Springfield Cardinals Notebook: 2012 Week 12

Texas League All-Star Keith Butler earned his 15th save this week as Springfield went 4-1 to capture the early lead in the second half division race.

Getting to start over has been beneficial for the Springfield Cardinals heading into All-Star break. Springfield closed the first half in the thick of the division race after being down as many as 10 games to the first-place Drillers. Now the Cardinals find themselves riding a hot streak into the second half as they have taken the early division lead with a 4-2 record so far in the second half.

Thursday, June 21st, Springfield 10 at Arkansas 6

Springfield went into Thursday night looking to salvage one game of four in the series with the Arkansas Travelers after losing the first three. Kevin Thomas took the mound in a spot start for Scott Gorgen, who was sent to Triple-A Memphis. Thomas didn't last long, surrendering four runs on four walks and two hits in 1 2/3 innings pitched. Michael Blazek earned the win for the Cardinals, following Thomas with 3 1/3 innings of no-hit baseball and striking out five. Deryk Hooker, on his 23rd birthday, took over in the sixth and allowed one run on three hits in 1 2/3 inning. Eric Fornataro relieved Hooker with a scoreless 1 1/3 inning. Keith Butler threw the ninth inning and yielded one run.

Springfield jumped out quickly in the first inning. After a Matt Carpenter walk and a Chris Swauger single, Jake Shaffer doubled to make it 2-0. Still in the first, Jose Garcia and Greg Garcia each delivered RBI singles to give the Cardinals a 4-0 lead. Kolten Wong finished the evening 2-for-5 with an RBI and Matt Carpenter led the Cardinals offense, going 3-for-3 with a homer, three RBI and two walks.

Friday, June 22nd, Springfield 4 at Tulsa 8

The final four games before the All-Star Break took the Cardinals to Tulsa for a four-game series against the 1st half champion Drillers. Springfield sent Seth Maness to the mound coming off his first Double-A loss against the Drillers. Maness was not his usual self, allowing four runs on nine hits in 5 1/3 innings before handing it over to Jorge Rondon to finish the sixth. Justin Wright entered in the bottom of the seventh and allowed two-run home runs in back to back innings to give the Drillers the 8-4 win

Springfield's offense was unable to counter the Drillers attack. However, Oscar Taveras launched his 14th home run of the season and Chris Swauger followed him back-to-back. Swauger was 3-for-4 on the evening and added a double. Audry Perez contributed an RBI double and Maness helped himself by driving in the only other run for the Cardinals.

Saturday, June 23rd, Springfield 5 at Tulsa 4

On Saturday, Springfield had All-Star Trevor Rosenthal on the mound in his final start before the break. Rosenthal allowed just two hits in five shutout innings, striking out four. Newcomer Scott McGregor entered in the 6th and threw two innings, allowing three runs on six hits. Rondon followed McGregor with a scoreless eighth. In to close the game, Fornataro yielded one run on two hits before getting Tim Torres to fly out to deep center field to end the game.

Xavier Scruggs, 2-for-4 in the contest, was the offensive hero as he knocked a two-run homer, his 12th of the season, to right field and plated another on a double down the left field line. Jake Shaffer added a RBI double and Travis Tartamella blasted a solo homer to left center in the ninth for a much needed insurance run. It was Tartamella's first home run of the season.

Sunday, June 24th, Springfield 5 at Tulsa 3

Looking to guarantee the series split, the Cardinals sent Richard Castillo to the mound. Castillo was solid, surrendering three runs on six hits in 6 1/3 innings. He retired 10 of 11 batters before giving up a double in the seventh. Deryk Hooker induced a double play to get out of the inning and added a flawless inning in the eighth. Keith Butler threw a scoreless ninth with two strikeouts to finish off the win. It was Butler's 15th straight save.

The Cardinals only managed three base runners in the first five innings but the hitters exploded for five runs in the sixth. The barely 20 year-old Taveras, who was 3-for-4 and added his 22nd double, launched a three-run homer to start the run in the fifth. It was his 15th of the year and his 49th, 50th, and 51st RBI. Perez and Adam Melker followed later in the inning with RBI singles. Jose Garcia, who was 2-for-3, had the only other multi-hit game for the Cards.

Monday, June 25th, Springfield 5 at Tulsa 1

Looking for the series win, the Redbirds sent 20-year-old prospect Carlos Martinez to the hill. The 20-year old allowed just two hits through his first four innings of work and finished after the 5th inning, yielding just one run on four hits with five strikeouts. Kevin Thomas followed Martinez with two perfect innings and Michael Blazek tossed two scoreless innings allowing just one hit while striking out three to close the Cardinals' win.

Springfield again got off to a quick start offensively. In the top of the first, they plated four runs before Tulsa even recorded an out. The outburst included a Swauger RBI double and a Jamie Romak three-run homer to make it 4-0. Greg Garcia drew a walk with the bases loaded in the fifth for Springfield's only other run. Swauger, Romak, and Melker were each 2-for-5 at the plate.

Who's Hot

Oscar Taveras - Who else? It's rare for Taveras to not make this list but he keeps himself on here for good reason. Taveras hit a team high two home runs with a double and four RBI on the week. Now with 15 home runs, 22 doubles, 4 triples, a .323 batting average and 51 RBI, there is no argument for who was the hottest player for the Cardinals through the first half.

Who's Not

Justin Wright - In his only outing this week, Wright entered the game and allowed two two-run home runs to put the game out of reach.

Team Transactions

June 20 - RHP Scott Gorgen Sent to Triple-A Memphis - Sent to make a spot start in Memphis. Kevin Thomas took his place in the rotation.

June 20 - RHP Jesse Simpson Activated from DL. Simpson fills Gorgen's roster spot.

June 21 - OF Kyle Conley Placed on DL with plantar fasciitis.

June 22 - INF Matt Carpenter Completed MLB rehab assignment

June 23 - INF Vance Albitz Sent to Palm Beach. The 24-year old was 0-for-7 and returns to A-Advanced for more at-bats.

June 23 - INF Jamie Romak Received from Memphis. Takes place of Conley on the roster, Romak will see time in the outfield for Conley and at first base splitting time with Chris Swauger and Xavier Scruggs.

June 23 - RHP Scott McGregor Received from Palm Beach. McGregor returns to Springfield and fills Albitz's roster spot. McGregor will pitch out of the bullpen.

Second Half Division Standings

Texas League North W L PCT GB Home Away L 10 Streak
Springfield Cardinals (STL) 4 2 .667 - 0-0 4-2 4-2 W3
Arkansas Travelers (LAA) 3 3 .500 1.0 1-1 2-2 3-3 L1
NW Arkansas Naturals (KC) 3 3 .500 1.0 3-3 0-0 3-3 W1
Tulsa Drillers (COL) 2 4 .333 2.0 1-3 1-1 2-4 L3

The Cardinal Nation Top 40 Prospect Watch

#2 Carlos Martinez – The 20 year-old pitcher had his most impressive Double-A outing yet on Monday, going five innings and allowing one run on four hits.

#3 Oscar Taveras – The no-longer teen had a solid week, slamming two home runs and a double while driving in four runs.

#4 Kolten Wong - Wong entered the All-Star break with his bat having cooled a bit. The second baseman went 4-for-17 this week and his average now sits at .297

#12 Trevor Rosenthal – Rosenthal headed to the All-Star Game after a solid start. Though he only went five innings, the right-hander allowed only two hits and no runs as he struck out four. His ERA now sits at 2.85 through 85 innings pitched.

#31 Jermaine Curtis - Curtis holds the second highest average on the team at .315 and went 4-for-13 with two RBI on the week.

#38 Keith Butler – The All-Star closer earned his 15thsave of the season this week.

What's Next

The Texas League All-Star game will be played in Tulsa on Thursday. Springfield's six participants are Trevor Rosenthal, Keith Butler, Jermaine Curtis and Audry Perez plus North Division starters Kolten Wong and Oscar Taveras.

The Cards return home on Friday and will send Seth Maness against the Frisco RoughRiders to start the first part of a six game home stand with Frisco and Midland. Springfield will be looking to lengthen their division lead as they head home for the first time in the second half.

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