Springfield Cardinals Notebook: 2014 Week 13

The Double-A Cards are scuffling, but catcher Cody Stanley is among the Texas League batting leaders.

This report covers the period from Thursday, June 26 through Wednesday, July 2nd.

The Springfield Cardinals finished at home with a 2-5 record against the Corpus Christi Hooks (HOU) and San Antonio Missions (SD). Springfield had no troubles with one Texas League South opponent, taking two of three from the Hooks, but were given fits by the Missions of the same division who picked up a road series sweep at Hammons Field. After losing the first game of six on the road, the Cardinals are 5-8 in the second half of the season, last in the Texas League North.

Thursday, June 26th, Corpus Christi 5 at Springfield 6

Jonathan Rodriguez' multi-home run night marched the Cardinals back to a .500 mark in the second half of the season and evened up the three-game series against the Corpus Christi Hooks (HOU) at one.

In the second and third innings, respectively, Patrick Wisdom and Jonathan Rodriguez launched two-run shots out of the ballpark. Earlier in the third inning, Aledmys Diaz doubled home Mike O'Neill for his 18th RBI of the season, then Diaz was then plated by Rodriguez' blast. The first baseman had two just home runs since May 1st but added his second of the night, a solo shot. Breyvic Valera smacked his first Double-A extra base hit, a double, and Starlin Rodriguez had two of team's nine hits.

Mike Mayers lost his Springfield debut last week but rebounded with an excellent outing, going seven strong innings. He allowed two earned runs (via a first-inning home run) on five hits with two walks and two strikeouts. Mayers doesn't have particularly nasty strikeout stuff but when he's on - with the ability to throw quality strikes at the right time - he can be efficient and go deep into the game. The former Ole Miss standout only needed 86 pitches to complete those seven frames.

Newly-promoted reliever Chris Thomas faced the minimum in the eighth, fanning one, but Lee Stoppelman made the game interesting in the ninth by allowing three runs on three hits, two via the game's fourth long ball. Stoppelman struck out the final batter, stranding the tying run at third.

Friday, June 27th, Corpus Christi 2 at Springfield 6

Mike O'Neill was a home run shy of the cycle, and left-handed Double-A veteran Jonathan Cornelius turned in his ninth quality start of the season. Cornelius tossed six innings, allowing two earned runs on three hits, with four walks and three strikeouts as Springfield rolled over the Hooks and seized the series win in the finale. Cornelius had a no-hit bid going into the sixth but it was ended on a soft liner that fell in front of Starlin Rodriguez.

The bullpen followed as Ronnie Shaban walked two and retired two hitters, one via a strikeout, in the seventh. Mitch Harris pitched out of a jam Shaban started and tossed a scoreless eighth. They set the game up for Ryan Sherriff, who closed it out with a scoreless ninth though it was not an actual save opportunity.

It was another good night for an offense struggling to find consistency as everyone but Aledmys Diaz and Jonathan Rodriguez had hits. Mike O'Neill was the star as he was a home run shy of the cycle with an RBI and scored once on a Cody Stanley sacrifice fly. Matt Williams and Starlin Rodriguez were the other two productive hitters with four RBI combined and two hits each.

Saturday, June 28th, San Antonio at Springfield was postponed.

Postponed due to rain, the game was rescheduled as a part of a doubleheader at Hammons Field on Monday, June 30. Springfield will need to take all the day-offs/postponements and rest mentally. In the month of July, they have only two scheduled off-days all month.

Sunday, June 29th, San Antonio 7 at Springfield 2

The start of the home series against the San Antonio Missions (SD) started up on Sunday night due to Saturday's rain. Kurt Heyer chewed up 6 2/3 innings but he also took a beating from a prospect-heavy offense by allowing five runs (four earned) on eight hits, with a single and seven strikeouts. It was Heyer's second-longest outing with Springfield.

Logan Billbrough continued his struggles by going 1 ? innings, as the righty allowed two unearned runs on three hits. Ronnie Shaban finished with a clean scoreless frame.

Springfield hitters were baffled by the Missions starter through six shutout innings until he had to leave with an injury. Still the Cards couldn't manage any offense until the ninth when Starlin Rodriguez knocked in the only runs with a two-run single.

Monday, June 30th, San Antonio 7 at Springfield 6 (10) - game one
Monday, June 30th, San Antonio 6 at Springfield 3 (7) - game two

Springfield dropped all three games against visiting San Antonio, including two on Monday.

The evening match-up was the game to attend if you like the long ball. The wind was furiously blowing out, which helps Hammons Field continue to be known as a hitter's paradise. A total of six home runs that were belted in this affair.

The scoring started in the first inning with two early runs for the Missions, but Patrick Wisdom followed in the bottom half with a three-run bomb. It was his 10th of the season and fifth in the month of June, matching his May total. RBI singles by Mike O'Neill and Cody Stanley brought across Starlin Rodriguez and O'Neill in the second to extend the lead to two. In the third, the Missions took the lead with three runs. The Cards' scoring ended with Stanley's eighth home run of the season, a solo shot. O'Neill and Stanley had two of the team's seven hits but the shorthanded Cardinals didn't have enough steam for an additional three extra innings, letting the game slip away in the tenth to lose the second home-series of the stand.

Southpaw Kyle Hald was unable to hold the lead, permitting six runs on ten hits and two walks in four plus, striking out five. Chris Thomas and Justin Wright both tossed two scoreless frames, striking out one. Thomas gave up a hit while Wright issued two free passes. Ryan Sherriff took the loss after yielding the last home run of the game in the tenth, his second inning of work.

In the nightcap, Sam Gaviglio held the opposition to a run on two hits and two walks through the first five innings before loading the bases via two singles and an intentional walk with one out in the sixth. Gaviglio fanned six.

Lefty reliever Lee Stoppelman inherited a bases-loaded mess and yielded a three-run double off the center field wall. Stoppelman finished with two earned runs allowed in 2/3 of an inning.

The offense matched the opposition's seven hits, the biggest being Curt Smith's two-run long ball that scored Breyvic Valera. That ended the visitors' shutout bid in the sixth. Starlin Rodriguez produced the final run of the double-header on a RBI double that plated Matt Williams. Smith and Rodriguez were the only two to record multi-hit games.

Tuesday, July 1st, league-wide day-off

The Cardinals had a scheduled day off but spent most of it traveling to Corpus Christi, Texas where they will play a three-game set at the Hooks.

Wednesday, July 2nd, Springfield 2 at Corpus Christi 3

Springfield resumed play on Wednesday night but came up empty in the final frames and dropped the first of three. The deciding two games will be recapped in next week's report.

Mike Mayers is proving very quickly to be an innings-eating horse since being promoted to the Double-A level. Mayers has gone six or more innings in each of his first three starts. In this contest, he allowed three earned on five hits. The former University Mississippi pitcher walked three and struck out five. Mitch Harris held the Hooks for two scoreless innings with four strikeouts.

The two runs the offense produced weren't enough to give the team the series-opening victory. They came from a Curt Smith solo blast in the fourth, his sixth of the season, and Jonathan Rodriguez' RBI single in the sixth.

Who Is Hot

Cody Stanley - The catcher finished up a great final three weeks of June, collecting at least one hit in 12 of his 16 games since June 8. In his last seven games, the Clinton, North Carolina native is hitting .346 (9-for-26) with two home runs and five RBI. For the month of June, Stanley hit .281 (18-for-64) with four home runs and 12 RBI in 18 games, and is now second in the league in average at .309 and slugging percentage at .478.

Mike Mayers - As mentioned above in the game capsules, Mayers has placed himself as the hurler who can be counted upon to eat innings. The right-hander has gone six innings in each of his first three starts while allowing no more than three earned runs.

Who Is Not

Jonathan Rodriguez - The first baseman looked to turn the corner last week with a two home run performance against Corpus Christi. But otherwise, he struggled this week going 2-for-16 with an RBI. Rodriguez said his struggles have been due to pitchers working him hard in and soft away. He has obliged by diving at everything away, which gives the pitcher the advantage with the inside fastball.

Kyle Hald - In each of his last two starts, the lefty out of Old Dominion has been crushed for six earned runs in a minimum of four innings.

Team Transactions

6/28 LHP Justin Wright transferred to Springfield from AAA-Memphis
7/1 INF Alex Mejia transferred to Springfield from High-A Palm Beach
7/2 INF Aledmys Diaz placed on the DL
7/2 OF Rafael Ortega activated from the DL

Texas League North Division

Club W L GB PCT Home Away L10 Streak
Arkansas Travelers (LAA) 8 5 - .615 3-2 5-3 7-3 L1
NW Arkansas Naturals (KC) 7 6 1.0 .538 4-3 3-3 4-6 W1
Tulsa Drillers (COL) 6 7 2.0 .462 3-5 3-2 6-4 L1
Springfield Cardinals (STL) 5 8 3.0 .385 2-4 3-4 3-7 L4

Cardinals Top Prospect Watch

#8 James Ramsey - Remains on the DL with a strained oblique. No telling how much more time he could miss. It certainly doesn't help his trade value now that July has arrived.

#9 Patrick Wisdom - Manager Mike Shildt says his third baseman is putting together more quality at-bats than ever. The average isn't showing it, but Wisdom is confident it will rise now that he's starting to recognize pitches easier and is working himself into more favorable counts. Watch for a breakout month from Wisdom in July as he belted five home runs in June.

#18 Lee Stoppelman - The lefty was roughed up for five earned runs this week in only 1 1/3 innings pitched. Let's see how he responds.

#26 Sam Gaviglio - Made strides in June, especially with his control and limiting base hits while keeping the ball on the ground. Gaviglio had an ERA of 3.30 in five starts (30 IP).

#29 Jacob Wilson - Springfield could really use his bat back in the lineup, but that isn't happening. At best, Wilson is eyeing a late-season return from knee surgery.

#31 Breyvic Valera - He hasn't flashed his defensive versatility yet, primarily playing second base covering for Wilson. Valera is 5-for-his-first-22 since his promotion from Palm Beach.

#TBD - Aledmys Diaz - I wrote last week that the shortstop could advance if proven healthy. A week later, Diaz is on the shelf for the second time this season with more shoulder issues that date back to spring training. The timetable for his return is unknown.

What's Next

Following a tough week at home and a nail-biting loss to open the Texas road trip, Springfield looks to rebound. They have two left with Corpus Christi, then head on to San Antonio for the July 4th weekend. After that, the Cards finish the week back at home for four against a division rival, the Northwest Arkansas Naturals. A lot of baseball remains to be played as the races are heating up. One just hopes the Springbirds catch fire as well.

Follow Derek Shore on Twitter @thebighurt_23.

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