Cards Arizona Fall League Notebook: 11/02/14

Sam Tuivailala allowed a run as the West Division fell in Saturday night’s AFL Fall Stars Game.

Results from the game played Saturday, November 1st.

AFL East 6, AFL West 2

St. Louis Cardinals reliever Sam Tuivailala made another national television appearance – this time representing the Arizona Fall League West Division in Saturday night’s AFL Fall Stars Game, held at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick and televised on MLB Network.

The hard-throwing right-hander, touching 97 with his fastball, closed out the night’s pitching for the West. Tuivailala allowed the final East run in the bottom of the eighth as the West dropped a 6-2 decision.

Pittsburgh’s Josh Bell, who walked three times earlier, singled to right against Tui and moved up on a wild pitch. Toronto outfield prospect Dalton Pompey’s 4-3 ground out moved the runner to third. Philadelphia outfielder and AFL stolen base leader Roman Quinn stroked an RBI single to left and promptly swiped both second and third against Tuivailala and his Peoria teammate, Jays catcher Justin O’Conner. (Of note, the experimental 20-second pitch clock, being tested at Salt River this AFL season, was not being used in the Fall Stars Game.) After a walk put another runner on base, Tuivailala’s defense got him off the hook with a 3-6-3 double play.

Three of the five batters he faced reached base as he threw nine strikes and seven balls in his one-inning outing. As he had in two other outings I had witnessed earlier, Tuivailala worked in the 94-95 range, only occasionally mixing in a curve or change up.

The East got on the board early as Game MVP Greg Bird, Yankees first baseman, blasted one of the longest home runs in stadium history. The 450-foot shot by the league’s home run and RBI leader landed three-quarters of the way up the hitters’ background in dead center. Pompey added a two-run triple into the right field corner to cap off the four-run second inning.

Arizona’s Archie Bradley, who started for the East and had also pitched in the 2013 Fall Stars Game, became the winning pitcher after tossing two scoreless frames. Starter Nick Howard of the Reds took the loss for the West, charged with all four second-inning runs.

The West crept closer, scoring on a passed ball in the fifth and on a solo home run by San Diego shortstop Hunter Renfroe in the sixth. Quinn plated a run in the seventh for the East’s fifth tally and finished 2-for-2 with two RBI.

Among the pitchers who caught my eye was C.J. Edwards of the Cubs, whose offerings looked crisp and sharp and hit 94 on the radar guns. Francellis Montas of the White Sox threw two scoreless, was a bit erratic with two walks, but also impressive, with two strikeouts on upper-90’s offerings. One gun had his top at 99. Jake Reed of Minnesota touched 97 as did Bradley, who was also effectively deploying a slider.

Additional commentary

Earlier, I mentioned MLB’s Pace of Game initiatives being tested in the AFL. I’ve asked around about impressions of it. No one in uniform wants to go on record, but informally, the new ideas do not seem popular. Of particular irritation is the limit of three time outs for mound trips per game, considered too restrictive. The 20-second clock to throw each pitch was initially a problem, especially in cases like throwing to first to hold a runner close. However, a change was made that resets the clock whenever the pitcher steps off, alleviating the concern.

Coming soon

Next week, The Cardinal Nation members should look for a series of nine interviews with all of the Cardinals participating in the 2014 Arizona Fall League.

Monday’s game: Scottsdale Scorpions at Peoria Javelinas, 12:35 p.m. MST. RHP Aaron Northcraft ATL (1-3, 3.14 ERA in 2014 AFL) starting for Peoria.

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Brian Walton can be reached via email at brian@thecardinalnationblog.com. Also catch his Cardinals commentary daily at The Cardinal Nation blog. Follow Brian on Twitter.

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