Memphis Redbirds Notebook: 2010 Week 2

Brian Walton's weekly report on the St. Louis Cardinals franchise in the Triple-A Pacific Coast League. Memphis went 3-4 on the week, good for second place in the PCL American North race. Outfielder Jon Jay continues to lead the offense.

Recap

 

This report covers the seven-day period from Thursday, April 15 through Wednesday, April 21.

 

Manager Chris Maloney's defending Pacific Coast League champions finished their eight-game season-opening road series in Des Moines on Thursday, then celebrated their home opener on Friday. After four against Oklahoma City (Texas Rangers), the Iowa Cubs came to AutoZone Park. The first two of the four-game series occurred during this period.

 

The Redbirds went 3-4 on the week, losing the first three, then winning the next four. Memphis is now 7-7 on the season to-date. In the American North Division, they reside in second place, two games behind Nashville, same as last week at this time.

 

Day by Day

 

Thursday, 4/15: Memphis rallied for three runs in the eighth but dropped their second straight to Iowa, 7-5. Lefty Rich Hill was hammered for seven runs on 10 hits over five innings by his original organization. Amaury Cazana hit a two-out, three-run home run in the seventh and Daniel Descalso added a double and two RBI.

 

Friday, 4/16: The Redbirds lost their third straight, as they were shut out 7-0 by Oklahoma City in their home opener. Matt Pagnozzi led the offense with two hits, while Jon Jay added a single and two walks. Adam Ottavino was touched for five runs on seven hits, including two home runs allowed, while tallying six strikeouts.

 

Saturday, 4/17: The losing streak extended to four as Memphis lost 7-2 to Oklahoma City. Brandon Dickson allowed five runs, but only two earned, on six hits through six innings. Tyler Norrick and Pete Parise each threw a perfect inning in relief. Descalso led the Redbirds with two hits while Jay singled and scored. Ruben Gotay homered.

 

Sunday, 4/18: The Redbirds lost their fifth consecutive and third straight at home, 6-2 to Oklahoma City as the offense continued to sputter. Evan MacLane struck out eight in 6 2/3 innings, allowing three runs on eight hits. Josh Kinney allowed three runs in the ninth inning to seal the loss. Donovan Solano broke out of a 2-for-28 slump with three hits, while Shane Robinson had three hits and an RBI.

 

Monday, 4/19: Memphis broke their five-game losing streak by rallying for three runs in the bottom of the eighth to avoid a loss and a sweep by Oklahoma City, 4-3. Reliever Fernando Salas (1-0) picked up the win while Parise threw a 1-2-3 ninth for his first save of 2010. Lance Lynn started and delivered his best performance on the young season. The big righty went six innings, allowing one run on one hit with four walks and six strikeouts.

 

Tuesday, 4/20: The comeback Redbirds did it for a second consecutive night as they scored three runs in the bottom of the seventh inning to secure a 4-3 victory over Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg's Iowa Cubs. Starter Rich Hill allowed just one hit in 6 2/3 innings, but walked five. Both runs that scored against him were unearned. Descalso was the repeat hero with a two-run double for the game-winner. Earlier, Gotay hit his team-leading third home run.

 

Wednesday, 4/21: For the third game in a row, Memphis came back from a deficit to win, this time by a 6-5 score over Iowa. Starter Trey Hearne was rusty in his 2010 debut, yielding three hits, four walks and two runs in three innings. The offense scored just enough despite going just 2-for-14 with runners in scoring position. Descalso singled, doubled, scored twice and drove in one run. Salas was given the ball for the ninth and collected his first save of the season.  

 

Who's Hot

 

Jon Jay continues his red-hot hitting. The outfielder has collected at least one hit in all 13 of Memphis games in which he has played and is averaging .364. The streak is the longest in the PCL this season.

 

Daniel Descalso has an RBI in six of his last seven games and 13 on the season.

 

The Memphis pitching staff has allowed just 14 hits over their last three games.

 

Through his three appearances including two starts, Brandon Dickson's ERA of 2.25 leads the Redbirds.

 

Fernando Salas has a win and a save in his last two outings.

 

Oneli Perez has a 12:2 strikeout to walk ratio over his first 11 1/3 innings pitched.

 

Pete Parise picked up two saves this week. His WHIP of 1.14 is third-lowest on the team, but his ERA of 6.43 is third-highest.

 

Who's Not

 

Third baseman Donovan Solano went 0-for-4 on Wednesday as his average dropped to .132.

 

Despite his long-ball prowess, Gotay is batting just .213 after going 3-for-23 over his last eight games. He leads the team with 15 strikeouts.

 

After a hot start, Kevin Howard has slipped to .184 on the season.

 

Lynn has walked more batters (12) than he has struck out (10) in his 14 2/3 innings to date. Only teammate Hill, with 13 free passes, has more in the entire PCL.  

 

After two starts, Ottavino's 7.20 ERA is tied for the highest on the team with reliever Josh Kinney.

 

On the Move

 

On Wednesday, right-handed pitcher Trey Hearne was activated from the seven-day disabled list and gave him the home start against the Iowa Cubs (details above). The 26-year-old Texan had remained behind in Florida when the Redbirds headed north for the regular season to rehab a right shoulder ailment.

 

The Cardinals' 28th round selection in the 2005 draft was the starting pitcher for the North in the 2009 Texas League All-Star Game and was second in the Double-A league in wins (12) and second in ERA (2.82). Hearne also made four starts for Memphis last season.

 

On the Mend

 

In the corresponding transaction to Hearne's activation on Wednesday, Josh Kinney was placed on the disabled list with a strained shoulder. The right-hander last pitched on Sunday and struggled, yielding three runs, two earned, in one inning of work. On the season, in five innings over four games, the 31-year-old has allowed four runs for a team-tying worst 7.20 ERA. Kinney has walked four and struck out four, having given up six hits. His record is 0-1.

 

Kinney also had shoulder problems during spring training, when he required two cortisone shots and had an MRI.

 

Right-handed starting pitcher P.J. Walters continues to work back into game shape at 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) remains on the disabled list, where he has been since the start of the season.

 

Pacific Coast League leaders

 

Jay has seven stolen bases and has yet to be caught, good for third in the PCL. His 14 runs scored ties him for second in the league.

 

Descalso has 13 RBI on the season, tying him for the third-highest total in the circuit.

 

MacLane's 17 strikeouts tie him for fourth-most in the league. He has only issued two walks, as well.

 

Team stats and rankings

 

The offense dropped to tenth in average at .252 and but is still fourth in runs scored with 64. Their OPS of .698 is 11th in the 16-team league. 24 doubles put Memphis sixth in that category and their 11 home runs tie them for seventh.

 

The Redbirds' team ERA of 4.33 places them 11th in the PCL. They are first in strikeouts with 115 but also have issued the most free passes with 59, the latter a problem that also plagued Springfield last season.

 

Up Next

 

The final two games of the Iowa series and homestand are on Thursday and Friday evenings. The Redbirds then head to Oklahoma City on Saturday for four. Following their first off day of the season next Wednesday, Memphis invades Nashville.

 

 

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

Follow Brian on Twitter.

 

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