Memphis Redbirds (3-5 this week, 63-69 overall)
Memphis had a streaky week, losing six straight starting in the Colorado Springs series going through the Omaha series. But a three-game win streak snapped the losing ways and brought the club to two games within the division lead. Two wins against Omaha insured that Memphis won the season series against the division-leading Storm Chasers. Having a two-game advantage in the season series gives the Redbirds the tie-breaker in case the two clubs have the same record at the end of the season. It was not a bad week considering the starting rotation was missing Tyler Lyons and Michael Wacha.
August 15 at Colorado Springs, Loss 7-3 (seven innings)
The game on August 14 was rained out, so the teams played a doubleheader on Thursday night. Starter Nick Additon yielded six runs in 4 1/3 frames to earn his seventh loss of the year. The left-hander retired nine of ten before allowing two runs in the fourth and four more in the next inning. Additon left the game with one out and the bases loaded in the fifth before Jorge Rondon took over. A sacrifice fly scored one of Additon's runners and back-to-back singles plated two more. Rondon allowed another run to score on a wild pick-off throw with runners at the corners.
Redbirds hitters scattered 11 hits across six innings on the Sky Sox starter Chris Volstad. On three separate occasions, the Redbirds grounded into double plays to ruin opportunities to score and bring runners home. Three runs were split between the third and sixth frames. Jamie Romak singled to bring a runner home in the third, and Travis Tartamella singled to score two runners in the sixth.
August 15 at Colorado Springs, Loss 7-1 (seven innings)
Scott McGregor allowed three runs, including two home runs, and Deryk Hooker yielded four runs on a grand slam in the fifth inning to the Sky Sox. The home run was the first allowed by Hooker this season, and only the second time in nine appearances in which he allowed a run. Colorado Springs scored seven on seven hits, and only left two runners on base in the game.
August 16 vs. Omaha, Loss 5-2
The Storm Chasers took the series opener in AutoZone Park, scoring four runs on starter Boone Whiting in his six frames pitched. Omaha jumped out to an early lead with a solo shot in the first off the right-hander, and added three more in the fifth. After back-to-back walks, the pitcher fielded a sacrifice bunt, but threw the ball well out of reach of first baseman Brock Peterson. That turned a routine play into a two-run score, before the runner was thrown out at third. A single added another tally after Whiting walked a batter, and the Redbirds faced a four-run deficit.
Memphis responded in the sixth with a run on Peterson's sacrifice fly to send Mike O'Neill home. Victor Marte replaced Whiting in the seventh, and pitched three innings with one run allowed in the eighth off a sacrifice fly. A late ninth-inning rally by the Redbirds tallied one runner, but that was all the home team could put together.
August 17 vs. Omaha Loss 5-4
The Redbirds rallied from a three-run deficit with a four-run sixth inning, but the Storm Chasers plated two in the seventh to regain the lead for good. Eric Fornataro started for the first time this season, but lasted only two frames after yielding three runs. To start the game, a two-out walk scored the first run after two straight singles. In the second, Fornataro gave a free pass to lead off the inning, and a fielding error by Adron Chambers allowed the runner to score. The following single added another run on the board, and the lead was stretched to three.
Memphis drew five walks in the sixth. Along with a sacrifice fly and an RBI single, the Redbirds took the lead. Michael Blazek struggled in the seventh, giving two free passes and yielding back-to-back singles to allow two runs and absorb the loss. Former Redbird Maikel Cleto pitched a scoreless eighth frame for Omaha. Saturday night marked the third straight contest in which the Redbirds failed to get an extra-base hit, the longest stretch this season.
August 18 vs. Omaha Loss 5-2
Carlos Martinez allowed five runs, his season high, in the fifth inning for his third loss. Prior to the fifth, Martinez struck out six batters. The big inning started with a walk and a hit batter. Back-to-back doubles brought home two runs apiece before the right-hander left the game. Rondon relieved, and yielded two singles to plate one runner before getting out of the inning.
Rondon pitched through the sixth without allowing a run, Hooker pitched two scoreless, and Sam Freeman did not allow a base runner in the ninth. Peterson tallied the only two Memphis runs with a two-out single in the third.
August 19 vs. Omaha Win 7-4
A four-RBI effort from Jamie Romak led to a Redbirds victory. A first inning two-RBI double scored Jermaine Curtis and O'Neill. Catcher Audry Perez doubled in the second frame to score Justin Christian from first. Memphis extended the lead with a four-run sixth frame. With the bases loaded, Peterson's double plated two runners, followed by Romak's single that added two more.
Nick Greenwood started, and allowed three of his four runs in the first frame. A lead-off home run by Gorkys Hernandez scored one, and then back-to-back singles with two outs brought in one apiece. One more run scored in the fourth on a sacrifice fly, and Greenwood was pulled in the fifth. Victor Marte pitched a scoreless frame, Fornataro pitched two scoreless and earned the win for pitching through the sixth. Blazek and Salas both pitched a shutout inning with a strikeout apiece.
August 20 vs. Omaha Win 4-0
Nick Additon pitched seven shutout innings, and the Redbirds combined for their 14th shutout this year, breaking the single-season record of 12 in the 2000 season. Additon struck out seven with two free passes and two hits. Keith Butler and Sam Freeman contributed an inning each. It was the third time Memphis shut out Omaha this season.
Memphis scattered four runs across three innings, starting in the first. After singles by Romak and Peterson, they scored on Chad Huffman's two-out double . In the fifth, Tartamella came home on Ryan Jackson's double play groundout. In the eighth, an insurance run sealed the game and denied Freeman the save opportunity when Romak launched a solo shot on a 3-0 delivery.
August 21 at Iowa, Win 7-1
McGregor earned his fifth win of the season behind five frames with only one run allowed and four strikeouts. The run scored on a two-out single in the fourth, but that was it for the Cubs. Both Hooker and Freeman pitched two scoreless frames and contributed to an excellent week for the bullpen.
Memphis scored seven runs in three separate innings. Chris Swauger's sacrifice fly in the second plated the first run. Curtis blasted a three-run home run in the sixth and back-to-back doubles by Swauger and Audry Perez added one more. In the seventh, Peterson homered and sent Albitz home.
Memphis has beaten Iowa eight times in 12 attempts.
Bullpen – This week, the bullpen posted a 2.20 ERA across 28 2/3 frames with 23 strikeouts. Without Deryk Hooker's August 15 outing in which he allowed a grand slam, that's a 0.98 ERA across 27 2/3 innings. Sam Freeman, Fernando Salas and Keith Butler each had two outings this week and did not allow a run.
Catchers in the Box – Both Travis Tartamella and Audry Perez have been hitting well. Tartamella has batted .298 over his last 23 games, with a .278 average across July and August. The 2009 19th round pick's batting average is up to .227 after not registering a hit in his first 18 at-bats with the club. Perez has five hits in his last five games, with eight hits in the 13 games prior. Tartamella has also been efficient with base-runners, throwing out 12 runners in 25 attempts.
Greg Garcia - The 24-year-old has continued his hot month of August, with 17 hits and nine runs scored in 18 games. With only 52 at-bats, the infielder has scored a run for every six plate appearances and seven RBI with a .327 batting average. Defensively, he has not committed an error since July 22, a 23-game streak.
Mike O'Neill – In his 21 games as a Redbird, the 2010 draft pick has a hit in 16 games. His batting average is .342 with 26 hits in Memphis, and his .431 on-base percentage between Springfield and Memphis is good enough for third in the minors.
Chad Huffman – The outfielder has struck out 13 times in 51 August at-bats (nearly once every four plate appearances), and struck out 30 times in 119 at-bats since July 1. Over that same stretch, the Texas Christian University alum has a .244 average with 12 RBI, significantly cooler than his hot June, when he batted .308 with 16 RBI in less than half the games.
Starting Rotation – Over 36 1/3 frames this week, the starters allowed 25 earned runs, including four home runs for a 6.19 ERA. The starters had 34 strikeouts and surrendered 21 walks. Combined, Nick Additon, Boone Whiting and Scott McGregor had a 2-3 record with 14 earned runs across 26 1/3 frames for a 4.78 ERA. Over the course of the season, the three have combined for a 4.54 ERA (153 earned runs over 303 innings).
St. Louis took away the bright spots of Memphis' rotation, Lyons and Wacha, so neither made a start for Memphis this week. Chambers returned from St. Louis, but was sidelined after his first game. With Wong in St. Louis, Garcia has played four of five games at second base, with Albitz playing the other time.
August 15: Infielder Jermaine Curtis optioned from St. Louis
August 16: Infielder Kolten Wong promoted to St. Louis
August 16: Outfielder Adron Chambers optioned from St. Louis
August 17: Starting Pitcher Tyler Lyons promoted to St. Louis
August 17: Reliever Sam Freeman optioned from St. Louis
August 20: Outfielder Adron Chambers placed on the disabled list (retroactive to August 18)
August 20: Infielder Vance Albitz promoted to Memphis from Springfield
Oscar Taveras' season ended with exploratory ankle surgery after the outfielder played in only 46 games. Adron Chambers was placed on the disabled list effective August 18 due to wrist soreness. Catcher Geoff Klein remains on the disabled list, as well as outfielder Tommy Pham and pitcher Ramon Delgado.
From here on out, 12 tough road games remain, four against Iowa (59-73 record), New Orleans (66-66 record), and Oklahoma City (76-56). Memphis is the only team in the PCL to end the season with 13 straight road games, but the team looks to improve on its sub-500 road record (29-31) after finishing four games under .500 at home (34-38).
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