Springfield Cardinals Notebook: 2014 Week 9

The Double-A Cardinals are running out of time in the first half, but Jacob Wilson has helped the offense.

This period covers games from May 29th through June 5th.

The Springfield Cardinals finished up the week with a 4-3 record, splitting the four-game home series against the Midland Rockhounds. So far, they've split the first two games of the series against division foe Arkansas Travelers (LAA) while attempting to gain ground in the Texas League North Division.

Springfield currently sits in third place at 27-31 after Wednesday night's win, and are 5.5 games back of the Tulsa Drillers (COL) for the first-half playoff berth.

Thursday, May 29th, Midland 4 at Springfield 2

Of the last game of the three-game rematch set at home against the Midland Rockhounds (OAK), the Cardinals fell prey to a four-run third inning. Those were all the runs starter Seth Blair were charged. In that troubling third, which Blair was unable to finish, the runs came via a one-run double, RBI groundout, and two-run blast, exiting him from the game. Blair lasting 2 2/3 innings - the second start in a row he could not reach five innings.

Logan Billbrough and Mitch Harris teamed up to toss the next 4 1/3 scoreless, permitting two hits, two walks, and two strikeouts - both recorded by Billbrough. Lee Stoppelman had an easy eighth, facing the minimum, while Joe Donofrio and his team-leading 0.74 ERA continued to tower above Texas League hitters.

"Chicks dig the long ball" was the style of offense the Birds displayed on Thursday but those home runs were not enough to give them the victory as they were solo shots. The home runs were knocked out by David Popkins (fifth) and Matt Williams (first).

Friday, May 30th, Frisco 4 at Springfield 8

After being beaten by the big inning the previous night, Springfield faced a different opponent. They beat the Frisco RoughRiders with the big inning themselves by scoring six runs in the second inning.

Since being promoted from Palm Beach, Kyle Hald has been dealing to Texas League offenses. He did so again on Friday, working around four hits and five walks through 5 1/3 innings, holding the Roughriders to single earned runs in the fifth and sixth.

One of the formerly left-handed starters now relievers having success in the bullpen at Springfield is Ryan Sherriff as he pitched an inning and two/thirds scoreless. Justin Wright gave up the third and fourth runs but did secure the final six outs, helping them claim the win.

Four of the team's ten hits came in the second, capped off by a Jacob Wilson grand slam. The second baseman's power just might be exposing itself for the first time at the Double-A level as he never homered in his time at Palm Beach. Wilson also added a double. Other RBI producers were Patrick Wisdom and Greg Miclat with RBI singles and Matt Williams, who had two hits and two RBI.

Saturday, May 31st, Frisco 9 at Springfield 1

Frisco jumped out to an early lead with three runs in the first, never looking back. They added a run in the fourth, and five more in the fifth to cruise away with the game two win. Ground-ball specialist Sam Gaviglio had another rough outing, allowing seven earned runs on 11 hits, walking one and fanning five.

Corey Baker followed, allowing two more earned runs on four hits in 2 2/3 innings of work. Anthony Ferrara was the only reliever to not be scored upon with two scoreless innings, with two strikeouts included.

Patrick Wisdom singled twice, as the only Cardinal with multiple hits while upping his average to .235. The only run of the night came from a solo blast by Jacob Wilson, his third of the season. The native of Tennessee is now riding a seven-game hit streak.

Sunday, June 1st, Frisco 2 at Springfield 3

A very nice warm Sunday evening included a Rawlings Matt Carpenter bat giveaway which obviously would attract fans - and it did, filling up Hammons Field. The fans got to see a solid six inning performance from lefty Jonathan Cornelius, who never cracked above 87 mph on the radar gun the whole outing. The junk-balling southpaw didn't miss any batters with zero strikeouts but didn't walk anyone either. That was vital to his success as he only gave up two earned runs on seven hits.

Lee Stoppelman - who has looked a lot like the Stoppelman we were used to seeing in 2013 - followed with the next 1 1/3 scoreless with two strikeouts. Stoppelman got out of a key jam in the seventh to protect the lead. Joe Donofrio lowered his ERA to 0.70 after 1 1/3 innings. With two outs in the ninth, Justin Wright came in and retired the only batter he faced, earning his third save.

Springfield was led by the new one-two punch of Matt Williams and Jacob Wilson. Combined, they were 4-for-8 with two doubles and two runs scored. The first run was produced by Jonathan Rodriguez on a bases loaded walk, with the second and third on a Curt Smith force attempt that resulted in an error. Smith also had two singles.

Monday, June 2nd, off day

The entire Double-A Texas League received a league-wide day-off as four members of the Springfield Cardinals club drove up to catch a game at St. Louis against state-side rival Kansas City Royals. These players were Mitch Harris, Nick Martini, Corey Baker, and Marco Gonzales. I like the passion for baseball from them to come up and watch the sport they get paid for to play over a long grind of a season.

Tuesday, June 3rd, Springfield 1 at Arkansas 2

After the off-day, Springfield headed south for a four-game series against the Arkansas Travelers. Game one flew by due to efficient outings by both starters. Springfield's Marco Gonzales filed six innings of stellar work, allowing only an earned run on four hits, walking one and striking out four. Not only was he efficient, he threw strikes with the fastball early on in the count and finished off batters with a dynamic change-up that just couldn't be touched. Gonzales threw 92 pitches, 63 for strikes.

Ryan Sherriff replaced Gonzales, giving up two hits in two scoreless innings. Then came the ninth inning. Joe Donofrio, who hasn't been scored upon in almost a month's time, allowed a walk-off home run to the first batter he faced.

Curt Smith and returnee to the 2014 squad Chris Swauger had four of the offense's five hits. Smith tripled and singled while Swauger singled, hit an RBI double for the only run for the team, and was hit by a pitch.

Wednesday, June 4th, Springfield 3 at Arkansas 0

In need of as many series wins as possible with the first half of the Texas League season coming to a close, the Springfield Cardinals came determined. They jumped on the Travelers early on with three runs in the first three innings. That was all the runs both teams accounted for the rest of the night with game two going in Springfield's favor.

Those three runs were all Kyle Hald would require as he shut out the Travelers offense for 6 2/3 innings. The lefty out of Old Dominion gave up four hits, walked three and struck out four while earning his fifth win in eight starts.

Lee Stoppelman, another lefty, came in and held the Travelers scoreless for another 1 1/3 innings with two strikeouts. That set the stage for Justin Wright, who was blown up earlier this week. He bounced back with a scoreless ninth to give Springfield their 26th win of the season.

The Cardinals smacked out 11 hits as an offensive unit. Two of those were for extra-bases via a double by Chris Swauger, who also had a single, and a two-run blast by third baseman Patrick Wisdom. The other run was produced by scuffling Jonathan Rodriguez, who had a three-hit game with an RBI and walk.

Who Is Hot

Jacob Wilson - Though he is 0-for-his-last-7 at the plate the last two games, Wilson has pounded the ball of late by going 12-for-36 in his last 10 games with two home runs and nine RBI. He was rewarded for this performance by being named the Texas League Player of the Week.

Kyle Hald - The soft-throwing left-hander was a real plus for the Springbirds this week with wins against the Rockhounds and Travelers. Hald allowed two earned runs in 5 1/3 innings against the Rockhounds, he shut out the Travelers through 6 2/3 innings on Wednesday night.

Who is Not

Seth Blair - For the second consecutive outing, the Arizona State draftee failed to get through at least five innings. In those two starts combined, the starter gave up nine earned runs on twelve hits with five walks in 6 2/3 innings.

Jonathan Rodriguez - After smashing the ball in April and a stint on the disabled list, the Springfield first baseman has fallen off a cliff, batting .094 in May. However, Rodriguez did collect three hits with an RBI on Wednesday.

Team Transactions

5/31 LF Mike O'Neill transferred to AAA Memphis from Springfield
5/31 OF Nick Martini transferred to Springfield from High-A Palm Beach
6/03 OF Rafael Ortega placed on the DL with an ankle injury
6/03 OF Chris Swauger signed by St. Louis and transferred to Springfield
6/03 OF Starlin Rodriguez transferred to Springfield from High-A Palm Beach

Texas League North Division Standings

First half standings W L PCT GB Home Road L10 Streak
Tulsa Drillers (COL) 32 25 .561 - 13-14 19-11 7-3 W5
Arkansas Travelers (LAA) 28 29 .491 4.0 11-18 17-11 5-5 L1
Springfield Cardinals (STL) 27 31 .466 5.5 12-16 15-15 4-6 W1
NW Arkansas Naturals (KC) 19 38 .333 13.0 8-22 11-16 3-7 L2

The Cardinals Top Prospect Watch

#6 Marco Gonzales - Mastered the FSL before June arrived, and is now at Springfield with four starts already under his belt. Tossed a solid six inning one run game to start off the road trip. I thought he painted the corners very well with the fastball spotted low in the zone while throwing off the Travs lineup three times through the order with the devastating changeup. They knew it was coming but just could not time it and lay off because it was so good and deceiving.

#8 James Ramsey - Remains on the 7-day DL with a shoulder injury. Out three weeks already, Ramsey missed out on what seemed an opportunity to move up to Memphis.

#9 Patrick Wisdom - Every time you get down on the third baseman, he makes a defensive highlight play or shows off that raw power potential. Hopefully a new month brings a new Wisdom.

#18 Lee Stoppelman - When I saw him Sunday, he looked like the Stoppelman of old. Has three straight scoreless outings and the confidence and control appears to be back. Now what remains to be seen is if he can utilize that at the next level.

#24 Mike O'Neill - With Ramsey out, O'Neill was in luck and received the promotion to Triple-A. So far, he is 4-for-9 in his first two games with the Triple-A club.

#26 Sam Gaviglio - Gaviglio was torched in consecutive starts, allowing more than ten hits. The jump to Double-A has not been what was hoped for Gaviglio.

#29 Jacob Wilson - Awarded the Texas League Player of the Week award after he hit safely in all seven games during the week. Now that he is showing power, his stock will only continue to rise, so you just have to hope he sticks to the same approach.

#37 Seth Blair - My faith in Blair as a starter has run out. I maintain that he could potentially be a bullpen asset but the Cardinals have refused to convert him to relief.

#TBD Aledmys Diaz - I asked around about his timetable on Sunday. His status remains uncertain as he has already missed a month's time with his shoulder injury.

What is Next

Springfield split the first two games of the series against the Arkansas Travelers and have two road games left with them. Then the Cards unpack their bags for a welcome-home four-game series against the first-place Tulsa Drillers that will kick off this weekend and the Northwest Arkansas Naturals arrive to start out next week.

Follow Derek Shore on Twitter @thebighurt_23.

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