Springfield Cardinals Notebook: 2013 Week 7

The second-place Double-A Cardinals are preparing to come home after a 4-3 week on the road.

The 2013 season has already seen several 2012 Springfield Cardinals make appearances in St. Louis. With Jermaine Curtis, Trevor Rosenthal, Seth Maness, and Carlos Martinez already having made their debuts and another in Tyler Lyons on Wednesday, it shows you never know who, at the Double-A level, will be a contributor in the show. There are certainly a number of players who are opening eyes with Springfield this season. These players who are leading the Cardinals in another playoff chase have Springfield just a half game behind after week 7.

Tuesday, May 14th, Springfield 4 at Tulsa 2

Taking the hill on Tuesday, righty Seth Blair tossed three scoreless frames before allowing Tulsa to chip away with solo home runs in the fourth and fifth innings. Blair rebounded by throwing a scoreless sixth and ended his day surrendering two runs on five hits and striking out six. His two earned runs mark Blair's lowest earned run total since his first start of the season. Deryk Hooker followed and dealt scoreless seventh and eighth innings and then Michael Blazek slammed the door in the bottom of the ninth, earning his seventh save of the season.

The Cardinals jumped in front in the top of the fourth inning Ruben Gotay led off with a double, followed by a bunt single from Chris Swauger, who went 3-for-3 at the plate to put runners at the corners. Jake Lemmerman, who was 2-for-4, capitalized by launching a three-run home run over the left field wall, sending Springfield in front, 3-0. The team's other run came in the eighth when leading off, James Ramsey hammered a solo home run to right field. His first Double-A home run stretched Springfield's advantage and gave them the 4-2 win.

Wednesday, May 15th, Springfield 5 at Tulsa 3

With the day game at ONEOK Field on Wednesday afternoon, the Cardinals took the field seeking their fourth straight victory. Richard Castillo got the start for the Cards. After the Drillers struck for an early run in the bottom of the first against Castillo, the righty shut the door, at one point retiring 13 in a row. The Drillers attempted a comeback against LHP Nick Greenwood in the bottom of the eighth, touching him for two runs on three hits in 2/3 inning and bringing the Drillers within one run. RHP Keith Butler took over and struck out Kiel Roling, ending the frame and keeping the Cardinals up, 4-3. With rain coming down, Butler worked a scoreless bottom of the ninth, earning his sixth save of the season

Adam Melker, going 3-for-4, led the way at the plate for the Cardinals with two home runs. With one down in the top of the second, Melker clobbered his first, a solo shot to right field that tied it, 1-1. He struck again in the top of the fourth with a two-run shot. Castillo also got in on the action at the plate and helped his own cause with a bases-loaded RBI single through the right side of the infield, making it 4-1 in the sixth. The Cardinals added an insurance run in the ninth which Ramsey brought home with an RBI single, stretching the lead to two runs.

Thursday, May 16th, Springfield 1 at Tulsa 2 (15 innings)

Thursday brought another 15-inning marathon battle which turned out to be the second-longest game in Cardinals history, only behind the 20-inning game vs. Northwest Arkansas at Hammons Field last Saturday.

Scott McGregor had the privilege of starting the affair for Springfield and was only touched for a solo home run in the bottom of the second. McGregor tossed scoreless frames throughout the remainder of his seven-inning outing and allowed just the one run while tying a season-high with eight strikeouts.

The next seven innings would be scoreless in relief including two from Blazek, striking out four, and three from Kevin Siegrist, also fanning four. Justin Wright and Kevin Thomas also threw scoreless innings before the Drillers tallied the game-winning run in the bottom of the 15th inning against Greenwood. With the bases loaded and two down, Angelys Nina chopped a ground ball to the first base side. Xavier Scruggs fielded the grounder and flipped it to the covering Greenwood at first base, but Nina was ruled safe on the play, which scored Tulsa's Rafael Ortega from third. Greenwood took the walk-off loss, his second defeat since rejoining Springfield.

After failing to plate a run through eight innings, the Cardinals rallied to survive in the ninth. Ramsey led off with a walk and was driven in by Jake Lemmerman with a double inside the third base line, to tie the game at one. Lemmerman's RBI was the only run the Cards would muster. Starlin Rodriguez also had a double while Ruben Gotay and Luis Mateo each registered two hits.

Friday, May 17th, Springfield 6 at Arkansas 7

Trying to bounce back from their heartbreaking 15-inning loss in their series finale with Tulsa, the Cards traveled to Little Rock to face the Travelers at Dickey-Stephens Park on Friday night.

Lefty Anthony Ferrera got the start for the Cards with the task of getting the team back on track. After gaining an early lead, Ferrera allowed the Travelers to chip away with a pair of home runs of their own in the third and fourth innings. Ferrera then allowed two more runs in the sixth, ending his day after 5 1/3 innings surrendering five runs on five hits and two walks.

Wright shut the door in the sixth and Hooker threw a scoreless seventh but after getting two outs in the eighth, Hooker allowed two runners to reach base. Butler took over and immediately surrendered a RBI single scoring both runners and giving Hooker the loss. The outing was Butler's first blown save on the season.

Most of Springfield's offense came in a powerful top of the second inning. Mateo struck first as he crushed a three-run home run over the left-field wall. Later in the inning, Rodriguez hammered a two-run shot to left field, stretching the Cardinals lead to 5-0. The final Cardinals run came from Scruggs, who led off the top of the sixth with a solo home run to straightaway center field. His 11th of the season made it 6-3 at the time. No Cardinal had more than one hit.

Saturday, May 18th, Springfield 7 at Arkansas 0

The Cardinals bounced back strongly on Saturday, tossing their fourth shutout of the season on a brilliant pitching performance from starter Tim Cooney. Cooney went the first six innings, striking out seven and scattering only five hits. Beginning in the seventh, Greenwood bounced back and dealt 1 2/3 scoreless innings, before Delgado closed it with 1 1/3 frames.

The Cardinals jumped in front in the top of the first inning and there was plenty of offense to go around, not that they needed it. Scruggs had another big day at the dish, driving in five runs go give him a league-leading 33 RBI and went 2-for-4, including his 12th home run of the season, good for second in the league. Swauger, who was 3-for-5, contributed his 25th RBI while Melker added his ninth. O'Neill, who went 4-for-5, was a home run shy of the cycle.

Sunday, May 19th, Springfield 3 at Arkansas 5

On Sunday afternoon, Seth Blair took the hill for the second time this week. Arkansas struck with two runs in the bottom of the second. Blair also allowed a solo homer in the fourth and finished his afternoon after six innings allowing three runs on six hits and striking out six Travelers batters.

Following Blair, Thomas threw a scoreless seventh and then induced a ground ball off the bat of Kaleb Cowart in the eighth. Cowart reached on an infield hit and Blazek took over to face C.J. Cron, who singled to put two on. After an intentional walk Robbie Widlansky, Travelers' Randal Grichuk singled home a pair of runs, lifting the Travelers to the 5-3 lead. Thomas, who was responsible for the go-ahead run, was handed the loss.

Offensively, the Cardinals got things started in the top of the fourth inning. Ramsey led off with a single and swiped second base, before coming home on an RBI double by Scruggs and then Lemmerman bounced an RBI base hit through the middle, scoring Scruggs and tying the score, 2-2. Springfield tied it again in the top of the fifth after Cody Stanley started the inning with a base hit, advancing to second on a ground out. O'Neill, who was 2-for-4, raising his average to .346, good for second in the league, then drove a single to center field, plating Stanley for the Cards final run.

Monday, May 20th, Springfield 2 at Arkansas 1

On Monday, the Cards finished up their eight-game road trip with their series finale against the Travelers. Richard Castillo was charged with giving the Cardinals a shot at the series win with his second start of the week. Castillo delivered exactly what he was charged with in his ninth start. Lasting through 5 2/3 innings, Castillo had just one blemish on a solo home run in the fifth inning. When it was said and done, Castillo had given the Travelers just one run on six hits. After Castillo, Siegrist followed and was just as sharp. Siegrist struck out three in 1 2/3 frames. Hooker followed to get the final two outs in the eighth before handing Butler the opportunity to convert his seventh save in the ninth.

Scoring two runs on six hits on a team 1-for-6 with runners in scoring position, the Cardinals didn't have or need much offense to get past Arkansas. Out of those six hits, two came off the bat of Swauger, who was 2-for-3 on the evening. Swauger was driven in by Scruggs, who had a two-RBI single in the first scoring the only two Cardinal runs, giving him 36 on the season. Catcher Audry Perez had the team's only extra base hit, a double.

Who's Hot

Mike O'Neill - The leadoff man went 12-for-33 this week, raising his team-leading average to .345.

Xavier Scruggs - The slugger had three home runs and 12 RBI this week, contributing to his league-leading statline.

Tim Cooney - The lefty hurler is off to a hot start in Double-A, striking out 14 in 11 innings through his first two starts while allowing just three runs.

Kevin Siegrist - Springfield's steady reliever has found his role and hasn't allowed a run in his last seven appearances.

Who's Not

Nick Greenwood - In his three relief appearances this week, Greenwood allowed three runs in three innings including the walk-off loss on Thursday.

Team Transactions

May 14 - OF Tommy Pham placed on seven-day DL
May 14 - INF Tyler Rahmatulla transferred to Springfield from High-A Palm Beach

North Division Standings

Texas League North W L PCT GB Home Away L10 Streak
Arkansas 24 19 .558 -- 12-9 12-10 8-2 L1
Springfield 23 19 .548 0.5 12-10 11-9 6-4 W1
Tulsa 20 23 .465 4.0 13-10 7-13 4-6 W2
NW Arkansas 14 28 .333 9.5 7-12 7-16 2-8 L2

The Cardinal Nation Top 40 Prospect Watch

#13 James Ramsey - The former Florida State outfielder is hitting .277 through 47 at-bats in Double-A so far and hit his first home run and stole two bases this week.

#17 Starlin Rodriguez - The second baseman has three home runs and 10 RBI so far this season but is struggling to hit for average with just a .239 mark.

#22 Kevin Siegrist - Despite being a reliever, Siegrist is second in the team in strikeouts with 35 in 20 innings of work.

#30 Seth Blair - Blair is improving and has seen his ERA fall to 6.62 after allowing just five runs in his two starts combined this week. More importantly, Blair did not walk a batter in either start.

#32 Mike O'Neill - O'Neill still continues to get on base with a .471 on-base percentage and a .345 batting average.

#38 Audry Perez - The catcher has really not yet has caught on offensively. Despite contributing a few extra base hits here and there, Audry is still batting a dismal .159.

#39 Tim Cooney - The lefty starter has been great in Double-A thus far, striking out 14 in 11 innings with a 2.45 ERA in his first two starts.

#40 Keith Butler - Although the esteemed closer blew his first save this week, he wasn't responsible for the runs that scored, so Butler still has not allowed an earned run to cross at Double-A this season.

What's Next

Springfield returns home to begin an eight-game homestand on Wednesday evening against the Frisco RoughRiders as the Cardinals look to regain the division lead. The homestand will feature the St. Louis Cardinals 2006 World Series Championship Replica Ring Giveaway on Thursday and the Yadier Molina Gold and Platinum Glove Award Giveaway on Saturday.

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