Springfield Cardinals Notebook: 2012 Week 7

Kolten Wong hit .400 (10-for-25) with two home runs while earning Texas League Player of the Week honors on the way to the Cardinals' 4-2 record in week 7.

Coming off a 3-5 road trip, the Springfield Cardinals found themselves one wild pitch away from sweeping the first-place Tulsa Drillers as they returned home. Just past the quarter mark of the season, Springfield has begun to see several changes in the roster, including the appearance of Seth Maness, who has dominated hitters all season in the Florida State League. The emergence of new pitchers to the Springfield roster brought a spark as the Cards put together a solid week to come within five games of the division lead.

Thursday, May 17th, Springfield 8 at Arkansas 9

After a tough loss the evening before on a walk-off walk in the ninth inning, the Cards looked to rebound by sending Tyler Lyons to face the Travelers lineup. Lyons was mostly ineffective in the start and allowed five runs on seven hits in five innings pitched. Following Lyons' pattern, Justin Wright surrendered two more runs in two innings of work as did Jorge Rondon.

Not buried by a seven-run deficit, the Springfield batters worked their way back in the game with six runs in the ninth inning. Unfortunately, their impressive comeback came up short as they finished with the one run loss to close the series and road trip. Kolten Wong had a strong performance at the plate, going 4-for-5 with a double, a RBI, and his seventh stolen base of the season. Greg Garcia and Jake Shaffer also added multi-hit games, with each going 2-for-4. Prospect outfielder Oscar Taveras, who did not start the game, contributed a pinch-hit two-run single to contribute to the Cardinals' late rally.

Friday, May 18th, Tulsa 3 at Springfield 6

The Cardinals returned home on Friday night to greet St. Louis GM John Mozeliak who was in attendance to present Springfield staff and field managers with their 2011 World Series rings. Scott Gorgen took the mound for the start and gave the Cardinals his strongest start and first win of the year, going six innings allowing three runs and striking out 10 batters. Eric Fornataro followed Gorgen's strong start with a hitless seventh and eighth. Keith Butler, thriving in the closer role, finished the game by escaping a bases-loaded jam for his sixth save of the season.

Springfield batters continued their hot-hitting with a power surge victory. The former University of Hawaii middle infield tandem of Wong and Greg Garcia started, each with a solo home run. Wong continued his hot-hitting with another multi-hit game, going 2-for-4. Chris Swauger was the major contributor though, with three RBIs, including a two-run home run in the fifth inning. Taveras added his 12th double of the season in the win.

Saturday, May 19th, Tulsa 0 at Springfield 1

On Saturday, in front of a large crowd at Hammons Field, Deryk Hooker returned from the DL to make his first start of 2012 in the place of John Gast, who earned a promotion to Triple-A Memphis. Hooker looked good in his return, reaching a top speed of 95 MPH with his fastball and going three scoreless innings. Michael Blazek relieved Hooker with four innings of scoreless work before handing it over to the hard-throwing Fornataro, who threw a scoreless eighth inning. For the second consecutive night, Butler followed Fornataro with a clean ninth to close the shutout by committee for the Cardinals.

The game was a pitchers' duel as both teams struggled to get runs across the plate. Springfield's only score came from Wong when the hot-hitting second baseman deposited a Nick Schmidt fastball over the right field fence with two out in the third inning. Kyle Conley added the only multi-hit game for the Cardinals with a 2-for-3 performance including a double.

Sunday, May 20th, Tulsa 3 at Springfield 2

Sunday afternoon, the Cardinals handed the ball to Trevor Rosenthal to continue their success at home. Rosenthal gave the Cardinals his strongest outing of the season so far by giving the Cardinals seven scoreless innings and allowing just four hits but he received a no decision for his efforts. Jesse Simpson replaced Rosenthal to start the eighth inning and was less than effective, giving up an RBI double and leaving two runners on before being replaced by Kevin Thomas after just 1/3 inning pitched. A Thomas wild pitch later in the inning allowed two runners to score, including the go-ahead run, with both runs charged to Simpson. Catcher Nick Derba could be partly held responsible as he walked back to retrieve the wild pitch.

Springfield hitters managed two runs on seven hits. Derba led the offensive charge by going 2-for-4 with a RBI double. Infielder Wong also continued his hitting streak with a single and a RBI. Outfielder Adam Melker, who continues to work to improve his hitting, had the only other multi-hit game, with two singles in four at-bats.

Monday, May 21st, Tulsa 0 at Springfield 4

Springfield welcomed the Double-A debut of Seth Maness for the Monday matinée. Maness was dominant for Palm Beach through the early part of the season and continued his success with his first start for Springfield. Maness left the game in the eighth inning to a standing ovation by Springfield faithful after giving 7 2/3 scoreless innings allowing just five hits and striking out eight. The flame-throwing Fornataro, who the Cardinals consistently look to for a scoreless inning, closed the shutout with a hitless 1 1/3 innings for his second save of the season.

Not that Maness needed much offense behind him, but the Cardinals hitters provided him with four runs. The offense was led by a solo home run from Kyle Conley, a no-doubter that landed in the Drillers bullpen. Taveras was 2-for-4 and Jermaine Curtis was 2-for-3 in the win. Xavier Scruggs added a RBI double while Shaffer and Maness delivered the other RBIs for the Cardinals. Kolten Wong went 1-for-4 to extend his hitting streak to nine games.

Wednesday, May 23rd, Springfield 3 at San Antonio 2

After the long trip to San Antonio and an off-day for the Cardinals, Richard Castillo was given the start and was nearly as brilliant as in his first Springfield outing of 2012. Castillo threw seven innings relinquishing only one run on six hits. Blazek entered the game in the eighth to relieve Castillo and secured two outs before turning the ball over to Butler, who allowed his first run this week but still received his eighth save of the season.

Taveras had the strongest performance at the plate for Springfield going 2-for-5 with his 35th RBI of the season and fifth stolen base. Audry Perez had the other two RBIs for the Cardinals with a two-run single in the third inning.

Who's Hot

Kolten Wong - The second baseman out of Hilo, Hawaii hit .400 (10-for-25) with two home runs and four RBI this week in the leadoff position.

Seth Maness - It is true that it is only one start, but there hasn't been a more impressive start for a Springfield Cardinals pitcher this season. Maness struck out eight batters in 7 2/3 innings pitched, allowing no runs on five hits, after dominating FSL hitters.

Eric Fornataro - In 20 appearances, Fornataro holds a 1.35 ERA in 26 2/3 innings pitched. The hard-throwing setup man has been nothing but consistent.

Keith Butler - Butler now has a team-leading eight saves and recently escaped bases-loaded jams in three consecutive appearances.

Who's Not

Xaiver Scruggs- In 150 at-bats, the first baseman is hitting .193 with 48 strikeouts. With five home runs, Scruggs has shown his power but still needs to hit for average and cut down on the strikeouts.

Team Transactions

May 18 - RHP Deryk Hooker activated from DL
May 18 - LHP John Gast sent to Memphis
May 19 - RHP Seth Maness received from Palm Beach
May 19 - RHP Chris Corrigan received from Palm Beach
May 19 - RHP Jorge Rondon placed on disabled list
May 19 - RHP Scott Schneider sent to Palm Beach

Division Standings

Texas League North W L PCT GB Home Away L 10 Streak
 Tulsa Drillers (COL) 26 19 .578 - 16-7 10-12 3-7 W1
 NW Arkansas Naturals (KC) 24 21 .533 2.0 16-7 8-14 6-4 L4
 Springfield Cardinals (STL) 21 24 .467 5.0 14-8 7-16 6-4 W2
 Arkansas Travelers (LAA) 19 26 .422 7.0 13-9 6-17 5-5 L1

The Cardinal Nation Top 40 Prospect Watch

#3 Oscar Taveras - Through 43 games, Taveras is batting .317 with a .605 slugging percentage, 35 RBIs, 10 home runs, 12 doubles, three triples, and five stolen bases. With 140 games in the Texas League season, the youngster is on pace for a monster season.

#4 Kolten Wong - The second baseman is now batting a team-leading .327 with a .395 on-base percentage. He is also in the midst of a nine-game hitting streak, which helped him to earn Texas League Player of the Week honors.

#12 Trevor Rosenthal – Rosenthal continues to get stronger and is improving his secondary pitches. He now holds a 2.83 ERA through nine starts.

#31 Jermaine Curtis –Curtis remains consistent and continues to get on base, including a .308 batting average in 17 games back with Springfield.

#38 Keith Butler – Butler is growing comfortable in the closing role now with eight saves and a 2.01 ERA in 19 appearances.

What's Next

The Cardinals will look to gain on first-place Tulsa as they continue their lengthy road trip through the heart of Texas by finishing their next two games against San Antonio before heading to Corpus Christi for another three-game set.

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