtis – Since he has come back to Memphis from St. Louis, the infielder is hitting 46-179 (.257) in his last 52 games. In June, Curtis compiled a .259 batting average with four extra-base hits, two home runs and only seven RBI.
Starters serving up home runs – In July (ten games), the starters have allowed 12 home runs. In June, the starters only allowed six in 30 games.
July 9: Catcher Rob Johnson's contract purchased by St. Louis
July 9: Catcher Audry Perez called-up from Springfield
July 9: Pitcher Mitchell Boggs was traded to the Rockies for an international signing bonus slot
Four games in Nashville are ahead before the PCL All-Star Break. The Tennessee Lottery I-40 Cup competition is tied at 6-6 and the next four will be the last four. Nashville has lost the last six games, including three against Memphis. With Martinez, Additon, Lyons and Whiting scheduled to pitch, the Redbirds could win three games against the team with the lowest batting average in the PCL, second fewest runs scored and fewest overall wins in the PCL.
Brock Peterson will participate in the PCL Home Run Derby and All-Star Game. Michael Wacha was also named to the all-star team. As well as the two all-stars, the Redbirds will send Kolten Wong (USA) to the Sirius XM All-Star 2013 Futures Game on Sunday, July 14 in New York. Oscar Taveras was also invited but is unable to participate due to injury.
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