Tommy Pham (Memphis Redbirds/Allison Rhoades)

Insider news from the St. Louis Cardinals’ Pacific Coast League affiliate in Memphis for the period of April 14-20.

The Cardinals’ Triple-A squad had a rough 1-5 week as the pitching faltered, but held onto first place. Tommy Pham continues to lead the offense.

The Memphis Redbirds fell to 7-7 after going 1-5 in the second week of the season. It began with a loss in the last game of their opening home series to Colorado Springs (MIL).

Memphis finished the home stand by going 1-2 against Oklahoma City (LAD), avoiding the sweep with a Monday win. They then traveled to Colorado Springs to play the Sky Sox for the second time this season.

The Redbirds’ batters and pitchers failed to keep up the production from last week which led to the rough result. The bats did not produce, hitting just three homers and not scoring more than four runs in any game.

They went from first in the Pacific Coast League in long balls to tied for second with three other teams. Memphis also hit fewer doubles in week two, but they still hold on the first place in that category in the PCL. The overall picture is far less positive, though. In runs scored, they rank 14th of 16 teams in the PCL for the season.

Memphis pitching gave up more than five runs three times in six games. In the past two contests, the Sky Sox put up a combined 27 runs. In team ERA, the Redbirds fell to 5.09, also 14th.

April 14: Memphis 1 vs. Col. Springs 3

Starting pitcher Mike Mayers allowed eight hits and three earned runs in 4 2/3 innings after Memphis jumped off to a 1-0 start in the first inning. The bullpen kept the game close, with just two hits in the final 4 1/3 scoreless innings, including John Brebbia’s 2 1/3 innings with three strikeouts and only one hit.

The offense could not close the gap, however. Memphis hitters struck out 10 times and were one-hit by four Sky Sox pitchers. Harrison Bader scored the only Redbirds’ run after he was hit by a pitch and scored on a fielders’ choice. Paul DeJong had the only Memphis hit.

April 15: Memphis 4 vs. Oklahoma City 8

The Memphis bats found more success with nine hits, but they were outscored in the Dodgers’ five-run eighth inning alone. Josh Lucas gave up all five, four earned, in just 2/3 of an inning with five hits and two walks.

Starter Josh Zeid threw 4 2/3 innings and gave up four hits, four walks and three runs. While giving up three runs, he did strike out six batters.

Down 3-1 in the fourth, Memphis made it a one-run game in the seventh, but the big eighth inning put the game out of reach.

Tommy Pham, Harrison Bader and Patrick Wisdom each had a multi-hit game and combined for seven of the team’s nine hits. Mark Montgomery continued his solid year with five strikeouts, two hits and no runs in two innings.

April 16: Memphis 2 vs. Oklahoma City 3

Memphis lost its fourth straight at home. Daniel Poncedeleon had another good outing, giving up three hits, one run and four walks in 4 2/3 innings while fanning five batters. He left with a 2-1 lead, but the next batter homered against Brebbia to tie the game.

The Redbirds had five hits by five different players and walked just once. The offense scored their two runs on sacrifice flies early on and failed to produce later in the game.

April 17: Memphis 4 vs. Oklahoma City 3 (11 innings)

The Dodgers scored twice in the first inning and led until the Redbirds scored three in the fifth. But the visitors tied the game in the ninth against Rowan Wick to send the game into extra innings.

In Tyler Lyons’ last Triple-A rehab start, the lefty gave up six hits, two runs and struck out four in 4 2/3 innings.

Chad Huffman had three hits, and DeJong drove in two. Tommy Pham plated Wilfredo Tovar for the winning run in in the 11th, making Sam Tuivailala the winning pitcher.

April 18: Memphis 4 at Colorado Springs 14

Memphis pitchers had a tough night against the Sky Sox. Chris Ellis fell to 0-2 after giving up 10 runs on eight hits and four walks in three innings. Mike Montgomery and Josh Lucas yielded two runs each in a combined five frames.

Tommy Pham had a single, homer and two RBI to lead the Memphis offense. Carson Kelly added two RBI on a double in the second inning, but the Redbirds’ hitters could not keep up.

April 19: Memphis 4 at Colorado Springs 13

The nine-run loss was similar to the night before. Mike Mayers and Ryan Sherriff gave up six runs each, and Rowan Wick allowed one.

Chad Huffman had a solid game at the plate, going 2-for-4 with a home run and three RBI. Pham scored on both of Huffman’s hits and had an RBI on a bases-loaded walk.

April 20: Game at Colorado Springs postponed

Rain postponed the Thursday game — so the two teams will finish the series with a double header on Friday.

Who’s hot

Tommy Pham — The outfielder is now 2-for-2 in making the “hot list.” Pham raised his batting average 10 points to .333 and his on-base percentage 32 points to .396. The right-handed hitter drove in five, scored three runs and had six hits in the slow offensive week for Memphis.

http://www.scout.com/player/88019-tommy-pham?s=321

His batting average is good for second on the team, behind Luke Voit. Pham leads the team in home runs, total bases, RBI, runs, hits and stolen bases.

Chad Huffman — The 31-year-old outfielder raised his average from .133 to .258 this week and raised his OBP and slugging percentage in a similar fashion. Huffman had two multi-hit games and three doubles in his last three games. In that same span, he has four RBI and a home run.

Harrison Bader — Bader, the Cardinals No. 5 prospect, raised his batting average about 45 points after a rough first week of the season. He earned at least one hit in four of the six games with two multi-hit performances. Bader added a double and a stolen base to this week’s stats as well.

http://www.scout.com/player/175479-harrison-bader?s=321

In a loss on Easter Sunday, Bader showed off the leather with a trio of catches in center field that showed off his awareness and range.

Patrick Wisdom — The third baseman hit safely in four of his five games during the week. He had a three-hit game with two doubles and an RBI April 15.

Wisdom leads the team with six doubles, tied for second in the PCL. He is third on the team with a .326 average, but has the most strikeouts. His 16 Ks in 50 plate appearances is a 32 percent rate.

Sam Tuivailala — The relief pitcher has yet to allow a run this season. Tuivailala has pitched just 3 1/3 innings but has a win and three strikeouts to tag along with his perfect ERA. The right-hander is holding opponents to a .091 average and a 0.30 WHIP.

Daniel Poncedeleon — After being called up to Triple-A from Springfield, the right-hander has pitched two good games. Over 10 total innings, he has given up just two runs on five hits.

http://www.scout.com/player/180084-daniel-poncedeleon?s=321

Poncedeleon has 13 strikeouts and keeps opposing batters in check with a .152 average against. He was pulled with a lead after 4 2/3 innings in his second start and received a no decision to keep his record at 1-0.

Who’s not

Luke Voit — The first baseman came into the week batting .462, but he only collected two hits this week (2-for-15) as his average fell to .341. After his hot week one, his average is still the team best, but Pham and Wisdom have made up a lot of ground.

Voit had one double and no homers last week after going three straight games in Week 1 with a double and home run. His seven RBI are still good for second on the team despite his last one occurring on April 11. His strikeout rate is 28 percent.

Todd Cunningham — The outfielder went 0-for-10 this week and is now batting .143. Cunningham had a hit in each of the team’s first two games but has just two hits since.

Mike Mayers — The right-hander has allowed three runs in all three starts this season and has a 7.36 ERA. In his last two starts, both against the Dodgers, Mayers yielded a combined nine runs and three home runs in 9 2/3 innings.

Opponents are finding a lot a success facing him, batting .385 with 25 hits and 12 runs in 14 2/3 innings.

Chris Ellis — The Cardinals’ off-season acquisition from Atlanta struggled in his last two starts, giving up 13 runs in seven innings. In his only start this week, Ellis gave up 10 runs in three innings at Colorado Springs.

Ellis allowed eight hits for 10 runs and struck out just two batters. His season ERA jumped up to 11.25 and opponents are hitting .306 against him.

Standings

Even though the Redbirds went 1-5 this week and fell to 7-7, they are still a half game up on the Round Rock Express (TEX). The New Orleans Baby Cakes (MIA) and Nashville Sounds (OAK) finish out the division at 6-9 and 5-9. Memphis went from having the best record in the PCL to the eighth best.

The Cardinal Nation top 50 prospects

#2 Luke Weaver — Lower back stiffness put him on the DL April 9.

#4 Carson Kelly — The catcher’s batting average dropped from .300 to .267 this week. After an 0-for-4 day with two strikeouts April 14, he went 1-for-3 with a double in two straight games.

http://www.scout.com/player/161612-carson-kelly?s=321

#5 Harrison Bader — See Who’s hot above.

#13 Paul DeJong — Batting a solid .313, the shortstop hit safely in five of the six games this week. DeJong did not draw a walk and stuck out five times. DeJong has 15 strikeouts on the season, for a 31.2 percent rate, and has not walked in 48 at bats.

#30 Mike Mayers — See Who’s not above.

#36 Daniel Poncedeleon — See Who’s hot above.  

#37 Sam Tuivailala — In three games, he has pitched 3 1/3 innings and has yet to give up a run. Tuivailala has a strikeout in each appearance and has not walked a batter. His workload has been light, but he has taken advantage of each opportunity.

http://www.scout.com/player/145217-sam-tuivailala?s=321

#39 Breyvic Valera — The infielder has struggled all season with his batting average peaking at .250. He is now batting .195 with just one RBI and one extra-base hit. He has just eight hits on the year, but is showing a bit of life with one in each of his last three games. 

#40 Rowan Wick — In 8 1/3 innings, Wick has allowed just two runs on three hits and four walks. He has nine strikeouts and has held opponents to a .111 batting average.

http://www.scout.com/player/169883-rowan-wick?s=321

#46 Luke Voit — See Who’s not above.

Team Transactions

4/19 — RHP Mitch Harris was placed on the 7-day disabled list.

4/19 — RHP Kevin Herget assigned to Memphis from Springfield.

4/20 — LHP Tyler Lyons returned to St. Louis from Memphis rehab.

What’s Next

The Redbirds will play a double header at Colorado Springs (MIL) to finish the series on Friday, April 21. Then they will travel to Oklahoma City (LAD) for a four game set before an off day Wednesday, followed by a four game home series against Round Rock (TEX).

Follow Jon Morgan Bell on Twitter @NotTheLawyer.

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