Last Wednesday, the Cards were in a position that if they won that day against Arkansas, they would only have to tie with Tulsa in the up-coming four-game home series, starting the next day, to win the title. They had beaten Arkansas four of the five games scheduled. Arkansas was not playing all that well. But, the Cards did not win and put themselves in a position where they had to win three out of four to best Tulsa.
On Thursday night, the Cards went even deeper in the hole by losing to the Drillers 6-2, allowing first baseman Joe Koshanky to hit two home runs. Starting pitcher Jordan Pals gave up three home runs and all together, Tulsa hit four on the night.
It seemed like the Cards might get a break when Tulsa starter Emmanuel Ulloa pulled up short at first base and left the game with a groin injury. But it turned out to be a break for Tulsa as Alberto Arias replaced him and proceeded to pitch like a title was on the line or something.
On Friday, with the Cards needing to win every remaining game (three), Chris Lambert pitched the best game of his Double-A career, throwing seven shutout innings, as the Cards won 2-0. Cory Doyne and Mark Worrell both worked scoreless innings and the Cardinals and the fans were still alive.
That's when things really started to get crazy. On Saturday night the Cardinals, before a huge crowd of almost 9,000, struck first and carried that lead right on into the sixth inning when rain began to fall. The soggy game was not called and, as luck would have it, the Drillers scored in the top half of the sixth to tie it and the teams were called off the field because of heavy rain and lightning after the top of the seventh.
After an 80-minute delay, accompanied by tremendous lightning, the game was suspended and according to Texas League and Major League rules, the game was re-scheduled to be played on Sunday beginning in the bottom of the seventh inning.
On Sunday, the resumed game saw Juan Richardson hit a solo home run for Springfield that turned out to be the winning run. Somehow, it felt like 1964 all over again as the Springfield Cardinals, much like St. Louis in ‘64, waded through insurmountable odds and "if-onlys", as Springfield and Tulsa began the second game of the day in a tie for first place.
But, by the third inning it felt much more like 1985 when Tulsa scored five unearned runs giving them a commanding 7-1 lead. And Tulsa starter Mark Kaiser showed no mercy to the Cards as he retired 21 batters in a row.
The final score was 8-1 and there truly was no joy in Mudville on Sunday.
But, that was Sunday and there is a whole half-season yet to go. My gut feeling is that Springfield will be there in the playoffs come September. Should Tulsa win the second half also, then the team with the best overall season record would play them in the playoffs. Currently, the Cards are five games ahead of Wichita and play the Wranglers 14 more games--with nine of those at home and only five in Wichita.
Once again, the season could come down to the wire in August as the Springfield Cardinals meet the Wichita Wranglers in four games for the final homestand of 2006. So keep that champagne cold and those high-fives ready. The Mighty Casey may get that hit yet. Is it any wonder I love minor league baseball?
Note: The first-half ends with 16 balls on the indoor training facility roof and two near-misses for baseballs through the press box window heading for assistant media director Brittany's head - the latest coming Saturday night. I truly believe that if the entire Springfield Cardinals team was as quick as Brittany, we would be drinking champagne right now, patting each other's behinds, and packing for the play-offs in September. Go Cards!!
The rosters for the 2006 Texas
League All-Star game have been finalized. The game will take place at Ray Winder
Tuesday, June 20. Reid Gorecki, Springfield Cardinal center-fielder,
will start and third baseman Rico
starter Alex Gordon of the Wichita Wranglers.
pitcher Stuart Pomeranz and reliever Mark Worrell are both on the
pitching rotation for Tuesday night's game.
Texas League North Division All Star Team
First Base - Joe Koshansky, Tulsa
Second Base - Eric Rodland, Arkansas
Third Base - Alex Gordon, Wichita
Shortstop - Troy Tulowitzki, Tulsa
Catcher - Matt Tupman, Wichita
Designated Hitter - Brandon Wood, Arkansas
Outfield - Billy Butler, Wichita
Outfield - Jordan Czarniecki, Tulsa
Outfield - Reid Gorecki - Springfield
Infield Reserve - Rico Washington, Springfield
Infield Reserve – Jason Aspito, Arkansas
Catcher Reserve - Chris Iannetta, Tulsa
Outfield Reserve - Mitch Maier, Wichita
Pitcher - Ryan Braun, Wichita
Pitcher - Manuel Corpas, Tulsa
Pitcher – Miguel Gonzalez, Arkansas
Pitcher - Ubaldo Jimenez, Tulsa
Pitcher - Juan Morillo, Tulsa
Pitcher - Josh Newman, Tulsa
Pitcher - Stuart Pomeranz, Springfield
Pitcher – Jesse Smith, Arkansas
Pitcher - Seung Jun Song, Wichita
Pitcher - Mark Worrell, Springfield
Manager - Ty Boykin, Arkansas
Coach - Ken Patterson, Arkansas
Coach - Keith Johnson, Arkansas
Trainer - Aaron Wells, Arkansas
Texas League South Division All Star Team
First Base - Bryan Lahair, San Antonio (not attending, promoted to
Second Base - Kevin Melillo, Midland
Third Base - Josh Bonifay, Corpus Christi
Shortstop - Ben Zobrist, Corpus Christi
Catcher - Kurt Suzuki, Midland
Designated Hitter - Vasili Spanos, Midland
Outfield - Josh Anderson, Corpus Christi
Outfield - Wladimir Balentien, San Antonio
Outfield - Hunter Pence, Corpus Christi
Reserve Infielder - Nate Gold, Frisco
Reserve Infielder - Adam Morrissey, Frisco
Reserve Catcher - J.R. House, Corpus Christi
Reserve Outfielder - Anthony Webster, Frisco
Pitcher - Matt Albers, Corpus Christi
Pitcher - Yorman Bazardo, San Antonio
Pitcher - Travis Blackley, San Antonio
Pitcher - John Danks, Frisco
Pitcher - Thomas Diamond, Frisco
Pitcher - Paul Estrada, Corpus Christi
Pitcher - Juan Gutierrez, Corpus Christi
Pitcher - Nick Masset, Frisco (not attending, promoted to triple-A
Pitcher – Jason Mackintosh, San Antonio
Pitcher - Jailen Peguero, Corpus Christi
Pitcher – Brad Ziegler, Midland
Manager - Dave Clark, Corpus Christi
Coach - Joe Slusarski, Corpus Christi
Coach - John Tamargo, Jr., Corpus Christi
Coach – Danny Fatheree, Corpus Chrisi
Trainer - Jamey Snodgrass, Corpus Christi
You can write John Brayfield at firstname.lastname@example.org