Springfield Cardinals Notebook: 2013 Week 6

Outfielder Tommy Pham is leading the team in extra base hits (17) and is second in home runs (6), batting average (.316), and RBI (26). The club is in first place after a 4-2 week.

With the recent promotion of pitching prospect Carlos Martinez to the St. Louis Cardinals, the Springfield Cardinals no longer have a The Cardinal Nation Top 10 prospect on their roster. That doesn't mean the players aren't exciting to watch, however. The Double-A Birds still have 10 The Cardinal Nation Top 40 prospects on the team.

In addition, the Cards hold a slim half game lead in the division, led by this team of prospects. Several roster changes have been made recently, contributing to a 4-2 week which included the longest game in franchise history.

Tuesday, May 7th, Tulsa 0 at Springfield 2

After getting roughed up for the first time in 2013, Boone Whiting made his sixth start of the season on Tuesday night at Hammons Field. Whiting bounced back strongly as he rediscovered his control, needing just 80 pitches to get through seven innings. In those seven shutout innings, Whiting didn't walk a Tulsa batter and struck out seven while allowing just four hits.

Following Whiting, lefty Kevin Siegrist entered in the eighth inning and struck out two batters before turning the game over to Michael Blazek, who threw a scoreless ninth. Blazek earned his sixth save in his sixth opportunity and lowered his ERA to 0.75.

On the offensive side, the Cardinals didn't need to put up much to support Whiting's outstanding effort but they came up with just enough to top the Drillers. Out of the team's six hits, slugging first baseman Xavier Scruggs had two, including his fourth double. Both of the team's runs were driven in by Ruben Gotay, who slammed his 11th double to left center, scoring Whiting and Mike O'Neill. Tommy Pham reached base twice but was caught stealing second base and was picked off at first base.

Thursday, May 9th, NW Arkansas at Springfield (postponed because of rain)

Friday, May 10th (Game 1), NW Arkansas 4 at Springfield 6 (7 innings)

After being rained out in the third inning of Seth Blair's start on Thursday night, the Cardinals were set for yet another double-header, their fourth already this season. Richard Castillo took the mound for game 1. Castillo gave the Cardinals what they needed, absorbing six innings of work, allowing four runs on five hits and a walk while striking out six. Castillo earned his second win, Keith Butler entered in the seventh and surrendered two hits but also struck out two in route to his fourth save and first since returning from Memphis.

Pham once again had the big day at the plate for Springfield going 2-for-4 with a three-run home run in the fourth. Pham's home run, his sixth of the season, gave him a team leading 24th RBI, one ahead of Scruggs, who also added a RBI. Pham raised his average to a team-leading .340. Also getting in on the action was Audry Perez, who slammed a two-run home run in the second inning into the Naturals' bullpen in his 2-for-3 bid at the plate. Gotay, also adding two hits, collected his team-leading 12th double. Shortstop Jake Lemmerman hit his third double of the season as the Cardinals took game 1.

Friday, May 10th (Game 2), NW Arkansas 5 at Springfield 4 (7 innings)

After losing a spot in the rotation to the rainout after a few innings on Thursday, pitching for Game 2 of the doubleheader on Friday came in the form of "starter by committee." Nick Greenwood took the first turn on the hill but couldn't get through the third after surrendering all five of the Drilllers runs in his final frame, leaving him on the hook for the loss. After entering for Greenwood to get the final out of the third, Ramon Delgado pitched two more innings allowing one more hit before Justin Wright and Deryk Hooker threw consecutive hitless frames to finish the Cardinals pitching effort.

Down 5-0 entering the sixth, Springfield nearly mounted a comeback that started with Vance Albitz, who was 2-for-3 and doubled, driving in Luis Mateo for the Cardinals first run. O'Neill, the next batter, also 2-for-3, came up with Albitz on second and Travis Tartamella on third and drove the ball just over the left field fence to bring the Cards to within a run - but the comeback would stop there. Outfielders James Ramsey and Chris Swauger each added two hits apiece in the Cardinals Game 2 loss.

Saturday, May 11th, NW Arkansas 5 at Springfield 4 (20 innings)

With the bullpen already strained from the double-header on Friday, Saturday brought the longest game in Hammons Field and Springfield Cardinals history. At a final time of five hours and 38 minutes, the heartbreaking 20-inning affair was started by Scott McGregor, making his seventh start following his no-hit bid in his last outing. McGregor, although not as strong as his last start, was still solid, allowing just three runs on nine hits while striking out seven in 6 2/3 innings.

Siegrist followed McGregor with 1 1/3 scoreless innings striking out two then Blazek took it to extra innings through the 11th with three scoreless innings. Kevin Thomas followed with an outstanding 2 2/3 innings while striking out five. Hooker was handed the ball in the 14th and gave 2 1/3 perfect innings before the team was forced to look to infielder Vance Albitz to take the mound. Albitz actually gave the team three scoreless innings, throwing 47 pitches through the 19th inning. Albitz wasn't lighting up the gun but was effective as he struck out two batters in his three innings. Finally, journeyman infielder Ruben Gotay took the mound in the 20th and surrendered the game-winning home run to Juan Graterol.

For the lengthy affair, there was surprising little offense overall. The Cardinals were a team 12-for-68 at the plate, scoring four runs on 2-for-15 with runners in scoring position. Most of the offense came off the bat of Gotay, who delivered his first home run of the season, a three-run shot to tie the game and send it to extra innings. Starlin Rodriguez had his first hit in the game in the 20th inning to nearly tie the game again.

Sunday, May 12th, NW Arkansas 4 at Springfield 7

Finishing up the four-game set with the Naturals, Anthony Ferrera made his fifth start of the season. Ferrera was solid in his attempt to even his record at 3-3 and minimizing the pressure on the bullpen by lasting six innings. Ferrera allowed just three runs to come across out of nine baserunners stemming from six hits and three walks.

Wright entered in the seventh and allowed another run to cross on four hits but eventually struck out the side. Butler took the mound in the eighth to throw two scoreless innings for his fifth save.

Of the Cardinals eight hits, the only multi-hit game came from Mike O'Neill, who added an RBI and raised his average to a team-leading .340 with Pham recently hitting a small slide. Pham did have two RBI though, giving him a team-best 26 on the season. Other RBI came from Scruggs, Swauger, and Lemmerman while catcher Cody Stanley added his first RBI in his Double-A debut.

Monday, May 13th, Springfield 10 at Tulsa 4

With Boone Whiting moving up to Memphis to take John Gast's spot in the rotation while he is in St. Louis, an opportunity presented itself for Tim Cooney to make his Double-A debut in Tulsa to begin a eight-game road trip. Cooney had a solid debut on the mound, giving the Birds five innings, surrendering three runs on five hits and striking out seven Drillers' batters. After Cooney, Delgado entered in the sixth and tossed three innings allowing one more run before Siegrist handled the ninth inning with a perfect outing, striking out two.

The bats provided plenty of support for Cooney. His Double-A debut was perhaps more impressive at the plate as the lefty went 2-for-3 with a double in his first at bat. It was Scruggs who had the biggest day though, going 3-for-4 with his team-leading 10th home run and his sixth double. His three RBI also gives him a Springfield-best 27, one ahead of Pham and Gotay. The latter also had three RBI in the game in his 3-for-6 performance. Gotay added his 13th double with Jake Lemmerman contributing a RBI double as well in the win.

Who's Hot

Mike O'Neill - Now leading the team and third in the league with a .340 batting average and leading the league with a .483 on base percentage. Xavier Scruggs - Scruggs is now second in the Texas League with 10 home runs and fourth with 27 RBI and has seen his average rise to .296.

Who's Not

Nick Greenwood - The lefty is not off to a good start since coming back to Double-A, allowing 10 runs through his first four innings of work.

Team Transactions

May 12th - C Travis Tartamella sent to Triple-A Memphis
May 12th - C Cody Stanley received from High-A Palm Beach
May 12th - INF Vance Albtiz sent to Triple-A Memphis
May 12th - OF Adam Melker activated from DL
May 12th - RHP Boone Whiting sent to High-A Memphis
May 12th - LHP Tim Cooney received from High-A Palm Beach

North Division Standings

Texas League North W L PCT GB Home Away L10 Streak
Springfield 19 16 .543 -- 12-10 7-6 7-3 W2
Arkansas 19 17 .528 0.5 7-7 12-10 6-4 W4
Tulsa 16 20 .444 3.5 11-8 5-12 3-7 L4
NW Arkansas 13 22 .371 6.0 6-10 7-12 4-6 L2

The Cardinal Nation Top 40 Prospect Watch

#11 Jordan Swagerty - Still working on building strength at extended spring training.

#13 James Ramsey - Ramsey is doing what is asked of him through his first full week at Double-A, hitting a solid .316 with a .480 on base percentage. Still hasn't shown power as none of his six hits were for extra bases.

#17 Starlin Rodriguez - The slick-fielding second baseman went just 4-for-20 at the plate this week.

#22 Kevin Siegrist - Siegrist has adjusted well to life as a reliever as he struck out six batters in 3 1/3 innings of work in three appearances this week.

#25 Boone Whiting - After bouncing back with seven shutout innings in his last start, Whiting earned a promotion to Triple-A to fill a spot in the rotation with John Gast in St. Louis.

#30 Seth Blair - Blair's last official start was on May 1st as his most recent turn in the rotation was washed out due to rain.

#32 Mike O'Neill - O'Neill just keeps getting on base and he is leading the league at doing just that.

#38 Audry Perez - The catcher was 3-for-16 with a home run and three RBI this week. His average still sits at just .176.

#39 Tim Cooney – The lefty was solid in his Double-A debut on Monday striking out seven batters in seven innings.

#40 Keith Butler - Despite being in Memphis for nearly a month. Butler is still fourth in the Texas League in saves.

What's Next

The Cardinals will finish a eight-game road trip with the next three in Tulsa before heading to Little Rock for a four-game set with the second-place Travelers.

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