Springfield Cardinals Notebook: 2012 Week 13

On a day that the Cardinals honored the great Ozzie Smith at Hammons Field, Trevor Rosenthal mowed down eight hitters on his way to his seventh victory in the middle of the Cardinals' 5-1 week.

It's fun to see when a team really starts to click. Cardinal Nation caught a glimpse of what that looks like last fall when they watched the St. Louis Birds come together at the right time to make their historic World Series run.

On Sunday, Springfield fans and players were the in the presence of a legendary player who was a part of several teams that clicked very well. The great Ozzie Smith made an appearance at Hammons Field as the Cardinals honored him with a day dedicated to "The Wizard."

Meanwhile, the Springfield Cardinals are looking like they are starting to click as a team as they put together another strong week at home.

Friday, June 29th, Frisco 2 at Springfield 6

Back at home for the first time in 11 days, Springfield looked to extend their division lead by sending Seth Maness to the mound against Frisco's Cody Buckel. Maness went six innings allowing the two runs, one earned, on six hits with three strikeouts. The bullpen was stellar following Maness as Deryk Hooker, Jorge Rondon and Justin Wright combined for three scoreless innings, allowing just one hit to preserve the win.

Most of Springfield's offense came when Audry Perez blasted a grand slam to right field to give the Cardinals a 4-0 lead in the second inning. The homer was Perez' second of the season and extended his hitting streak to 17 games. Oscar Taveras also added two more RBIs to his tally to complete Springfield's 6-2 victory.

Saturday, June 30th, Frisco 6 at Springfield 11

As Springfield looked to continue their hot streak, Scott McGregor started his first ballgame in Double-A this season since being called up from Palm Beach. McGregor gave up four runs on five hits in five innings thrown. In relief of McGregor, Kevin Thomas entered and threw a hitless sixth and seventh. Michael Blazek followed Thomas, working the eighth inning and allowing one run on a home run by Jurickson Profar. Eric Fornataro closed the game for the Cardinals, escaping a bases-loaded jam surrendering just one run after giving up three straight hits to start the ninth.

At the plate, Springfield hitters put on a power clinic, smashing five home runs. In the second inning, the derby started on a home run to left field by Chris Swauger. Taveras and Jamie Romak hit back-to-back home runs in the fourth. Taveras' was a three-run shot and Romak had a solo blast. Greg Garcia then added a two-run home run in the fourth inning and Xavier Scruggs hit Springfield's fifth long ball of the ballgame with a solo shot in the bottom of the seventh inning.

The Cardinals scored their first run not via the home run ball on an RBI infield single by Jake Shaffer in the fifth. Taveras also later recorded his fourth RBI of the game on a sacrifice fly to center field scoring Kolten Wong, who was 4-for-4. With a single in the third inning, Perez extended his hitting streak to 18 games, tying a franchise record.

Sunday, July 1, Frisco 3 at Springfield 8

Looking for their sixth victory in a row and the sweep of the RoughRiders, the Cardinals sent starter Trevor Rosenthal to the mound. Sunday marked "Ozzie Smith Day" at Hammons Field. "The Wizard" was on hand to throw out the first pitch as the Double-A Birds sported special Ozzie-themed jerseys to commemorate the "Wizard of Oz."

Rosenthal didn't seem to mind the large crowd on hand to see Ozzie because he delivered another strong outing. He gave the Cards six innings, allowing three runs on four hits while striking out eight Frisco batters. The Cardinals' relievers picked up where Rosenthal left off for three scoreless innings as Wright, Fornataro and Hooker each pitched an inning to secure the victory.

Springfield's offense erupted again. Taveras, who was already having a phenomenal week, added to it by slugging his 17th home run of the season. The three-run shot gave him his 60th RBI of the season. Chris Swauger, who was just a double shy of the cycle, provided some pop as well, driving two more. The other two RBIs for the Cardinals came of the bats of Scruggs and Jose Garcia, who were both 2-for-4 in the game.

Monday, July 2nd, Midland 5 at Springfield 7

Having won their last six games, the Cardinals were riding a hot streak to open up their series at home against the Midland Rockhounds at Hammons Field. Richard Castillo was paired against Sonny Gray of Midland. Castillo labored through the first two frames and was finished after the 5th. He threw 87 pitches, allowing a run on five hits with four strike outs.

Simpson came in to pitch in the 6th and immediately allowed Midland to tie the game, taking the win from Castillo. Jorge Rondon entered in the 7th following Simpson and allowed two additional runs through 1 1/3 innings. With one out in the 8th, Michael Blazek came in to cool the fire and struck out the final two batters to keep the lead at two runs. In the 9th, Keith Butler got his 16th save by throwing one inning of hitless ball.

Springfield kept their offense going early Monday night as the first three hitters all singled, including an RBI knock by Taveras who later added his 62nd RBI of the season. Springfield's offense countered Midland's charge in a big way in the 6th inning, when Scruggs launched a three-run homer to regain the lead for the Cardinals, 5-3. Wong later doubled in the inning to right field, plating another run to make it 6-3.

Tuesday, July 3rd, Midland 8 at Springfield 3

Going, into Tuesday night, it seemed like the Cardinals' play was in direct correlation to the ridiculous Missouri heat as they sent 20-year-old phenom Carlos Martinez to the mound against the Rockhounds. Martinez allowed a run in the first before settling in to strike out seven batters over 4 1/3 innings. Martinez was lifted after a batter reached on an error and allowing a single in the 5th.

Simpson followed by immediately allowing an RBI double to score the two inherited runners from Martinez. Simpson went on to allow three more runs of his own in just 2/3 inning pitched. The next inning, Thomas allowed a two-run homer to make it 8-0. Thomas threw a scoreless seventh before Wright and Hooker came in to add a scoreless eighth and ninth, respectively.

Having quite the hole to dig themselves out of, the Cardinals had trouble bringing runs across. They finally got on the board in the 6th when Swauger, who was 3-for-4, singled home two runs. Jamie Romak followed with an RBI triple to make the score 8-3 as Springfield's winning streak was snapped at seven.

Wednesday, July 4th, Midland 0 at Springfield 5

Hoping to jumpstart a new winning streak, the Cardinals wrapped up their series with the Rockhounds on a hot 4th of July night in front of a record-setting crowd at Hammons Field by sending starter Seth Maness into the heat against Midland.

Maness had a great game, throwing seven innings of scoreless baseball while giving up only two hits and striking out five. Blazek finished things off by throwing two scoreless innings in relief to close out the win. Neither Blazek nor Maness allowed a single runner past second base.

After pushing a scoreless ballgame through 6 1/2 innings, the Cardinals finally put something together with a five-run inning that accounted for all of the game's offense. A base hit from Jake Shaffer got things started, scoring the first run of the game. Greg Garcia delivered the big blow later in the inning with two-run double down the right field line. RBI singles from Wong and Jermaine Curtis capped off the inning and pushed the lead to 5-0.

Who's Hot

Audry Perez - Despite it ending this week, Perez still tied a franchise record with his 18-game hitting streak.

Chris Swauger – The outfielder is swinging a hot bat, going 12-for-23 on the week with two home runs and seven RBI.

Kolten Wong - Kolten has raised his average back to .316 after going 12-for-21 on the week.

Oscar Taveras - Coming off his impressive performance at the Texas League All-Star Game, Taveras hit two home runs and added nine RBI in five games.

Who's Not

Jesse Simpson - Simpson allowed five earned runs in 1 2/3 innings pitched in his last two appearances this week.

Team Transactions

June 28 - OF Kyle Conley - Activated from DL and placed on Restricted List as a result of his decision to retire from baseball.

July 2 – RHP Trevor Rosenthal - Placed on DL with a lower back strain.

July 2 – LHP Kevin Siegrist - Received from Palm Beach and will replace Rosenthal in the rotation.

July 3 – SS Jose Garcia - Sent to Triple-A Memphis to replace injured Matt Adams (elbow) on the infield.

July 3 – SS Vance Albitz - Received from Palm Beach and will replace Jose Garcia on the infield for Springfield.

Second Half Division Standings

Texas League North W L PCT GB Home Away L 10 Streak
Springfield Cardinals (STL) 9 3 .750 - 5-1 4-2 8-2 W1
Arkansas Travelers (LAA) 5 7 .417 4.0 3-5 2-2 4-6 L2
NW Arkansas Naturals (KC) 4 8 .333 5.0 3-3 1-5 3-7 L3
Tulsa Drillers (COL) 3 8 .273 5.5 1-3 2-5 3-7 L1

The Cardinal Nation Top 40 Prospect Watch

#2 Carlos Martinez – Even though he was tagged for his second loss, Martinez gave a very strong start this week, only surrendering one run while on the mound. Even more impressive was his seven strikeouts through 4 1/3 innings pitched.

#3 Oscar Taveras – Showing why Baseball Prospectus' Kevin Goldstein mentioned him this week as possibly the top hitting prospect in the game, Taveras now sits at 17 home runs, 23 doubles, four triples, and 62 RBIs to go with a .322 batting average. This begs the question: how could you expect any better from anyone who just turned 20 years old?

#4 Kolten Wong - Wong enhances his leadoff potential for the future by continuing to get on base. To go along with his .316 average, Wong also has 15 stolen bases in 22 attempts.

#12 Trevor Rosenthal – Rosenthal is getting better as the season progresses and is really showing why some compare him to Shelby Miller for the organization's top arm (of course Martinez fits in there, too). Rosenthal is really beginning to mow down hitters at Double-A shown by his eight strikeouts in his last start.

#31 Jermaine Curtis - Curtis had a quiet week with just two hits and an RBI

#38 Keith Butler – In just one appearance this week, Butler threw a scoreless inning, earning his 16th save this season.

What's Next

Springfield will hit the road looking to continue their hot streak for a six-game trip down to Texas, starting with a three-game series in Frisco Thursday night. Scott McGregor will make his second start for Springfield against Nick Tepesch of Frisco. After wrapping up in Frisco, the Cards will head to Midland to face the Rockhounds again. This could be a crucial road trip for the Cardinals as they face the same opponents against whom they just wrapped up a 5-1 homestand.

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