Memphis Redbirds (53-59 overall, 3-4 this week)
The Redbirds shut out both Round Rock and Tucson behind starters Tyler Lyons and Michael Wacha. These two games were the highlight of a losing week. It marked the third time this year the Redbirds have shut out the Express, and the club-record 13th overall this season. Losing four games put Memphis 1 ½ games behind Omaha for the division lead.
July 25 vs. Round Rock, Win 5-0
Tyler Lyons and Michael Blazek combined to pitch the Redbirds' 12th shutout of the season, tying the mark set by the 2000 PCL Championship team. Lyons threw a seven-inning gem, only allowing two hits while striking out four. In six starts for Memphis since his return from St. Louis, the left-hander has posted a 1.30 ERA across 40 2/3 frames with 37 strikeouts.
The Redbirds scored five runs including three tallies in the fifth. Tommy Pham got the rally started with a one-out double. The Nevada native advanced to third on a misfired pick-off attempt. Kolten Wong singled Pham home. Chad Huffman doubled to left field to put two runners in scoring position with one out. Jamie Romak's sacrifice fly and Adron Chambers' single drove both Wong and Pham home to push the lead to three.
July 26 at Round Rock, Win 7-4
A four-run third frame, highlighted by Wong's eighth home run of the year, and a three-run eighth were enough to push the Redbirds past the Express. With two outs in the third, Travis Tartamella and Ryan Jackson singled to put two runners on for Wong, who swung at the 2-0 delivery and plated three runs. Following Wong's shot, Huffman doubled and was brought home on a single by six-year veteran Chambers.
The Express answered back by tallying three in the fourth inning. A two-run home run surrendered by starter Nick Additon was his sixth allowed of the year and the third in July. Round Rock added one more after a single and a double scored the runner from first.
Memphis tacked on three more insurance runs in the eighth. With two runners on and one out, Greg Garcia's single scored one, Tartamella's sacrifice fly added another and Jackson singled to plate the third run of the inning.
July 27 at Round Rock, Loss 6-5
A walk-off solo home run by Leury Garcia in the ninth yielded by Blazek won the game for the Express. Memphis led the game by two after the seventh, but Round Rock tallied two in the eighth before the home run in the ninth. Boone Whiting started the game for the Redbirds and yielded three runs in his five frames pitched.
Memphis scored first in the back-and-forth affair, piling on four runs in the second. With the bases full, Chris Swauger singled home Romak and Curtis in his first at-bat since the sixth-year pro was called back up from Springfield. The outfielder was caught in a pickle when he tried to steal, but the distraction allowed Mateo to score from third. Tartamella was at the plate with two outs, and drove the ball out of the park for his third dinger as a Redbird this year.
Round Rock did not score on Whiting until the fifth frame, when they tallied three. With runners on first and second, Jim Adduci's single scored a runner and left runners on second and third (Adduci advanced to second on the throw home). A sacrifice fly to center field scored both runners, as Mateo mishandled the cut-off throw.
Mateo responded in the sixth with a single to bring home Romak. Jorge Rondon was called upon to relieve Whiting, and tossed two scoreless frames. In the eighth, Sam Freeman entered the game for Rondon and lost the lead for the visitors. The southpaw yielded three straight singles to allow one run, and then was pulled with two outs. Blazek surrendered a single and blew the save. The run would be credited to Freeman, but the ninth inning home run allowed by Blazek was the final nail in the coffin.
July 28 at Round Rock, Loss 4-3 (11 innings)
The extra-innings loss for the Redbirds was the seventh in 11 tries, and the second straight walk-off loss for the club. This one was particularly disappointing as Carlos Martinez shut out the Express over five innings with seven strikeouts. It was the 21-year-old's first start since being optioned by St. Louis. Nick Greenwood pitched four innings in relief and allowed three runs. Victor Marte was credited with the loss for giving up the game-winning single in the 11th.
The first run of the game was scored by the Express in the sixth as Greenwood allowed three straight singles. Memphis tied the game in the seventh on Greg Garcia's double that brought Curtis home.
Neither team scored again until the ninth, when both tallied two. For the Redbirds, back-to-back singles by Curtis and Garcia put a runner in scoring position. A wild pitch advanced both with one out. Justin Christian struck out and Round Rock intentionally walked Wong to create a force-out opportunity at any base. Huffman ruined that strategy as he singled up the middle to bring home two runners and put the visitors ahead.
In the bottom of the ninth, a lead-off single spelled trouble for Greenwood. Round Rock's catcher Robinson Chirinos took the 3-1 delivery and smashed it over the left field wall to push the game into extra innings.
Victor Marte took over for the Redbirds, and escaped the tenth inning jam with help from Garcia throwing out a runner headed home on a grounder. He was not so fortunate in the 11th, as the Redbirds elected to intentionally walk Aducci to load the bases with only one out. Yangervis Solarte struck his fourth single of the night to bring home the winning run.
July 29 at Round Rock, Loss 7-4
Scott McGregor started the game for the visitors and was credited for his seventh loss of the season after allowing six runs. His first two runs allowed came in the third frame. Back-to-back singles with two outs left runners at the corners. The right-hander walked the next batter and faced MLB veteran Manny Ramirez with the bases loaded. Ramirez singled to drive in two runs.
A disjointed and error-filled sixth inning led to three more runs for the Express. A lead-off single scored on Ramirez' single to center field as Chambers could not field the ball cleanly and was credited with an error. With Ramirez on second, McGregor committed a throwing error on a grounder, and Ramirez scored. A sacrifice bunt got the runner to third and a wild pitch sent him home. McGregor yielded one more run in the seventh frame when Leury Garcia tripled and scored on a groundout.
Eric Fornataro relieved McGregor in the eighth and made his first appearance since going on the disabled list on June 21. The right-hander allowed a lead-off single. The runner made his way to second on an erroneous pick-off attempt, then to third on a groundout. A single scored him for the Express' seventh and final run.
July 30 vs. Tucson, Win 3-0
Wacha, Rondon and Freeman logged a combination shut-out, the Redbirds' 13th this season, setting a club record. Wacha pitched for six frames, retired 17 of 20 and struck out seven. Rondon relieved in the seventh, and pitched through the inning only allowing a single and striking out one. The Venezuelan native got two outs in the eighth but was pulled with a runner on first for Freeman. Freeman allowed a single but retired the next hitter.
Brock Peterson blasted his 23rd home run of the year and his first since the All-Star break. The solo shot in the sixth gave the Redbirds the lead. In the eighth, Memphis added two more, one on Garcia's double, and he scored on Tartamella's single.
July 31 vs. Tucson, Loss 4-2
A two-run shot in the ninth served up by Fernando Salas was the third time this week that the Redbirds lost in the last frame. Starter Nick Additon threw his eighth quality start in 18 outings with only one run allowed in six frames. His only run yielded came on a lead-off home run in the sixth.
Memphis scored just twice, once in the third and again in the fifth. In the third, Mike O'Neill singled in his Redbirds debut. He scored on Huffman's RBI double. In the fifth, Audry Perez singled and advanced to second on Additon's sacrifice bunt. O'Neill singled again to put runners at the corners. Perez came home on Curtis' groundout.
Tuscon scored four runs across the sixth, eighth and ninth. The solo home run in the sixth accounted for one and Deryk Hooker allowed one in the eighth. A lead-off double scored on a single. Salas allowed the two-run home run that gave the Padres the lead and ultimately the win.
Nick Additon – Eight of his last 13 starts, since May 9, have been quality starts. The Florida native also is third in the PCL with a 1.22 WHIP, 31 free passes and 108 hits allowed across 114 1/3 frames. There is a divergence in his home starts versus his away starts. The 25-year-old has yielded 25 earned runs in 65 1/3 frames in home games (3.44 ERA), but in 49 innings away from home, Additon has yielded 29 earned runs (5.33 ERA).
Jamie Romak – The Canadian still ranks second in home runs with 20, including 15 against right-handed pitchers. Romak has batted for a .313 average since the All-Star break. Of all the spots in the line-up, the fifth spot seems best suited for him, as he has hit 29 of 79 (.367) for six home runs, nine doubles and 17 RBIs in the 24 games from that spot.
Michael Wacha – In July, the Texas A&M alum has yielded six earned runs across his 21 1/3 frames pitched. In those four starts alone, he has struck out 27 batters. Prior to those four starts, Wacha pitched 58 2/3 frames and struck out 40 batters.
Justin Christian – Since returning to the lineup from the disabled list, the outfielder has not regained his May and June hitting stride. In June, Christian played in 12 games, batted .405 with seven runs scored and three RBIs. In July, the 33-year-old has played in 13 games with a .182 average with one run scored, no RBI and no extra-base hits.
Victor Marte – In his last six outings, Marte has allowed at least one run in four of them, seven earned runs in all, with eight strikeouts across seven frames tossed. In the last ten outings, Marte has a 7.50 ERA with ten runs yielded (all earned) in 12 innings.
Surrendering the long ball – The Redbirds have allowed 79 dingers, the fewest home runs of any team in the PCL. In the last 24 games, however, Memphis hurlers yielded 27 home runs. In their other 88 games this season, Redbirds pitchers allowed only 52 home runs.
A losing week for the Redbirds was accentuated by several players making returns to the majors, including Keith Butler, Michael Blazek, Adron Chambers and Brock Peterson (came back to Memphis for three games, July 28-30).
As those players left, reliever Deryk Hooker and outfielders Chris Swauger and Mike O'Neill were called up from Springfield. Starter Carlos Martinez and reliever Fernando Salas were optioned to Memphis from St. Louis.
July 25: Pitcher Marc Rzepczynski promoted to St. Louis
July 25: Pitcher Carlos Martinez optioned from St. Louis
July 27: First baseman Brock Peterson optioned from St. Louis
July 27: Outfielder Tommy Pham sent to disabled list because of torn labrum
July 27: Outfielder Chris Swauger promoted to Memphis
July 29: Infielder Luis Mateo transferred to Springfield
July 29: Pitcher Eric Fornataro off Memphis disabled list
July 30: Pitcher Tyler Lyons promoted to St. Louis
July 30: Pitcher Deryk Hooker promoted to Memphis
July 30: Pitcher Keith Butler promoted to St. Louis
July 30: Pitcher Michael Blazek promoted to St. Louis
July 30: Pitcher Marc Rzepczynski traded to Cleveland
July 30: Pitcher Fernando Salas optioned to Memphis
July 31: Outfielder Adron Chambers promoted to St. Louis
July 31: First baseman Brock Peterson promoted to St. Louis
July 31: Outfielder Mike O'Neill promoted to Memphis
July 31: Pitcher Tyler Lyons optioned to Memphis
July 27: Outfielder Tommy Pham discovered he had been playing with a torn labrum.
Catcher Geoff Klein and outfielder Oscar Taveras are still on the disabled list.
Eric Fornataro returned from the disabled list this week.
The Redbirds finish out the Tucson series at home and play the Las Vegas 51s for the first time this season. Las Vegas has the fifth-worst ERA in the PCL and has allowed the fifth-most home runs, so this is potentially a series to get the offense going.
After the next six games at home, only five of the remaining 32 will be in Memphis. With the playoffs fast approaching, the Redbirds have to erase a 1 ½ game deficit and be sure to beat Omaha in the five-game series at AutoZone Park.
© 2013 The Cardinal Nation, thecardinalnation.com and stlcardinals.scout.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.