Memphis Redbirds (57-61 overall, 4-2 this week)
The Redbirds' solid winning week was matched by the division leader Omaha. The Memphis club is still two games behind with only 26 games remaining, including five against Omaha in Memphis.
For the month of July, the Redbirds had a team batting average of .257 (matching April for lowest average in a month), hit 19 home runs (two less than April with four more games) and only averaged 3.79 runs per game after totaling 4.8 per game through April, May and June. After the slow offensive month, the Redbirds now rank in the bottom five of the PCL in runs scored, total bases, slugging percentage and batting average.
August 1 vs. Tucson, Win 2-1 (10 innings)
Boone Whiting started for the Redbirds and only allowed one run in his five frames. The right-hander yielded a lead-off single to the first batter, who advanced to second on a wild throw. The runner scored from second on Brandon Allen's two-out single, and that was the only run for the Padres.
Memphis tallied one in the sixth after Mike O'Neill was singled home by Kolten Wong. Redbirds relievers held the Padres scoreless through the final five innings, with Victor Marte throwing two frames, Eric Fornataro relieving him in the eighth and Freeman pitching two shutout frames, earning the win and the save. In this extra-innings affair, the Redbirds scored the game-winning run on a sacrifice fly in the tenth by Ryan Jackson that brought home Justin Christian.
August 2 vs. Tucson, Win 4-2
Carlos Martinez walked four in five innings and had trouble finding the plate with 54 strikes out of 93 pitches. Despite the struggles, Martinez earned the win with only one run allowed. Memphis hitters tallied four runs, batted in by four separate Redbirds across four different innings.
The Redbirds scored first - in the third inning. Two singles put catcher Audry Perez and left fielder O'Neill on base with two outs, before Wong drove in Perez for his 37th RBI of the year. In the following frame, Perez singled to score Chad Huffman from third. Memphis' third run came in the sixth, on Chris Swauger's solo home run, his first in Triple-A this season. O'Neill extended the lead to two runs in the eighth with an RBI single to bring home outfielder Justin Christian.
August 3 vs. Las Vegas, Win 4-3
The Redbirds won their third straight game and Freeman earned his second win this week after the go-ahead run scored on Christian's sacrifice fly in the eighth. A three-run fourth inning put the Redbirds ahead until the eighth, when the 51's scored their third run on starting pitcher Scott McGregor.
Jamie Romak started the fourth frame rally with a lead-off double, his 28th of the year. Huffman singled to put runners on the corners with nobody out before Jackson's sacrifice fly brought home one runner. Back-to-back singles by Christian and Travis Tartamella added one more and left runners at first and third with one out. McGregor's sacrifice bunt advanced Tartamella and scored Christian for the third run of the inning.
McGregor pitched through seven frames with seven strikeouts and one free pass. His walk came in the eighth, when he was pulled for Eric Fornataro. The right-hander yielded a single, and a groundout that scored the runner that drew a walk from third, thus attributing the third run to McGregor. Freeman got the final out of the eighth, and earned the win. Salas saved the game in the ninth.
August 4 vs. Las Vegas, Loss 4-3
For the second game in a row, the team that scored three runs in the fourth won the game. 22-year-old starter Michael Wacha surrendered three runs in the fourth frame, and was charged with his third Triple-A loss this season. Prior to the big inning, Wacha looked dominant, retiring nine of the first ten batters faced. In the fourth, a one-out solo dinger was the first tally, followed by a single, double and another single to add two more.
51's starter Rafael Montero was dominant for longer than Wacha. He only allowed one baserunner in his first six frames, and retired 18 straight from the first to the seventh inning. In the seventh, Wong broke the streak with a double, and scored from third on Garcia's two-out single.
Tyler Lyons pitched a strong first three frames, but the wheels came off in the fourth inning, when a single and two straight doubles followed by a home run blew the game open. The five-run rally in the fourth inning was too much for the Redbirds to overcome. Lyons, the Pitcher of the Month for July, took the loss after pitching five frames, with four strikeouts and his sixth home run of the year allowed.
Memphis scored first on a groundout. O'Neill reached base on a lead-off single, then advanced to third by hustling around the bases on a wild pick-off attempt. Jermaine Curtis' groundout was enough to get the 25-year-old home. O'Neill added another run in the fifth with the bases loaded and nobody out. His double play groundout scored Christian, but cost the home team two outs with the bases loaded.
In the ninth, the Redbirds had a chance to win the game with the bases loaded and pinch-hitter Jackson at the plate with two outs. The fifth-year-veteran grounded out and the comeback effort was over.
August 6 vs. Las Vegas, Win 5-3
Nick Additon pitched six shutout innings, and Memphis took advantage of the Las Vegas relievers in the sixth inning to score four runs. Additon started the game with three strikeouts in the first two frames and had five for the night. Freeman struggled when he took over in the seventh and allowed a single, double and then a three-run home run. Francisco Pena took the first pitch he saw from Freeman and stroked in onto the bluff past left field. Fernando Salas saved the game in the ninth with three straight outs.
Memphis scored first in the third after Jackson singled home Perez for his first RBI of the game. The Redbirds' big sixth inning started off with two straight walks on eight pitches from Las Vegas reliever D.J. Mitchell. Two batters later, the reliever walked Romak to load the bases with two outs and was pulled. O'Neill singled to bring home one runner and the next batter walked to bring another home. Wong tallied two more with a groundball single through the right side of the infield.
Catchers – Audry Perez and Travis Tartamella have both been hitting much better lately. Tartamella is currently riding a seven-game hitting streak with a .333 batting average with four RBI. Tartamella has been a better hitter at the Triple-A level, doubling his batting average, slugging percentage and on-base percentage compared to Springfield. Perez has a smaller sample size for Triple-A, but after a slow start with Memphis, he has also improved over the 12 games in which he has appeared.
Mike O'Neill – The 5-foot-9 outfielder has a hit in six of his seven games as a Redbird, with four multiple-hit games for a .393 batting average. In his fourth year in the Cardinals organization, O'Neill has been rewarded with his first opportunity in Triple-A and the club has won four out of seven games with the new lead-off hitter.
Kolten Wong – The second baseman has a hit in 14 of his last 18 games, with a .323 average (21-for-65) since the All-Star break with ten RBI, nine runs scored, and six stolen bases. For comparison sake, scoring a run every seven at-bats since the All-Star break is great, but nowhere near his Player of the Month award-winning May, when he scored 23 times with 104 at-bats (a run every 4.5 at-bats).
Chad Huffman – The 28-year-old outfielder only has four hits in his last ten games for a .129 average. Since the All-Star break, the Padres' 2006 second round selection has posted a .233 average after a .308 start to the season. Despite his current slump, Huffman is posting a .289 average for the year, his best in the minor leagues since 2008.
Ryan Jackson – The Florida native has not hit well following the All-Star break. He has dropped to a .288 batting average for the year after posting an average of .229 for July, with only six extra-base hits in 97 at-bats, and none in the last ten games.
Boone Whiting – The right-hander has allowed a run in each of his last ten starts and has made it to the sixth inning only twice in that time. July was much better for Whiting than June, but hitters are batting nearly .300 against him over the two months, and his ERA is 5.22 for the two months combined.
With Adron Chambers and Brock Peterson in St. Louis, manager Pop Warner has made a few adjustments to the batting order. Mike O'Neill has made the transition to Triple-A and has taken over the lead-off hitter from Chambers. Kolten Wong has been moved down to the third spot from the second for the last six games. Without Peterson in the clean-up spot, Romak has batted there in his last six starts.
Tyler Lyons was named both The Cardinal Nation's Pitcher of the Month for July and the Cardinal Organization's Pitcher of the Month. The left-hander ranks first in the PCL for WHIP on the season with a 1.03. In July, Lyons had five starts for Memphis, four of which were quality starts. His ERA for July was 1.60 across 33 2/3 frames with six earned runs, 33 strikeouts and eight walks. Opponents were held to a .130 average against Lyons, who was also named PCL Pitcher of the Week on July 8 this year.
Oscar Taveras has been on the disabled list since June 24 with the ankle injury. This year so far, the star outfielder has missed 52 out of 118 games. Catcher Geoff Klein, outfielder Tommy Pham and reliever Ramon Delgado are also on the disabled list.
The Redbirds finish with 21 of their final 26 on the road, starting with a four-game set at Reno Thursday night. They then move on to Colorado Springs for four more.
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