Springfield Cardinals Notebook: 2012 Week 16

Oscar Taveras' 75 RBIs and 52 extra base hits including 19 home runs have the Cardinals cruising in first place after their 6-1 week 16.

It could be that there is a completely different team on the field in Springfield than what began the season or it could be that the team is just now hitting their stride. Either way, the Cardinals have been fantastic since All-Star break and find themselves 6 ½ games in first place of the Texas League North at the end of week 16.

Working toward St. Louis
Thursday July 19th, Springfield 3 at Tulsa 2

Looking to remain hot in the steamy part of the summer, Springfield sent righty Carlos Martinez to the hill against the Drillers after a 93 minute rain delay. Martinez held the Drillers until the fourth when he allowed two solo homers to tie the game 2-2 before retiring the next eight hitters consecutively. He ended his outing throwing six innings, allowing just the two runs on three hits with two strikeouts. Following Martinez, Deryk Hooker, Eric Fornataro, and Keith Butler each threw a scoreless inning respectively. Fornataro earned the win with Butler earning his 19th save.

Springfield got on the board early but then slowed quickly. Oscar Taveras started with an RBI single and Jamie Romak bounced into a double play to score Adam Melker from third to take a quick 2-0 lead. These would be the only two runs scored by Springfield until they got a two-out solo homer from Romak to earn a series split with the Drillers.

Friday, July 20th, NW Arkansas 3 at Springfield 6

Returning to Hammons Field, Springfield sent left-hander Anthony Ferrara to the hill in his Double-A debut at home against the Naturals. Ferrara exited after 2 2/3 innings of work allowing two runs, one earned, on three hits with four strikeouts. Following Ferrara's short outing, Kevin Thomas entered and ate innings, going 4 1/3. He allowed one run on three hits and earned the win. Jorge Rondon followed Thomas with a scoreless eighth and Butler entered in the ninth, earning his 20th save and second in as many nights.

The Cardinals offense did not have a hit in the game until the 6th inning when Jermaine Curtis, who was 2-for-4, singled to right field with one out. Oscar Taveras smacked his 27th double off the center field wall to plate two runs to give the Cardinals their first lead, 5-3. Kolten Wong, who remained hitless in the outing, added two RBIs of his own. Audry Perez had the only other multi-hit night, also going 2-for-4 while Adam Melker and Jamie Romak had Springfield's other two RBIs.

Saturday, July 21st, NW Arkansas 1 at Springfield 4

Still, undefeated on the week, Springfield looked to starter Seth Maness. Maness was brilliant, as he pitched seven innings giving up one run and six hits on exactly 100 pitches. Fornataro added a perfect eighth inning, and Rondon pitched a scoreless ninth for the save and victory.

Perez, who went 2-for-4, led the offense with three RBIs. He hit a two-run home run to center field in the fourth, and added an RBI single in the eighth. Springfield scored its only other run in the first inning on an RBI groundout by Taveras, his 71st RBI of the season. Jermaine Curtis and Xavier Scruggs each added two hits.

Sunday, July 22nd, NW Arkansas 3 at Springfield 8

Hoping to continue their win streak, the Cardinals gave the rock to Scott McGregor. The righty delivered, throwing seven strong innings on just 77 pitches and allowing just one run on only three hits. Springfield turned to the bullpen in the eighth inning with Michael Blazek. Blazek allowed one run in his inning of work before turning the ball over to Justin Wright who loaded the bases, and walked in a run with one out. Deryk Hooker then got a double play to end the game, earning his first save of the season.

Putting eight runs on the board, the Cardinals got most of their offense from two people. In the first, Xavier Scruggs crushed a three-run home run to right field before Greg Garcia made it two-in-a-row with a solo shot. In the bottom of the eighth, the Cardinals' offense put four runs on the scoreboard off former big leaguer Juan Gutierrez. Scruggs recorded his fourth RBI of the ballgame with an RBI single to left field. Just like Scruggs, Garcia drove in his fourth RBI with his second home run of the ballgame, a three-run shot.

Monday, July 23rd, NW Arkansas 4 at Springfield 5

The Cardinals had righty Richard Castillo on the mound looking to rebound after a tough start last time out. Castillo battled through six innings, allowing the four runs in the fourth on seven total hits with three strikeouts. The win, however, went to Scott Gorgen, who followed Castillo out of the bullpen with three scoreless innings going the rest of the distance.

Springfield wasted no time getting on the scoreboard as the Redbirds plated two first inning runs on Xavier Scruggs' two-run homer. Springfield scored twice in the ninth on a pinch-hit RBI double by Romak and a game-winning bases-loaded walk to Taveras, who was already 2-for-4 on the evening, to sweep the Naturals in the series. Curtis and Melker had the Birds' other multi-hit games, going 3-for-4 and 2-for-4, respectively. Garcia had Springfield's other RBI.

Tuesday, July 24th, Arkansas 5 at Springfield 0

Carlos Martinez had been great so far in Double-A. Springfield hoped that would continue but their starter took the loss on Tuesday evening, giving up three runs and seven hits over six innings pitched. He walked one and struck out six Arkansas batters. Major League reliever Brian Fuentes followed Martinez and pitched a perfect seventh with two strikeouts on rehab assignment. Thomas pitched the eighth and ninth, giving up one hit and one earned run.

Springfield's offense struggled as they were unable to plate a run and scraped together only five hits in the contest. Two of those five hits came off the bats of Taveras and Garcia, who each doubled. The double was Taveras' 28th of the season.

Wednesday, July 25th, Arkansas 7 at Springfield 13

Trying for a better outing than his Double-A debut, lefty Anthony Ferrara took to the mound. Ferrara lasted a little longer this time, going four innings surrendering four runs on one hit. Ferrara's problem appeared to be his number of walks as he allowed six runners to reach via the free pass. After Ferrara's exit, Hooker surrendered three more runs in one inning of work before Blazek, Fornataro and Wright tossed the final four innings without allowing a run or a hit to secure the victory for the Cardinals.

The bats came out to play early and often. Taveras once again led the way, going 2-for-3 with a triple and a three-run home run. Springfield also received home runs from Garcia, Romak, and Chris Swauger. Scruggs had Springfield's only other RBI while Jose Garcia added a double in his 3-for-5 performance at the plate.

Who's Hot

Seth Maness - The young righty hasn't lost since June 17 and leads all Springfield starters with a 2.10 ERA and eight wins.

Oscar Taveras – Continuing his flair for extra base power, Taveras has had four extra base hits this week and eight RBIs.

Xavier Scruggs – The first baseman continues his hot hitting into the hot weather with two home runs and seven RBIs this past week.

Greg Garcia – The shortstop out of Hawaii was a big contributor this week with three home runs and eight RBIs.

Who's Not

Kolten Wong – Still struggling a bit at the plate, the second baseman went just 4-for-30 this week.

Anthony Ferrara – Through two Double-A starts, Ferrara has allowed six runs in 6 2/3 innings.

Team Transactions

July 24th – LHP Brian Fuentes received on Major League rehab assignment

July 24th - RHP Scott Gorgen placed on DL

July 25th – LHP Brian Fuentes sent to St. Louis Cardinals

Second Half Division Standings

Texas League North W L PCT GB Home Away L 10 Streak
Springfield Cardinals (STL) 22 9 .710 - 14-2 8-7 7-3 W1
Arkansas Travelers (LAA) 16 16 .500 6.5 8-8 8-8 7-3 L1
Tulsa Drillers (COL) 15 17 .469 7.5 8-7 7-10 5-5 W3
NW Arkansas Naturals (KC) 6 26 .188 16.5 5-13 1-13 1-9 L6

The Cardinal Nation Top 40 Prospect Watch

#2 Carlos Martinez – A large reason for the loss on Tuesday was run support behind Martinez. Through eight Double-A starts, Martinez holds a 2.45 ERA and has gone six innings in each of his last four games.

#3 Oscar Taveras –Taveras has 75 RBIs and 52 extra base hits including 19 home runs, 28 doubles, and five triples, to go with his league-best .330 batting average.

#4 Kolten Wong - The second baseman is struggling at the dish a bit. Wong is hitting .159 in his last 10 games and has seen his overall batting average drop to .289.

#31 Jermaine Curtis - Curtis is one of three Springfield Cardinals with a batting average over .300 and has really shown a knack for timely hitting.

#38 Keith Butler – A 1.77 ERA in 37 appearances with 20 saves. Butler is as consistent as they come.

What's Next

Springfield will finish their three-game set with Arkansas Thursday at Hammons Field before heading to Northwest Arkansas to face the Naturals, who the Cardinals have already swept twice since the All-Star break. After, four games with the Naturals, the Cards will head to Little Rock to face the Travelers.

Follow me on Twitter: @BrandonJMahler

© 2012 The Cardinal Nation, thecardinalnation.com and stlcardinals.scout.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

The Cardinal Nation Top Stories