Springfield Cardinals Notebook: 2014 Week 17

The Double-A Cardinals continue their second-half surge with a 5-2 week. Newcomer Charlie Tilson is sparking the offense.

This report covers the period from Thursday, July 24th through Wednesday, July 30th.

The Springfield Cardinals have been playing some of their winningest baseball of the season with a 7-3 record over the last ten games on the road against divisional opponents NW Arkansas Naturals (KC) and Tulsa Drillers (COL). This week, they split a four-game series with NW Arkansas and took three games from Tulsa before the series-finale was postponed due to rain.

Springfield leapfrogged the Drillers in the Texas League North with the three road victories and currently stand 17-22 in the second half. That is just four games behind division leader Arkansas Travelers (LAA).

Thursday, July 24th, Springfield 4 at NW Arkansas 3

Charlie Tilson’s multi-hit/multi-RBI performance aided Springfield’s win over the NW Arkansas Naturals (KC) in the first of four at Arvest Ballpark.

Tilson was responsible for three of his team’s four runs driven in, doubling twice and singling, and he came around to score once. The offense’s other top-of-order asset, Breyvic Valera, was productive as well with an RBI single for the fourth run.

Starter Mike Mayers departed with two outs in the sixth with three earned runs on nine hits allowed. Mayers sat 88-93 mph on the stadium gun and topped out at 94-96 mph a few times in the final inning. A 94 mph offering in the sixth was one of his three game strikeouts. The former Ole Miss hurler was awarded his second win in a tough stretch of pitching for wins of late.

Mayers’ win was assisted by an outstanding performance by the relief arms to keep the score intact. The game concluded with three scoreless innings from Ryan Sherriff, submariner Jeremy Berg and Seth Blair, who picked up his first save.

Friday, July 25th, Springfield 1 at NW Arkansas 4

Springfield gave NW Arkansas starter J.C Sulbaran an early exit in his last start back at home. But on Friday night, Sulbaran turned the tables at his place by four-hitting the Birds over seven shutout frames with nine strikeouts to even up the four-game series.

Starter Jonathan Cornelius did all he could but was a bad luck loser after going six quality innings, yielding three earned runs on six hits with two walks and four strikeouts. Mitch Harris gave up the insurance run on two hits in an inning of work while Joe Donofrio allowed two hits with a strikeout in a scoreless inning in his return outing from Memphis.

The problem wasn’t getting guys on base with either the hit or walk. It was capitalizing. The Cards were 1-of-6 with runners in scoring position while leaving seven runners stranded. James Ramsey and Curt Smith collected four of the team’s eight hits with two each. Ramsey’s was the more meaningful as he produced an RBI double for the Cardinals only run.

Saturday, July 25th, Springfield 0 at NW Arkansas 4

The Cardinals’ season of scoring inconsistency continued on Saturday night as they were shut out by one of the Royals top starting pitching prospects, Christian Binford. Springfield had nine hits, eight of which were for singles, as they struck out 11 times and walked none.

Kurt Heyer pitched well but not quite enough to win. He pitched six innings, yielding three runs on seven hits and a walk. Chris Thomas handed the final run to the Naturals in his two-inning stint.

Mike O’Neill, Jonathan Rodriguez, and Patrick Wisdom had two hits each, six of the team’s nine hits. Wisdom’s double was the only extra-base hit, but the third baseman also grounded into a double play.

Sunday, July 27th, Springfield 5 at NW Arkansas 4

Springfield was able to slip past the NW Arkansas Naturals with a go-ahead run in the ninth and split of the four-game series.

In a contest featuring 27 combined hits, the difference was the product of one of four bases-on-balls worked by the Cardinals. Cody Stanley’s lead-off walk to open the ninth allowed Breyvic Valera to reach on a force, putting the latter in place to score on Rafael Ortega’s double that broke the 4-4 tie.

Mike O’Neill and James Ramsey led the Springfield offense with three hits each. O’Neill singled three times in five at-bats, scoring twice, while Ramsey doubled twice and touched home once. Stanley also had a multi-hit game, with two of the team’s five RBI.

Kyle Hald fanned five while yielding four runs (three earned), on nine hits and two walks in 4 2/3 innings. Lee Stoppelman faced the minimum over the next inning and two/thirds. Jeremy Berg was credited with his second win after throwing two scoreless innings. Sam Tuivailala worked around a hit and walk in the ninth for the save.

Monday, July 28th, Springfield 9 at Tulsa 4

Springfield’s offense broke out in the first game of three with the Tulsa Drillers (COL) on Monday night as 13 hits produced nine runs.

Everyone in the Springfield lineup other than the starting pitcher got into the hitting act. James Ramsey got it started with an RBI double and came around to score on a Rafael Ortega sac fly. Long balls came from Charlie Tilson’s two-run blast, Jonathan Rodriguez’ solo shot, and Patrick Wisdom’s bases-empty homer as well.

Jimmy Reed debuted Monday night for Sam Gaviglio, who had been placed on the temporarily inactive list on Sunday. Reed covered six solid innings, yielding an earned run on three hits with two free passes and two strikeouts. Ryan Sherriff got the bullpen to the ninth with an eight-run lead before Mitch Harris allowed the last three runs to score before ending the game on a groundout.

Tuesday, July 29th, Springfield 7 at Tulsa 2

Springfield scored five over the final two frames to give them the triumph over the Drillers and the series win. The Cards have gone 7-3 over their last ten games, advancing the club into third, four behind Arkansas (LAA) and a game ahead of Tulsa, which has lost four straight.

It was a typical Mike Mayers quality start of at least six innings allowing two earned runs on six hits along with three walks and two strikeouts.

Lee Stoppelman retired one batter, issuing a walk and plunking one. Sam Tuivailala pitched out of a seventh inning jam with the bases loaded with two punchouts. Joe Donofrio struck out four over the final two frames, walking one, for his seventh save.

Rafael Ortega swung the big bat with three hits, including a double, a walk and two driven in. His first RBI scored Jonathan Rodriguez breaking the two all tie in the eighth and his seventh double plated Patrick Wisdom, capping Springfield’s four-run ninth.

Wisdom’s only hit was a bases loaded triple, the knockout punch to decide the series for the Cardinals. Rodriguez singled twice in three at bats with a base-on-balls, touching home twice, the only other Cardinal with more than one of the team’s 10 hits.

Wednesday, July 30th, Springfield at Tulsa - postponed

This game will be made up a part of a seven-inning doubleheader on August 30th, the last series of the season.

Who is Hot

Mike O’Neill - Mr. Pesky, who was taken off the 40-man roster on July 11th, has responded with a .353 batting average over his last ten games, a 12-for-34 stretch.

Mike Mayers - Mayers has quickly adapted to the Double-A Texas League with five quality starts in his first eight starts since his call-up to Springfield on June 20th.

Who is Not

Matt Williams - More useful to the team for his defense and versatility around the diamond, Williams is batting .219 over the past ten games, 7-for-32. That includes a double, two RBI, two free-passes, and three strikeouts.

Mitch Harris - The former Naval officer has faced some adversity in recent weeks, having been scored upon in all three outings since July 22nd. Harris gave up a total of five earned runs over those four innings.

Team Transactions

7/23 INF Greg Miclat activated from the seven-day disabled list
7/23 INF Greg Miclat transferred to High-A Palm Beach from Springfield
7/25 LHP Justin Wright placed on the seven-day disabled list
7/25 RHP Joey Donofrio transferred to Springfield from AAA-Memphis
7/27 RHP Sam Gaviglio placed on the temporarily inactive list
7/27 LHP Jimmy Reed transferred to Springfield from High-A Palm Beach
7/28 OF James Ramsey traded to Cleveland Indians for RHP Justin Masterson. Assigned to Indians Triple-A club.

Texas League North Division - Second half

Club W L PCT GB Home Away L10 Streak
Arkansas Travelers (LAA) 21 18 .538 - 11-9 10-9 6-4 L1
NW Arkansas Naturals (KC) 19 20 .487 2.0 11-12 8-8 5-5 W1
Springfield Cardinals (STL) 17 22 .436 4.0 8-9 9-13 7-3 W3
Tulsa Drillers (COL) 16 23 .410 5.0 7-11 9-12 2-8 L4

Cardinals Top Prospect Watch

#8 James Ramsey - Ramsey is no longer a member of the Cardinals organization as the centerpiece in the Justin Masterson trade to the Cleveland Indians. Ramsey spent parts of two seasons with Springfield fighting injury and at times consistency. However, the Indians receive a true class individual with an outstanding ability to play above his tools and a strong work ethic.

#9 Patrick Wisdom - Seems to be getting better defensively and more comfortable at the position while living up to his pre-draft status as a “plus defender”. On a five-game hitting streak, but let’s see if that extends to ten days.

#13 Charlie Tilson - In seven games with the club, Tilson whacked a home run and drove in seven. His hits came when they were needed most. It is good for Tilson to get a month’s taste of Double-A ball before season’s end.

#18 Lee Stoppelman - Pitched twice this week retiring four batters against the NW Arkansas Naturals on the 27th of July. Had some issues finding the strike zone in his Tuesday outing, hitting a batter and walking one.

#26 Sam Gaviglio - Did not pitch this week and has been placed on temporarily inactive list for the time being. No word on how long he will be absent, but generally they do not last more than a full week.

#29 Jacob Wilson - Out for the season following knee surgery.

#31 Breyvic Valera - Still hitting around the .260 mark since joining Springfield. Valera is still going through his acclimation and adjustment period. The Double-A level is the toughest jump to make for positional prospects.

#36 Sam Tuivailala - Control is improving but Tuivailala has ways to go before he masters it - or he may never master it. With his stuff, he just needs to get to a point where it would make his secondary offerings that much more effective. The converted infielder has fanned 11 with four walks in his 8 1/3 scoreless innings since his promotion.

#TBD Aledmys Diaz - Working his way back from recurring shoulder problems down in the Cardinals complex in Florida. Should have an updated report by next week.

What’s Next

Coming off a 7-3 stretch over their last ten games, the Springbirds look to continue their consistency after a great road-trip and bring it home for a three-game set with the division leader Arkansas Travelers. They then head back on the road for six against the Frisco RoughRiders (TEX) and Midland Rockhounds (OAK).

Follow Derek Shore on Twitter @thebighurt_23.

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