Springfield Cardinals Notebook: 2013 Week 2

30-year-old Ruben Gotay had the hot bat for the Double-A Birds, who went 2-4 during week 2.

Inconsistency on both sides of the baseball marked the Springfield Cardinals' week 2 as they returned to Hammons Field amid the excitement of celebrating the team's first championship season in 2012. As the weather warmed up over the weekend, so did the Springfield bats and the team made sure they avoided being swept at home.

Tuesday, April 9th, Springfield 2 at San Antonio 11

As the Cards finished up their opening six-game road trip deep into Texas, Richard Castillo took the hill with the chance to give the club a split on the trip. Castillo had been solid in his first outing of the season but much less so on Tuesday night. Right off the bat, the right-hander was touched for four runs in the first inning. The Missions added another run against Castillo before he was lifted after the third inning. His final line was three innings pitched, allowing five runs on five hits and three walks.

Dean Kiekhefer began the fourth for the Cardinals and put out the fire for the next three innings, allowing just two hits. Following Kiekhefer, Kevin Thomas threw a scoreless seventh, striking out two and gave way to Deryk Hooker in the eighth. The wheels fell off again with Hooker, who recorded just one out while yielding five runs on five hits. Michael Blazek relieved Hooker to get the final two outs of the eighth, but allowed another run on two more hits. Castillo took the loss as Springfield pitching allowed 11 total runs on 15 hits.

The Cardinals began their season with five consecutive games with two runs scored in each of those games before Tuesday. Count Tuesday as number six. Manager Mike Shildt joked that the team must have set some sort of record. Nevertheless, the hitters were cold again, mustering just two runs on three hits. The hits came of the bats of Mike O'Neill, Ruben Gotay, and Xavier Scruggs, who were each 1-for-4 on the day. Gotay and Tommy Pham had the team's only two RBI, although Pham was hitless. Jake Lemmerman was the only other Cardinal to reach base with two walks.

Thursday, April 11th, Corpus Christi 5 at Springfield 0

On Wednesday, the Cardinals made the trek back to Springfield by way of a long Texas League bus ride. Many players including Lemmerman tweeted about getting settled in at home and grabbing a good local breakfast around the Springfield community.

After the off-day on Wednesday, Thursday came as a very exciting night at Hammons Field. Sporting their gold jerseys for the opening series commemorating the 2012 Texas League Championship, the Cards took the field with plenty of fanfare around them despite the very cold Ozarks evening.

Unfortunately, the game did not match the excitement that came with it. Scott McGregor earned the honor of home Opening Day starter, hoping to match his first start of the season. It did not take long for the Hooks to get to McGregor, however. Leadoff hitter Austin Wates deposited the second pitch of the game just over the right field wall. McGregor settled in after that for the next couple of innings but then allowed three more runs on six total hits before being pulled with one out in the fifth.

Justin Wright followed McGregor and loaded the bases in the fifth before walking in the fifth runs for the Hooks. Wright recorded one out in the fifth before Ramon Delgado took over and threw 2 1/3 scoreless innings. Keith Butler tossed a perfect ninth, striking out two Hooks. Cardinals pitchers struck out 14 Hooks batters on the evening.

Just like the previous night, the Cardinals only scraped together three hits. They came off the bat of Chris Swauger, Adam Melker and Tommy Pham. Swauger had the team's only extra base hit with a double in the fifth. O'Neill was also on base twice with two walks, but the Cardinals fell 5-0 in their home opener.

Friday, April 12th, Corpus Christi 3 at Springfield 6

Hoping to bounce back from being shut out in their home opener, Springfield handed the ball to Anthony Ferrara. The lefty looked strong through his first four innings but hit a wall in the fifth inning. Ferrara faced five batters in the fifth innings but failed to record an out and was ultimately responsible for three runs on six hits.

Kevin Siegrist took over following Ferrara's trouble in the fifth and was ultimately rewarded with the win. Siegrist threw two innings of one-hit baseball and struck out two batters. Hooker, Blazek, and Butler each added scoreless innings through the seventh, eighth, and ninth, respectively. Butler earned his third save of the season.

After such a slow start in 2013, the offense finally put up three times as many runs as they had in any one game to this point. Scruggs was the big bat as he lifted a two-out power shot to left-center for his second home run of the season. The two-run shot was part of his 2-for-4 night at the dish. Pham also had two RBI with a two-run triple. O'Neill added a 2-for-3 game and drove in a run. Travis Tartamella, who was hitless, plated the Cardinals' other run.

Saturday, April 13th, Corpus Christi 3 at Springfield 2

After getting their first home win, the Double-A Birds hoped to put together a win streak in sending Boone Whiting to the mound. Whiting was strong again and nearly mirrored his first outing with five innings pitched. He allowed two runs on five hits and two walks while striking out four batters. Whiting was relieved in the sixth after 82 pitches. Kiekhefer took over and ended up taking the loss after giving up a run in the sixth. Thomas entered in the eighth to hold the Hooks to one hit in the eighth and ninth innings.

Despite a solid pitching performance from Whiting and the bullpen, the offense once again found themselves unable to score more then two runs for the eighth time in 2013. Of the Cardinals' eight hits, two came from Gotay, both doubles. Both runs though came from shortstop Jake Lemmerman, who slammed a two-run home run in the first inning over the visitors bullpen at Hammons Field. The Cards would score no more after the first inning.

Sunday, April 14th, San Antonio 15 at Springfield 9

For his second straight start to start the season, Seth Blair was set the face the Missions of San Antonio. Blair was mostly steady is his first outing, but not so in his second. He threw four innings and was ok through the first three innings, but he ran into trouble in the fourth. That continued as he faced four batters in the fifth before being lifted for Delgado. Before he finshed, Blair had allowed eight runs on eight hits including a home run from Reymond Fuentes.

Delgado wasn't any better as he worked to get through two-thirds of the fifth inning and surrendered six runs on five hits. Wright took over to get the final out of the fifth inning but not before giving up another run to make it an 11-run inning for the Missions. Wright would then pitch three more innings of scoreless baseball before Hooker threw a perfect ninth.

Springfield hitters had a strong day at the plate, scoring nine runs on 12 hits but it wasn't enough to overcome the pitching deficit. Pham led the way going 3-for-5 with his first home run of the season and his fourth triple. Scruggs added his fourth home run, a two-run shot in the third inning. O'Neill returned to his 2012 form with a 3-for-5 day at the plate with a RBI. Shortstop Lemmerman was 2-for-4 with a RBI. Gotay added two double and two RBI and Swauger also contributed a pair of RBI.

Monday, April 15th, San Antonio 1 at Springfield 9

Trying to help the Cardinals avoid a sweep at home, Richard Castillo took the ball for his third start of the season. This time, the results were outstanding. Castillo looked really sharp on the mound and his final line showed it. The righty starter held the Missions scoreless through six innings of work, surrendering just four hits, walking one batter and striking out six.

Siegrist was equally impressive in relief, entering in the seventh and throwing two perfect innings and striking out five. Thomas took over in the ninth and allowed the first run of the game and of his season via a solo home run by Tommy Medica. Castillo picked up his first win of the season.

It was another strong night for the Cardinals offense as they put nine runs on the board for the second consecutive evening. Gotay had another big night at the plate going 3-for-4 with four RBIs and his seventh double. Pham also had another strong performance going 2-for-4 with a solo home run. Adam Melker was also 2-for-4 and smashed his second home run of the season, a two-run shot with one out in the seventh inning. Swauger added the team's other RBI.

Who is Hot

Ruben Gotay - The 30-year-old former big leaguer is hitting .333 with seven doubles and nine RBI to date.

Tommy Pham - The injury-plagued outfield prospect is possibly finally finding his game. So far, he is hitting .316 with four triples, two home runs, and six RBI.

Who is Not

Audry Perez – The catcher is still struggling offensively, posting a .067 batting average through his first 30 at-bats.

Seth Blair - The first-round pitching prospect has posted an 11.25 ERA through his first two starts.

Team Transactions

April 9 - INF Luis Mateo placed on DL
April 9 - INF Vance Albitz transferred to Springfield from Triple-A Memphis
April 15 - RHP Keith Butler transferred to Triple-A Memphis from Springfield

North Division Standings

Club W L PCT GB Home Away L 10 Streak
Arkansas Travelers (LAA) 6 5 0.545 - 3-3 3-2 5-5 W2
Tulsa Drillers (COL) 5 6 0.455 1.0 4-1 1-5 5-5 W2
Springfield Cardinals (STL) 4 7 0.364 2.0 2-3 2-4 4-6 W1
NW Arkansas Naturals (KC) 3 8 0.273 3.0 1-5 2-3 3-7 L2

The Cardinal Nation Top 40 Prospect Watch

#5 Carlos Martinez – A report had the right-hander in the Cardinals dugout Monday night, hinting his return could be closer than expected.

#11 Jordan Swagerty - Still on the DL working on his path to recovery from Tommy John surgery.

#17 Starlin Rodriguez - Has posted a .278 batting average with two doubles in his first seven Double-A games.

#22 Kevin Siegrist - After a difficult first outing, Siegrist was impressive, striking out five in two innings in his most recent appearance.

#25 Boone Whiting -.Has been very impressive in his first two starts, posting a 2.45 ERA with 11 strikeouts.

#30 Seth Blair - Has been roughed up in each of his first two Double-A starts.

#32 Mike O'Neill - After a slow start, the leadoff man has started to heat up and is now sitting at .262.

#38 Audry Perez - Still struggling, hitting .067 through 30 at-bats.

#40 Keith Butler - After converting his first three save opportunities, Butler was promoted to Memphis to help with their bullpen woes.

What is Next

Tuesday morning, the Cardinals finish up their opening home series with a 11:09 a.m. game against San Antonio. Scott McGregor will face the Missions in his third start of the season. Springfield will have an off-day on Wednesday before heading to Little Rock for a four-game set with the Travelers.

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