Cardinals Minor League Notebook – October 4, 2021

photo: Matthew Liberatore (Memphis Redbirds)

The St. Louis Cardinals system closed its 2021 slate with a comeback win by Memphis in the Triple-A Final Stretch. Working in relief of Jordan Hicks and Johan Oviedo, Matthew Liberatore faced 10 batters, and with the help of his defense, collected 10 outs. Alec Burleson was among offensive leaders.

Results from the game played Sunday, October 3, 2021.

Note: This is the final regular season Notebook for 2021, however, we will be back starting Thursday morning, October 14 with the first daily game recaps of St. Louis Cardinals players competing in the Arizona Fall League for the Glendale Desert Dogs.

Memphis 4 vs. Charlotte 3

A sixth-inning error proved decisive as Memphis (61-67) rallied for a 4-3 victory over Charlotte (47-81) (CHW) in the 2021 Triple-A Final Stretch finale. The 4-4 Redbirds tied for 14th in the 30-team post-season tourney.

The Redbirds trailed 3-0 midway through six but ended the frame with the contest tied at three all.  Shortstop Rayder Ascanio led off with a single to left before second baseman Kramer Robertson drew a one-out walk.  A free pass issued to designated hitter Juan Yepez with two away loaded the bases for first baseman Luken Baker.

Baker was hit by a pitch, driving in Ascanio and bringing Evan Mendoza into the game to pinch run for Baker after an injury delay.  Left fielder Alec Burleson’s smash could not be fielded cleanly by the Knights’ shortstop, allowing both Burleson to reach and Robertson and Yepez to score two unearned runs.

The score remained unaltered until Yepez worked his second walk, this time with one gone in the bottom of the eighth.  Mendoza doubled to left (after having taken over for the injured Baker at first), advancing Yepez to third.  Burleson lined a single to left, bringing Yepez across home plate for the final score.

Alec Burleson

Burleson’s hit was the last of five Redbirds’ hits overall to go with four free passes issued.  Ascanio garnered two of those hits, singling twice in three at bats with a run scored and stolen base.  Top prospect Nolan Gorman, heading to the Arizona Fall League next, did not play.

Making his third rehab start, Jordan Hicks surrendered home runs to his first two batters.  The 25-year-old went on to retire six batters, yielding three hits and a walk while striking out two.  Hicks threw 31 pitches, 20 for strikes, and will next join Gorman and others in the AFL.

Factoring in the circumstances of Memphis’ prior two contests having been cancelled due to wet grounds combined with this being the season finale, the next two pitching moves were to be expected.  Two regular members of Memphis’ rotation followed Hicks to the mound:  Johan Oviedo and Matthew Liberatore.

Oviedo retired his initial six batters before running into trouble in the fifth.  The righty jammed the sacks full via a lead-off double, base-on-balls and one-out single before a sac fly brought a runner across home.  Oviedo’s day was finished when he issued his second free pass, bringing Liberatore into the game.

Matthew Liberatore

Liberatore (W, 9-9) ended the threat with a 4-3 ground out, minimizing the damage to Oviedo’s stat line.  That out was the first of ten recorded by the 21-year-old who struck out four – two called and two swinging.  Liberatore permitted a single but a 6-4-3 double play erased the base runner to end the eighth, giving the right-hander a 10-up and 10-down final line.

Another AFL-bound Redbird, Jake Walsh, tossed a one-two-three ninth, sandwiching a 6-3 ground out between two swinging K’s for his first professional save.

Defensively, the Redbirds turned three double plays while a fielding bobble by Ascanio was the sole error.

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