Memphis Redbirds Notebook: 2010 Week 1

Brian Walton's weekly report on the St. Louis Cardinals franchise in the Triple-A Pacific Coast League. Memphis went 4-3 to start the season, in second place in the PCL East American North race. Outfielder Jon Jay paced the offense in the early going.



This report covers the period from Thursday, April 8 through Wednesday, April 14.


Manager Chris Maloney's defending Pacific Coast League champions drew an eight-game, eight-day road trip for their first two series of the season, beginning with a four-game set in Omaha against the Royals. After losing the first contest, they took the next three.


Next came four more in Des Moines visiting the Iowa Cubs starting on Monday. The Redbirds lost two of the first three games. The final Iowa contest is Thursday afternoon as Memphis looks for a split behind former I-Cub Rich Hill.  


The Redbirds went 4-3 on the week and for the season to-date. In American North Division, they reside in second place, two games behind Nashville.


Day by Day


On opening night in Omaha, Tyler Norrick struggled with his control in relief of Evan MacLane, losing the lead and the 6-4 game. The Redbirds offense got out ahead early, relying on the long ball on newcomer Kevin Howard's two-run shot in the second and Jon Jay's solo blast in the third.


Friday, or technically Saturday morning, brought Memphis' first victory of the season in an 18-inning marathon. As fate would have it, Norrick was the eighth pitcher used and tossed three scoreless frames in a 9-6 win over the Royals. In total, the Memphis bullpen allowed just one run on eight hits across 14 innings.


Despite throwing 104 pitches and walking six over six innings, lefty Hill allowed just one run on three hits and won his first start. Omaha finished on the short end of the 6-4 score on Saturday. Jay paced the offense, going 2-for-5 with a pair of doubles and driving in three runs. Mark Shorey added three singles and Amaury Cazana drove in a run while going 2-for-4.


Sunday brought a matchup between Adam Ottavino and former Cardinal Brad Thompson. The Redbirds hitters came out in force, powering the club to an 11-3 win. All nine Redbirds starters collected at least one hit and six had multiple hits. Daniel Descalso led the offensive barrage with four hits, Jay scored three runs and Howard drove in three. Oneli Perez picked up Memphis' first save of the season.


In the Iowa opener on Monday, manager Ryne Sandberg's club won their first game of the season, 6-2. Brandon Dickson allowed just one run in five innings, but the Cubs got to the Memphis pen as Josh Kinney yielded the go-ahead runs in the seventh. Tyler Henley picked up a pair of hits and Howard drove in his seventh run in five games. 


The Redbirds took game two of the series by a 7-6 score Tuesday afternoon. Ruben Gotay led Memphis with three hits, including a double and home run and three RBI. Cazana also contributed three hits. Pete Parise made it interesting, allowing four runs in the ninth before securing the final out. Starter Evan MacLane yielded just one earned run in seven innings.


Lance Lynn had his second consecutive rough outing as the Redbirds lost in Des Moines by a 5-2 score Wednesday night. Tyler Greene collected the only hit off rehabbing Cubs left-hander Ted Lilly, a first inning solo home run. Jay Jackson took over for the final five innings and was just as stingy, allowing just two hits and one run, a Jay solo shot.


Who's Hot


Four Redbirds have collected hits in all of their starts so far this year. Bryan Anderson had at least one hit in all four of his starts before his promotion. Cazana has hits in all three of his starts, Greene has hits in all five of his starts and Jay has at least one hit in all seven games this season.


Who's Not


Memphis has yet to play a game without at least one error and leads the Pacific Coast League with 10 errors on the year (tied with Las Vegas). The Redbirds open play Thursday with a .967 fielding percentage. Much of the concern is with Tyler Greene, who already has six errors and is coming off an erratic spring. The shortstop has committed errors in four different games after leading Memphis with 19 errors in 2009.


Third baseman Donovan Solano is off to a 2-for-24 start (.083). Shane Robinson is batting just .167 in the early going. Lynn's eight walks (in 8 2/3 innings) ties him for the most in the PCL.


The Memphis bullpen has been roughed up by the Cubs in the first three games of their series. Redbirds relievers have allowed 10 runs on 14 hits and a 10.80 ERA. Iowa is hitting .368 (14-for-38) against the Memphis pen in the series.


On the Move


Anderson was promoted to St. Louis on Wednesday when reserve catcher Jason LaRue was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a strained hamstring. Catcher Nick Derba was moved all the way up from Palm Beach to replace him.


On the Mend


Right-handed starting pitcher P.J. Walters has reported to the Cardinals pitching rehab facility in Jupiter, Florida. A rough estimate for his return is the end of April or start of May.


First baseman Mark Hamilton (thumb) and right-handed starter Trey Hearne (shoulder) began the season on the disabled list.


Pacific Coast League leaders


It's early, but Jay is tied for the league lead with 14 base hits on the young season and Henley is tied for third with 12 safeties. Jay's five doubles leads the PCL, his ten runs scored is tied for #1 and his seven RBI is tied for fifth. Henley's .414 batting average is seventh.


Team stats and rankings


The offense is second in the league with 41 runs scored and fifth in average at .275. Their OPS of .753 is seventh. 14 doubles put Memphis third in that category and their seven home runs ties them for sixth.


Memphis' team ERA of 4.04 places them ninth in the 16-team league. They are fourth in strikeouts with 57 but also tied for fourth for the most free passes issued with 27.


Up Next


The final game of the Iowa series is on Thursday afternoon. The Redbirds then head to Memphis for their home opener on Friday against Oklahoma City, including another PCL ring ceremony and post-game fireworks. Following that four-game set, those same Iowa Cubs come to AutoZone Park. Memphis' first scheduled off day is not until Wednesday the 28th.



Brian Walton can be reached via email at Also catch his Cardinals commentary daily at The Cardinal Nation blog.

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