The Springfield Cardinals Report – April 13

Our exclusive weekly report on the 2007 edition of the Double-A Springfield Cardinals from our on-site beat reporter, John Brayfield.

Can something good ever come from a loss? It can if you learn that your first baseman can hit a home run and hit another the very next time at bat. Joe Mather, the Springfield Cardinals' 6-foot-4, 195-pound first baseman did just that.

In their home opener at Hammonds Field on Thursday night, the Cards were behind 1-0 early in the game when Mather (who I like to call "The Beave") smashed a hit to left field that cleared the fence and sent the ball soaring into the train yard. The Midland RockHounds came back and tied the score, but the next time Mather (the 2007 guy I would most like to see make it in the big leagues) came to the plate, he sent another piece of horsehide, his fourth of the year, into the pine trees beyond center-field to once again claim the lead. The Cards lost, but they saw a knight in red round the bases and give them a very encouraging glimpse of things yet to come this season.

Speaking of centerfield, former St. Louis Cardinals star player and manager Red Schoendienst, who threw out the first pitch at the home opener, leaned over to a few of us in the press box and said, "I sure like the to see the way that centerfielder takes charge out there." That centerfielder was Colby Rasmus and I will have my eye on him this season. After all, when someone speaks who is as respected in baseball as much as Red Schoendienst, I listen.

Speaking of Cardinal greats - in the past three seasons reporting on the Springfield Cardinals, I have been fortunate enough to meet some of the greatest - Red of course this year, Bob Gibson last year and Stan the Man the first year. Does it get any better than that?

The Cardinals must have been feeling more like mailmen who promise to persevere in rain snow and dark of night, rather than baseball players as they returned to Hammons for their home opener against the Midland RockHounds.

The Cards had already lost a heartbreaking game to the RockHounds in Midland last Friday when a 25 mile-an-hour wind carried a routine fly-ball over the fence, hit by Brian Snyder in the bottom of the ninth to tie the game (Cards were leading 3-0). The RockHounds went on to win in the tenth. Chris Lambert (pictured) had pitched six scoreless innings before being removed in the Cardinals' half of the seventh.

The very next night, Saturday, the game was postponed because, of all the strange and weird things, SNOW. In Texas? In April? Would love to know how often this has happened.

After dropping their third straight game of the young season (two to Midland and one to the Frisco RoughRiders), the Cards bounced back with a big win on Monday night as they beat Frisco 6-2.

Tuesday night seemed like another downer, except this time there was no weather to blame. The Cardinals fell behind 6-0 in the first inning, then 7-0 in the second and I could almost hear the bus warming up in the parking lot ready for the quiet, depressing ride home. But miracles still happen and did happen as Bryan Anderson (pictured) paced Springfield's season-high 12-hit night, collecting three hits and two runs driven in, as the Cards won their second straight game.

Frisco got to Springfield starter Cory Rauschenberger for six first-inning runs, chasing him after he recorded just two outs. After the Riders touched Jose Garcia in the second for a run and a 7-0 lead, they watched as the Cardinals scored 11 of the game's next 13 runs.

Springfield got a run in the third and batted around in a six-run fourth inning. The inning was highlighted by five different Cardinals collecting RBIs. Colby Rasmus (pictured) capped the inning with a game-tying double, evening the game at 7-7.

The RoughRiders re-took the lead in the bottom of the inning though, getting an unearned run against Zack Zuercher for an 8-7 lead. Joe Mather's team-leading second home run of the year, a two-run shot to left-center field, put the Cards in front for the first time, at 9-8. Frisco again responded, scoring another run against Zuercher in the fifth to tie the game at 9-9.

After Reid Gorecki (pictured) reached on an error to open the sixth, Juan Richardson picked up his first RBI of the year, doubling home Gorecki, to give the Cards the lead for good at 10-9 against Frisco reliever Ryan Knippschild (0-1). In the eighth, Bryan Anderson picked up his third hit of the game, a single to centerfield to drive home Joe Mather, who also recorded three hits on the night, upping the lead to 11-9.

Chris Perez (pictured) earned his first Double-A save by working a scoreless ninth inning. With the tying run at the plate and two outs, Tyler Greene threw out Frisco catcher Kevin Richardson on a deep ground ball to short, securing the win for the Cards. Cards' reliever Brian Stitt (1-0) earned his first Double-A win, by tossing 2 1/3 scoreless innings of relief.

With that win, Springfield went to 2-3, one game back of Wichita in the North Division of the Texas League. They are now 2-4 and will play Midland Friday night and a double-header on Saturday and if Texas weather wasn't weird enough - snow is forecast for Springfield on Saturday.

Snow and baseball is not a good mix--just ask Red.

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