Springfield Cardinals Notebook: 2014 Week 8

The Double-A Cardinals are back home in third place. Feel-good story Curt Smith is swinging a hot bat.

This period covers games from May 22nd through May 28th.

Week eight of the Springfield Cardinals' 2014 season featured the end of the first road-trip around Texas and then back to Hammons Field for a rematch with the same teams played just a week ago. For this week, the Cardinals went 3-5 in two road-home combined series against the Midland Rockhounds and Frisco RoughRiders. The Cardinals currently sit third in the division at 24-28 and trail 4.0 games behind the Arkansas Travelers and division leading Tulsa Drillers.

Thursday, May 22nd, Springfield at 1 Midland 6

Last Wednesday, Springfield had taken game one of the three-game road-series against the Midland Rockhounds (OAK). On Thursday night, the Cardinals were down early and just couldn't come back, fruitlessly throwing away every opportunity given to them as they went 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position, leaving ten base-runners stranded. Of starter Jonathan Cornelius's six earned runs given up through six innings, five of them came in the first two frames.

In his second appearance as a Springbird, Mitch Harris threw a clean frame but did give up a hit. Corey Baker yielded a hit and walk in a scoreless ninth.

Offensively, the Cards had fewer hits (four) than walks (five), two of the bat of Curt Smith one for an extra-base RBI scoring Jonathan Rodriguez. The other two were from Rodriguez and Matt Williams who both singled.

Friday, May 23rd, Springfield 1 at Midland 0

The Cardinals were able to take the rubber game by a combined two-hit shutout by lefties Marco Gonzales and Ryan Sherriff. Sitting in third place, Springfield (22-25) gained a game on the Tulsa Drillers (COL) with the win and trailed by three games.

In his second outing at the Double-A level, Marco Gonzales had another strong start, fanning seven while yielding two hits and a walk in his first Double-A win. Gonzales showed off some of his advanced pitching polish while throwing 97 pitches, 65 for strikes, and had a six ground-ball to seven fly-out ratio. Seeing some good results since moving to the pen, Ryan Sherriff mowed down the Rockhounds over the next two innings while striking out three for his first save of the 2014 campaign.

Springfield smacked out seven hits with the biggest one a Patrick Wisdom sac fly that plated Curt Smith, who for two nights in a row recorded a two-hit game. Along with Smith, hot-hitting catcher Cody Stanley rose his average to .339 with a two-hit game as well. Overall, the offense didn't show up, but who needs runs when you have that kind of pitching bailing you out?

Saturday, May 24th, Springfield 8 at Frisco 6

Springfield changed venues from Midland to Frisco, Texas on Saturday. As pitching was the story on Friday, offense was the story of the night on Saturday, as the first four hitters in the lineup broke out for multiple hits. This was a back and fourth game but in the top of the seventh, Curt Smith smacked a two-RBI single that shattered the hearts of the Roughriders (TEX). They were unable to score again due to a solid bullpen job by Anthony Ferrara, Lee Stoppelman, and Joe Donofrio to end it.

Rafael Ortega was a double shy of the cycle while plating four runs. Cody Stanley added three more hits, punching his average up to .350. Matt Williams doubled twice and scored a run on a Greg Miclat RBI single.

Seth Blair's struggles continued as he gave up six runs (five earned) on eight hits in four innings pitched. The erratic righty walked two and struck out two, throwing 40 strikes in 75 pitches.

The great job by the Springfield pen proved to get the job done as Anthony Ferrara tossed 2 2/3 scoreless innings, fanning three and earning his second win. Lee Stoppelman recorded a hold with 1 1/3 innings scoreless. He did yield a hit but struck out three. Joe Donofrio shut down the Roughriders in the ninth with a clean inning. He struck out three, picking up his fourth save and lowering his ERA to 0.77.

Sunday, May 25th, Springfield 2 at Frisco Roughriders 3

In the second game of three, Springfield was shut down by the Frisco pitching staff to the tune of only six hits and four walks. The Cards only had two good opportunities to score but failed both times and left seven on base against the Roughrider pitching staff. The only Springfield runs were produced from a Jacob Wilson sac fly that scored Curt Smith and a Mike O'Neill RBI triple scoring Greg Miclat.

Kyle Hald, who has surprisingly been one of the better starters since being promoted to Double-A, allowed three solo home runs on four hits in five innings. Logan Billbrough and Corey Baker pitched the next three innings scoreless but the offense couldn't get anything going in the later innings.

Monday, May 26th, Springfield 2 at Frisco 5

Frisco took it to the Cardinals in the first three innings in the final game of the road-trip. It was a five-run lead that the Springbirds could not overcome as they would only score two runs the rest of the game, thus losing the third and decisive game of the series.

Sam Gaviglio (L, 2-7) yielded five runs (four earned) on ten hits, two walks, two wild pitches, and one hit-by pitch in six innings. Mitch Harris walked one and struck out one over the last two scoreless innings.

Springfield matched the Roughriders with ten hits but only two of the runners were knocked in, from RBI singles by Matt Williams and Jacob Wilson. Springfield's nice one-two punch of Mike O'Neill and Jacob Wilson came through, going 5-for-9 with two doubles, an RBI, and two walks combined. But the meat of the order recorded only one hit in 14 at bats from Cody Stanley, Jonathan Rodriguez and David Popkins.

Tuesday, May 27th, Midland 1 at Springfield 4

After a six-game road trip through the state of Texas. The Cardinals headed back northeast to open a six-game home rematch against the Rockhounds and Roughriders. On Tuesday, in the first game of three head-to-head matchups versus the Rockhounds, the Cardinals' Jonathan Cornelius (W, 4-5) made the start. The southpaw got through three innings scoreless before being interrupted by a brief weather delay. After the rain passed, Cornelius settled right back into action, not skipping a beat until the sixth inning, when he allowed the only run of the night on two more hits. The crafty left-hander finished the outing with seven innings of one run ball with a walk and three strikeouts.

Back down to Springfield after a stop at Memphis, Justin Wright followed with two shutout innings with a single hit given up and one rung up on strikes. He earned his second save as a Springbird.

Most of the offense came from a Patrick Wisdom three-run bomb that was a "knock the cover off" type of shot. It seems Wisdom has more home runs than five, but the strikeouts are for the reason the home run totals are so low. In fact, he struck out in his other two at bats of the night.

Wednesday, May 28th, Midland 9 at Springfield 4

Marco Gonzales drew a rematch against the Rockhounds on a beautiful Wednesday night after dominating them in his second Double-A start. This time, Gonzales didn't have bad stuff as evident by seven strikeouts, but he didn't stay down in the zone as well as he did in his last start. The Rockhounds got to Gonzales for five earned runs on six hits through just four innings.

Anthony Ferrara didn't do much better, allowing three more earned runs on three hits in 2 1/3 innings. Corey Baker was the next reliever in line, coming in the top half of the seventh with one out. He got out of that inning without any further harm done. But in the eighth, Baker gave up an earned run on three hits, finishing with 1 2/3 innings. Ryan Sherriff was the only Springfield pitcher to have a scoreless outing, as he pitched a scoreless ninth inning.

Down by nine runs in the bottom of the eighth, the Springbirds offense showed some late-inning fight by cutting the deficit to five runs with a four-run eighth. That deficit was too much to overcome as the Rockhounds evened up the three-game series.

The scoring started with a Rafael Ortega force-out, the second was from a Jonathan Rodriguez RBI single that plated Ortega, and the final two runs came via a two-run RBI double by Jacob Wilson scoring Cody Stanley and Rodriguez. Although Matt Williams was hitting in the wrong part of the order for that kind of line, he was only Cardinal to get on base every time, recording three singles in his three at bats.

Who is Hot

Cody Stanley - Going into Wednesday's game, Stanley had hit safely in 20 of his last 24 games, for a .429 average with 15 runs and 11 RBI since April 26th.

Curt Smith - The improbable comeback feel good story of the season continues as Smith has a current ten-game hitting streak. Smith is especially fond of facing the Midland Rockhounds, as he is 6-for-12 (.500 average) with a run, double, and triple against them this season.

Who is Not

Anthony Ferrara - The lefty reliever has given up six earned runs in three of his last outings. That is in 6 ? innings of work.

Seth Blair - The right-hander lasted four innings on the road against the Roughriders on the 24th, giving up six runs (five earned) on eight hits. He starts on Friday to try to get back on track.

Team Transactions

5/25 OF James Ramsey placed on the DL with a sore shoulder
5/27 LHP Justin Wright transferred to Springfield from AAA-Memphis

Texas League North Division Standings

Club W L PCT GB Home Away L10 Streak
Tulsa Drillers (COL) 27 23 .540 - 18-10 12-10 5-5 W2
Arkansas Travelers (LAA) 25 26 .490 2.5 10-17 15-9 5-5 W1
Springfield Cardinals (STL) 24 28 .462 4.0 10-14 14-14 5-5 L1
NW Arkansas Naturals (KC) 18 33 .353 9.5 8-20 10-13 2-8 L2

The Cardinals Top Prospect Watch

#6 Marco Gonzales - The first-round draft pick dominated the Midland Rockhounds in his second start of the season. Gonzales then left early after a tough four-inning outing on Wednesday, though his stuff did look good.

#8 James Ramsey - Placed on the 7-day DL with a sore shoulder after crashing into the outfield wall on May 16th. He hasn't played since that game and underwent an MRI on his shoulder Tuesday. The results indicated no structural damage, and coaches say they hope his return is sooner rather than later.

#9 Patrick Wisdom - His average keeps dropping, the strikeouts keep piling up, but hey, he did tattoo a three-run home run on Tuesday. You have look at the positives rather than the negatives, but the playing in the Texas League has exposed one of his weaknesses. The third baseman is struggling to make contact. Good thing is there is still plenty of time left for his development and no need to rush him to the big leagues.

#18 Lee Stoppelman - Fanned three in 1 1/3 innings scoreless on May 24th in what had to be a feel-good outing for Stoppelman. Hopefully that will be the return of his effectiveness with his confidence back up.

#24 Mike O'Neill - His average fell below .270 after a hitless game on Wednesday. OPSing .729 with no home runs and 16 RBI is still impressive. But how much longer can he keep it up and will it translate to the upper levels?

#26 Sam Gaviglio - Reverting back the other way once again with an ugly outing last time out. I am wondering if a demotion might help Gaviglio get back where he was.

#28 Jacob Wilson - The infielder makes solid contact and has a good approach at the plate, but without power to speak of, it makes the rest of his offensive profile hard to play out. Wilson is batting right at .300 with a home run and 10 RBI since being promoted to Springfield.

#37 Seth Blair - The righty had a sub-par outing on May 24th but do keep in mind that he is second among Springfield starters in innings pitched. Blair just doesn't have the numbers that you want.

#TBD Aledmys Diaz - A week ago, I presumed the shortstop would be back on the diamond by now. That hasn't happened, but if he isn't back before the end of the first week of June, I'd be surprised.

What's Next

Springfield has one more game remaining with the Midland Rockhounds, then take on the Frisco Roughriders for three at home this weekend. After that they will go back on the road for four against the second-place Arkansas Travelers to begin the month of June.

Follow Derek Shore on Twitter @thebighurt_23.

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