Springfield Cardinals Notebook: 2011 Week 16

New closer David Kopp converted both his opportunities for the Double-A Cardinals this past week.

The Springfield Cardinals finished up a short four game homestand with the Tulsa Drillers, before heading back to Northwest Arkansas for a four-game road trip.

On Wednesday night, Shelby Miller was again very solid, earning his sixth win. Miller went 5 1/3 innings, giving up one run on four hits, while striking out four, but did walk a new season high with Springfield, five. The Cardinals created all of the offense they needed, with three RBI performances from Charles Cutler and Shane Robinson. Zack Cox was 3-for-5 with a pair of RBI. Kevin Thomas and David Kopp combined to pitch a scoreless 3 2/3 innings, as Springfield took game three of the series, 12-1.

On Thursday night, Tulsa rebounded with a victory to take the series. Joe Kelly made the start and his line was a mixed bag. Kelly left the game after six innings, on the hook for the loss. He gave up four runs on 10 hits, but struck out nine, tying a season high for Springfield. But Kelly was taken off the hook when the Cardinals rallied for two runs in the bottom of the ninth inning. Alex Castellanos singled in a run to tie the game at four. After another scoreless inning of work from Nick Greenwood, Jorge Rondon yielded four earned runs in the top of the 11th inning, and Springfield was unable to rally this time, dropping the game 8-4.

Hoping the road would provide some relief, Springfield headed to Northwest Arkansas and opened the series on Friday night. John Gast got the start for Springfield and was knocked around a little bit by the Naturals. He went five innings, surrendering seven runs on only four hits, but walked four and only struck out one. Matt Adams homered and had four RBI, but the rest of the offense could only muster two additional runs, and the Cardinals dropped game one of the series, 11-6.

On Saturday, Adams continued to mash. He hit his 23rd home run of the season, going 3-for-5 with three driven in. Jermaine Curtis plated two, while Zack Cox and Jose Garcia each added an RBI. The Springfield bullpen was very strong, performing in relief of Scott Schneider who gave up five runs in 5 2/3 innings. Samuel Freeman and Jorge Rondon shut down the seventh and eighth innings, respectively, to bridge the gap to the ninth. In the ninth, Springfield turned the ball over to David Kopp, for the first time in a true save situation. Kopp nailed down his first save, giving up a hit and walking one, while also striking out one. Springfield took game two, 8-5.

Sunday brought another rough performance from a Cardinals starter, as Mike Blazek went five innings, allowing four earned runs on eight hits, while striking out six. Blazek also gave up his Texas League leading 22nd home run of the season. Nick Greenwood came on to relieve Blazek, and he too would yield four earned runs, only his four earned were in just two innings of work. Eric Duncan homered and drove in three, while Zack Cox had another multi-RBI performance, notching two. The offense wasn't enough to make up for the pitching woes, as Springfield lost 11-7.

Monday night wouldn't change much in the way of results. Shelby Miller made the start, so hopes had to be high for the Cardinals to earn a split, but it wasn't to be. Miller went six innings, giving up three earned runs on nine hits, while striking out six to earn a quality start. Unfortunately, the offense wasn't much help. Alex Castellanos hit his 18th home run of the season and Chris Swauger added a RBI. Francisco Samuel gave up an earned run in one inning of work and that was all that Arkansas needed, taking the game and the series with a 5-4 victory.

On Tuesday, Springfield headed home for a three-game series with the Arkansas Travelers. In game one of the series, Joe Kelly made the start and had a bumpy beginning. Kelly left the ballgame after going five innings, giving up five runs on eight hits, while striking out five and walking four. But the offense helped Kelly out for the second straight game. Last time out they saved him from a loss; this time they helped him to his second Texas League victory. Matt Adams was 2-for-4 with a two run home run, his 24th homer of the season. Alex Castellanos turned in a 3-for-4 performance with an RBI and Zack Cox added an RBI with another multi-hit performance, going 2-for-4. Given a 6-5 lead heading into the top of the sixth, the Cardinals' bullpen went to work. Nick Greenwood and Jorge Rondon pitched three scoreless innings, sending the Cardinals to the ninth with the lead. David Kopp came in for his second outing in the closer's role, and nailed down save number two, allowing a hit, but quickly erasing the runner with a double play started by Zack Cox. The Cardinals took game one of the three-game series against Arkansas, 7-5.

Who's Hot

Charles Cutler – Cutler is 40-for-84 (.476) since June 1. He is currently sporting a .392 batting average overall and has a 14 game hitting streak. Cutler has been forcing his way into the starting lineup, even playing leftfield.

David Kopp – Kopp struggled mightily as a starter this season, going 2-5, with a 7.28 ERA. But since being moved to the bullpen, he is 1-0 with a 2.08 ERA in 13 innings of work. Kopp has assumed the closer's role and has nailed down both save opportunities given.

How They Stack Up

Second half standings – Texas League North

W L PCT GB Home  Away  Div  Streak Last10
NW Arkansas  16 14 0.533 - 8-6 8-8 10-8 W2 8-2
Arkansas  15 15 0.500 1 7-7 8-8 10-8 W2 3-7
Tulsa 15 15 0.500 1 7-9 8-6 11-7 L2 6-4
Springfield 11 19 0.367 5 5-11 6-8 5-13 L2 3-7

The Cardinal Nation Top 40 Prospect Watch

#35 Francisco Samuel – Samuel has appeared in two games since being sent to Springfield. He is 0-0 with a 4.50 ERA. He has allowed one run in two innings of work, giving up four hits and recording two strikeouts.

#34 Ryan Jackson – Jackson is hitting .302 over his last 10 games, with a home run and four driven in. Jackson is now hitting .282 in July, with two homers and 15 RBI. He is the owner of a season line of .275, eight home runs and 51 RBI.

#33 Matt Adams – Adams broke out of his mini-slump… in a big way on the last road trip. Adams has three home runs in his last four games. He is now hitting .337, with 24 home runs and 76 RBI on the season.

#28 John Gast – Gast was saddled with the loss his last time out, going five innings and giving up seven runs on just four hits. He is now 1-1, with a 5.10 ERA in five Double-A starts.

#27 Joe Kelly – Kelly had another rough outing on Tuesday, going five innings and giving up five earned runs on eight hits, while striking out five. He did earn the win though, improving to 2-1 in the Texas League, but he is also the owner of a 7.04 ERA.

#23 David Kopp – Kopp has looked much better coming out of the bullpen, consistently hitting the mid to high nineties with the fastball. Since being moved to the bullpen, he is 1-0 with a 2.08 ERA in 13 innings of work. Kopp has been moved to the closer's role and has nailed down both saves since being given the job.

#19 Tommy Pham – On the club's disabled list.

#18 Deryk Hooker – On the club's disabled list.

#2 Zack Cox – Cox was hitting .200 on June 30. He is now hitting .276. Cox has improved in the field as well. He had 10 errors in his first 26 games, but has three in his last 29 games. Cox has also been getting on base at a nice pace; he owns a .343 on base percentage.

#1 Shelby Miller – In his last start, Miller was tagged with his second loss since being called up to Springfield, despite the fact that he earned a quality start. He went six innings, giving up three earned runs, while striking out six. Miller is now 6-2, with a 2.29 ERA.

Up Next

The Springfield Cardinals finish up a three-game set with Arkansas this week and then will host Northwest Arkansas for the first time since the middle of May.

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