Springfield Cardinals Notebook: 2013 Week 9

After dropping the first two games of the week, the Cardinals won four in a row to complete the period at 4-2. Local Missourian Lee Stoppleman has been nearly perfect, allowing only one hit in four appearances since joining Double-A.

The St. Louis Cardinals have made good use of their Double-A club this season, bringing up a player directly from Springfield for the third consecutive time this season. This time it was Keith Butler who followed Carlos Martinez and Michael Blazek to get the call to St. Louis. Butler debuted with St. Louis and gave them two scoreless appearances after beginning the week with the Double-A birds amidst a rough start to the period.

After dropping the first two games of the week, the Cardinals were able to win four in a row to complete the week at 4-2.

Tuesday, May 28th, Springfield 5 at Frisco 6

The Cardinals started the week by sending fast-riser Tim Cooney to the mound before 3,213 fans at Dr. Pepper Ballpark on Tuesday night. Cooney was not his usual self as Frisco opened with a three-run lead in the bottom of the first. The RoughRiders jumped out again in the bottom of the sixth starting against Cooney when Hanser Alberto lined a three-run homer over the left field wall, moving Frisco in front, 6-5. Cooney ended his evening after 5 1/3 innings allowing six runs on six hits and striking out five. Kevin Thomas followed Cooney in the sixth inning, going 2 2/3 innings striking out five and allowing just one hit.

Adam Melker helped pace the offense going 2-for-3 with two home runs and three RBI. The Cardinals started chipping away in the top of the third. With one down, James Ramsey walked and stole second. One out later, Ruben Gotay, who was 3-for-4, lined an RBI single to right field, scoring Ramsey to get the Cards on the board, down 3-1. Springfield continued the comeback in the top of the fourth. Melker led off the frame by belting a solo home run over the left field wall and struck again in the top of the sixth inning hammering a two-run home run just inside the right field foul pole. Luis Mateo added the Cards final run by lining an RBI single one out later for the 5-3 advantage.

Down to their final out in the top of the ninth, the Cardinals refused to go down quietly. Consecutive walks by Ramsey, Tommy Pham and Gotay loaded the bases, but Frisco's Ben Rowen entered the game and delivered a game-ending strikeout, handing Springfield the 6-5 loss..

Wednesday, May 29th, Springfield at Frisco (postponed due to rain)

Thursday, May 30th (Game 1), Springfield 0 at Frisco 1 (7 innings)

It was a in a pitcher's duel in the first seven-inning game of the day on Thursday after the rain on Wednesday. Seth Blair was very good through his 5 2/3 inning start, scattering seven hits and walking only two while dealing four strikeouts. In easily his best start of the season so far, the only run of the game came on a solo home run by Frisco's Brett Nicholas in the bottom of the fourth frame but it was enough to saddle him with the loss. Reliever Lee Stoppleman entered to get the final out of the sixth inning.

Unfortuately, the RoughRiders pitchers were even better with the only Cardinals' hit coming from the bat of Audry Perez. The Cardinals did walk the bases loaded with two down in the seventh, but Frisco escaped the jam as Pham was robbed of a line drive base hit with a leaping catch at second base, closing the 1-0 win for the RoughRiders.

Thursday, May 30th (Game 2), Springfield 6 at Frisco 0 (7 innings)

In the second half of the twin bill, Cardinals lefty Nick Greenwood dealt the first five scoreless frames, scattering just four hits with two walks, while inducing 10 groundouts in his effort to avoid a sweep at the hands of Frisco. Accounting for the sixth and seventh innings, Deryk Hooker and Keith Butler, in his final outing before his callup to St. Louis, tossed a scoreless inning apiece, wrapping up the 6-0 shutout win for the Cardinals.

Springfield jumped in front right away, striking for three runs in the top of the first. With two down, Pham extended the inning with a base hit up the middle. Gotay followed with an RBI double to right field, bringing in Pham for the game's first run. Gotay then swiped third and then Xavier Scruggs worked a walk, putting runners at the corners. After Scruggs stole second base, Jake Lemmerman brought both runners in with a two-run double, increasing the Cardinals lead to 3-0. Springfield added two more on a towering two-run home run by Scruggs in the third. Mateo followed in the fourth inning with a solo home run of his own, giving the Cardinals a six-run lead.

Friday, May 31st, Springfield 15 at Midland 5

The Cardinals traveled to face the Midland Rockhounds in front of 5,304 fans at Citibank Ballpark on Friday night. Lefty Ryan Sherriff made his second Double-A start for the Cards and was touched in the bottom of the first frame as the Hounds drove an RBI double to deep right field for the 1-0 lead. However, that was all Sherriff would allow throughout the remainder of his five-inning start, as he claimed his first Texas League win by allowing just the one run on six hits. Justin Wright and Heath Wyatt threw an inning apiece with each allowing two runs before Stoppleman took over to throw a hitless eighth and ninth innings and preserve the Cardinals' 15-5 win.

The Cardinals got on the board in the top of the second. Springfield loaded the bases with no outs on a walk by Gotay and consecutive singles from Scruggs and Melker. Starlin Rodriguez got the Cards on the board with an RBI free pass, forcing in Gotay from third. Scruggs then darted in on a double play ball hit by Mateo, lifting Springfield in front, 2-1.

The Cardinals blew the game open with five runs in the top of the third. With runners at second and third and two outs, Gotay lifted an RBI sacrifice fly to right field, plating Mike O'Neill. Back-to-back walks by Scruggs and Melker loaded the bases for Rodriguez again, who this time drove a grand slam over the left field fence, belting the Cardinals in front, 7-1 and giving him five RBI on the night.

Springfield stretched the lead further with single runs in the fifth and sixth innings. With Scruggs at second base and two down in the fifth, Melker, who was 3-for-4, drove an RBI double to deep right-center for the eighth run. Lemmerman, who was 2-for-5, brought in Perez with an RBI single in the sixth, making it 9-1. Springfield increased the lead again in the top of the eighth, before sealing the deal in the top of the ninth. An RBI fielder's choice hit into by O'Neill in the eighth scratched across the Cardinals 10th run.

Springfield exploded for five more in the ninth. Pham started with a walk before trotting home on a two-run homer by Gotay. One out later, Melker drove a solo shot over the left field wall to stretch it to 13-5. Later in the inning, Mateo singled and Perez, who was 3-for-5, doubled. O'Neill brought both home with a two-run single, capping the Cardinals' dominant victory.

Saturday, June 1st, Springfield 3 at Midland 2

Looking to stay hot against the Midland RockHounds before 6,096 fans at Citibank Ballpark on Saturday night, Cardinals starter Anthony Ferrara threw scoreless frames through the first five innings. Ferrera was impressive in delivering his strongest start of the season by fanning eight batters and allowing just three hits. Unfortunately, Ferrera faced a no decision as newcomer Jonathan Cornelius allowed Midland's only runs in the bottom of the seventh. Thomas followed Cornelius and picked up the win by getting two outs in the eighth. Hooker followed with a perfect ninth, striking out the side.

Springfield cracked the scoreless tie in the top of the fifth inning. Back-to-back base hits by Lemmerman and Melker put runners at first and second with one out. Mateo then grounded a ball back to the mound, but Hernandez fired an errant throw past second base and into center field, enabling everyone to be safe and Lemmerman to score from second for the 1-0 lead. Down by one with two outs in the top of the ninth, the Cardinals struck for two runs, claiming the come-from-behind 3-2 win. Lemmerman, who went 2-for-4 at the dish, got it started as he drove a one-out base hit. Rodriguez took over at first base as a pinch runner and promptly raced to second on an errant pick off throw by Hounds pitcher Newby. Melker then advanced Rodriguez to third with a ground out to second base, before Mateo dialed up a game-tying RBI single to left-center field. With Mateo at first and Perez at the plate, the Cardinals executed a hit-and-run perfectly as Mateo broke on the pitch and Perez grounded a base hit through the right side of the infield, enabling Mateo to race around and score from first base for the 3-2 Cardinals advantage.

Sunday, June 2nd, Springfield 2 at Midland 0

The Cardinals looked to complete the series sweep with a victory against the RockHounds at Midland on Sunday afternoon by sending Tim Cooney to rebound himself from his start at Frisco on Tuesday. This time, Cooney kept the Cardinals in front through his six scoreless innings, striking out six RockHounds and scattering only five hits. Stoppelman then dealt a scoreless seventh. After Wright started the bottom of the eighth and retired two, Hooker tossed the final 1 1/3 scoreless frames for his third save, closing the 2-0 win. It was the sixth shutout victory for Cardinals pitching this year.

The Cardinals got off to a great start, loading the bases with no outs to begin the top of the first inning. Singles from O'Neill and Pham around a walk by Ramsey put a Cardinal at every post for Gotay, who drove an RBI sacrifice fly to right field, plating O'Neill. The Cardinals doubled the lead in the top of the eighth. O'Neill again sparked the rally with a leadoff walk. After Ramsey laid down a sacrifice bunt to move O'Neill to second base, Pham brought him in with an RBI single to left-center field, stretching the lead to 2-0.

Who's Hot

Adam Melker - The lefty centerfielder went 6-for-17 (.353) with three home runs and five RBI on this week.

Deryk Hooker - Struck out seven in 3 1/3 innings pitched this week and earning two saves in the absence of Butler and Blazek.

Lee Stoppleman - The Missouri native has not allowed a run and has only allowed one hit in four appearances since coming to Double-A.

Ruben Gotay - Timing is everything and the former big-leaguer had some timely hitting this week with four RBI.

Who's Not

Xavier Scruggs - Although the first baseman homered this week, overall he went 3-for-18 (.167) with seven strikeouts.

Luis Mateo - The righty middle-infielder is batting just .207 on the season.

Team Transactions

June 1st - RHP Scott Gorgen released from roster by St. Louis
June 1st - LHP Jonathan Cornelius received from High-A Palm Beach to replace Gorgen
June 1st - RHP Keith Butler recalled by St. Louis from Springfield
June 1st - RHP Jose Almarante received from High-A Palm Beach to fill Butler's spot.

North Division Standings

Club W L PCT GB Home Away L 10 Streak
Springfield Cardinals (STL) 28 26 0.519 - 13-15 15-11 4-6 W4
Arkansas Travelers (LAA) 27 27 0.500 1.0 14-12 13-15 3-7 L2
Tulsa Drillers (COL) 25 30 0.455 3.5 15-14 10-16 3-7 W2
NW Arkansas Naturals (KC) 16 38 0.296 12.0 8-17 8-21 2-8 W1

The Cardinal Nation Top 40 Prospect Watch

#13 James Ramsey - Though not hitting at quite as high an average as he would like at .247, the outfielder sits third on the team in on-base percentage with a .396 mark.

#17 Starlin Rodriguez - Had five RBI in one game this week, four coming via a grand slam. The home run was also his only extra base hit.

#30 Seth Blair - Blair seems to be improving, especially in his last outing, allowing only one run on seven hits in 5 2/3. His ERA still sits at a hearty 6.26 but is improving with each start.

#32 Mike O'Neill - O'Neill is still hanging near the top in on-base percentage and batting average, currently sitting at second in the Texas League in both categories at .330 and .447, respectively.

#38 Audry Perez - Although his bat is still struggling, Perez remains a strong defensive catcher with just two errors on the season.

#39 Tim Cooney - After his first start at the Double-A level was rough, the lefty bounced back with brilliance on Sunday, holding the RockHounds scoreless through six innings.

What's Next

The Cards will kick off a four-game home series at Hammons Field vs. the Arkansas Travelers on Tuesday, June 4, with St. Louis Cardinals starter Jake Westbrook scheduled to make a rehab start. First pitch is 7:09 p.m. After wrapping up their four games at home with Arkansas, the Cards will head to Tulsa on Saturday for the start of what will be a rare 10-game road trip featuring two double-headers at Northwest Arkansas.

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