Springfield Cardinals Notebook: 2012 Week 6

Trevor Rosenthal gave the Cardinals a strong outing on Tuesday going six strong innings allowing just one earned run to give the Cardinals a 3-1 win on their way to a 3-4 week on the road.

Generally, achieving an "organizational first" is something that players strive for and look to accomplish. For example, when Domnit Bolivar hit for Springfield's first-ever cycle last season, it was something to be celebrated. However, this week the Cardinals reached an "organizational first" of a different kind last Thursday when they were no-hit for the first time by the Northwest Arkansas Naturals.

The no-hit performance did not provide good footing as a start to the road trip for the Cardinals who were looking to improve on a 3-11 away record to start the season. After the rough start, the Double-A Birds were able to salvage the week though, managing a 3-4 record. They followed the formula of winning at home and splitting on the road.

Thursday, May 10th, Springfield 0 at NW Arkansas 2

Despite not having any offense to back him up, Trevor Rosenthal took the mound for the Cardinals in Springdale looking to continue his progress this season. Rosenthal only allowed two runs but was forced out of the game after just 4 1/3 innings pitched with a high pitch count after giving up six hits and walking two. Still, Rosenthal struck out six batters in his short outing. The Naturals were held to only one additional hit as the relief appearances of Kevin Thomas, Jorge Rondon, and Justin Wright finished the game strongly for the Cards.

Only one Springfield batter reached base in the game as Jermaine Curtis managed the lone walk. The Cardinals batters were stifled by committee as the Naturals threw four hurlers with the starter, Greg Holland, giving only one inning of work to start the game.

Friday, May 11th, Springfield 2 at NW Arkansas 8

Trying to rebound from being no-hit the night before, Springfield looked to Michael Blazek to toss a strong outing. Blazek only surrendered two hits and one run while walking three but it was enough for the loss as he was pulled after just three innings. Once Blazek left the game, the wheels came off for the Cards pitching. Scott Schneider, who threw the fourth and fifth innings, allowed four runs on four hits followed by Justin Wright who gave up three more runs in the sixth. Rondon and Keith Butler threw a scoreless eighth and ninth respectively.

Facing the since-promoted Jake Ordorizzi, the Springfield hitters were able to manage six hits. However, it was a struggle to get runners across the plate as the Cards went a team 1-for-6 with runners in scoring position. In the loss, outfield phenom Oscar Taveras, who is quickly gaining national attention, featured most recently in an article by ESPN's Kevin Goldstein, smacked his third triple of the season to add to his impressive total of extra base hits. Taveras was 2-for-4 at the plate while also adding an outfield assist, continuing to prove his five-tool ability. Infielders Kolten Wong and Chris Swauger drove in the only two runs for the Cardinals.

Saturday, May 12th, Springfield 3 at NW Arkansas 2

Still looking to get a win on the road, Tyler Lyons took the ball for Springfield. Lyons really looks to be settling in at the Double-A level and continued his recent success with a great outing to give the Cardinals a shot at victory. In seven strong innings, Lyons was stingy and surrendered only two runs on three hits while striking out seven. Lyons' only mistake came in the seventh inning with two out when he gave up a two-run bomb to the Naturals' Mario Lisson.

The Cardinals squeezed six hits for the second consecutive night but were able to come up with an additional run to take the 3-2 victory. Taveras was once again the hero at the plate as he clubbed his 10th homer of the season with one runner on in the eighth inning for the game-winning hit. The teenager was 2-for-3 on the evening. Nick Derba also added a multi-hit game going 2-for-2 and driving in the only other run for the Cardinals.

Sunday, May 13th, Springfield, 5 at NW Arkansas 6

Scott Gorgen, still searching for some consistency in his starts, took the hill on Sunday to try to salvage a split as the four-game series with the Natural wrapped up. Gorgen was not sharp in the start, giving up four earned runs in just 1 2/3 innings pitched. The right-hander's short outing forced the bullpen to carry the load for the Cards and Kevin Thomas followed Gorgen in relief allowed one additional run in three innings. Justin Wright and Jorge Rondon each added scoreless innings before Sam Freeman took over and allowed the game-winning run in the eighth.

Springfield's offense was stronger than it had been in the previous three games but wasn't enough to overtake the Naturals. Jose Garcia had the best day at the plate going 2-for-3 with two RBI. Wong, Curtis, and Swauger had the other three RBI in the loss for the Birds. Wong's RBI tied the game in the eighth inning on a pinch-hit sacrifice fly before the lead was surrendered in the bottom half of the eighth.

Monday, May 14th, Springfield 3 at Arkansas 2 (11 innings)

Springfield traveled to Little Rock on Monday to begin a four-game series with the Travelers. Gast made his second consecutive start against Arkansas and the Travelers' hitters still couldn't figure out the lefty. Gast delivered yet another strong performance, giving the Cardinals seven great innings giving up only one earned run on five hits. Eric Fornataro and Keith Butler each pitched two innings in relief for the Cardinals. Despite Gast's outstanding performance, it was Butler who picked up the win in the 11th.

Kolten Wong, who has stayed consistent throughout the early part of the season, was the offensive leader for the Cards, going 2-for-5 with two RBI. Taveras also added his 11th double of the season in the win and Xavier Scruggs drove in the game-winning run on a single after Greg Garcia stole second base in the 11th.

Tuesday, May 15th, Springfield 3 at Arkansas 1

Rosenthal took the mound again on Tuesday looking to put together a win streak for the Cards and build off his short outing in Springdale. Rosenthal gave Springfield a much stronger outing, going six innings and allowing one unearned run and one hit. Jesse Simpson followed Rosenthal with a solid two innings giving up just one more hit. Fornataro earned the save by throwing a hitless ninth.

The Cardinals hitters managed eight hits but still struggled to get runners across the plate, going a team 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position. Kyle Conley led the charge, going 2-for-3 and adding a solo home run in the eighth. Curtis added a double and a single and Wong contributed two more singles in the leadoff spot. Greg Garcia had the only other RBI for Springfield.

Wednesday, May 16th, Springfield 2 at Arkansas 3

Looking to shake things up a bit in the rotation, Springfield handed the newly-promoted Richard Castillo the ball for the start on Wednesday against the Travelers. Castillo rewarded the Cardinals with a brilliant performance in his first Double-A start in 2012 by going seven strong innings and allowing just two runs on six hits and striking out seven. Blazek, moved to the bullpen after his shaky start to the season, relieved Castillo in the eighth with a scoreless inning before walking the bases loaded in the ninth and issuing a walk-off walk for his fourth loss of the season.

The Cardinals' bats were mostly quiet as Springfield left 11 on base with a team 1-for-11 with runners in scoring position. Xavier Scruggs offered the only power with a solo home run in the fourth inning. Kolten Wong drove the game-tying run for the second time in less than a week with a RBI single in the ninth. Greg Garcia doubled and Chris Swauger tripled for the young Birds.

Who's Hot

Oscar Taveras - Taveras just keeps hitting. Though his average has dipped to .313, tied with Kolten Wong for the team lead for the season, the outfielder keeps driving the ball for extra base hits and continues to show his skill as a five-tool player with his speed and outfield arm.

Tyler Lyons - In his last two outings, Lyons has pitched 13 innings giving up only four runs and striking out 11. The left-hander has seen his ERA dip to an impressive 3.19.

John Gast - The lefty just continues to deliver strong outings. Gast's ERA remains below 2.00 at 1.93 and he has struck out 41 batters to lead the team.

Who's Not

Michael Blazek – Blazek, who was positioned before the season to earn a spot in the Memphis rotation, is having more than his share of struggles and it appears that he has now lost his spot in the Springfield rotation after the promotion of Richard Castillo. In a relief appearance on Wednesday night, Blazek allowed a walk-off walk.

Team Transactions

May 14 - INF Neal Pritchard Returned to Extended Spring Training
May 14 - LHP Sam Freeman Transferred to AAA Memphis
May 14 - RHP Jesse Simpson Activated from DL
May 15 - RHP Richard Castillo Received from A-Advanced Palm Beach

Division Standings

Texas League North W L PCT GB Home Away L10 Streak
Tulsa Drillers (COL) 24 15 .615 - 15-6 9-9 4-6 L3
NW Arkansas Naturals (KC) 22 17 .564 2.0 16-6 6-11 8-2 W4
Springfield Cardinals (STL) 17 22 .436 7.0 11-7 6-15 5-5 L1
Arkansas Travelers (LAA) 15 24 .385 9.0 9-8 6-16 3-7 W1

The Cardinal Nation Top 40 Prospect Watch

#3 Oscar Taveras – Taveras is hitting .313 with 10 home runs, 11 doubles, and three triples to go with 32 RBI. The kid can just hit and keeps getting better every day.

#4 Kolten Wong - Wong has recently been placed in the role of leadoff hitter and has done exactly what a leadoff hitter is supposed to do, get on base. The second baseman has 40 hits and 13 walks through 34 games so far this season.

#12 Trevor Rosenthal – Rosenthal is settling in at the Double-A level, lowering his ERA to 3.29. The righty needs to find a way to go deeper into games though. Through eight starts, Rosenthal has thrown nearly 10 less innings than fellow starter Gast.

#21 John Gast – When it comes to starting pitching for Springfield, Gast is leading the way. Gast consistently goes the deepest into games and sports an impressive 1.93 ERA.

#31 Jermaine Curtis - In 10 games back in Double-A, Curtis has a .324 batting average with four doubles but only one RBI.

#34 Sam Freeman - Sam's tremendous start to the season in Springfield earned him a promotion to Triple-A.

#38 Keith Butler – Butler has allowed just four runs in 19 innings of relief. Springfield can usually depend on Butler for a scoreless inning when needed.

What's Next

On Thursday, the Cardinals close their four-game series with the Arkansas Travelers as they look to rebound from their tough walk-off loss by sending Tyler Lyons to shut down the Travelers bats. Friday, the Cards return home to Springfield for a four-game set with Tulsa before they head deep into Texas for back-to-back matchups at San Antonio and Corpus Christi.

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