Going into Tulsa on July 5, Springfield had a record of 2-10 for the second half of the season and 41-39 over-all and were buried in the division basement. They now stand at 8-10 and find themselves just two-and-a-half games back of the first place Wichita Wranglers and can easily see the light at the top of the cellar door as they stand atop Tulsa and peer out at Arkansas from third place.
After Monday night's scheduled game with the Corpus Christi Hooks (13-4 in the second half) was called because of lighting and non-stop rain, the Cards came on the field Tuesday night playing like the same team that dropped the broom on Tulsa. They shocked the Hooks with a 6-l victory that practically made a farce of the statistics compiled by the Texas League statistics compilers--whoever they may be.
According to the Texas League guys who keep track of all of this stuff, only Mark Worrell was in the top-five in any category. Worrell currently has 21 saves which tops the entire Texas League. No hitter from Springfield is listed in the batting average, home run or RBI category and no pitcher, other than Worrell, is listed in the categories for ERA, strikeouts or saves.
That is about to turn around. Everyone on the Springfield team is hitting--a good sign. The pitching staff, even with Stuart Pomeranz on the disabled list due to an injury suffered in batting practice, has been nothing short of amazing. On Tuesday, Chris Lambert threw seven innings, giving up only one run on three hits and when Chris Russ came in to pitch the last two innings, he went right after Corpus Christi retiring six of the seven men he faced.
Perhaps one of the most impressive feats accomplished in Tuesday night's game (take note Texas League guys who keep track of stats) was when the Cards set a franchise record five steals on the night. Now that is the kind of Cardinal baseball I remember as a kid. A Ken Boyer home run was a sight to behold but a stolen base or two by Lou Brock and a hit up the middle by Dick Groat or Julian Javier was a true work of art.
I am certainly not comparing these young Redbirds to the 1964 St. Louis Cardinals (at least not yet) but, watching Kevin Estrada steal three bases on the night and, pull off a double steal with Mike McCoy was simply Cardinal baseball at its best.
The Springfield Cardinals are also sporting a new team member on the current seven-game homestand. Amaury Marti joined the team in Tulsa where he got his first Double-A hit Sunday with a pinch-hit RBI single. Marti began the year wearing the uniform of the Palm Beach Cardinals. Don't look for him in any of the record books or team guides--he isn't there.
The 31-year-old outfielder is in his first year of professional baseball after having recently defected from Cuba. In Palm Beach he hit .262 with four home runs and 16 RBI in 20 games. He replaces the roster spot left vacant by starting pitcher Stuart Pomeranz, currently on the DL.
Tonight (Wednesday, July 12), the Springfield Cardinals play their first double-header in franchise history to make up Monday's rain out. As per Texas League rules, each game will be seven innings. The Cardinals will send right-hander Mike Parisi (4-4) against Corpus Christi's right-hander Matt Albers in the first game and the Cards will send Carmen Cali (0-0) against Chad Reinecke (0-0) in the second game.
A win by the Cards and a loss by Wichita would put the Cardinals a game-and-a-half back of the Wranglers in the Texas League Northern Division. A little help from the baseball gods and Springfield could find itself back in first place by the weekend. So sharpen your pencils Texas League Statistics Takers and make sure you have plenty of erasers--you may just have to revise your records. Go Cards!
You can write John Brayfield at email@example.com.