Springfield Cardinals Notebook: 2012 Week 19

Xavier Scruggs, the Texas League Player of the Week, batted .429, with a home run, and 11 RBI during the Cardinals' 3-3 week 19 on the road.

The Springfield Cardinals are inching closer to a Texas League playoff berth as they have now built a comfortable 7 ½ game lead in the North Division on the Arkansas Travelers. They were able to follow the formula as they split the recent road trip in Texas with a 3-3 week 19. With just three weeks to play in the regular season, the Cards should be able to cruise into the playoffs where their consistency will be tested.

Thursday, August 9th, Springfield 9 at San Antonio 5

Starting the week in San Antonio, major league rehabber Jaime Garcia made his second start for Springfield. Garcia was less effective than his first Double-A outing a week earlier but still passed the test, throwing 75 pitches, 53 of them for strikes. Garcia made those 75 pitches last through six innings as he surrendered five runs on six hits and struck out five Mission batters. Kevin Siegrist followed Garcia in the seventh with two innings of hitless work before Eric Fornataro took for hitless ninth.

The bats provided more than enough to offense to overcome the five runs put up by the Missions. Sparked by an impressive 7-for-15 with runners in scoring position, the Cardinals put up nine runs on 14 hits. With his bat staying hot, Texas League Player of the Week Xavier Scruggs lead the way. Scruggs went 2-for-4 with four RBI as he legged out his first triple of the season. Also getting in on the action was Kolten Wong, who was 2-for-6 with two RBI. The Cards also received RBIs from Jamie Romak, Oscar Taveras, and Greg Garcia in the 9-5 win.

Friday, August 10th, Springfield 2 at San Antonio 3 (14 innings)

Continuing their series in San Antonio, the Cardinals looked to Carlos Martinez for another solid outing. Martinez delivered with brilliance, allowing just one run on four hits in five innings pitched. Unfortunately, Martinez was not rewarded for his efforts as Deryk Hooker gave up the tying run in the seventh after a scoreless sixth from Justin Wright. Kevin Thomas threw a scoreless eighth before Scott Gorgen took it into extra innings with three perfect innings, striking out six batters. After Gorgen's efforts, Chase Reid followed with two more scoreless frames before Michael Blazek surrendered a pinch-hit single to pitcher Robert Lara in the 14th.

Far different from Thursdays outing, the offense experienced woes. Hindered by a team 2-for-12 with runners in scoring position, the Cards posted just two runs on seven hits. One of those hits was a big one from Xavier Scruggs, who smacked his 19th home run of the season, a solo shot in the seventh. Springfield's only other extra base hit came off the bat of Adam Melker who added a double. The Cardinals' other RBI came from Greg Garcia, his 44th of the season.

Saturday, August 11th, Springfield 3 at Corpus Christi 9

Seth Maness made the start for Springfield against Rob Rasmussen, acquired by the Astros in the Carlos Lee trade, for the Hooks. Maness was finished after the sixth with a less than stellar outing allowing five runs, four earned, on nine hits with four strikeouts. Newcomer Iden Nazario allowed three runs in the seventh and another in the eighth before handing it off to Thomas to get the final two outs in the eighth.

The Cardinals pounded out 13 hits, but only turned them into three runs as they lost the first game of their three-game set at Whataburger Field. Wong drove across one of those three runs with a single in his 3-for-5 evening. The Cardinals also got a RBI from Romak, who was 2-for-3. Taveras also added two hits while Audry Perez drove in the other run for the Cardinals. Alan Ahmady and Xavier Scruggs each had doubles.

Sunday, August 12th, Springfield 9 at Corpus Christi 20

Looking to get back on track, the Cardinals sent Scott McGregor to face the Hooks. McGregor was not sharp, as he lasted 5 1/3 innings, giving up six runs on nine hits. Hooker followed McGregor in the sixth but was unable to record an out after surrendering three runs after three batters faced. Wright then attempted to put out the fire. Unfortunately, things only got uglier as Wright was only able to record one out while allowing five more runs. Working to end the Hooks' historic 12-run assault in the sixth inning, Chase Reid entered and allowed two runs before finally getting the third out. Reid continued with a scoreless seventh before Butler took over in the eighth. He yielded four more runs, including a three-run blast by Corpus Christi's John Singleton, his second of the game.

Needing a near miracle to make up for the deficit in pitching, the Cardinals put up a decent fight themselves. Plating nine runs on eight hits, it was Scruggs who again had a big day. The first baseman scored three times, and added his 79th RBI via a double in the fourth. Greg Garcia also had a strong performance, going 2-for-4 with a double, a triple and four RBI. The Cardinals also got double from Taveras, his 31st, and Romak, his seventh and the other RBI in the loss came from Audry Perez, his 38th on the season.

Monday, August 13th, Springfield 5 at Corpus Christi 2

Hoping to avoid the sweep by the Hooks in Corpus Christi, the Cardinals looked to Richard Castillo. Castillo delivered, as he pitched five innings allowing two runs on six hits and earned his seventh win of the season. Rebounding from their ugly performance on Sunday, the bullpen was excellent as Hooker, Blazek, Fornataro, and Butler each threw a scoreless inning. Butler earned his 24th save of the season.

Not needing nearly as many runs on Monday, the Cards still put together a good night offensively with 14 hits. Two of those came off the bat of Taveras, who smacked a two-run home run with two out in the ninth to give the Cardinals a cushion. One of Romak's two hits was a home run in the second, a solo shot. Adam Melker also went 2-for-4 with a RBI double, his 10th of the season. Castillo also helped his own cause with his first RBI of 2012.

Wednesday, August 15th, San Antonio 1 at Springfield 6

Returning home after the long bus ride from Texas, Springfield sent Kevin Siegrist out for his second start since joining Springfield. Siegrist was brilliant, taking a no-hitter through the fifth inning. Only allowing two walks in the contest, Siegrist gave way to Thomas, who threw 2 2/3 innings, allowing three hits and the Missions only run. Blazek took over to record the last out in the eighth and hold the Missions scoreless in the ninth.

Springfield's bats were blazing again. Yet again fueled by Scruggs, who accounted for half of the Cardinals six runs, the Cardinals managed eight hits in the contest. Scruggs was 1-for-3 with his three RBIs bringing his season total to 82, tying Taveras for the team lead. Adam Melker added a solo home run in the third inning, his eighth of the season. Greg Garcia, was 2-for-4, including a double and a RBI while Romak added the Cardinals only other RBI, his 31st of the season.

Who's Hot

Xavier Scruggs - The first baseman was named the Texas League Player of the Week for the period of August 6-12. The right-handed hitter batted .429, with a home run, 11 RBI and six runs scored over six games.

Who's Not

Scott McGregor – After a solid run during which he won four straight starts, McGregor has struggled in his last two outings, allowing 10 runs in 9 2/3 innings.

Team Transactions/Injury Report

August 11 - RHP Scott Gorgen - Sent to Memphis

August 11 - LHP Iden Nazario - Received from Palm Beach

Second Half Division Standings

Texas League North W L PCT GB Home Away L 10 Streak
Springfield Cardinals (STL) 33 17 .660 - 17-5 16-12 5-5 W2
Arkansas Travelers (LAA) 26 25 .510 7.5 10-14 16-11 6-4 W1
Tulsa Drillers (COL) 22 29 .431 11.5 13-15 9-14 5-5 L2
NW Arkansas Naturals (KC) 17 34 .333 16.5 11-18 6-16 5-5 L1

The Cardinal Nation Top 40 Prospect Watch

#2 Carlos Martinez – Martinez allowed just one run on four hits in his most recent outing this week. Perhaps the only concern is his 92 pitches through five innings.

#3 Oscar Taveras – The free-swinging lefty now has 59 extra base hits to account for 43 percent of his 137 hits and his .574 slugging percentage. Taveras continues to look more at home in centerfield as well.

#4 Kolten Wong – The second baseman and leadoff man put together three multi-hit games this week and looks to be regaining form after a recent dip in average.

#31 Jermaine Curtis - Through nearly 300 at bats, Curtis maintains the second highest average on the team at .313.

#38 Keith Butler – Butler did allow four runs on Sunday but none were earned so his 2.72 ERA remains unscathed. He also collected his 24th save this week.

What's Next

The Cardinals hope to build on their 7 ½ game lead and move closer to clinching the division title as they continue their set with San Antonio at home with two more games through Friday. Next, Corpus Christi comes to town for a three-game set that concludes Monday night. The Cards will then head to Northwest Arkansas for a four-game set with the Naturals next Tuesday through Friday.

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