This week's report covers game dates from May 8th through May 13th
The Springfield Cardinals scuffled through week six of the minor league regular season with a single victory. They have dropped their last five games, falling three games behind the Tulsa Drillers, who have took both games of the double-header matchup on Tuesday night. This Cardinals team just needs some overall consistency and health to get back to rolling over the opposition.
The Cardinals are 17-21 and currently rank third in the division, three games behind Tulsa and the Arkansas Travelers.
Thursday, May 8th, Springfield 11 at Northwest Arkansas 2
To kick off the four-game week-end set that began last Thursday, Springfield was led by a Seth Blair six-inning quality performance that included six punchouts and only one walk as he earned his third win of the season. Two earned runs on six hits were given up and of his 96 pitches, only 57 of them were strikes. But this is still the best we've seen Blair's control all season long.
With the exception of James Ramsey, who was hitless in his five at bats, everyone in the lineup on Thursday night at least had one hit, pounding out thirteen hits collectively. Cody Stanley and Jacob Wilson were the top producers in the attack with three hits in four at bats. Stanley walked, came around to score three times and swiped his fifth base. Wilson doubled once with a walk, scored one and drove in two. Patrick Wisdom delivered the big blow with a three-run homer, his third of the season, and reached on a fielding error that scored Curt Smith and Cody Stanley.
Friday, May 9th, Springfield 1 at Northwest Arkansas 9
The NWA Naturals, winners of one-third of their games coming into this action, throttled the Cardinals (17-17) on both sides of the ball with sixteen hits, nine runs, and allowed Springfield just one run on five hits.
Coming off one of his better-pitched games of the season, Sam Gaviglio reversed his progress in allowing four runs (two earned) on eight hits, walked three and struck out five in 4 2/3 innings. Logan Billbrough made matters worse with five earned runs in a single inning of work. Anthony Ferrara and Jason Motte combined for a scoreless inning, with Ferrara retiring one batter, and Motte retiring the next two. Looking to return to his 2013 form, Lee Stoppelman pitched an inning and one/third scoreless, giving up a hit, walking one and striking out two.
There was not much to talk about on the offensive side but the Cardinals did get a Cody Stanley solo home run, his second of the season. The offense was 5-for-30 total and failed all seven times to drive runners in scoring position.
Saturday, May 10th, Springfield 3 at Northwest Arkansas 6
Unlike game two of the series, Springfield wasn't outplayed - they just couldn't take advantage of the opportunities presented to them. James Ramsey provided most of the offense with a solo home run, his Texas League-leading ninth of the season. Ramsey also doubled and scored three times. The other run came from a Matt Williams RBI double. Once again, however, the offense struggled with runners in scoring position going 1-for-11 as a unit.
Jonathan Cornelius was hurt badly by the long ball as he allowed six earned on eight hits in five innings. Three of the runs were from home runs. Jason Motte showed he can pitch on a consecutive days with a scoreless outing, only needing 10 pitches. He will now be rehabbing at Memphis, as reported on Sunday. Justin Wright and Joe Donofrio pitched the last two innings without allowing a score.
Sunday, May 11th, Springfield 8 at Northwest Arkansas 9
Looking for a split in game four, Springfield lost the series despite putting eight runs on the board. They had plenty of opportunities to score more but the pitching was fairly sour in this game. Had the pitching performed like they did in the first three games and the offense jumped on the opportunities, this series would've been a different story.
Kurt Heyer got through the first two innings without much effort but in the third gave up a grand slam to uber-prosepct Jorge Bonafacio. The damage continued with two more runs scored on RBI singles. Heyer finished at 2 2/3 innings, allowing five earned on four hits. Anthony Ferrara was then charged with two earned in 2 1/3 frames. Ronnie Shaban pitched two innings but gave up a solo dinger in the seventh. Dean Kiekhefer worked around a double in the eighth but served up the series walk-off blast in the ninth inning.
The bats broke out with 16 hits but due to the pitching, they didn't produce enough offense to split the series against the Naturals. Everyone in the Cardinals lineup had a hit, led by Patrick Wisdom and James Ramsey with three hits apiece. Wisdom had a double, run scored and two RBI and Ramsey doubled once in five at bats with a walk, three runs scored and one driven in. Curt Smith pounded his third home run of the season that scored Mike O'Neill and Cody Stanley.
Tuesday, May 13th, Springfield 4 at Tulsa 5 (Game one of the double-header)
The series opener that was scheduled to start on Monday was rained out. So on Tuesday night in Tulsa, a double-header was to be played. Usually on double-headers in the minor leagues the games are set for seven innings, except this one was played until the eighth when the Tulsa Drillers broke the tie with a walk-off sacrifice fly.
Pitching with an extra day of rest, Kyle Hald went six innings, allowing four earned on eight hits, walking one while striking out four. Hald was ahead but hit trouble in the sixth inning as the Drillers hit a two-run homer to take the lead going into the late-frames. Lee Stoppelman took over in the seventh with a scoreless inning, retiring the opposition in order with a strikeout. In the bottom of the eighth with Joey Donofrio on the mound, the Drillers got a runner on with one out in the inning which lead to a double and eventually the walk-off run off a sacrifice fly.
Springfield kicked things off early with two runs in the first two innings via a Curt Smith RBI groundout plating Rafael Ortega and a Kyle Hald RBI single which scored Patrick Wisdom. The next two runs came off solo shots by Cody Stanley, his third, and David Popkins, his second of the season. This game was wide open to grab onto, but the Birds just couldn't get that key hit.
Tuesday, May 13th, Springfield 0 at Tulsa 9 (Game two of the double-header)
In game two of the double-header, Springfield was blanked by Tulsa on a combined three-hit shutout. Seth Blair started the second game, lasting two innings of being pounded around. He allowed eight runs (seven earned) on eight hits, only one walk and two strikes and was torched by the Drillers offense.
Ryan Sheriff helped dig the Cardinals bullpen out of hole with three innings, allowing only a solo home run. Logan Billbrough sat down the three hitters he faced.
The only offense Springfield got in game two was from a Jacob Wilson double, a James Ramsey single, and a David Popkins single. Three hits total while being shut out by the Drillers pitching staff will not do.
Who Is Hot
Jacob Wilson – The recently promoted infielder from Palm Beach has gone four for his first 11 with two RBI in his first four games with the Double-A Springfield Cardinals.
Cody Stanley – Now that he has bumped his average up to .319, largely due to a seven-game hit streak, Stanley has gotten increased playing time and should see regular action if this continues.
Who Is Not
Kurt Heyer – The sixth-round draft selection out of Arizona has been roughed up in his past two outings with five earned runs charged in each as he failed to get past the fifth inning either time. Therefore, his ERA has jumped all the way up to 4.74.
Dean Kiekhefer – The lefty gave up a pair of earned runs in his past two outings (2 1/3 innings). Managed to record the save in the first outing, blew the save in the second. Has given up seven earned runs in past ten outings. Kiekhefer has an ERA of 4.30.
5/13 – RHP Ronnie Shaban placed on the 7-Day disabled list
Texas League North Division Standings
|Tulsa Drillers (COL)||20||18||.526||-||7-11||13-7||7-3||W4|
|Arkansas Travelers (LAA)||18||20||.474||2.0||6-14||12-6||6-4||W1|
|Springfield Cardinals (STL)||17||21||.447||3.0||7-11||10-10||3-7||L5|
|NW Arkansas Naturals (KC)||15||23||.395||5.0||5-15||10-8||4-6||L1|
The Cardinals Top Prospect Watch
#8 James Ramsey – He may be hitting home runs but the strikeouts are skyrocketing and he needs to improve contact ability if he is ever going to get past Triple-A, because the quality of pitching will only get better. Ramsey is batting .303 on the season.
#9 Patrick Wisdom – Like that, he has made some adjustments and hung on tough with his approach. He just needs to keep playing and putting up results. Wisdom has an average of .262.
#18 Lee Stoppelman – Hasn't been scored upon in his two outings. Trying to re-establish confidence and get that effectiveness back to where it was last year when he was The Cardinal Nation's choice as the top reliever in the system.
#24 Mike O'Neill – I've rarely seen him in the picture this season and has floated under the radar since his cold hitting began. I am hearing that teams are squeezing the areas O'Neill used to feast on for base hits, between 3B and SS, and the gap between the first baseman and the left side. This takes away his foul-line-to-foul line approach as the defenses are cheating to where he likes to hit. It is adjustment time for O'Neill and we'll have to see if he can do it or not.
#26 Sam Gaviglio – Reversed a bit in his last start, walking three and surrendering four runs on eight hits. Scheduled to pitch the third game of the Tulsa Drillers series on Wednesday.
#28 Jacob Wilson – One of the hotter hitters on the roster since being promoted to the Double-A level, Wilson has gone 4-for-11 in four games to start his Double-A career. Will his bat translate to the upper levels and can he handle the second base position? They are the main questions awaiting to be answered.
#37 Seth Blair – Was torched for seven earned runs in only 2 2/3 of an inning in his latest start. Not sure if I can consider him a legitimate prospect any more with the control issues still a major issue plus a decline in velocity.
#TBD Aledmys Diaz – Out since April 29th with shoulder soreness. It was reported on Tuesday by Brian Walton that Diaz was set to arrive in Jupiter on Wednesday to continue his rehab in Florida.
Coming off an extremely disappointing road-trip in which they fell out of first place and now trail the leader Tulsa Drillers by three games, the Cardinals look to take the last two games of the remaining two road games at Tulsa. They then have a meeting with the Travelers at home for four and go back on the road to take on the Midland Rockhounds for the first time this year.
Follow Derek Shore on Twitter @thebighurt_23.
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