Coming off their best month of the 2016 season (17-13 in June), the Memphis Redbirds (42-44) went 4-3 in Week 13, including a series win over division leaders and cross state rivals Nashville Sounds (48-40). The club currently sits in third place in the American Southern Division of the Pacific Coast League, but are within three games of second place and five games within first coming up to the midway point of the season.
Here is how the week unfolded:
Friday, July 1: Memphis (STL) 4 at Omaha (KC) 5 (10 innings)
Memphis entered the sixth inning with a 4-1 lead, but gave up three scores in the bottom of the frame. A walk-off RBI single in the 10th ended Game 2 of the Omaha away series with a 5-4 loss.
Dean Anna (3-for-4) led a Redbirds offense that scattered 13 hits. He and Jacob Wilson (2-for-4) both hit a home run, while Alberto Rosario (3-for-4) and Michael McKenry (2-for-5) had multi-hit games as well.
Starter Corey Baker fanned two and gave up three earned runs on five hits in 5 2/3 innings in a no-decision. Dean Kiekhefer followed but blew a save opportunity (2 1/3 innings) after allowing the tying home run to his first batter. Corey Littrell (0-3, 4.15) came on in the ninth and took the loss after giving up the walk-off RBI single with two outs in the 10th.
Saturday, July 2: Game Postponed
Game three of the series at Omaha was postponed due to inclement weather and became part of a doubleheader Sunday, July 3.
Sunday, July 3 Game 1: Memphis (STL) 3 at Omaha (KC) 8
Memphis had nine hits but was 2-for-10 with runners in scoring position and dropped game one of the doubleheader, 8-3, at Omaha.
Starter Jerome Williams (7-2, 4.54) threw a complete seven-inning game but was awarded a loss after giving up three earned on 12 hits, including three solo home runs.
Charlie Tilson (3-for-4) led all Memphis batters with three hits. Randal Grichuk (1-for-4) homered in the sixth, his fifth in 2016 as a Redbird, Jose Martinez (2-for-3) and Matt Williams (2-for-3) had multi-hit games and Michael McKenry (1-for-4) plated a runner.
Sunday, July 3 Game 2: Memphis (STL) 2 at Omaha (KC) 1
Memphis batters struck out 10 times, but the club was able to grab Game 2 of the doubleheader, 2-1, due to stellar defense and pitching against Omaha.
Martinez (1-for-3) plated Memphis’ only runs on a two-run home run, his seventh of the season, in the second inning. Alberto Rosario (2-for-2) had a multi-hit game while Breyvic Valera (1-for-2) had Memphis’ only other hit.
Swingman Kurt Heyer started, scattering four hits on one earned and striking out two more in four innings. Ryan Sherriff (3-0, 2.13) earned the win after fanning one and allowing one hit in 1 2/3 scoreless innings before Miguel Socolovich picked up his third save of the season in 1 1/3 innings.
Monday, July 4: Nashville (OAK) 1 at Memphis (STL) 2 (11 innings)
Rosario’s (2-for-5) bases-loaded single with one out in the 11th inning gave Memphis a 2-1 win on America’s birthday against division-leader Nashville.
Nashville had led 1-0 after eight, but Valera (2-for-4) put the game into extras with a RBI single in the bottom of the ninth. Grichuk (2-for-5) singled and doubled.
Starter Alex Reyes returned to his top prospect form by striking out nine batters and allowing one earned on three hits in 6 2/3 innings. Relievers Littrell and Juan Gonzalez combined for four strikeouts and one hit in 3 1/3 scoreless innings before Kiekhefer (2-1, 2.14) earned the win in the 11th.
Tuesday, July 5: Nasvhille (OAK) 8 at Memphis (STL) 2
Memphis gave up three home runs and dropped Game 2 of the three-game series against Nashville, 8-2.
Williams (2-for-4) had two of Memphis’ eight hits and extended his hitting streak to seven games. McKenry (1-for-4) and Rosario (1-for-2) doubled in the fifth to extend their streaks to eight and five games, respectively, while McKenry and Anna (1-for-4) plated a runner each.
Starter Deck McGuire (6-7, 4.47) dropped his first game since May 21 after giving up six earned (including three home runs) on eight hits in 5 2/3 innings. Reliever Pedro Echemendia, in his first Triple-A appearance after his promotion from Double-A Springfield Monday, fanned three in 1 2/3 scoreless innings.
Wednesday, July 6: Nashville (OAK) 6 at Memphis (STL) 7
With two outs in the bottom of the ninth, McKenry (2-for-3) hit a walk-off home run and gave Memphis a series win over division-leading Nashville, 7-6. It was Memphis’ second walk-off in three games against the Sounds.
Valera (3-for-4) and Anna (2-for-3) had multi-hit games and plated three runners together, while McKenry and Nick Martini (1-for-4) had two RBI apiece. Harrison Bader (1-for-5), who was called up from Double-A Springfield earlier in the day, doubled and scored in his Triple-A debut.
Starter Mike Mayers fanned two and gave up two earned on four hits in six innings for a no-decision. Both Sherriff and Socolovich blew save opportunities after combining for three earned on six hits in 2 1/3 innings, but Kiekhefer (3-1, 2.08) picked up his second straight win in 2/3 innings.
Thursday, July 7: Round Rock (TEX) 7 at Memphis (STL) 13
Every Memphis batter drove in or scored a run in a 13-7 victory over visiting Round Rock.
David Washington (3-for-4), who came in with a 0-for-27 slump, hit his 14th home run as a Redbird in the seventh inning, while Wilson (2-for-4) and Ohlman (1-for-3), who was re-assigned to the squad earlier in the day, hit homers as well. Tilson (1-for-5) reached base safely for the 19th time in the last 20 games with a fourth-inning double and plated two runners.
Starter Baker pitched 2 2/3 innings, allowing five runs (four earned) on four hits and walked three, but reliever Heyer (1-0, 6.59) picked up his first win of the season after tossing 3 2/3 hitless and scoreless innings. Littrell and John Brebbia followed and combined for six strikeouts and two runs (one earned) on four hits in 2 2/3 innings of relief.
Alex Reyes rebounded from his mini-slump by fanning nine and allowing just one earned run on three hits in 6 2/3 innings July 4 vs. Nashville.
Kurt Heyer, who had struggled recently, combined for three strikeouts and one earned run on four hits in 7 2/3 innings and picked up his first win in Triple-A in 2016.
In his Triple-A debut, Pedro Echemendia struck out three and allowed one hit in 1 2/3 innings of relief duty.
Matt Williams was an offensive weapon in Week 13, going 7-for-21 with one RBI, and is currently on a eight-game hitting streak.
Breyvic Valera went 8-for-20 with three RBI in six games and has hit in five straight games.
Dean Anna had two multi-hit games and was 7-for-20 with one HR and four RBI.
Carlos Peguero appeared in four games in Week 13, going 1-for-15 with seven strikeouts.
Nick Martini was promoted to Triple-A Memphis July 4, but was 2-for-15 with three RBI in Week 13.
Deck McGuire absorbed his first loss since May 21 vs. Fresno, allowing six earned on eight hits and issuing four walks in 5 2/3 innings July 5 vs. Nashville.
The usually reliable Jerome Williams scattered 12 hits on eight earned in six innings in a loss July 3 at Omaha.
Corey Baker, who opened his Triple-A account with 6 2/3 scoreless innings June 25 vs. New Orleans, struggled in Week 13, allowing eight runs (seven earned) on nine hits in 8 1/3 innings combined.
The Redbirds were very busy with player movement in Week 13, with several big names receiving promotions.
Sam Tuivailala was 2-1 with a 5.06 ERA in 29 games for Memphis and converted 13 of his 16 save opportunities. The reliever was called up to replace LHP Kevin Siegrist, who was placed on the 15-day disabled list due to mononucleosis. In 15 2/3 career innings pitched in St. Louis, Tuivailala has 21 strikeouts and owns a mark of 0-1 and 5.17 ERA.
Randal Grichuk is another Redbird who got a call up to St. Louis after IF/OF Brandon Moss was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a left ankle sprain. Grichuk slashed .283/.291/.623/.914 with five homers and 15 RBI in 15 games in Triple-A.
Harrison Bader, St. Louis’ top outfield prospect and a Texas League mid-season All-Star, received a promotion from Double-A Springfield to Memphis to help replace Grichuk. The prospect appeared in 73 games for Springfield in 2016, hitting .286/.350/491/.841 with 13 home runs, fifth-most in the Texas League, and 33 RBI.
Here is a list of all of the transactions:
07/01/2016: St. Louis Cardinals recall RHP Sam Tuivailala from Memphis Redbirds.
07/04/2016: RHP Pedro Echemendia assigned to Memphis Redbirds from Springfield Cardinals.
07/04/2016: OF Nick Martini assigned to Memphis Redbirds from Springfield Cardinals.
07/04/2016: Memphis Redbirds place OF Jeremy Hazelbaker on the 7-day disabled list.
07/05/2016: St. Louis Cardinals recall OF Randal Grichuk from Memphis Redbirds.
07/06/2016: St. Louis Cardinals select the contract of C Alberto Rosario from Memphis Redbirds.
07/06/2016: OF Harrison Bader assigned to Memphis Redbirds from Springfield Cardinals.
07/07/2016: St. Louis Cardinals select the contract of C Michael McKenry from Memphis Redbirds.
07/07/2016: C Michael Ohlman assigned to Memphis Redbirds from Springfield Cardinals.
07/07/2016: Memphis Redbirds send RHP Thomas Lee on a rehab assignment to GCL Cardinals.
07/07/2016: C Jesse Jenner assigned to Memphis Redbirds from Palm Beach Cardinals.
Sherriff is an All-Star
With Tuivailala unavailable to participate in the Triple-A All-Star Game for the second consecutive year, his teammate Ryan Sherriff was named to the PCL squad to replace him in the contest to be held this coming Wednesday, July 13.
The lefty reliever has a 3-0 record with 2.28 ERA and 1.13 WHIP in 31 games (43 1/3 innings pitched this season). Sherriff has struck out 33 batters against 16 walks and held opposing PCL hitters to a collective .201 batting average.
Reyes to San Diego
Alex Reyes is leaving the club for the weekend, named to Sunday’s MLB All-Star Futures Game, where he will be on the staff of the World Team in the nationally-televised contest. His Saturday replacement in the Memphis rotation is TBA.
TCN Top 40 Prospects
The Redbirds have 10 of The Cardinal Nation’s Top 40 Prospects on the active roster but two starters and a position player are on the disabled list. Here is how the prospects have performed recently:
1. Alex Reyes: After going 0-1 and posting a 7/62 ERA with 11 earned on 18 hits and seven walks over his last three starts, Reyes rebounded with a solid performance in Week 13. TCN’s top prospect fanned nine batters – first time he has done that since June 13 at Nashville – and scattered three hits on one earned in 6 2/3 innings July 4 vs. Nashville.
3. Marco Gonzales: Gonzales underwent Tommy John surgery, ending his season.
5. Tim Cooney: Cooney is out indefinitely and remains on the disabled list with shoulder soreness.
6. Harrison Bader: Bader was called up from Double-A Springfield July 6 to help replace Randal Grichuk and Jeremy Hazelbaker. The prospect slashed .286/.350/.491/.841 in 73 games with 13 HR and 33 RBI for Springfield, and is 2-for-10 with one RBI and one double in two games for Memphis.
7. Charlie Tilson: Tilson appeared in every game this week, going 7-for-26 with one double and two RBI. For the season, the prospect is hitting .276/.347/.399/.746 with 3 HR and 21 RBI in 81 games.
21. Jacob Wilson: Wilson may have slowed down a bit during Week13, but he still had an excellent showing at the plate. The prospect was 5-for-20 with two HR and five RBI. The infielder has three home runs in his last seven games.
25. Mike Mayers: Mayers wasn’t spectacular on the mound in Week 13, but he got the job done, giving up two earned runs on four hits in six innings July 6 vs. Nashville. For the season, the starter has been good at keeping opposing batters from reaching home, allowing four earned only once in eight starts in Memphis. However, his strikeout rate has decreased over his last three games (eight in 19 innings.)
26. Corey Littrell: The reliever struck out eight and gave up three runs (two earned) on five hits in 5 1/3 combined innings. So far for Memphis in 2016, the prospect is 0-3 with a 3.99 ERA, 29 strikeouts and seven walks in 29 1/3 innings.
31. Patrick Wisdom: Wisdom was placed on the disabled list on June 17. The infielder is hitting .234/.317/.359 with three HR and 21 RBI in 2016.
33. Michael Ohlman: Ohlman only appeared in one game for Memphis in Week 13, but he was effective on offense, going 1-for-3 with one HR and two RBI July 7 vs. Round Rock. Prior to his call up, the catcher had scattered at least one hit in 11 games with 11 RBI at Springfield.
38. David Washington: Washington was mired in a 0-for-27 slump coming into the July 7 matchup vs. Round Rock. However, he exploded Thursday night with a 3-for-4, one HR and two RBI performance. The infielder/outfielder leads the club with 14 home runs in 2016.
Memphis’ pitching staff has been strong, but they can’t seem to break the 4.50 ERA barrier (4.60, currently 10th in the PCL). The club also sits ninth in WHIP (1.43) and hits allowed (774).
On offense, the team has improved but still sits at the bottom half of the league in several categories, including 11th in AVG (.258), 12th in SLG (.395), sixth in strikeouts (673) and 13th in hits (723).
The Redbirds (42-44) remain in third place in the American Southern Division after going 4-3 in Week 13, but only sit 0.5 games ahead of the New Orleans Zephyrs (41-44). Division leader Nashville Sounds (48-40), which dropped the three-game series against the Redbirds, sit five games ahead of Memphis while Round Rock Express (46-42) are only three games ahead.
After going 4-3 during Week 13, the Redbirds (42-44) finish their four game series with Round Rock Express (46-42) from Friday through Sunday. The club will then go on a three-day break for the Triple-A All-Star Game in Charlotte, NC before hitting the road for a four game series at Albuquerque Isotopes (34-53) starting Thursday.
Round Rock has a strong pitching staff (4.17 ERA and 1.29 WHIP), but the Redbirds were able to rip them apart in Game 1 of their home series with 11 hits and 13 runs scored.
As for Albuquerque, the Isotopes are similar to the Redbirds – a decent pitching staff (4.47 ERA) but a sluggish offense (.252 AVG) – and sit in last place in the Pacific Southern Division. Memphis may have lost some key players, like Tuivailala and Grichuk, but the club still fields a strong pitching staff and a lineup that is getting better.
Jerome Williams takes the mound Friday night vs. Round Rock, followed by TBA Saturday and Deck McGuire Sunday.
Follow Thomas Simpson on Twitter @jthomasSimpson.
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