Springfield Cardinals Notebook: 2012 Week 15

Carlos Martinez is settling in at Springfield while lowering his ERA to 2.30 and earning his second victory in the Cardinals' 5-2 week 15.

Minor League Baseball always has a lot of movement going on when it comes to players. This week Springfield saw the results of the ever-changing nature of Minor League Baseball as they saw a player retire, a player get cut, and a player get called straight to the Major League squad quicker than anticipated. Still, even with all of the changes, the Double-A Birds were able to find consistency as they put together a strong winning streak to start the week.

Thursday, July 12th, NW Arkansas 0 at Springfield 7

Fresh off the disabled list and before his promotion to St. Louis, Cardinals' starter Trevor Rosenthal got the win against Northwest Arkansas on Thursday, pitching six scoreless innings of four-hit ball, walking one and striking out four. Continuing to hold the Naturals scoreless, Jorge Rondon pitched the bottom of the seventh in relief and gave up just one hit. Justin Wright followed with a perfect eighth for the Cardinals and Michael Blazek closed out the game, pitching a one-hit ninth and walking one.

Springfield's offense heated up as they returned home. Seven of Springfield's nine batters had at least one hit for a total of 15 hits. Oscar Taveras had a strong night at the plate, going 4-for-5 with a home run and three RBIs while increasing his Texas League-best average. Chris Swauger, who was 3-for-4, also continued his hot hitting, adding a home run and three RBIs of his own. Jamie Romak, who contributed the Cardinals' other RBI, and Kolten Wong were both 2-for-5 in the contest.

Friday, July 13th, NW Arkansas 1 at Springfield 2 (13 innings)

Looking to continue the Cards' win streak, Richard Castillo took the mound and gave seven great innings without allowing a run. Castillo surrendered only four hits and struck out seven. Eric Fornataro followed Castillo with a scoreless eighth before Keith Butler took over in the ninth and allowed a solo home run. After Butler, Deryk Hooker went three scoreless out of the Springfield bullpen and Kevin Thomas tossed a scoreless 13th inning to earn the win.

As both teams struggled to get runs across, Springfield didn't score their first run until the ninth inning when Romak, a former Natural, launched a solo home run to tie the game and send it to extras. The only other offense came on a bases loaded walk-off walk in the bottom of the 13th inning by Jermaine Curtis that handed the Cardinals their fourth straight win.

Saturday, July 14th, NW Arkansas 1 at Springfield 5

A sell-out crowd gathered on Saturday night at Hammons Field to watch Carlos Martinez pitch sixth strong innings, allowing just one run on two hits. Martinez's only hiccup came when he gave up a solo home run in the second inning. Relievers Justin Wright and Jorge Rondon kept the Naturals scoreless out of the bullpen for the last three innings.

The offense didn't need to come up with much thanks to the brilliant pitching. Still the Cards were able to push five runs across. They were led by Swauger, who stayed hot and crushed his 11th home run for two of the Cardinals five runs. Xavier Scruggs also added two RBIs for Springfield with a single in the sixth and Taveras saw his average continue to rise, as he went 3-for-3 on the evening.

Sunday, July 15th, NW Arkansas 8 at Springfield 6

Hoping to get out the brooms at home, Springfield turned to Seth Maness to deliver a strong outing. Maness gave the Cardinals 5 2/3 innings, allowing five hits and three runs while striking out seven. Michael Blazek started the seventh went two innings before handing it over to Fornataro who loaded the bases in the ninth for Keith Butler. The closer escaped the jam with a game-ending double play ball for his 17th save of the season.

Springfield delivered plenty of offense, totaling eight runs on RBIs from Vance Albitz, Kolten Wong, Audry Perez, Jamie Romak, Xavier Scruggs, and Adam Melker. Melker's RBI came on a solo home run in the fourth to go with his double earlier in the game. Scruggs had two RBIs, going 2-for-4 with a double.

Monday, July 16th, Springfield 4 at Tulsa 3

In search of their seventh consecutive win, Springfield headed for Tulsa to begin a four-game set and sent Scott McGregor on the mound against Parker Frazier of the Drillers. McGregor left after the 7th, having yielded just two runs on six hits with five strikeouts. After a scoreless 8th by Hooker, Butler struggled a bit, allowing two hits and a run with one out in the 9th. However, Butler settled in to retire the next two batters to protect Springfield's 7th straight win.

It didn't take long for the Cards to jump out to the early lead as Romak had an RBI single in the first. Scruggs contributed with a RBI double, his 52nd RBI of the season while Adam Melker, who was 2-for-3, added his second solo homer in as many days. Romak, Taveras, and Greg Garcia each had multi-hit games.

Tuesday, July 17th, Springfield 0 at Tulsa 7

Looking for eight straight, Springfield welcomed back right-hander Scott Gorgen after he made four starts for Memphis. Gorgen went five, allowing three runs on six hits and took his sixth loss of the season for Springfield. Simpson followed Gorgen and gave up two runs on two hits in the sixth. After Simpson, Kevin Thomas took over and allowed two additional runs on two hits over two innings of work.

Struggling to get any offense against big leaguer Josh Outman, Springfield managed just four hits on offense and advanced just one base runner past second base. Two of those hits came off the bat of Jermaine Curtis, who was 2-for-3 on the night.

Wednesday, July 18th, Springfield 5 at Tulsa 6

Hoping to rebound after their win streak was snapped, Springfield sent Richard Castillo for his second outing this week against the Drillers. Castillo was less effective this time as his night was done after five innings on a season-high five runs on 11 hits. Following Castillo, Wright and Rondon threw a scoreless sixth and seventh, respectively, before Tulsa added another run in the 8th against Blazek on a solo home run, giving the Drillers a two-run lead.

The Cardinals struck in the first as Swauger lined an RBI single to center field. The offense stayed quiet through until Adam Melker added a two-run homer in the sixth to cut the deficit to 5-3. Romak then cut the lead further with a RBI single to make it a 5-4 game in the seventh. In the 9th, the Cardinals threatened after Taveras' two-out RBI double made it 6-5, but the Cardinals came up short, suffering their second consecutive loss to Tulsa to end the week.

Who's Hot

Adam Melker - The outfielder went 6-for-16 with three home runs and 4 RBIs this week.

Oscar Taveras - The slick prospect continues to see his average rise, now at .329. He went 11-for-28 this week with a home run and four RBIs.

Carlos Martinez - The young pitcher is figuring things out quickly in Double-A as he went six innings and allowed one run on two hits while lowering his ERA to 2.30 in his start this week.

Who's Not

Kolten Wong - The Hawaiian didn't have a bad week by any standard, but it was subpar for what we have come to expect from him, as he went 6-for-25 with one RBI this week.

Team Transactions

July 14th - OF Jake Shaffer placed on restricted list after he chose to retire. The Cardinals did not make an immediate move to replace Shaffer on their active roster.

July 16th - INF Jose Garcia received from Triple-A Memphis after Matt Adams was activated from the disabled list. Garcia appeared in just two Triple-A games, going 1-for-6, a double. Garcia scored one run.

July 16th - RHP Scott Gorgen received from Triple-A Memphis as a result of Trevor Rosenthal's promotion to St. Louis and Maikel Cleto's subsequent option to Memphis. Gorgen made four starts for Memphis, earning a 5.89 ERA, and will return to the rotation for Springfield.

July 16th - RHP Jesse Simpson released from the organization. Simpson surrendered 19 earned runs in 31 1/3 innings for Springfield this season.

July 16th - LHP Anthony Ferrara promoted from A-Advanced Palm Beach following Simpson's release.

Second Half Division Standings

Texas League North W L PCT GB Home Away L 10 Streak
Springfield Cardinals (STL) 16 8 .667 - 9-1 7-7 7-3 L2
Arkansas Travelers (LAA) 12 13 .480 4.5 5-7 7-6 6-4 W3
Tulsa Drillers (COL) 12 13 .480 4.5 8-6 4-7 6-4 W2
NW Arkansas Naturals (KC) 5 20 .200 11.5 4-11 1-9 1-9 L7

The Cardinal Nation Top 40 Prospect Watch

#2 Carlos Martinez – Since making his Double-A debut on June 15th, Martinez has allowed nine runs in 27 1/3 innings, lowering his ERA to 2.30.

#3 Oscar Taveras – Taveras is continuing his hot-hitting as he has seen his average rise back up to .329 with 18 home runs and 67 RBIs.

#4 Kolten Wong - Wong is struggling to be a key contributor right now, but is still getting on base at a pretty good rate (.339 in July, .372 for the season) so there is still no concern here about him.

#12 Trevor Rosenthal – After coming off the DL to earn his 8th victory, Rosenthal received a huge surprise by being called up to St. Louis as bullpen help.

#31 Jermaine Curtis - Curtis had just four hits and two RBIs this week. However, one of those RBIs was a walk-off walk in the 13 inning to earn a victory at home for the Cardinals.

#38 Keith Butler –Although Butler surrendered two runs on five hits in three innings this week, he still earned two saves, giving him 18 on the season.

What's Next

The Cardinals will conclude their four-game series against the Tulsa Drillers Thursday night by sending Carlos Martinez to the mound against Tyler Chatwood. On Friday, the Cards will return home, looking for another four-game sweep against the Northwest Arkansas Naturals.

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