Springfield Cardinals Notebook: 2014 Week 2

The Double-A Springfield Cardinals followed a rough homestand with an impressive 4-2 road trip through Texas.

Coming off a 1-5 home stand, the Springfield Cardinals fared much better on the road in a rematch against the same opponents they had faced at home. This time, they took two-out-of-three at both San Antonio and Corpus Christi in consecutive series.

Officially two weeks into the season on Thursday following an off-day on Wednesday, the Cardinals have an overall record of 5-7 and currently stand tied for second in their division with the Tulsa Drillers.

Thursday, April 10th, Springfield 8 at San Antonio 5 (14 innings)

In Springfield's first road game of the season, they survived a sloppy 14-inning fest. That included 16 combined pitchers, 22 hits in total, and six errors committed by the Cardinals. Yet they came out victorious in the end.

Zach Petrick was the starting pitcher in this long game and like everyone else, did not learn the final outcome until the 14th inning. The non-draftee did his job, leaving the game with 5 2/3 innings pitched, allowing three unearned runs on two hits with three walks and three strikeouts in a no-decision.

Justin Wright replaced Petrick, retiring all four batters faced. With the score tied in the 7th, Joe Donofrio gave up two hits on one earned run in one inning of work. Relievers Dean Kiekhefer, Anthony Ferrara, Ronnie Shaban, and Logan Billbrough united to give up five hits on one earned total as the game went into extras. Billbrough picked up the win with a clean 13th and 14th.

Coming off some close losses at home, the Springfield offense looked to finally get big hits in the situations that counted and they did in this game that saw four lead changes and three ties that finally ended with Springfield's first road win of the season.

The top of the Springfield lineup was the spark as Mike O'Neill singled twice with a walk and scored three runs. The outfielder continues to be that bug pitchers swat at but seem to never get out. James Ramsey was only a double short of the cycle with four knocked in. Carrying over his hot stick to the road trip. Cuban defector Aledyms Diaz finished with four hits in seven at bats, with a single, two doubles, a home run, and three RBI. He also committed two of Springfield's six errors - both fielding - that would have been critical had the Missions jumped on the opportunity with runners in scoring position. Rust could still be involved defensively for Diaz but offensively you have be impressed so far with his performance.

Friday, April 11th, Springfield 8 at San Antonio 4

Seth Blair was given a rematch against the same team and same starting pitcher as in his last outing, in which he was the typical inconsistent Blair of old. This time, however, the former first rounder finished six innings allowing four runs (three of them were earned) on seven hits. Blair did have ongoing control issues with 51 of his 86 pitches being strikes as he walked three and only struck out one but earned his first win of the season.

Ryan Sherriff pitched the next 2 1/3 innings scoreless, seeing positive results in his move to the bullpen. Dean Kiekhefer recorded the final two outs for the save, the lefty's first of the young season.

James Ramsey continues to make his bid for a promotion back to Memphis as the FSU graduate had two hits, a single and home run for two RBI and scored three times, raising his average to .484. Mike O'Neill scored three times as well, twice from Curt Smith's RBI single and sac fly. The other run came from Rafael Ortega's sac fly. Blair helped his own cause offensively with an RBI double.

Saturday, April 12th, Springfield 2 at San Antonio 3

The Cardinals were unable to bring out the brooms in game three as the Missions' three-run fourth enabled them to take the one-run lead that they held for the remainder of the game.

Sam Gaviglio was in cruise mode until he hit the fourth, when he gave up all the damage. The first three Missions reached in that frame and came around to score. But the sinkerballer did last five innings to give himself a chance at a decision - but the Cardinals just couldn't get any offense going.

Rafael Ortega's two-hit game, James Ramsey's RBI groundout, and Patrick Wisdom's RBI double, his first of the season, was about all the offense the Cards could muster. After taking two of three in the opening road series, the Cardinals headed to Corpus Christi.

Sunday, April 13th, Springfield 1 at Corpus Christi 9

The Springbirds were trampled by the Hooks in the first game of the series with Jonathan Cornelius on the mound starting. Cornelius surrendered eleven hits on eight runs (five earned) but was also plagued by defensive miscues committed by Curt Smith (throwing error) and Travis Tartamella (throwing error). The lefty finished with one walk and two strikeouts in 4 2/3 innings, and falling to 0-2 with a 9.31 ERA in his first two starts of the Double-A Texas League regular season.

Springfield was held scoreless in the run column until the ninth when they managed to put one tally on the board from a James Ramsey solo shot. It was Ramsey's fourth home run in a ten-game span. Offensively they did not execute, leaving six stranded and failing all four times with runners in scoring position.

Monday, April 14th, Springfield 2 at Corpus Christi 1

Springfield looked to even the final series of the opening road-trip against Corpus Christi on Monday night. They did so as the result of a great outing by Kurt Heyer. The deceptive righty pitched seven innings, giving up seven hits on one earned run with only one walk and three strikeouts.

Joe Donofrio put away the two batters he faced with a flyout and strikeout. Dean Kiekhefer then came in and retired the final four hitters of the night for his second save of the season.

Not much was needed offensively. The two runs came from a Mike O'Neill sac fly and Jonathan Rodriguez RBI groundout. Patrick Wisdom was the lone Cardinals hitter to have a multi-hit game with two singles raising his average to .297.

Tuesday, April 15th, Springfield 2 at Corpus Christi 1

After taking the opening loss in game one, Springfield immediately turned the page and took the next two with consecutive 2-1 victories over the Hooks. Highly-touted prospect Zach Petrick took the hill in the rubber game with the hope to go home with the first winning road series of the regular season. Petrick did just that with an outstanding effort of eight well-pitched innings. The sturdily-built starter gave up five hits on one earned run to go with one base-on-balls and four strikeouts. 73 of his 100 pitches were thrown for strikes. In this outing, Petrick showed some serious control of all his pitches.

He not only helped the Birds take the road series, he also showed the parent-club an ability to pitch deep into games and to his own manager that he is reliable, saving the bullpen for an evening as Ronnie Shaban was the only reliever used all night. Shaban's outing consisted of retiring all three batters in order in the ninth to nail down the save.

The Hooks weren't too bad from the pitching side either but they just couldn't get anything started against the dealing Petrick. To get things started, Rafael Ortega reached on a wild pitch strikeout to lead the game off, James Ramsey then bunt-singled Ortega over to second, Aledyms Diaz put down a sac bunt moving both runners in scoring position, and Curt Smith knocked one of the two runs with an RBI groundout. The other RBI was plated by Diaz, who had a two-hit game and already has broken in to the double-digit RBI club.

Who is Hot

James Ramsey – Appearing here for the second time in a row. The Cardinals former first-rounder did not cool off in his second week of his second swing through Double-A. In another system, Ramsey would be adjusting to Triple-A pitching but for right now he is clubbing Texas League pitching with a .404 average.

Aledyms Diaz – Offensively you have to be encouraged with that .359 average and 10 RBIs already collected since the shortstop playing regularly barely one week ago.

Zach Petrick – The right-hander has made three solid starts and owns a 0.52 ERA with four walks and 15 strikeouts.

Kurt Heyer – Up from Palm Beach, the righty was roughed up in his first outing but since then has pitched up to his potential, going seven innings in his last two starts.

Who is Not

David Popkins – The outfielder hit above .300 last year for Palm Beach but hasn't transitioned well in the first two weeks of April with a .143 average in 21 at bats.

Jonathan Cornelius – The lefty allowed five earned in five innings in his first start, then gave up eight runs in his second, but only five of them were earned due to defensive miscues.

Team Transactions

April 15th – INF Luis Mateo transferred to Double-A Springfield from Triple-A Memphis.

Texas League North Division Standings

Club   W-L PCT GB Home Away L10 Stk
Arkansas Travelers LAA 6-6 0.500 - 2-4 4-2 5-5 L4
Springfield Cardinals STL 5-7 0.417 1 1-5 4-2 4-6 W2
Tulsa Drillers COL 5-7 0.417 1 2-4 3-3 4-6 W1
NW Arkansas Naturals KC 2-9 0.182 3.5 0-5 2-4 1-9 L8

The Cardinal Nation Top 40 Prospect Watch (ranking precedes the player name)

#8 James Ramsey – Leading Springfield hitter at a .404 average with four home runs and 11 RBI's in only 12 games. Strikeouts need to be cut down as that will only get worse as he moves up.

#15 Patrick Wisdom – Still adjusting to this level of pitching but the third baseman did drive in his first run of the season this week. Batting .275.

#16 Zach Petrick – Has had two outstanding starts this season and one that was okay. Have to like what you've seen so far from him.

#24 Mike O'Neill – The antagonist is still getting on base, walking about every game, but his hitting has slowed a bit lately. Batting .301 in 11 games.

#26 Sam Gaviglio – Pitched better his second start getting through five this time. Needs to throw more strikes in order to have better results. Has seven walks in his nine innings.

#37 Seth Blair – Pitched a decent six inning start against San Antonio but the walks didn't go away.

#TBD Aledyms Diaz – Second leading hitter on the team at .359. Launched his first home run this week and reportedly has shown good plate discipline despite no bases-on-balls.

What is Next

Following a successful 4-2 road trip, the Cardinals return home for four this weekend against the Arkansas Travelers. They then will pack their bags back up and travel a state down to NW Arkansas for a four-game road series starting on Monday.

Follow Derek Shore on Twitter @thebighurt_23.

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