Memphis Redbirds Notebook: 2015 Week 22

St. Louis’ Triple-A ball club ended the season second in the Pacific Coast League American Southern Division, five wins short of playoff contention. Recent arrival Aledmys Diaz helped spark the final-month offense.

The Memphis Redbirds (73-71) ended their season on fire, winning six of the last seven games, but it seems to have come a week or so late. The Redbirds were sniffing first place in the division when August began, but suffered a 10-21 record in the month of August and Round Rock Express (78-66) won the division title.

The Redbirds took a four-day road trip to Oklahoma City for the final four games of the season and ended up winning three of the four games against league-leaders Oklahoma City Dodgers (86-58).

Here’s how the 3-1 week unfolded:

Friday, September 4: Memphis (STL) 11 at Oklahoma City (LAD) 6

The Redbirds enjoyed their fourth consecutive victory with an 11-6 win over league-leaders Oklahoma City Dodgers.

Eight in Memphis’ lineup recorded at least one hit (the Redbirds had 13 hits during the contest) as the Redbirds were able to capitalize on scoring chances against Oklahoma City lethal bullpen. Ed Easley (3-for-4 with three RBI) led the way for the offense while Rafael Ortega (2-for-5), Jeremy Hazelbaker (2-for-4 with three RBI) and Nick Greenwood (2-for-4) recorded two hits each.

Starter Greenwood (13-6, 5.79) earned his second consecutive win of the season after pitching 5 1/3 innings with one strikeout, four walks and five runs off six hits.

Saturday, September 5: Memphis (STL) 6 at Oklahoma City (LAD) 0

The Redbirds extended their win streak to five games after a 6-0 drubbing on the road against the Oklahoma City Dodgers.

The Redbirds’ bullpen shutout Oklahoma City’s seven-hit lineup while Memphis’ offense (13 hits), led by Diaz (4-for-5), Anthony Garcia (3-for-4 with two RBI) and Dan Johnson (2-for-5 with two RBI), recorded more than 10 hits against the Dodgers in two straight contests.

Starter Arturo Reyes (1-3, 7.82) earned his first Redbirds win in six shutout innings. Reyes fanned one, walked four and allowed five hits while on the mound.

Sunday, September 6: Memphis (STL) 3 at Oklahoma City (LAD) 5

Memphis had its five-game win streak snapped in a 5-3 loss on the road against the Oklahoma City Dodgers.

With two outs in the ninth, a wild pitch gave the Redbirds a chance with Oklahoma City’s lead cut to 5-3, but it was too little too late as pinch hitter Dean Anna grounded out to end the game. Memphis’ offense, which had recorded more than 10 hits in two games against the Dodgers, stopped short at eight.

Starter Marco Gonzales (1-5, 5.45) recorded his fifth loss of the season for the Redbirds. The lefty struck out six but walked five and scattered 10 with five runs (including a two-out two-run homer in the first) in 5 1/3 innings.

Monday, September 7: Memphis (STL) 7 at Oklahoma City (LAD) 3

In the final game of the 2015 season, the Redbirds, boosted by a five-run fourth inning, ended on a high with a 7-3 win on the road over league-leaders Oklahoma City Dodgers.

The Redbirds jumped out to a 6-0 lead in the fourth to build a cushion. Diaz (3-for-3, and Ortega (2-for-5 with two RBI) led Memphis’ offense while Kyle Hald (1-for-3 with two RBI), Anna (1-for-5 with one RBI), Jacob Wilson (1-for-3 with one RBI) and Travis Tartamella (0-for-2 with one RBI) each helped put runs on the board.

Starter Hald (2-2, 4.91) earned his second consecutive win for the Redbirds after being assigned from Springfield last week. The lefty struck out two and allowed three runs on six hits in five innings of duty.

Who’s Hot

Aledmys Diaz: Diaz proved to be a very good player for the Redbirds after debuting on Aug. 24 at Tacoma. The infielder went 9-for-15 with one home run and one RBI in the final four games of the season at Oklahoma City. The man from Cuba has batted .380 recorded six RBI and blasted three home runs in 14 games for the Redbirds while going hitless in only three of those 14.

Jeremy Hazelbaker: Hazelbaker ended his Redbirds season with a five-game hit streak. The 28-year-old, who arrived from Springfield on July 3, is Memphis’ leader in batting average (.333 in 40 games or more) and is fourth on the team in home runs (10) and RBI (46). The outfielder went 7-for-15 with four RBI during the trip to Oklahoma City.

Rafael Ortega: Ortega ended up being one of Memphis’ best hitters toward the end of the season. The outfielder was batting .197 after May 4 vs. Colorado Springs before going hot from May to the end of the season (he peaked at .294 after July 12 vs. Nashville before ending the season with .286). The Venezuelan went 6-for-15 with two RBI during the final four games of the season.

Dan Johnson: Johnson was enjoying a six-game hit streak before going hitless in the final game of the season (0-for-4 at Oklahoma City). The veteran oozed confidence all season while leading with his actions (team-leading 15 homes and 62 RBI). The infielder went 4-for-11 with five RBI before the last game of the season.

Redbirds’ starters: Memphis’ starting pitchers were excellent as they gained confidence from Memphis’ offense and helped win three of the final four games of the season (including a shutout Sept. 5 at Oklahoma City). Gonzales struck out six, Greenwood and Hald earned their second consecutive win and Reyes threw six shutout innings during the week while the relievers allowed only one run on nine hits in 13 1/3 innings.

Who’s Not

Xavier Scruggs: Scruggs was cold again in Week 22 as the infielder only produced one hit and an RBI. In his last 27 at-bats, Scruggs has only knocked two hits (although he’s plated two runners in as many at-bats) and has gone 15 games without a home run (the slugger is second on the team in home runs with 14).

Dean Anna: One of Memphis’ most patient batters (team-leading 77 walks) and consistent batters (.272 batting average) was unable to produce at the plate in Oklahoma City. Anna went 2-for-13 with one RBI, four K and four BB.

Jacob Wilson: Wilson, ranked #12 in The Cardinal Nation’s top 40 prospect list for August, tailed off towards the end of the season. The Bartlett, TN native has seen his batting average slide down since peaking at .280 June 26 vs. Colorado Springs with his average now at .231 (his average was at .225 before being promoted from Springfield to Memphis). The infielder went 2-for-16 with two RBI during the week.

Transactions

09/05/2015: Memphis Redbirds assign 2B Brett Wiley to Springfield Cardinals.

The infielder, who moved from Springfield to Memphis on Sept. 1, went 1-for-3 in one game (Sept. 2 vs. New Orleans) for the Redbirds.

09/08/2015: St. Louis recalls RHR Sam Tuivailala from Memphis Redbirds.

The closer is the fifth and final Redbird to join St. Louis with September expanded rosters, joining Tyler Lyons, Mitch Harris, Miguel Socolovich and Cody Stanley.

Top Prospects

In The Cardinal Nation’s monthly top 40 prospect list for August, five current Redbirds were listed. Here is how they have performed recently:

2. Marco Gonzales: One spot behind top prospect Alex Reyes, Gonzales recorded one loss in his lone start for the week. The lefty did manage to strike out six batters in 5 1/3 innings but allowed two walks and five runs on 10 hits.

5. Tim Cooney: Cooney remains on the 7-day disabled list after suffering appendicitis following his call up to St. Louis. The lefty has not started a game for the Redbirds since June 28.

6. Sam Tuivailala: Tuivailala has been Memphis’ most reliable closer all season (team-leading 17 saves). During the week, the right-hander pitched two innings with two strikeouts, two walks and one hit.

12. Jacob Wilson: The infielder ended his season with only two hits in 16 at-bats (although he was able to plate two runners). Wilson, who has 11 home runs for the Redbirds this season, recorded his last homer on Aug. 12 at Omaha.

31. Xavier Scruggs: Scruggs is another prospect who’s finished his Redbirds season with very little. The slugger (second on the team in home runs at 14) finished his week with one hit in 14 at-bats and one RBI.

Memphis Stats

Memphis’ offense finished in third to last place in batting average (.258) but tied for second in walks at 604. On the mound, the Redbirds are best in walks (league-low 363) and second in shutouts (14) behind league-leaders New Orleans (15). Meanwhile, the club rose to seventh place in ERA (4.10), but remained with a seventh place WHIP (1.37).

Standings

At the end of the season, the Redbirds (73-71) finished second, five games behind leaders Round Rock Express (78-66) in the American Southern Division. The Nashville Sounds (66-78) trailed Memphis by seven games in third place while the New Orleans Zephyrs (58-86) finished last in the division at 17 games behind Memphis.



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