Memphis Redbirds Notebook: 2015 Week 13

St. Louis’ Triple-A ball club was hot at the plate during Week 13 but fizzled towards the end of the week. The club still remains in second place in the Pacific Coast League American Southern Division, six games behind Round Rock (50-36), 3.5 games ahead of New Orleans (41-46) and four games ahead of Nashville (41-47).

The Memphis Redbirds had a roller coaster of a week as the ball club inches closer to the All-Star break. The Redbirds’ week started when Oklahoma City completed a four game series sweep at AutoZone Park, but Memphis responded with a prolific offense that outscored the Sky Sox 47-14 in a four-game sweep in Colorado Springs.

Memphis’ five-game homestand opener was changed to a doubleheader on Thursday due to travel problems. While one can suspect that the postponement contributed to the stalling of the Redbirds’ offense, for whatever reason, Memphis was still not able to continue their terrific form and dropped their opening two games vs. Nashville.

Newcomers Jeremy Hazelbaker and Nick Martini provided solid additions to the lineup while Greg Garcia returned from St. Louis and fit in seamlessly in the Redbirds’ lineup. The Colorado Springs outburst was promising, but if Memphis expects to make it to the playoffs, the ball club needs to capitalize on more hits while the bullpen needs to return to the group that was earlier a force to be reckoned with in the PCL.

Here’s how the week unfolded:

Friday, July 3: Oklahoma City (LAD) 3 at Memphis (STL) 2

The Redbirds dropped their fourth consecutive loss, 3-2 against the Oklahoma City Dodgers as the ball club suffered their first four-game series sweep since June 14-17 at Albuquerque.

Memphis jumped out to an early 2-0 lead as Ed Easley and Jacob Wilson plated runners in the first. The contest went through three more scoreless innings before Darnell Sweeney’s three-run blast gave Oklahoma City a 3-2 lead and the win in the fifth. With one out in the bottom of the ninth, the Redbirds had runners on second and first, but Easley’s line drive and Dan Johnson’s fly ball were both caught by Sweeney to end the game.

In his debut after being called up Springfield on July 2, Jimmy Reed (0-1, 6.23) threw 4 1/3 innings of good baseball, but the lefty gave up three runs in the fifth and recorded his first loss as a Redbird. Reed also fanned three and allowed seven hits.

Saturday, July 4: Memphis (STL) 15 at Colorado Springs (MIL) 1

Colorado Springs had no answer to Memphis’ hot offense as the Redbirds plated 12 runners in the first two innings to down the Sky Sox in Colorado Springs, 15-1. Memphis scattered 22 hits during the contest.

Cody Stanley had a field day as the catcher went 5-for-6 on the day with four RBI – three in the first two innings while Matt Williams gave the Redbirds three RBI, Martini and Johnson drove in two each and Hazelbaker and Petrick had one each. Memphis added runs in the fifth, seventh and eighth to increase their lead to 15-0, but a Yadiel Rivera sac fly in the bottom of the ninth against Joey Donofrio ended the shutout at 15-1.

Zach Petrick (5-4, 3.64) had a good day on the mound as the right-hander earned the win with 7 2/3 scoreless innings, giving up six hits.

Sunday, July 5: Memphis (STL) 7 at Colorado Springs (MIL) 3

The visiting Redbirds won their second consecutive game, taking down the Colorado Springs Sky Sox 7-3.

Colorado Springs struck in the first as Matt Dominguez’ single plated Luis Sardinas for a 1-0 lead. Memphis answered with a six-run three-inning stretch highlighted by a two-run homer from Hazelbaker (his first Memphis home run), a solo blast from Johnson (his ninth of the season), a Rafael Ortega RBI double, a Williams RBI line drive and a Stephen Piscotty RBI single.

Williams put Memphis on the board again in the seventh when his ground ball plated Greg Garcia for a 7-1 lead. Colorado Springs added two in the eighth the cut the lead to 7-3, but that would be all she wrote.

Heath Wyatt (1-0, 0.96) earned his first win when he was called in to replace Dean Kiekhefer (3 2/3 innings pitched with one strikeout and one earned run on three hits.) Wyatt threw three innings of scoreless baseball while striking out two and scattering three. Keith Butler arrived in the bottom of the eighth and recorded his first save of the season while allowing only one hit.

Monday, July 6: Memphis (STL) 12 at Colorado Springs (MIL) 4

The Redbirds continued their hot hitting in Colorado Springs as the club recorded 18 hits to earn an easy 12-4 win.

Johnson, Stanley, Hazelbaker and Dean Anna led Memphis’ offense as they all plated three runners each while all 12 runs were scored in the first six innings. The Sky Sox were able to score a run in the second, sixth and two in the ninth but fell short of Memphis’ offense – the Redbirds have scored 34 and scattered 51 during their red-hot three-game stretch.

Nick Greenwood (7-3, 5.42) continues to be one of Memphis’ most dependable starters as the lefty struck out four and allowed two earned runs on nine hits over seven innings.

Tuesday, July 7: Memphis (STL) 13 at Colorado Springs (MIL) 6

After suffering a four-game sweep against Oklahoma City, Memphis swept Colorado Springs in the four-game road series, including a 13-6 win in the finale. The story of the game is, again, Memphis’ hot bats, as the Redbirds recorded 16 hits.

Garcia’s RBI single and Hazelbaker’s RBI double gave the Redbirds a 3-0 lead in the first before Colorado Springs scored four unanswered in the first and second to take a 4-3 lead. Memphis jumped back in front at 5-4 thanks to a Martini RBI grounder before the Sky Sox knotted the game at 5-5.

Memphis responded with a three-run sixth and a one-run seventh, highlighted by an Ortega two-RBI triple, a Ty Kelly RBI and a Martini RBI grounder to take a 9-5 lead before Colorado Springs punched back with a run in eighth. With the score at 9-3, Memphis plated four runners in the next frame thanks to an RBI double from Hazelbaker and a two-RBI triple from Martini to end the game.

John Gast (5-6, 4.45) earned the win with a line of two strikeouts, two walks and five runs (three earned) on eight hits in five innings of duty. Tyler Waldron recorded a hold with one strikeout and one earned before Sam Tuivailala picked up his 12th save of the season.

Thursday, July 9 Doubleheader: Nashville (OAK) 3 at Memphis (STL) 2; Nashville (OAK) 7 at Memphis (STL) 3

The Redbirds dropped both seven-inning games of their doubleheader (July 8 homestand opener was postponed due to travel issues) against the Nashville Sounds to kick off their five-game homestand.

Game 1 started with three scoreless innings before Nashville opened the scoring with a Jason Pridie two-run homer (his tenth of the season) to take a 2-0 lead in the fourth. Memphis cut the lead to 2-1 with a Hazelbaker RBI line drive that plated Garcia in the next frame before Pridie’s sac fly scored a runner to give Nashville a 3-1 lead. Easley gave the Redbirds a chance with a solo shot to center (his fourth of the season) to cut the lead at 3-2, but Nashville starter Barry Zito went three-up, three-down to close the game.

Reed (0-2, 6.48) allowed two runs on six hits in four innings of duty in Game 1 while allowing two walks and fanning one in his second straight losing decision.

Game 2 started with a three-run first inning from Nashville thanks to a Pridie three-run home run (his 11th of the season) before the Redbirds knotted the game at 3-3, highlighted by a Hazelbaker RBI triple and a Martini RBI single in the second and an Easley sac fly that plated Martini in the fifth. The Redbirds’ rally was short-lived as Nashville answered with four runs in the next frame highlighted by a Max Muncy two-RBI single and RBIs from Anthony Aliotti and Bryan Anderson against Marcus Hatley to end the game.

Hatley (4-3, 2.63) took the loss after replacing starter Zach Petrick – Petrick struck out four and walked three while allowing three earned on three hits over five innings. Hatley pitched only 1/3 inning, allowing four runs on five hits.

Who’s Hot

Jeremy Hazelbaker: Hazelbaker’s hot Week 13 started in Colorado Springs. The 27-year-old, who is enjoying a six-game hitting and RBI streak, recorded three multiple-RBI games and four multiple-hits games while helping ignite Memphis’ offense, which seemed to have stalled against Oklahoma City.

Cody Stanley: Stanley was another player who led Memphis’ offensive surge during the Colorado Springs away series. The catcher has recorded multiple hits in four of the past five contests (including a 5-for-6 outing with 4 RBI). The 26-year-old also plated seven runners during the week. Stanley has been cold for much of the season, but this recent burst of offense proves that he may have something to offer the Memphis’ offense.

Nick Martini: Memphis’ second outfield addition from Springfield (along with Hazelbaker) was able to showcase his talent in little game time. He was in the lineup for three complete games and pinch hit in another, and the outfielder displayed confident hitting as Martini went 6-for-13 with 7 RBI. Whether this was a quick flash of productivity remains to be seen, but the 25-year-old seems like he has what it takes to challenge for a spot in the lineup day-in to day-out.

Who’s Not

Ty Kelly: One of the few Redbirds’ that did not perform well during Memphis’ sweep at Colorado Springs was Kelly. The second baseman went 3-for-15 with one RBI in a week where Memphis found a groove offensively. The 26-year-old is still hovering at .212 and has not been a threat at the plate for Memphis this season.

Jimmy Reed: What a tough way to start your first two games in Triple-A. Reed went 0-2 with a 6.48 ERA in his first two starts as a Redbird vs. Oklahoma City and Nashville. The 24-year-old is still only one week being in a Redbirds uniform and still has time to turn it around, as the lefty was a menace on the mound for Springfield (2-1, 2.22 ERA).

Transactions

Week 13 ended up being one of the busiest weeks in regards to transactions with 12 player transactions. Redbirds star OF Tommy Pham was called up to the big leagues early in the week while the Redbirds brought back 2B Greg Garcia and pitchers Tyler Lyons and Marcus Hatley from St. Louis.

The Redbirds also received additions from Springfield in outfielders Jeremy Hazelbaker and Nick Martini while 2B Jacob Wilson was put on the temporarily inactive list due to international play for Team USA. Here’s how the transactions unfolded:

07/03/2015: St. Louis Cardinals recall OF Tommy Pham from Memphis Redbirds.
07/03/2015: St. Louis Cardinals option LHP Tim Cooney to Memphis Redbirds.
07/03/2015: Springfield Cardinals assign OF Jeremy Hazelbaker to Memphis Redbirds.
07/04/2015: St. Louis Cardinals recall RHP Mitch Harris from Memphis Redbirds.
07/04/2015: St. Louis Cardinals option 2B Greg Garcia to Memphis Redbirds.
07/04/2015: Springfield Cardinals assign OF Nick Martini to Memphis Redbirds.
07/04/2015: Memphis Redbirds place 2B Jacob Wilson on the temporarily inactive list.
07/05/2015: St. Louis Cardinals recall LHP Tim Cooney from Memphis Redbirds.
07/07/2015: St. Louis Cardinals recall LHP Tyler Lyons from Memphis Redbirds.
07/08/2015: St. Louis Cardinals select the contract of 1B Dan Johnson from Memphis Redbirds.
07/08/2015: St. Louis Cardinals option LHP Tyler Lyons to Memphis Redbirds.
07/08/2015: St. Louis Cardinals option RHP Marcus Hatley to Memphis Redbirds.

What’s Next

The Redbirds start next week with the last three home games of their five-game homestand vs. the Nashville Sounds. The Sounds are third to last in the league and one spot above Memphis in team batting average at .257 and second in the league and two spots above Memphis in ERA at 3.46. In the standings, they are four games back of the Redbirds but have been a constant threat to Memphis this season (Memphis is 3-5 vs. their cross state rivals).

Memphis will take a three-game break following their home series vs. Nashville with the All-Star Break. Tuivailala will represent the Redbirds, but Cooney will not participate as he is with St. Louis. The PCL All-Stars will take on the International League All-Stars July 15 at Werner Park in Omaha, Nebraska. The game will be broadcasted live on MLB Network at 7 p.m. CT.

Memphis will finish the week with a road opener against the Iowa Cubs (45-42). The Cubs, who sit 9.5 games back of division-leading Oklahoma City, sit fifth to last in batting average at .264 and sixth in ERA at 3.94. The Redbirds will rely on newcomers Hazelbaker, Martini and the rest of the lineup to showcase the offensive skillset that was on show in Colorado Springs while the pitching staff continues to be consistently good.



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