This report covers period from Thursday, April 16th through Wednesday, April 22nd.
Following a 1-5 homestand to open the 2015 season, the Springfield Cardinals improved their play in the second week, but results were still modest at 3-3. The schedule included a rematch with the Corpus Christi Hooks (HOU) and San Antonio Missions (SD) for six games on the road, during which the Cards took one of three against the Hooks and two of three against the Missions.
The Cardinals have an overall record of 4-8 and currently stand in last place, just four games behind the division leader Arkansas Travelers (LAA). The two teams begin a four-game home series starting on Thursday with a chance for the Cards to make up some lost ground after a so-so first two weeks of the season.
Thursday, April 16th, Springfield 0 at Corpus Christi 8
Springfield started off their road schedule by being blanked by the Corpus Christi Hooks (HOU) on a combined five-hit shutout.
After lasting only two innings in his season-debut, Mike Mayers got past the fourth in his second start but was knocked out in the fifth. After allowing three of his five earned runs, the right-hander ended up as the losing pitcher on Thursday night. The fastball-reliant Mayers struggled to control the zone, walking four, though the second-rounder also fanned five batters.
Relievers Heath Wyatt, Joe Donofrio and Ronnie Shaban covered the remaining 3 2/3 innings. Wyatt pitched 1 2/3 scoreless, Donofrio a clean inning, but Shaban was hit hard for three runs, two earned, on three hits in an inning.
Charlie Tilson, Aledmys Diaz, Jacob Wilson, and Nick Martini accounted for Springfield’s five hits. Tilson had the only extra-base hit, a triple, while Martini had the only multi-hit effort with a pair of singles but nothing to show for it.
Friday, April 17th, Springfield 5 at Corpus Christi 8
The Springfield pitching staff once again struggled against the Hooks offense in a game that was cut short by rain and incoming severe weather. Thomas Lee suffered his second loss of the season, as the undrafted free agent allowed six earned runs on nine hits with a walk and a strikeout.
Fortunately for Springfield, with the game cut short they didn’t have to burn through their bullpen. Only Justin Wright relieved. He finished the game and pitched 2/3 of an inning, yielding two earned runs on two hits.
Springfield was on the verge of a comeback with four runs before the rain interrupted and eventually led to the game being called. Down 8-1, Charlie Tilson opened the seventh with a base-hit to left and then stole second base. Nick Martini and Jacob Wilson drew back-to-back walks. Jonathan Rodriguez plated Tilson and Martini on a two-run RBI single. Aledmys Diaz beat out a single to load the bases, setting up a two-run single for Alex Mejia.
Saturday, April 18th, Springfield 2 at Corpus Christi 1
Unexpectedly, Kyle Hald has become one of Springfield’s most reliable starters the last two seasons. The lefty played stopper on Saturday night, putting an end to Springfield’s 0-5 record against the scorching-hot Hooks. Hald ended up with a no-decision despite allowing only one earned run through five innings.
The win went to reliever Corey Baker, who pitched two scoreless innings, giving up only one hit, a walk and two strikeouts. Kurt Heyer closed the game out with two shutout frames to earn his first career save.
Springfield didn’t score until the top of the eighth. It began with a Nick Martini double to left field. Jonathan Rodriguez reached on a fielding error and Martini scored the first run with Rodriguez advancing to second. Another fielding error by Corpus Christi allowed Rodriguez to come home.
Sunday, April 19th, Springfield 9 at San Antonio 2
Thanks in part to an offense that belted three home runs, Springfield erupted with nine runs in the series-opening game against the San Antonio Missions.
Off to a good beginning through his first two starts, Andrew Morales pitched six solid innings on Sunday, allowing just two earned runs on six hits. The second-round pick from last year’s draft walked two, struck out six, and picked up his first Texas League win.
Morales, lefty reliever Jonathan Cornelius, and right-handed reliever Chris Thomas combined to retire 21 of the final 22 Missions to come up to the plate. Cornelius pitched a scoreless seventh, while Thomas tossed a scoreless eighth and ninth.
Six S-Cards contributed at least one RBI as part of the nine-run offensive attack. Jacob Wilson, David Washington, and Jonathan Rodriguez belted home runs each while Alex Mejia knocked in two with an RBI single, Anthony Garcia collected a hits with an RBI, and Patrick Wisdom drove in one via sacrifice fly.
Monday, April 20th, Springfield 3 at San Antonio 4
In a closely-contested game, San Antonio prevailed via a walk-off wild pitch thrown by left-handed reliever Justin Wright, evening up the three-game series at one apiece.
Nick Petree was working on a shutout through four innings before the Missions scratched across three unearned runs in the fifth inning, due to an Anthony Garcia fielding error.
Heath Wyatt held the Missions scoreless the next two frames, allowing Springfield to power their way back into it. David Washington slugged his second home run of the season, a three-run shot which provided the only scoring for the Springbirds on Monday night.
Joe Donofrio pitched a scoreless eighth, before running into a bases-loaded jam in the ninth which Justin Wright inherited, setting up his game-ending wild pitch.
Tuesday, April 21st, Springfield 3 at San Antonio 2 (10 innings)
In an eventful rubber-game match-up, Springfield topped San Antonio in extra innings with the help of RBI singles by Breyvic Valera and Charlie Tilson that was enough to get them over the top for the series win.
Mike Mayers pitched his best outing of the year so far, with seven brilliant innings of shutout baseball. Mayers gave up just four hits, but walked only one, struck out four, and generated plenty of weak contact - especially via the ground-out - with ten total on the night.
Ronnie Shaban yielded a solo home run, single, and a walk in the eighth inning. Justin Wright worked out of that jam unscathed before pitching a clean ninth as well. Kurt Heyer worked around an earned run on three hits in the tenth to pick up his second save of the week and his career.
Wednesday, April 22nd, league-wide off-day
Springfield will reopen play back at Hammonds Field, against their divisional foe the Arkansas Travelers (LAA) starting on Thursday, April 23rd for a four-game series.
Who is Hot
Charlie Tilson - Tilson is only 12-for-his-last-39 over the last 10 games, but the natural center fielder has hit in seven of those games including three multi-hit performances.
Andrew Morales - Morales pitched six solid innings in only his second Texas League start, yielding two earned runs on three hits. He earned his first Double-A win and second win in his professional career.
Chris Thomas - Used as a middle reliever and or in a long relief role, Thomas has been a proven strike throwing machine for the Springfield bullpen in the early going. He has thrown 7 2/3 scoreless innings through three outings.
Who is Not
Patrick Wisdom - Wisdom is off to the slowest start of any hitter on the Cardinals roster with a 2-for-27 start in his first nine games.
Thomas Lee - Lee got rocked in his Texas League debut and experienced another beating in his second start, allowing six earned runs on nine hits in 5 1/3 innings. His ERA sits at an inflated 13.50 through his first two starts.
Ronnie Shaban - The reliever has permitted three earned runs in his last two outings, covering just 1 2/3 innings.
Springbirds batting order
Manager Dann Bilardello made it clear from day one that he is an old-school styled manager and plays by the book, rather than playing the game the way it has radically transformed over the last decade. The emergence of shifts in the minor leagues, the use of statistical analysis advancing, a schedule that revolves around playing the same teams nearly a dozen times a season and that would make adjustments go either in the pitcher and hitters’ advantage, and the newly-implemented pitch clocks should make for an interesting development for hitters with lessened time to think about their approach to the next pitch.
The opening day lineup in order from one-to-eight was: 8 Charlie Tilson, 6 Aledmys Diaz, 4 Jacob Wilson, DH David Washington, 3 Jonathan Rodriguez, 9 Breyvic Valera, 7 Anthony Garcia, 5 Patrick Wisdom, and 2 Michael Olhman. Bilardello, a former catcher, has used most of these same players on a regular basis. With the season still young, there have been a number of shakeups at positions with movement up and down the lineup as Bilardello tries to find the best possible combinations to get a streaky but potentially powerful lineup going.
4/20 INF Aledmys Diaz placed on the Temporary Inactive List
4/20 INF Cesar Valera transferred to Springfield from High-A Palm Beach
Texas League North Division Standings
|Arkansas Travelers (LAA)||8||4||.667||-||2-4||6-0||6-4||L2|
|Tulsa Drillers (LAD)||7||5||.583||1.0||3-3||4-2||6-4||L1|
|NW Arkansas Naturals (KC)||6||6||.500||2.0||4-2||2-4||6-4||W2|
|Springfield Cardinals (STL)||4||8||.333||4.0||1-5||3-3||4-6||W1|
The Cardinal Nation Top 40 Prospect Watch
#10 Charlie Tilson - Tilson has been Springfield’s brightest offensive contributor over the first two weeks as the table-setter but problem is the entire offense has been too streaky to get him across home plate. The centerfielder leads the offense with a .341 average, including 15 hits in 11 games.
#12 Aledmys Diaz - Diaz didn’t see much action in games of week two. Instead, the Cuban was placed on the Temporary Inactive List in order to obtain permanent residency in the States. If there was a guesstimate, Diaz would be back on the field as early as this weekend.
#14 Jacob Wilson - Scuffling through week two, Wilson’s average has fallen below the Mendoza line. He is still posting decent power numbers despite not being overly hot at the moment. When Wilson gets in a groove, watch for those numbers to jump.
#15 Breyvic Valera - Valera has appeared in every game thus far and has played at multiple positions as advertised. His versatility makes him very valuable to allow other position players a rest when needed and you know he’ll just hit. Valera is batting .171 in his past ten games but knocked in one with an RBI single in a pinch-hit appearance on Tuesday night.
#20 Nick Petree - Petree pitched better in his second start, but once he finally got away from Hammons Field, the righty pitched five shutout innings in his third start, a no-decision due to unlucky defense. The craftsman doesn’t miss bats but relies on the opposition to put the ball in play and expand their zones. To be successful, he’s going to need a strong defense behind him.
#25 Mike Mayers - Mayers was impressive in a seven-inning shutout and in line for his first win but the bullpen gave up the lead late on Tuesday night. We should see more of these type of outings going forward from Mayers.
#27 Patrick Wisdom - Wisdom is 2-for-his-first-29 at the plate in nine games. If he continues to perform like this at the plate, his playing will shrink as offensive production from the third base position is a necessity.
#35 Andrew Morales - Through his first two starts of the season, Morales has been Springfield’s best starting pitcher with two impressive outings while making that tough “jump” to Double-A Texas League look easy.
What is Next
Springfield finished this week with a 3-3 record and will look to improve on that in week three. They head home for a short homestand, playing four games against divisional rival Arkansas Travelers (LAA).
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Follow Derek Shore on Twitter @D_Shore23.
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