Springfield Cardinals Notebook: 2013 Week 17

Mike O'Neill batted .460 with a .636 on-base percentage and nine RBI this week to lead to the Double-A Springfield Cardinals to a 4-3 record.

With the trade deadline looming, there are players at every level who have to think about being moved as a part or the centerpiece of a midseason deal. That has not affected the play of the Double-A Springfield Cardinals. A rash of young pitching talent has joined the club to lead the Cardinals final month of play.

This new talent has the Cardinals within grasp of reaching the playoffs with a push to make up the two games by which they trail. If the Cards can make the post-season, that pitching could be the key to another Texas League playoff run in September.

Tuesday, July 23rd, Tulsa 2 at Springfield 13

Continuing their home series against the Tulsa Drillers on Tuesday, the Cardinals sent Richard Castillo to the mound, making his 16th start and searching for consistency. Castillo kept the Drillers off the board through his first three innings, but Tulsa chipped the deficit down with single runs in the fourth and fifth. Tulsa's charge would stop there though. Castillo earned his seventh win by giving six strong innings allowing just the two runs on six hits. Following Castillo, Justin Wright threw two scoreless innings before handing it over to newcomer Danny Miranda for a perfect ninth.

At the plate, Ruben Gotay drove in six to help lead the Cardinals to the 13-2 blowout win. Gotay tied Chris Swauger for the most RBI in a single game this season, finishing one shy of the all-time club mark. Mike O'Neill added four singles, three RBI and three runs, while James Ramsey contributed a home run, two doubles, four runs and two RBI.

Wednesday, July 24th, Tulsa 3 at Springfield 0

On Wednesday, the Cardinals closed their set with the Drillers looking for the three-game sweep at home. Lefty Jonathan Cornelius got the nod, making his ninth start for Springfield. Cornelius delivered a solid performance but was the victim of a lack of run support. He earned his fifth loss after 6 2/3 innings, allowing just three runs on eight hits. Jose Almarante recorded the final out of the seventh via strikeout before Miranda took over to toss two innings of scoreless work, striking out three batters.

The Cardinals were unable to back the strong pitching effort as they failed to plate a run. As a team they managed just four hits, all of which were singles. Those four hits came off the bats of O'Neill, Swauger, Colin Walsh and Cody Stanley.

Thursday, July 25th, NW Arkansas 6 at Springfield 0

Most of the time when you hear that six total pitchers combined to strike out 32 batters in the game for most ever in a nine-inning game in Texas League history you would think it was a pitcher's duel. The 6-0 final score doesn't quite show what you would typically think as a pitcher's duel but that's what the game was between the two starters.

Seth Blair got the start for the Cardinals, striking out 11 Naturals in seven innings, allowing two runs on six hits. Following Blair, Kevin Thomas and Deryk Hooker each threw one inning, both allowing two runs on two hits and sealing the 6-0 loss.

The Springfield offense was blanked for the second straight night as Royals top prospect Kyle Zimmer topped Blair's effort by striking our 12 Cardinals batters in six innings. The Cardinals managed just three hits. All three hits were again singles, this time off the bats of Colin Walsh, Tyler Rahmatulla, and Adam Melker.

Friday, July 26th, NW Arkansas 2 at Springfield 7

Zach Petrick made his third start for Springfield on Friday hoping to bounce back from the last two shutout losses. Petrick kept the Naturals bats in check through his six innings, surrendering only the two runs while striking out nine. The Cardinals bullpen then provided scoreless relief. Wright, Heath Wyatt and Lee Stoppelman each dealt a scoreless frame, closing the 7-2 win for Springfield.

Springfield responded from an early deficit in the bottom of the second inning when Xavier Scruggs launched a solo home run over the left field wall. Scruggs and the Cardinals struck again with five tallies in the bottom of the fourth when Scruggs tripped a two RBI single to left field. After a pair of strikeouts, Melker and Casey Rasmus both knocked RBI singles to left, continuing the inning and the rally for the 4-1 lead. After O'Neill worked a walk to load the bases, Ramsey lined a two-run single to right field, capping the five-run frame and stretching the advantage to 6-1. In the bottom of the sixth inning, an RBI triple by O'Neill into the right field corner increased the lead to 7-2.

Saturday, July 27th, NW Arkansas 8 at Springfield 4

Making his 14th start of the season for Springfield, Lefty Tim Cooney took the hill on Saturday night in front of the third-largest crowd of the season at Hammons Field. Although Cooney struck out the side in the top of the first, it was not his strongest outing of the season overall. Cooney was finished after 3 2/3 innings, having surrendered six runs on eight hits. Corey Baker followed Cooney for one inning, allowing two more runs, before Almarante and Miranda combined for 4 1/3 scoreless innings.

The Cardinals started chipping away from the deficit in the bottom of the second. With two down, O'Neill worked a walk before moving to second base on a single from Ramsey. Gotay then went the opposite way with an RBI single to left field. In the fifth, Jake Lemmerman, who went 2-for-3, launched a two-run blast over the left field wall, chipping the Naturals lead back down to four runs, 8-4. However, the Cardinals were unable to gain any more ground as they fell to the Naturals by the same score.

Sunday, July 28th, NW Arkansas 5 at Springfield 6

On Sunday, Anthony Ferrara made his first start since July 11th due to a groin injury. Ferrara's command was lacking tremendously as he walked seven batters in 3 1/3 innings, surrendering three runs on one hit. Wright followed and allowed one of Ferrara's runners to score but held the Naturals scoreless through two innings after that. Wyatt entered in the sixth and allowed two runs on two hits including being tagged for another home run. After Wyatt, Stoppelman earned the win with a scoreless eighth, giving way to Hooker for his eighth save.

Springfield started its charge by notching a pair of runs in the bottom of the third. O'Neill sparked the rally with a bunt single, before racing all the way in on an RBI double from Walsh to right-center field. Walsh moved to third base on a Gotay single, putting runners at the corners. Fresh off the DL, Stephen Piscotty plated Walsh with a sacrifice fly to deep right field, evening the score at 2-2.

The Cards struck again in the bottom of the fourth. Lemmerman led off with a single and quickly swiped second base. Melker then brought the Cards back even with a sharp RBI base hit through the middle and scored on a go-ahead double from Vance Albitz, propelling the Cardinals in front, 4-3.

After losing the lead, the Cardinals delivered the final blow in the bottom of the eighth. With one away, Stanley singled to start the charge. Lemmerman followed with a perfectly placed bunt single, moving Stanley to second base. With the bases full and two down, O'Neill laced a two-run single to shallow left-center, scoring Stanley and Lemmerman for the 6-5 advantage.

Monday, July 29th, Springfield 7 at Tulsa 2

After a solid homestand, Springfield took to the road in Tulsa on Monday night with Jonathan Cornelius on the mound for his second start of the week. Cornelius pitched six strong frames, limiting Tulsa to just the two runs while striking out a season-high six batters. Then Thomas dealt the seventh and eighth in scoreless fashion. Thomas started the bottom of the ninth, but Tulsa loaded the bases on a pair of singles and a walk with only one down, leading to Stoppelman taking over. Stoppelman was welcomed to the mound with an RBI single to left field, but the Cards left-hander responded by inducing a game-ending 4-6-3 double play, closing the 7-3 win for his second save.

Offensively, the Cardinals jumped in front with a run in the top of the first inning. O'Neill led off with a well-placed infield single just inside the third base line and then scored on an RBI sacrifice fly from Gotay to lift the Cardinals into the early 1-0 lead. Springfield stretched the lead quickly in the top of the second inning. Luis Mateo led off with a solo home run, clearing the left field fence for the two-run lead. Stanley then singled and scored via an RBI single to center field by O'Neill for the 3-0 advantage.

The Cards got on the board again in the top of the fifth inning when O'Neill led off with his third single of the game. Scruggs then lined an RBI single to left field, bringing in O'Neill to make it 4-1. The Birds tacked on three more runs on five walks in the top of the seventh inning. The inning started with four straight walks drawn by O'Neill, Walsh, Gotay and Scruggs, with Scruggs's free pass forcing in O'Neill from third. Ramsey then worked a bases-loaded walk of his own, plating Gotay. Mateo capped the frame with an RBI fielder's choice, scoring Scruggs for the 7-2 lead and ultimately the win.

Who's Hot

Mike O'Neill - In his last 10 games, O'Neill is back to his old tricks batting .432 (16-for-37) with eight runs driven in and a .553 on-base mark.

Danny Miranda - It has only been four innings, but the lefty has been as impressive as you can be in that time, not allowing a run and striking out four batters.

Zach Petrick - The man who has earned his way at every step is certainly in his place at Double-A. Through three starts, Petrick has struck out 20 batters in 17 1/3 innings.

Who's Not

Anthony Ferrara - The left-hander issued a season high seven walks in his return from the DL.

Team Transactions

July 22 - 2B Colin Walsh received from High-A Palm Beach
July 23 - LHP Danny Miranda received from High-A Palm Beach
July 27 - OF Stephen Piscotty activated from the DL
July 27 - OF Chris Swauger sent to Triple-A Memphis
July 28 - INF Luis Mateo received from Triple-A Memphis
July 28 - LHP Anthony Ferrara activated from the DL
July 28 - RHP Corey Baker sent to High-A Palm Beach to make room for Ferrara on the roster

North Division Standings – second half

Texas League North W L PCT GB ELIM Home Away L10 Stk
Arkansas 21 17 .553 - - 10-7 11-10 6-4 W1
NW Arkansas 21 17 .553 - - 11-6 10-11 6-4 L2
Springfield 19 19 .500 2.0 31 14-9 5-10 5-5 W2
Tulsa* 16 22 .421 5.0 28 6-13 10-9 3-7 L1
* Won 1st Half Division Title

The Cardinal Nation Top 40 Prospect Watch

#12 Stephen Piscotty - Since returning from the DL, the outfielder is 1-for-11 with one RBI in three games.

#13 James Ramsey - The centerfielder slugged his 13 home run and drove in five runs in a light offensive week for the Cardinals.

#30 Seth Blair - the right-hander delivered a great start from the mound this week striking out 11 batters in seven innings, only allowing two runs.

#32 Mike O'Neill - The outfielder seems to be fully healthy and has found his approach at the plate again.

#39 Tim Cooney - The left-hander did not make it out of the fourth inning in his last start, allowing six runs along the way but still struck out five batters

What's Next

The Cardinals close July with the next two games in Tulsa before heading to Little Rock for a four-game series with the Travelers to open the first week of August. The set with the Travelers will provide an opportunity for the Cards to make up the two games they trail to Arkansas.

Follow me on Twitter: @BrandonJMahler

© 2013 The Cardinal Nation, thecardinalnation.com and stlcardinals.scout.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

The Cardinal Nation Top Stories