Springfield Cardinals Notebook: 2013 Week 18

Since returning to Springfield as a left fielder, Starlin Rodriguez has gone 7-for-16 with a home run and six RBI.

During a week in which Springfield skipper Mike Shildt received the honor of being named the manager of the Salt River Rafters of the 2013 Arizona Fall League, the three-time champ found it difficult to find magic in his current club. As Springfield dropped four in a row to start the week and managed just a 2-4 week, the club now finds themselves four games back with 26 to play. If skipper is to capture his fourth consecutive championship, he will have to spark some magic in the sliding ball club in the final month. Meanwhile, we will have to watch to see if other Springfield Cardinals will be invited to the Arizona Fall League.

Tuesday, July 30th, Springfield 2 at Tulsa 4

Springfield started the week in the midst of a four-game set in Tulsa against the Drillers. Seth Blair got the start but suffered his ninth loss as the Drillers topped the Cardinals at ONEOK Field. The start wasn't Blair's worst despite the loss, as the righty still managed six strikeouts in six innings. However, Blair was responsible for four runs, three of them earned on five hits before he gave way to Danny Miranda in the seventh inning. Miranda added two scoreless innings, allowing three hits and striking out two.

Springfield scored its only two tallies in the top of the third. Adam Melker led off with a base hit and quickly took second base on a sacrifice bunt by Blair. James Ramsey then launched a two-run home run, his 14th of the season over the left field wall, belting the Cardinals in front, 2-1. The Cardinals loaded the bases in the eighth in hopes of mounting a rally but were unable to plate a run as they fell 4-2.

Wednesday, July 31st, Springfield 0 at Tulsa 4

Richard Castillo took the hill for the Cardinals on Wednesday hoping to salvage the series split of the four-game set in Tulsa. Unfortunately, Castillo's record fell to 7-7 after he went six innings and allowed three runs on five total hits, three of them solo home runs. Zack Russell followed Castillo in the seventh and allowed one additional unearned run before giving way to Jose Almarante for a hitless eighth inning.

At the plate, the Cardinals were unable to get on the board due to an outstanding combined pitching performance by the Drillers. In the 4-0 loss, Springfield managed just four hits that included a double from Xavier Scruggs. Colin Walsh, Stephen Piscotty, and Castillo each added singles.

Thursday, August 1st, Springfield 3 at Arkansas 5

After the disappointing series in Tulsa, the Cardinals headed to North Little Rock to face the Travelers at Dickey-Stephens Park on Thursday night. Zach Petrick made his fourth start for Springfield and suffered his worst outing by far. Instead of getting the Cards off to a hot start in Arkansas, Petrick suffered his first loss since putting on the Springfield uniform. It was a short outing for Petrick as he was knocked out of the game in the fourth inning after completing 3 1/3 innings, surrendering five runs on six hits and two batters walked.

Heath Wyatt picked up the innings left by Petrick, entering with one out in the fourth and throwing 3 2/3 perfect innings the keep the Cardinals in the game. Kevin Thomas followed Wyatt with a perfect eighth inning, striking out two.

The Cardinals got out to a quick start, striking for two runs in the top of the first inning. Luis Mateo led off with a walk, and promptly ran his way around to third with two stolen bases. Two outs later, Scruggs placed an RBI single through the right side of the infield, plating Mateo for the game's first run. Piscotty followed with a two-out, RBI double down the right field side, scoring Scruggs from first base for the 2-0 lead. Leading off the sixth, Ruben Gotay added another run as he launched a solo home run over the right field fence, slicing the Arkansas lead to 5-3. The rally would stop there.

Friday, August 2nd, Springfield 7 at Arkansas 11

Friday night brought fireworks in North Little Rock, but not the normal fireworks that follow the game. Game two of the series was a slugfest between the Cards and Travs. Tim Cooney got the start for the Cardinals and was unscathed through his first two innings of work. However, Cooney hit a wall in the third and was chased after allowing eight runs on seven hits through 2 2/3 innings.

Justin Wright entered to close out the third inning but allowed a run in both the fourth and fifth innings. Russell followed Wright and put out the fire in the sixth inning with two perfect innings to get through the seventh. Miranda followed in the eighth and allowed one additional run on a solo home run as the Cardinals fell 11-7.

Second baseman turned left-fielder Starlin Rodriguez helped pace the offensive attack for Springfield with three hits and five RBI. The Cardinals struck first in the top of the second. Rodriguez picked up his first RBI, placing a high-bouncing infield single to the left side. The Cardinals started chipping away again in the top of the fourth inning. Again with one down, Mateo and Melker got on with consecutive singles, before Rodriguez brought both in with a two-run double. Rodriguez then scored on an RBI single to center field from Ramsey, cutting the deficit to 8-4.

Springfield plated three runs in the top of the eighth inning. Vance Albitz started the charge with a double then Mateo lined an RBI double inside the left field line, bringing home Albitz. Rodriguez followed by dunking a two-run single into shallow right field, scoring both runners to bring the Cardinals within only three runs, 10-7. Unfortunately, the Cards couldn't complete the comeback as they dropped their fourth straight.

Saturday, August 3rd, Springfield 4 at Arkansas 0

Unlike the previous games, The Cardinals received an outstanding pitching effort from their staff on Saturday night. Starter Anthony Ferrara dealt seven scoreless frames with a season-high nine strikeouts. He allowed only a one-out single in the second inning, before retiring the final 17 batters he faced in a row.

Thomas and Stoppelman then provided a perfect relief inning apiece. Ferrera, Thomas, and Stoppelman combined to one-hit the Travelers. The trio of Cardinals pitchers retired the last 23 Travelers in a row, facing only one more than the minimum.

The Cardinals cracked the scoreless tie against in the top of the fourth inning when Piscotty grounded an RBI double inside the third base line, plating Scruggs for the 1-0 lead. Springfield stretched the advantage with three runs in the top of the sixth inning. Ramsey and Rodriguez started the frame with consecutive singles, and both took an extra ninety feet on a fielding error on Rodriguez's base hit. Gotay then chopped an RBI fielder's choice where the Travs tried unsuccessfully to throw out Ramsey at the plate, enabling everyone to be safe. Later in the inning, Mateo ripped a bases loaded two-run double to left field, bringing in Rodriguez and Gotay for the 4-0 advantage and snapping the four game skid.

Sunday, August 4th, Springfield 8 at Arkansas 4

In a soggy contest on Sunday evening, the Cardinals hoped to battle out the series split with an win against the Travelers. The game was delayed for two hours and 11 minutes in between the fifth and sixth innings.

Jonathan Cornelius held the Travs scoreless through the first four innings. With the rain coming down in the fifth, Cornelius surrendered a two-run home run before the umpires called for the tarp and sent the game into a rain delay at the end of the inning.

After the delay, Almarante followed Cornelius with 2 1/3 perfect innings. Wyatt followed in the eighth and failed to record an out after allowing a run on a hit and three walks. Arkansas plated another late run in the ninth, but that was all Lee Stoppelman allowed through 1 2/3 total frames, closing the 8-4 win for the Cardinals. The save was Stoppelman's third for Springfield.

The Cardinals offense swung them in front in the top of the fifth. Rodriguez sparked the offense with a solo home run to right-center field, cracking the scoreless tie to start the inning. Gotay later followed with a based loaded RBI free pass, forcing in Lemmerman from third base. Piscotty then belted a three-run double to left-center field, clearing the bases and opening a 5-0 lead.

The Cardinals stretched the lead in the top of the seventh inning. With one away, Cody Stanley promptly lined a bases loaded two-run single to right field, taking the Cardinals lead to 7-2. The Cards tacked on another run in the top of the ninth inning when Gotay launched a solo home run over the right field fence, sealing the win for Springfield.

Who's Hot

Anthony Ferrara - Recovering from his previous three starts, Ferrara was outstanding Saturday in Little Rock, giving the Cardinals seven shutout innings of one-hit baseball while retiring the final 17 batters he faced.

Starlin Rodriguez - Since returning to Springfield as a left fielder, Rodriguez has gone 7-for-16 with a home run and six RBI.

Casey Rasmus - The catcher is hitting .364 so far since reaching Double-A.

Who's Not

Zach Petrick – The 2013 success story surrendered five runs in just 3 1/3 innings in his Thursday night start against Arkansas

Tim Cooney - His 15th start for Springfield was his shortest. After his most recent start this week, Cooney has now allowed 14 runs, 10 earned, in 6 1/3 total innings over his last two starts.

Team Transactions

July 30 - RHP Deryk Hooker transferred to Triple-A Memphis from Springfield
July 31 - RHP Zack Russell transferred to Springfield from Low-A Peoria
July 31 - OF Mike O'Neill transferred to Triple-A Memphis from Springfield
July 31 - OF Starlin Rodriguez transferred to Springfield from High-A Palm Beach

North Division Standings – second half

Texas League North W L PCT GB ELIM Home Away L10 Stk
Arkansas 25 19 .568 - - 14-9 11-10 6-4 L2
NW Arkansas 22 22 .500 3.0 24 12-9 10-13 2-8 L3
Springfield 21 23 .477 4.0 23 14-9 7-14 5-5 W2
Tulsa* 21 23 .477 4.0 23 8-13 13-10 7-3 W3
* Won 1st Half Division Title

The Cardinal Nation Top 40 Prospect Watch

#12 Stephen Piscotty - Eight out of 23 of Piscotty's Double-A hits have been for extra bases and he has driven in 11 in 23 games. Timely hitting his becoming a consistency for the right fielder

#13 James Ramsey - Ramsey slammed his 14th home run of the season to begin the week and subsequently went 7-for-22 from the dish.

#30 Seth Blair - Blair's record fell to 3-9 on the season but has now recorded 102 strikeouts in 108 2/3 innings on the season.

#36 Colin Walsh - The newcomer second baseman is hitting .286 with three doubles since joining Springfield.

#39 Tim Cooney - Cooney's last two starts leave cause for concern. The reason for the drop in production and inability to go deep into his starts will be interesting to watch moving forward.

What's Next

With less than a month to play, Springfield returns to Hammons Field on Tuesday to host the Frisco RoughRiders in a three-game series before welcoming the Midland Rockhounds on Friday for a three-game series ending Sunday. After a day off next Monday, the Cardinals will head on a six game road trip traveling to the same two teams.

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