Springfield Cardinals Notebook: 2013 Week 19

After giving 5-1 Springfield eight strong innings and striking out 10 in his Thursday night start, lefty Tim Cooney has taken home Texas League Pitcher of the Week honors.

Has Springfield Cardinals manager Mike Shildt done it again? After putting together a season-high seven game winning streak which included a 5-1 record on the week, the Cardinals all of the sudden find themselves in a late season three-way tie for the division lead. Somehow the skipper has found that lightning in the bottle to motivate his players toward another playoff run. Either way, the close chase for the Texas League playoffs should provide a great opportunity for fans to catch some exciting baseball to close out the season during the last few weeks of August.

Tuesday, August 6th, Frisco 3 at Springfield 4

Kicking off the homestand after two straight wins on the road, the Cardinals got an outstanding start from Seth Blair. The right-hander kept the RoughRiders off the board through his first six innings, including a stretch of 10 straight batters retired from the end of the third through the sixth. After allowing two runs in the seventh, Blair gave way to Kevin Thomas after going six-plus innings, allowing two runs and striking out seven.

Thomas allowed Blair's runners to score but then settled in to hold the lead before he gave way to Danny Miranda in the eighth. Miranda threw the entire eighth, allowing the tying run, before Heath Wyatt recorded the first two outs of the ninth. Lee Stoppelman entered to get the final out, earning the win in the process.

The Cardinals seized the lead early with three runs in the bottom of the first inning. James Ramsey led off by working a walk and Colin Walsh followed with a single to right field. An error enabled Ramsey - with outstanding baserunning - to score. Later in the inning, Cody Stanley struck a two-run double to right-center field, plating both Walsh and Stephen Piscotty for a 3-0 lead. The Cards didn't score again until Starlin Rodriguez worked a bases-loaded walk in the bottom of the ninth inning, lifting the Cardinals to the 4-3 walk-off win over the RoughRiders.

Wednesday, August 7th, Frisco 2 at Springfield 3

Richard Castillo was given the task of continuing the hot pitching for the Cardinals on Wednesday. Castillo didn't disappoint. After giving up a run in the first inning, he settled in to go seven innings, allowing two runs on three hits.

Following Castillo's outstanding start, Justin Wright took over for a scoreless eighth. After Wright began the top of the ninth with a hit batter, he gave way to Jose Almarante, who recorded the final three outs for his first save.

On the first pitch of the bottom of the fifth, Xavier Scruggs ripped a low fly ball over the left field fence. His solo shot tied the game at 1-1. The Cardinals knotted the score again in the bottom of the sixth inning as Ramsey walked and later scored on a balk. Ruben Gotay lifted the Cardinals in front in the bottom of the eighth inning. Ramsey started with another walk before Gotay launched the first pitch to right-center for an RBI double that plated Ramsey from first base and gave the Cardinals the 3-2 advantage.

Thursday, August 8th, Frisco 1 at Springfield 2 (13 innings)

Looking for the sweep of the RoughRiders, the Cardinals sent Tim Cooney to the mound on Thursday night. After striking out the side and allowing a run in the top of the first, Cooney kept the Cardinals within one run, retiring 20 of the next 23 batters, including a stretch of 10 straight outs, limiting the 'Riders bats through his first seven innings. Cooney finished after throwing one more inning for a total of eight, striking out 10 batters and allowing just the one run on five hits.

Lee Stoppelman threw the next two innings, striking out the side both times. Miranda took over in the 11th and tossed 1 1/3 scoreless before Jose Almarante recorded the final five outs for the win.

The Cardinals' first run, unearned, came against former Springfield and St. Louis Cardinal Kyle McClellan in the bottom of the seventh. Gotay led off the inning with a walk then scored on a misplayed a ground ball off the bat of Cody Stanley. McClellan was given a blown save.

The Cardinals finally broke through in the bottom of the 13th. With two down, Colin Walsh singled to left field. Gotay followed with a base hit to right field, which led to two Frisco errors as Walsh scored the walk-off run.

Friday, August 9th, Midland 1 at Springfield 2

Hoping for a season-high sixth straight victory, Zach Petrick got the Friday night start for the Cardinals against the Midland Rockhounds. Petrick lasted five strong innings, allowing one run on four hits and striking out seven Midland batters.

Following Petrick, Zack Russell took over for three outstanding relief innings, striking out five through the eighth. Wright and Wyatt navigated the Cards through a scoreless top of the ninth with Wyatt earning his third win.

Springfield evened the score in the bottom of the sixth when Luis Mateo led off the frame with a bunt single. Stephen Piscotty then placed an RBI single through the middle of the infield to bring in Mateo from second and bring the Cardinals even. Springfield ended it in the bottom of the ninth inning. Piscotty led off with his third single of the game, giving way to pinch runner Adam Melker. Melker scored when Casey Rasmus put down a perfectly-placed squeeze bunt to the third base side, for the 2-1 walk off victory.

For the third time in the last four games, the Cardinals claimed the walk-off win, extending their season-high winning streak to six games. With the victory, the Cardinals moved into a three-way tie for first place with Arkansas and Tulsa.

Saturday, August 10th, Midland 2 at Springfield 4

On Sunday, the Cards went for their seventh straight win with Anthony Ferrara on the mound against the Rockhounds. Continuing the Cardinals' string of hot pitching, the left-hander delivered. In his 6 1/3 innings pitched, Ferrara surrendered one run on four hits before handing over to Wyatt to get the second out of the seventh. Miranda followed to get the final out of the seventh and the first out of the eighth. Almarante then recorded his second save with the final five outs.

The Cardinals got the bats going in the bottom of the fourth when Piscotty had the Cards first hit, a solo home run over the left-center field wall. Cody Stanley followed with an infield single, before scoring on an RBI groundout by Mateo, lifting the Cardinals into the 2-1 lead. Springfield stretched the advantage with two more tallies in the bottom of the seventh inning. With one down, Rasmus worked a walk and quickly motored to third base on a single by Melker. After a walk by Walsh loaded the bases, Rasmus scored on a wild pitch. One out later, Xavier Scruggs grounded a ball inside the third base line that was dropped, allowing Melker to dart home for the 4-1 advantage.

Sunday, August 11th, Midland 11 at Springfield 5

Hoping for a perfect week and an eighth straight victory, the Cards sent Jonathan Cornelius who was trying to earn his fifth win. Things did not get off to a great start for Cornelius as the Rockhounds broke through for six runs in the second. Cornelius‘ day was finished after just 1 2/3 innings pitched, allowing six runs on four hits.

Miranda took over in the second and tossed 2 2/3 scoreless innings. Wright followed with an inning and a third, allowing five more runs on five more hits. Stoppelman threw 2 1/3 scoreless frames before infielder Vance Albitz took over for a perfect ninth inning.

The Cardinals took a short-lived lead in the bottom of the first inning. With one down, Piscotty came through with a two-out RBI single through the middle of the infield, scoring Walsh for the 1-0 lead. The Cardinals started chipping away again in the bottom of the second inning. Mateo opened the frame with a double and then Albitz skied an RBI sacrifice fly to center field, plating Mateo. After Shane Robinson single, Scruggs followed with a bases loaded RBI walk, forcing home Melker to bring the Cardinals within three runs, 6-3.

The Cardinals bats continued the comeback in the bottom of the third frame. With two away, Melker kept the inning alive with a double off the top of the left field wall and later scored on a series of wild pitches. Albitz then hammered a solo home run over the left field wall, edging the Cardinals within one run of tying the game, 6-5. Unfortunately, the comeback assault stopped there. The loss snapped the Cardinals' seven-game winning streak.

Who's Hot

Tim Cooney - The lefties' big start, allowing just one run in eight innings, was enough to earn him Texas League Pitcher of the Week honors.

Zack Russell - In his six innings of work over three appearances since joining Springfield, Russell has yet to allow a run and has struck out eight.

Luis Mateo - The second baseman has made an outstanding transition to shortstop, receiving the bulk of playing time over Jake Lemmerman since the arrival of Colin Walsh at second.

Who's Not

Jonathan Cornelius - Allowed six runs (though only one was earned) while failing to make it out of the second inning in his Sunday evening start.

Team Transactions

August 9th - OF Shane Robinson received on rehab assignment from St. Louis Cardinals
August 10th - RHP Kevin Thomas sent to Triple-A Memphis
August 12th - RHP Kevin Thomas returned from Triple-A Memphis

North Division Standings – second half

Texas League North W L PCT GB ELIM Home Away L10 Stk
Arkansas 26 24 .520 - - 14-9 12-15 3-7 W2
Springfield 26 24 .520 - - 19-10 7-14 7-3 L1
Tulsa* 26 24 .420 - - 13-14 13-10 8-2 W1
NW Arkansas 24 26 .480 2.0 19 12-9 12-17 3-7 W1
* Won 1st Half Division Title

The Cardinal Nation Top 40 Prospect Watch

#12 Stephen Piscotty - Since his return from the DL, Piscotty has steadily seen a rise in production. The right-fielder's average has risen to .267 while he added a home run and three RBI this week.

#13 James Ramsey - Now leading off since the departure of O'Neill, Ramsey boasts 25 extra base hits with Springfield but his OBP of .355 is a bit low for a typical leadoff hitter.

#30 Seth Blair - Although he had to take a no decision, Blair had an outstanding start on Tuesday night, striking out seven and allowing two hits in six innings. The two runs charged to him were on base, scoring after he left the game.

#36 Colin Walsh - The move for Mateo to shortstop is showing some trust in Walsh to be able to handle second base in the Texas League. So far, it is paying off.

#39 Tim Cooney - Earned Texas League Pitcher of the Week honors by going eight innings, allowing a run and striking out 10.

What's Next

With a three-way tie at the top of the division standings, the Cardinals head deep into Texas hoping to make up some more ground in the next six days. Springfield faces Frisco in a three-game set beginning Tuesday before heading to Midland on Friday.

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