Springfield Cardinals Notebook: 2012 Week 17

Greg Garcia has emerged as a middle infield talent going 9-for-34 with nine RBI in his last 10 games. His average rose to .291 during the Cardinals' 4-3 week 17.

This time of year can be very distracting for any baseball player if they let trade rumors steal their focus. This can be especially true for many minor league players who often become trading chips for major league clubs trying to bolster their roster as they attempt to make a late season run.

This time around, the trade deadline came and went without any 2012 Springfield players being dealt. Instead, 2011 Springfield Cardinals third baseman Zack Cox was shipped to the Miami Marlins to bolster the St. Louis bullpen. The potential anxiety that could come with the passing of the deadline didn't seem much of a distraction to the Springfield roster as they put together a solid 4-3 week 17.

Thursday, July 26th, Arkansas 8 at Springfield 4

Pitching wasn't solid to start the week. Starter Seth Maness took his second loss of the season as the Cardinals wrapped up their series at home. Maness pitched six innings and allowed eight hits and five runs. Not any better, Deryk Hooker followed Maness by giving up three runs over 2/3 of an inning in relief. Keith Butler pitched one and one-thirds scoreless innings, yielding three hits and Jorge Rondon rounded things up by pitching a perfect eighth inning.

Springfield's offense put together four runs on eight hits on Thursday but came up short of the eight runs need to shore up the pitching deficit. Leading the way for the Cards, Greg Garcia and Xavier Scruggs both went 2-for-4 with a RBI. Jamie Romak and Chris Swauger had Springfield's other two RBI. Adam Melker also added a double.

Friday, July 27th, Springfield 4 at NW Arkansas 2

Heading to Springdale, Scott McGregor set the tone for the Cardinals on the mound, throwing 6 2/3 shutout innings, striking out five and allowing just three singles while earning his third straight win. Michael Blazek added a scoreless eighth before Jorge Rondon entered in the ninth to try and get the last three outs. However, Rondon struggled, walking the bases loaded before a single on the infield ended the shutout bid and Rondon's outing. With the bases still loaded, Keith Butler walked the first man he faced to force home a run making it 4-2. Bulter then got the strikeout to end the game s the All-Star picked up his 21st straight save.

It took a while for Springfield to get on the board before they finally scored all four of their runs in the 6th. Jermaine Curtis, who went 2-for-3, delivered an RBI single, both Swauger and Scruggs drew walks with the bases loaded and Greg Garcia brought a run home on a ground out to make it 4-0 game. Jose Garcia and Oscar Taveras were each 2-for-4 and Melker added a double for the second straight night.

Saturday, July 28th, Springfield 4 at NW Arkansas 12

Pitching was again a problem for the Cards on Saturday in Northwest Arkansas. The Naturals wasted no time getting to Cardinals starter Richard Castillo, as they plated eight first-inning runs. Castillo surrendered two more runs before leaving the game in the fourth after allowing a total of 10 runs on 11 hits. Kevin Thomas followed Castillo and was able to get out of the jam in the fourth before yielding two runs in the sixth. Justin Wright threw the next two innings, allowing just one more hit.

Springfield's offense struggled for much of the game as well, not getting their first hit until the fifth inning. The little offense that the Cardinals did scrape up was led by Kolten Wong, who had two of Springfield's five hits including a RBI double. Audry Perez drove in two runs on a home run in the ninth and Curtis drove in Springfield's only other run.

Sunday, July 29th, Springfield 2 at NW Arkansas 3

Errors were the name of the game on Sunday for the Cardinals. Springfield committed five errors including two from shortstop Vance Albitz as the Naturals took the 3-2 win. Carlos Martinez made the start for the Cards and was also responsible for one of the errors as he went five innings allowing two runs, one earned. Hooker earned the loss though as he was the pitcher of record when an unearned run crossed the plate in the sixth which gave the Naturals the lead. Eric Fornataro capped the pitching effort with a scoreless eighth.

The Cardinals started the scoring early. Kolten Wong, who ended 2-for-4, hit a solo homer to lead-off the game to give Springfield a 1-0 lead. This was the only RBI for the Cards. Curtis was also 2-for-4 and Scruggs notched his 17th double of the season.

Monday, July 30th, Springfield 9 at NW Arkansas 5

Springfield starter Anthony Ferrara pitched well for 3 1/3 innings, but had to leave the game due to injury. Chase Reid, just up from Palm Beach, entered and allowed a run over the next 2 2/3 innings to leave the game at 4-1 after six innings. Wright threw a scoreless seventh before Butler entered and allowed three runs, including a game-tying double by Kevin Kouzmanoff. This was Butler's first blown save of the season. With runners at second and third, Rondon came in and again walked the bases loaded before striking out the next two batters to escape the jam. Rondon threw a scoreless ninth to earn the win.

Springfield put together a strong night at the plate, capped off by a five-run ninth. Travis Tartamella had the strongest outing, going 2-for-4 with two doubles and two RBI. Curtis also had a great night, going 3-for-3 with a RBI. Scruggs added another double and two RBIs. Wong had two RBIs with Romak and Swauger contributing an RBI each. Taveras was lifted in the middle of the game after failing to run out a ball.

Tuesday, July 31th, Springfield 11 at Arkansas 9 (10 Innings)

Heading to Little Rock for a set with the Travelers, Springfield sent Seth Maness to the hill. Maness cruised for the two innings, but ran into trouble in the third when he gave up four runs. Maness left after five innings, having yielded seven runs on nine hits. Scott Gorgen followed Maness out of the bullpen and allowed another run in 2 2/3 innings pitched. Rondon blew the save for the Cardinals but was given the win before Butler took over and earned his 22nd save.

A two-run, bloop single by Jose Garcia in the 10th inning made the difference in the contest after Springfield put up nine runs through the first nine innings. Greg Garcia had the biggest day at the plate, going 3-for-5 with three RBI. Scruggs also had three hits and added an RBI. Romak contributed a two-run home run while Taveras, who went 2-for-5, added a two run triple. Curtis also had two hits and Perez had the Cardinals' only other RBI.

Wednesday, August 1st, Springfield 7 at Arkansas 3

Looking to continue his success, Scott McGregor was handed the ball and dominated for the first five innings retiring 15 of 16 batters. He ran into trouble in the sixth when he allowed three runs. McGregor was strong again the rest of the way as he pitched seven innings in total, allowing just the three runs on six hits with three strikeouts. Hooker and Fornataro pitched the final two innings without trouble.

Springfield stayed hot offensively as they jumped out to an early 5-0 lead after three innings. Romak led the way, going 3-for-5 with a double and three RBI. Scruggs added a double and two RBI and Wong hit a double of his own. Perez went 2-for-4 with two RBI.

Who's Hot

Jermaine Curtis - 11-for-24 with three RBIs this week, Curtis is now just a point behind Taveras for the team and league lead in batting average.

Greg Garcia - In his last 10 games, Garcia is 9-for-34 with nine RBI, as his average has risen to .291.

Xavier Scruggs - His average still lingers at .251 but he has 67 RBI, including 14 in his last 10 games to go with 17 home runs. After a slow start, Scruggs has really heated up.

Scott McGregor - In his two starts this week. McGregor threw 13 2/3 innings, allowing just three runs. He has lowered his ERA to 4.42 after a rough start and improved his record to 5-1.

Who's Not

Seth Maness – The right-hander allowed 12 runs in 11 innings in his two starts this past week.

Oscar Taveras - Only by his own standards do I place him on this list. He was 4-for-22 this week with two RBI and there is the question of what exactly is going on behind his being pulled from Monday's game for apparent lack of hustle.

Team Transactions/Injury Report

July 30 - RHP Michael Blazek - Sent to Memphis

July 30 – RHP Chase Reid - Received from Palm Beach to replace Blazek in the bullpen

*No official transaction made yet regarding Anthony Ferrara's injury (strained groin).

Second Half Division Standings

Texas League North W L PCT GB Home Away L 10 Streak
Springfield Cardinals (STL) 26 12 .684 - 14-3 12-9 6-4 W3
Arkansas Travelers (LAA) 20 19 .513 6.5 8-10 12-9 5-5 L3
Tulsa Drillers (COL) 17 22 .436 9.5 10-11 7-11 5-5 W1
NW Arkansas Naturals (KC) 10 29 .256 16.5 8-15 2-14 4-6 L1

The Cardinal Nation Top 40 Prospect Watch

#2 Carlos Martinez – Martinez had a good start this week but was overshadowed by errors. He appears to be getting stronger though, as rumors have swirled that he touched 100 mph recently.

#3 Oscar Taveras – Taveras has been slumping a little and was lifted in the middle of the game on Monday for lack of hustle. This is a characteristic that was also brought to light last season at Quad Cities, so it is something to keep an eye on.

#4 Kolten Wong - Wong had a nice leadoff home run this week and a few RBIs. His offensive production has tapered off a bit, though, as his average in the leadoff spot now sits at .284.

#31 Jermaine Curtis - Curtis is a quiet but consistent contributor who now sits just a point under Taveras for the team batting lead.

#38 Keith Butler – Butler blew his first save of the season this week but also earned two, giving him 22 on the season.

What's Next

After finishing their set in Little Rock on Thursday, the Cardinals return home this weekend to face Tulsa. On Friday night, Ruben Studdard and Bo Bice will be singing the National Anthem. On Saturday night, Jaime Garcia is scheduled to make a rehab start at Hammons Field, and will be sporting a Team USA Olympic themed jersey that will be auctioned off after the game. On Sunday, 2,500 Jon Jay bobbleheads will be given out as the Cards face the Drillers at Hammons Field before they wrap up the short home stand on Monday and head for San Antonio next Wednesday.

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