Springfield Cardinals Notebook: 2014 Week 20

The Double-A Cardinals have won 10 of 14 but still need to make up five games with 13 remaining. David Popkins has sparked the offense since his return from Palm Beach.

This report covers the period from Thursday, August 14th through Wednesday, August 20th.

The Springfield Cardinals finished up the home-stand taking four of seven games against two of the stronger South Division teams on the other side of the Texas League. With the win on Wednesday, they extended a current four-game winning streak and have taken 10 of their last 14 games.

That stretch of play puts them in second place in the North Division but they still trail the division-leading Arkansas Travelers (LAA) by five games. Springfield is 27-30 on the season with 13 games remaining on the schedule.

Thursday, August 14th, Springfield 6 vs. Frisco 2

Kyle Hald’s seven superb frames led Springfield to a triumph over Frisco (TEX) in the deciding and final game of the series.

Hald retired nine straight to kick off the game before allowing back-to-back batters to reach on his only base-on-balls issued plus a single. Four batters later, the lefty gave up a double before retiring the next eight. Hald struck out eight with eight groundouts and got his ninth win of the season.

Mitch Harris yielded a hit while fanning one in the eighth. Jeremy Berg had a subpar outing, permitting two runs on three hits that ended the Springbirds’ shutout bid. It was only the second time Berg had been scored upon in his nine appearances with Springfield.

The offense used seven hits and three Frisco miscues to score six runs, three earned. Seven players had a hit and eight either scored or drove in a run. Curt Smith and Patrick Wisdom contributed one of each, the latter despite going hitless in four at bats. Alex Mejia broke out with a sac fly and two RBI while Travis Tartamella’s solo shot, his first of 2014, was one of two extra-base hits.

Friday, August 15th, Springfield 2 vs. Midland 3

Fresh off the series’ win against South Division co-leader Frisco, the Springbirds came out on the wrong end of a pitching duel on Friday night.

One of the four hits Sam Gaviglio yielded in five was a two-run home run that proved the difference in the game. Gaviglio issued three walks and fanned five. Neither Dixon Llorens nor Chris Thomas allowed a hit in their two innings on the bump. Llorens walked two but both runners were erased via a double play and caught stealing. Thomas faced the minimum, striking out four.

The Birds pushed across single runs in the third and eighth, the latter on two of the team’s four hits. Charlie Tilson scored both runs after reaching via walks. Cody Stanley singled in one in two at-bats with the other a sac fly.

Saturday, August 16th, Springfield 6 vs. Midland 3

Springfield bounced back on Saturday night with six runs on 13 hits and a win.

Mike Mayers was finally treated to the run support he deserves and pitched another quality outing, going six innings and yielding three runs (two earned) on 10 hits with two walks and six strikeouts.

Sam Tuivailala got the bullpen work started in the seventh hitting, 97 mph in his warmups and fanning two in a scoreless inning. Lee Stoppelman set the stage for Joe Donofrio, striking out two in the scoreless eighth while Donofrio came in with a runner on first and surrendered a single before retiring the next three with a strikeout, a pop-out, and lineout for his 10th save.

Cody Stanley and Rafael Ortega produced the only long balls of the night, both solo shots. Charlie Tilson, Matt Williams, Alex Mejia, and David Popkins added on the rest of the team’s offensive production with an RBI each.

Sunday, August 17th, Springfield 5 vs. Midland 1

A trio of Springbirds combined to spin a four-hit, one-run outing that resulted in a series clinching victory. The Cards took both series on the home-stand.

The only run charged to lefty Jonathan Cornelius through six was a home run, one of four hits the lefty yielded. Cornelius did not issue a walk and struck out two.

Mitch Harris retired all six batters faced, fanning two while Jeremy Berg bounced back from a poor outing by striking out two in a scoreless ninth inning.

The Cardinals pushed across single runs in the first, sixth and eighth plus a two-run third that put them ahead for good. Five hitters produced multi-hit games, paced by Matt Williams’ three hit effort and Cody Stanley’s two-hit game, including a solo home run, a walk and two runs scored.

Rafael Ortega and David Popkins joined Stanley with two hits each. Ortega and Williams each scored once while Popkins walked once with an RBI. Stanley and Williams both swiped a bag.

Monday, August 18th, Springfield - off

The Springbirds received a scheduled off-day on Monday, August 18th before a stretch of 14 games in a row to end the 2014 season, starting with a trip to Northwest Arkansas.

Tuesday, August 19th, Springfield 9 at NW Arkansas 8

The Springbirds slipped past the NW Arkansas Naturals (KC) on Tuesday night in the first of four games. The Naturals fought back from a 7-0 deficit but the Cards were able to hang on due to stellar bullpen work.

Six of Springfield’s 11 hits were generated in the first, capped by a Charlie Tilson two-run triple. Cody Stanley and Jonathan Rodriguez each singled twice in five at bats and knocked in one, Rodriguez with a run scored as well.

Kurt Heyer was unable to hold the 7-0 advantage, as the righty permitted seven runs, four earned, on five hits. Four of them were home run balls. Heyer issued two walks and struck out five.

Seth Blair was credited with his fifth win despite not producing a nearly as well as Sam Tuivailala did in an identical timespan. Both relievers went 1 1/3, Blair allowing a solo bomb, one of the two hits he gave up. Blair and Tuivialala each issued a free pass, the latter fanning one.

Mitch Harris retired the first two in the eighth before being taken out following an Alex Mejia error which led to the tying run reaching base. Joe Donofrio escaped then yielded a two-out double in the ninth before inducing a flyout to left to end the game.

Wednesday, August 20th, Springfield 2 at NW Arkansas 1

NW Arkansas grabbed the early 1-0 lead in the first inning, but couldn’t muster any more offense against the Birds’ pitching staff. Single tallies by the Cardinals in the fourth and fifth innings helped them secure game two of four. The latter two will be covered in next week’s report.

Kyle Hald had some troubles early on, allowing three of six hits and the only run for the Naturals. After the first, Hald shifted into cruise control and tossed five scoreless frames before being lifted in the seventh following a leadoff single that was erased on a Sam Tuivailala-induced double-play.

Jeremy Berg took the ball after Tuivailala allowed a single to start the eighth. Berg got out of the inning without allowing any damage, walking one and striking out one. Donofrio walked a batter which too got erased by a double-play as he picked up his 12th save of the season.

The pitching staff only needed two runs to work with and got just that from the offense with single tallies in the fourth and fifth innings. Rafael Ortega and Alex Mejia provided the spark, with Ortega hitting an RBI single and Mejia going yard with his third of the season.

Who Is Hot

David Popkins - Since returning from High-A Palm Beach on August 6, outfielder David Popkins has been on a tear, tallying at least one hit in 10 of 12 games. The San Diego, California native has gone 16-for-41 with seven RBI. Since returning to Springfield, he has increased his Double-A batting average by 24 points, from .221 to .250.

Mike Mayers - The quality start machine has put together eight quality starts in his 11 starts made since being promoted to Double-A Springfield on June 20th. Mayers has won his last two decisions having allowed only two earned runs in those two starts combined in a 13 inning stretch.

Who Is Not

Patrick Wisdom - Wisdom is struggling mightily at the plate. The third baseman has not recorded a hit since August 10th, a six game stretch in which he is 0-for-his-last-21 at the plate.

Kurt Heyer - Heyer had a tough time in his most recent start against NW Arkansas, failing to get through five innings while coughing up four earned runs on five hits. The Arizona draftee was scored a no-decision in this start.

Team Transactions

8/18 INF Matt Williams placed on the Temporarily Inactive List
8/18 INF Greg Miclat transferred to Springfield from High-A Palm Beach
8/18 RHP Chris Thomas placed on the DL

Texas League North Division - Second half

Club W L PCT GB Home Away L10 Streak
Arkansas Travelers (LAA) 32 25 .571 - 16-12 16-13 4-6 L5
Springfield Cardinals (STL) 27 30 .474 5.0 12-15 15-15 7-3 W4
NW Arkansas Naturals (KC) 26 31 .456 6.0 14-17 12-14 4-6 L4
Tulsa Drillers (COL) 25 32 .429 7.5 11-17 14-15 5-5 W2

Cardinals Top Prospect Watch

#9 Patrick Wisdom - Wisdom is hitless at the plate in his last 21 at-bats through six games. He has shown defensive progress throughout the season and indicates potential with the bat in certain stretches. Lots of faults in his all-around approach, though.

#13 Charlie Tilson - Had a two-hit/two RBI performance on Tuesday night but also struck out twice. The strikeouts have been alarming since his promotion and he’ll have to put the ball in play consistently to let his legs do work rather than swing and miss.

#18 Lee Stoppelman - Very rarely has Stoppelman been used in August and when he has been used, it has been in less-pressured situations to try get him back to where he was prior to 2014. Perhaps an off-season of fine-tuning his control/command will do him some good.

#26 Sam Gaviglio - Allowed two earned runs on five hits with three walks and five strikeouts in five innings on August 15th in a loss against the Midland Rockhounds in his most recent start.

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

#31 Breyvic Valera - Valera is slumping a bit at the plate after reaching the .300 mark last week, as his average has fallen down to .277 this week.

#36 Sam Tuivailala - Tuivailala threw on consecutive nights on Tuesday and Wednesday without much effect to his velocity. To be a big-league reliever, he will have to do more of this.

What’s Next

Springfield has two games left at NW Arkansas, and have one last home-stand of seven games against the Tulsa Drillers (COL) and division leader Arkansas Travelers (LAA). The Cards finish up the season at Tulsa for four.



Follow Derek Shore on Twitter @thebighurt_23.

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