Springfield Cardinals Notebook: 2012 Week 11

Carlos Martinez was impressive in his Double-A debut Friday night as Springfield notched its last victory before tailing into a four-game losing streak and ending the week at 2-5.

The promise of the future was prevalent this week around the Springfield Cardinals as six Birds were named Texas League North All-Stars. They are pitchers Trevor Rosenthal and Keith Butler, infielders Kolten Wong and Jermaine Curtis, outfielder Oscar Taveras and catcher Audry Perez.

Adding to the excitement, Wong and Taveras were also named to the MLB Futures Game to be held in Kansas City during the Major League All-Star break. Furthermore, top prospect pitcher Carlos Martinez made is his debut at Hammons Field on Friday night. With so much hype around so many players, it's hard not to be excited about Cardinals baseball.

Thursday, June 14th, NW Arkansas 4 at Springfield 3

The Northwest Arkansas returned to town, greeted by Springfield's Richard Castillo who gave up seven hits in six innings of work, allowing three earned runs. He took the loss while striking out four and walking two. Castillo was charged with one unearned run on Jose Garcia's error. Deryk Hooker followed Castillo with a perfect seventh inning, while Eric Fornataro gave up three hits and no runs over two innings of work to close out the eighth and ninth innings.

The Cardinals managed to get runners on base every inning, but found difficulty bringing them across the plate. They stranded 10 runners and were an overall 2-for-11 with RISP. Xavier Scruggs notched a solo home run in the bottom of the eighth and went 2-for-3 with a walk. Audry Perez had the only other multi-hit game, going 2-for-4 while Greg and Jose Garcia each contributed a double.

Friday, June 15th, NW Arkansas 2 at Springfield 5

Friday night brought not only fireworks but lots of excitement around Carlos Martinez, who made his Double-A debut. Martinez, fresh off the disabled list, hadn't seen game action since May 14th in Palm Beach. Held to a strict pitch count, the right-hander lasted three innings, giving up one unearned run on three hits while striking out three batters and looking sharp.

Reliever Kevin Thomas followed Martinez and provided three hitless innings in relief. Deryk Hooker threw a hitless seventh allowing one unearned run while striking out two. Fornataro followed with a hitless eighth inning and Keith Butler pitched the ninth, collecting his 14th save of the season.

The Cardinals offense jumped on the board in the second inning on a pair of RBI singles from Greg Garcia and Kolten Wong. In the fourth inning, Scruggs made up for his error committed earlier by crushing a long solo home run to left field and then followed with a two-run single in the bottom of the eighth. Oscar Taveras joined Scruggs by batting 2-for-3 for the evening.

Saturday, June 16th, NW Arkansas 2 at Springfield 7

Scott Gorgen took the mound hoping for his first victory since May 25th. The Naturals got to him in the first inning with the first run scoring on an RBI double play groundout off the bat of 2011 Springfield Cardinal Eric Duncan. Gorgen then settled down for six straight innings of scoreless baseball, striking out seven Naturals batters. Justin Wright and Jorge Rondon each threw scoreless innings in relief.

The offense came alive in the bottom of the second inning when Springfield batted around, scoring a total of five runs. It began with a two-run double to center field by Travis Tartamella with the bases loaded. Kolten Wong, who was 2-for-5 in the game, added a three-run home run to cap the inning. Jake Shaffer and Xavier Scruggs supplied two additional runs in the bottom of the fifth inning with back-to-back RBI singles.

Sunday, June 17th, NW Arkansas 4 at Springfield 3

Sunday concluded the Cardinals' series with the Naturals and their eight-game homestand. The Cardinals sent Seth Maness against Chris Dwyer of the Naturals on Father's Day which brought David Freese Bobblehead giveaway day at Hammons Field.

Maness had another solid outing, pitching 6 1/3 innings and surrendering three runs on seven hits. In the top of the seventh, following a leadoff double by Carlo Testa and two fielding miscues from Xavier Scruggs, the Naturals scored their third run of the game. Then controversy followed when Paulo Orlando popped out in front of home near the foul line.

Maness attempted to catch the ball, but it went off his glove with possible interference by Orlando. After deliberation from the umpire crew, the ball was called foul and the game resumed. Directly after that discussion, umpire Matt Benham ejected Springfield pitching coach Bryan Eversgerd after he made a comment toward the umpire. More disfavor of the umpiring of Benham transferred into the top of the eighth inning as catcher Audry Perez and Springfield manager Mike Shildt were ejected.

Feeling the energy after the ejections, Springfield loaded the bases for Oscar Taveras who drove in two with a single to center field for his 44th and 45th RBIs of the season. Scruggs, who went 2-for-4, followed with a single to right field that nearly plated Jermaine Curtis but Curtis was thrown out at home.

In the bottom of the ninth inning, Springfield attempted to stage a comeback. Wong pinch-hit with Adam Melker on first base and doubled deep down the right-field line, which eventually scored Melker from first but Wong was then thrown out at third. Following two walks, Oscar Taveras came up to the plate looking to be the hero. Unfortunately for Springfield, Taveras struck out after a lengthy at bat to end the ballgame.

Monday, June 18th, Springfield 4 at Arkansas 5

Springfield hit the road and began an eight-game road trip starting with a four-game set with the Arkansas Travelers on Monday and sent All-Star right-hander Trevor Rosenthal to the hill in game one against the Travelers. Rosenthal finished his evening with five innings pitched allowing three runs, two earned, on six hits with four strikeouts. Kevin Thomas pitched the 6th and allowed a solo home run to tie the game. Following Thomas, Deryk Hooker allowed three hits and the go-ahead run in two innings of work, taking the loss.

Major League rehabber Matt Carpenter scored the first run in the second inning after drawing a lead-off walk. In the fifth inning, the Cardinals added two more runs as Curtis scored Wong on an RBI groundout and Taveras, who was 2-for-3, launched his 13th homer of the season. Taveras and Curtis had the Cardinals' only RBI.

Tuesday, June 19th, Springfield 3 at Arkansas 4

After a tough loss in which the Cardinals gave away a 4-1 lead, Springfield looked to get back on track. They sent righty Richard Castillo to the mound, who was coming off his first loss of the season. He threw well, allowing three runs on five hits in 6 1/3 innings pitched. Jorge Rondon followed Castillo and allowed three inherited runs to score. Fornataro entered in the ninth and allowed the walk-off hit for his second loss of the season.

For the second straight day, the Cardinals started the scoring in the second inning. After an error and a hit by pitch, Greg Garcia delivered a two-run double into right center field to put the Birds up 2-0. Springfield added to their lead in the third inning as Taveras drove in Melker on a two-out RBI double. Melker and Perez had the Cardinals' only other hits as Springfield's last hit was in that third inning.

Wednesday, June 20th, Springfield 0 at Arkansas 3

Wednesday offered new hope as a new race begun after the Cardinals finished the first half at the .500 mark. Springfield sent 20-year-old righty Carlos Martinez to the hill in his second Double-A start. Martinez, again working on a limited pitch count, threw just three innings, allowing two runs on five hits and did not strike out a batter. Jesse Simpson followed Martinez and worked three innings and surrendered one unearned run on two hits. Justin Wright concluded with two scoreless innings.

The Cardinals hitters had just three hits in suffering their fourth straight loss. Two of the three came off the bat of Kolten Wong, who was 2-for-4. Perez contributed the only other Springfield hit. Matt Carpenter was held to 0-for-4 and remains hitless thus far in his rehab assignment.

Who's Hot

Xavier Scruggs - I have been waiting for Scruggs to make this list. His bat has heated up and his average has risen to .234. It is still not great but it is if you consider where it was. Scruggs now has 11 home runs and 37 RBI, including five driven in this week.

Oscar Taveras - The just-turned 20-year old, named to the Texas League All-Stars and the Futures Game, came up with some timely hits this week to pull the Cardinals within striking distance. Now batting .323 with 47 RBI, there is nothing that says Taveras won't just continue to hit.

Who's Not

Chris Swauger - The first baseman/outfielder slowed down this week after getting off to a quick start back in Double-A. Swauger was 3-for-26 on the week with six strikeouts.

Team Transactions

June 13 - INF Jose Garcia Activated from DL
June 13 - INF Breyvic Valera Sent to Batavia
June 15 – RHP Carlos Martinez Activated from DL
June 15 – RHP Jesse Simpson Placed on DL
June 18 – INF Matt Carpenter Received on Rehab Assignment from St. Louis

Division Standings

(Overall Standings)
Texas League North W L PCT GB Home Away L 10 Streak
Tulsa Drillers (COL) 40 31 .563 - 24-12 16-19 7-3 L3
NW Naturals (KC) 38 33 .535 2.0 25-10 13-23 5-5 W4
Springfield Cardinals (STL) 35 36 .493 5.0 22-14 13-22 3-7 L4
Arkansas Travelers (LAA) 28 43 .394 12.0 18-17 10-26 5-5 W3
(First-Half Standings-Final)
Texas League North W L PCT GB Home Away L 10 Streak
Tulsa Drillers (COL) 40 30 .571 - 24-12 16-18 8-2 L2
NW Naturals (KC) 37 33 .529 3.0 24-10 13-23 4-6 W3
Springfield Cardinals (STL) 35 35 .500 5.0 22-14 13-21 4-6 L3
Arkansas Travelers (LAA) 27 43 .386 13.0 17-17 10-26 4-6 W2

The Cardinal Nation Top 40 Prospect Watch

#2 Carlos Martinez – Through two cautious starts, Martinez has thrown six innings, allowing three runs (two earned) on eight hits. Martinez looks sharp with his fastball hitting close to 100 MPH.

#3 Oscar Taveras – The outfielder was given a test in clutch performances this week and delivered mixed results. Still, his hitting is more consistent than any other in the lineup. Taveras is now slugging .588 with 37 of his 86 hits for extra bases.

#4 Kolten Wong - Wong seems to be the guy in the lineup who hits when nobody else does - which is a good sign for a leadoff hitter looking to spark the offense.

#12 Trevor Rosenthal – Rosenthal has already thrown 77 innings, so seeing his endurance through the second half will be interesting. For now, he is a Texas League All-Star with a 3.03 ERA through 14 starts.

#31 Jermaine Curtis - Curtis will join fellow infielder Kolten Wong for the Texas League All-Star Game despite his recent coming to earth. His average has dipped to .317, if you can really call that a dip.

#38 Keith Butler – Butler was named a Texas League All-Star and earned his 14th save in one of the Cardinals' two wins on the week.

What's Next

Springfield will conclude their four-game set with the Arkansas Travelers on Thursday before heading west to Tulsa for four games with the Drillers. At the All-Star break, several Cardinals will remain in Tulsa for the All-Star Game. After the break, the Cards will resume play at home against the Frisco RoughRiders on Friday, June 29th.

Follow me on Twitter: @BrandonJMahler

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