Springfield Cardinals Notebook: 2014 Week 18

The Double-A Cardinals have slipped into last place after a losing homestand. Mike Mayers is pitching well despite little run support.

This report covers the period from Thursday, July 31st through Wednesday, August 6th

Consistent baseball has been hard to come by for the Springfield Cardinals, coming off a stretch of winning seven of ten. Losing team leader/three-hole hitter James Ramsey to trade and other key assets to injury has been extremely costly to the team now that they are nearing the middle of August.

Springfield finished the week at 1-5 overall as they were swept at home by the first-place Arkansas Travelers (LAA) and split the first two games with Frisco in their three-game set. The Cards are in fourth, last place, nine games back.

Thursday, July 31st, Arkansas 6 at Springfield 2

Springfield held the lead until the Arkansas Travelers (LAA) figured it out offensively and got to the Birds’ pitching staff for all six runs in the seventh, eighth, and ninth innings to take away the home series-opener.

Starter Jonathan Cornelius carried a four-hit shutout through the first six innings, only to cough up a game-tying home run, as the second batter of the seventh inning ended his night.

Ryan Sherriff took over for Cornelius by pitching the next inning and a third. Sherriff fanned two, needing only 15 pitches to get four outs. Seth Blair and Sam Tuivailala combined to give up the last of the game’s damage, allowing four earned runs. Blair yielded the go-ahead earned run and was charged with loss while Tuivailala was charged with three earned runs.

Springfield’s only two runs came in the fourth inning. It started with a Cody Stanley double down the right field line, then Jonathan Rodriguez’s single to left that led to both ultimately scoring. Stanley came home on a Breyvic Valera RBI single and Rodriguez did so on a delayed double steal, but the offense was shut down the rest of the way by the Travs’ pitching staff.

Friday, August 1st, Arkansas 4 at Springfield 1

The Travelers took the lead in the first inning and held the advantage the rest of the way for their second win of the four-game set at Springfield. The game was still anyone’s until late, when the visiting team padded their one-run lead with single tallies in the eighth and ninth.

After yielding two runs, Kurt Heyer was the hard-luck loser but covered over seven innings and got through the lineup the third time through without giving up any more runs. Lee Stoppelman’s struggles continued as he could get out of the eighth after a Patrick Wisdom error and RBI single. Jeremy Berg pitched out of the inning, but gave up a solo shot in the ninth.

The Springfield offense continues to flail. They could not get timely hits, stranding 10 runners and going 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position. Wisdom was the best example, reaching base with a walk, single, double, and triple, yet was stranded every time while Jonathan Rodriguez reached on a pair of walks. The only run came on a passed ball that scored Breyvic Valera.

Saturday, August 2nd, Arkansas 8 at Springfield 5

The Travelers, owners of the best second-half record in the Texas League North, scored four runs in the second inning and added on four more in the fourth and fifth on their way to the series win.

A month ago, lefty Kyle Hald was the Springbirds’ most dependable hurler but since then his fastball can’t seem to stay down consistently. On this night, he was charged with seven earned runs in five innings pitched.

The offense struck out a collective 12 times, three by leadoff man Charlie Tilson. Brevyic Valera was only the Springfield batter with more than one hit. The second baseman singled, doubled, walked, plated two and scored two runs. Cody Stanley also drove in two.

Sunday, August 3rd, Arkansas 5 at Springfield 0

Springfield was blanked by Arkansas on Sunday afternoon, giving the Travelers a four-game sweep over the home Birds.

Fresh up from Florida, Jimmy Reed followed his impressive debut with a five-inning clunker, allowing five runs on seven hits, one of which was a three-run home run. Ryan Sherriff went the next two, giving up two hits before Jeremy Berg and Joe Donofrio split the last two innings. Berg permitted a hit and walk while Donofrio issued a free pass.

Six Cardinals batters garnered hits, all singles, while the club went 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position. Six walks by Arkansas’ pitchers resulted in Springfield leaving 11 on base.

Monday, August 4th, Springfield - off

The Springbirds headed out on the bus for the last Texas road-trip of the season through Frisco (TEX) and Midland (OAK) for three-game sets.

Tuesday, August 5th, Springfield 1 at Frisco 9

A one-run game in favor of the Frisco RoughRiders (TEX) going into the bottom of the eighth was blown open by the home club with a seven-run outburst on their way to the series-opening victory.

Mike Mayers pitched well despite no run support once again through 5 1/3 innings. He took his fifth loss in seven decisions. Taking over for Mayers in the sixth, Sam Tuivailala limited the damage by stranding all three runners aboard. Tuivailala also pitched an effective seventh without any damage done.

Lee Stoppelman and Seth Blair combined to let the game get out of reach in the eighth. Stoppelman yielded six runs on four hits while Blair let all inherited runners from Stoppelman score and one of his own.

Three of Springfield’s four hits were generated in the second, two of them producing their first and only run of the night. Breyvic Valera doubled with one out, crossing home on a single by Jonathan Rodriguez.

Wednesday, August 6th, Springfield 12 at Frisco 7

It was a typical Texas League-style offensive game with the clubs scoring a combined 19 runs on 27 hits as Springfield outlasted Frisco in game two.

It was not the ideal game to be a pitcher, but Springfield’s biggest innings eater, lefty Jonathan Cornelius, gave his team five innings. Cornelius yielded six runs (five earned) on six hits, two walks, and 11 strikeouts for his staff-leading 10th win of the season.

Ryan Sherriff and Mitch Harris followed Cornelius for the final four innings. Sherriff’s two innings were scoreless while Harris issued two walks and allowed the Roughriders’ seventh run via a solo home run.

Everything went the offense’s way on this particular night as they finished with seven successful opportunities with runners in scoring position. The entire offensive unit got a hit and reached base at least once.

Among the more notable performances was Breyvic Valera’s four-hit game that produced three runs. Charlie Tilson and Alex Mejia did the yard work with six RBI combined while Matt Williams helped out with two more and Rafael Ortega, Jonathan Rodriguez, and Mike O’Neill drove in a run each.

Who Is Hot

Breyvic Valera - Valera has excelled in the batter’s box of late, knocking at least one in 10 of his last 13 games. Due to Wednesday night’s four-hit outing, the Venezuelan native boasted his average from .268 all the way up to .287.

Mike Mayers - Despite losing five of his seven Springfield decisions, Mayers has been a quality pitcher - but with not such good luck. Evidence includes his outing on Tuesday night in which he allowed two earned runs on seven hits in a little over five innings but took the loss. Mayers has a 3.33 ERA in his nine starts since reaching Double-A.

Who Is Not

Charlie Tilson – The outfielder is having a hard time finding his stride at the plate so far at the Double-A level. The Wilmette, Illinois native is batting .242 in his first 13 games but did knock in three runs on Wednesday night.

Kyle Hald - Hald went from Texas League All-Star to an unsightly 6.70 ERA over his last eight starts. The lefty yielded seven earned runs in five innings of work on Saturday, August 2nd.

Team Transactions

8/5 RHP Sam Gaviglio activated from the Temporarily Inactive List
8/5 LHP Jimmy Reed transferred to High-A Palm Beach from Springfield
8/6 INF Aledmys Diaz activated from 7-Day DL and assigned to High-A Palm Beach from Springfield
8/6 OF David Popkins transferred to Double-A Springfield from High-A Palm Beach

Texas League North Division - Second half

Club W L PCT GB Home Away L10 Streak
Arkansas Travelers (LAA) 27 18 .600 - 13-9 14-9 9-1 W6
NW Arkansas Naturals (KC) 22 23 .489 5.0 12-13 10-10 5-5 W1
Tulsa Drillers (COL) 19 26 .422 8.0 9-13 10-13 3-7 L1
Springfield Cardinals (STL) 18 27 .400 9.0 8-13 10-14 4-6 W1

Cardinals Top Prospect Watch

#9 Patrick Wisdom - The Saint Mary’s product hit over .300+ this week but still struck out 10+ times as well. Wisdom is figuring things out at this level now that he’s acclimated after bypassing High-A Palm Beach but it is more of slow but sure process.

#13 Charlie Tilson - Tilson is going through that same adjustment period that many of these young hitters went through, such as Breyvic Valera through his first fifteen games or so. The quality of pitching is far better at Double-A than High-A.

#18 Lee Stoppelman - I am still very much a Stoppelman fan but he has really not met expectations whatsoever this season. The Cardinals viewed him as a potential impact reliever but instead, he is back at Springfield scuffling with a high ERA. A turnaround is always possible.

#26 Sam Gaviglio - Placed on the temporarily inactive list on July 30th and re-activated on August 5th, Gaviglio will make his first start since late July on Saturday after being named The Cardinal Nation Starting Pitcher of the Month for July.

#29 Jacob Wilson - Out for the season following knee surgery. The Cardinals expect Wilson to come back with a bang in 2015.

#31 Breyvic Valera - Valera did what he’s always done throughout his minor league career - just hit. His most recent example was a four-hit performance plus three runs scored Wednesday night, boosting his average to .287.

#36 Sam Tuivailala – As reported by scouting source Dan Edwards on Twitter, Tuivailala hit nothing below 97 mph in his last outing, with a wiggling downhill plane, and his slider misses bats as well.

#TBD Aledmys Diaz – The shortstop was activated off the 7-Day disabled list on Wednesday and was immediately assigned to High-A Palm Beach, since he was already rehabbing in Jupiter. Diaz was hitless with a strikeout in his return as the designated hitter.

What’s Next

This was a forgettable week for the Springbirds. They will need someone to step up and provide the punch Ramsey gave in the middle of the order to be anywhere near as successful.

Springfield has split the first two games against Frisco (TEX) and face off for the rubber-game on Thursday night, then finish off the Texas road-trip with three at Midland (OAK) this week-end. The Cards then come back home at the start of next week to face the very same teams.

Follow Derek Shore on Twitter @thebighurt_23.

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