Our exclusive weekly report on the 2007 edition of the Double-A Springfield Cardinals of the Texas League. Third baseman Juan Richardson went deep twice on Thursday.
What was beginning to seem like a
sure thing has suddenly become a toss-up as the Springfield Cardinals dropped
their record to 25-20, only two games ahead of Arkansas in the Texas League
Northern Division, as they scrap to try and win the second half championship. It
has been a whirlwind week with more tallies in the loss column than on the win
side. But, sometimes unexpected thrills make up for a few losses.
Last night (Thursday, August 9)
the loudest roar from the crowd all year echoed throughout Hammons Field when
Public Address Announcer Kevin Howard, announced that Rick Ankiel had hit a
three-run homer for St. Louis. Ankiel is one of the most loved
and respected players to ever wear a Springfield Cardinals uniform, and the buzz
around the stadium at game time was that Rick had been called back to
Louis. The crowd couldn't have been
happier--except when he hit that home run. The fans went crazy and cheered
Ankiel's success as if he had just hit that three-run dinger over the scoreboard
in centerfield at Hammons.
Even a big win for
Springfield was overshadowed by Ankiel's
return to the majors. And it was a big win. The Springfield Cardinals got two
homers out of Juan Richardson on Thursday night, snapping their three-game
losing streak with a 5-1 victory over the San Antonio Missions at Hammons Field.
Richardson recorded his first multi-homer
game of the year with a pair of solo home runs, helping the Cards maintain their
lead in the North Division Second Half standings. The Missions got their only
run in the first inning against Cards' starter Mitchell Boggs, taking a 1-0
advantage on Chase Headley's RBI double. Richardson answered with two outs in the
home-half of the inning, driving an opposite field solo shot over the wall in
right field, tying the game at 1-1.
Springfield took the lead for good, scoring a
run in the second on Mark Hamilton's RBI single, taking a 2-1 lead.
Richardson struck again in the third,
blasting a home run to right-center field for a 3-1 lead. For
Richardson, the homer is his 18th of the
year, tying him with Colby Rasmus for the active team lead. He now has a total
of 35 career home runs as a Springfield Cardinal, the most in franchise history.
Bryan Anderson's two-run single with two outs in the eighth gave the Redbirds
some insurance, as he plated Casey Rowlett and Colby Rasmus to make it 5-1.
Anderson finished the night with three
hits to lead the offense.
Zack Zuercher allowed a couple of
hits and a walk in the ninth and with one out, was replaced by Jason Motte.
Motte came in and recorded his sixth save of the year, fanning the only two
batters he faced to end the game. Boggs struggled with his control, walking four
and hitting a batter in six innings. However, the Missions couldn't figure Boggs
(10-5) out offensively, as he limited San
Antonio bats to just the one run on three
Antonio's Cesar Ramos (10-8) took the
loss, allowing three runs on five hits over six innings. Kyle McClellan worked
two scoreless innings of relief out of the Springfield bullpen.
This past week will go down in
Springfield Cardinal history as the week thatwas. Last Friday (August 3) in
Springfield dropped a wild one, losing the
opening game of a four-game series by a score of 11-10. Tommy Duenas connected
for a walk-off home run to open the bottom of the ninth inning, giving the
Drillers their third straight win. Tied at 10 in the bottom of the ninth, Cards
reliever Nick Webber was summoned into the game, the fifth pitcher of the night
used by the Cards. Webber (1-2) threw just four pitches to Duenas, who drove his
fifth homer of the year over the left-center field fence.
The Cards and Drillers went back
and forth all night long, as neither team could seem to hold the lead.
Springfield jumped on
Tulsa starter Ching-Lung Lo, for four
first-inning runs. Cody Haerther and Amaury Marti each knocked in a run with a
hit. Bryan Anderson then followed with a two-run double, giving
Springfield a 4-0 lead. After responding with
one in the first, the Drillers got five in the second against Cards starter
Mitchell Boggs. All six Tulsa runs in the first two innings
were unearned due to a pair of Springfield errors.
Tulsa's Aaron Rifkin capped the inning
with a three-run blast, his 12th of the year to give the Drillers a 6-4 lead.
The teams exchanged runs in the fourth. Juan Lucena doubled to open the inning
and scored on a single by Mitchell Boggs, making it 6-5. Tulsa countered, as
Corey Wimberly doubled and later scored on a sac fly off the bat of Christian Colonel, giving Tulsa a 7-5 lead. Lucena clubbed a two-run single off the wall
in the fifth, scoring Marti and Anderson to tie the game at 7-7 against Lo, who
allowed seven earned runs on 13 hits over just five innings.
Boggs was removed after five
innings as well, giving up seven runs, only one earned, on eight hits. Cards
reliever Matt Scherer was touched for three runs in the sixth inning, as
Tulsa took a 10-7 lead. Colonel and
Chris Frey highlighted the inning, each collecting a run-scoring hit.
Springfield inched closer in the seventh, as
Juan Lucena's third hit, his first Double-A homer, made it a 10-9 game against
Tulsa reliever Judd Songster. Jose Martinez got the Cards even in the eighth against
Tulsa right-hander and eventual winner
Jarrett Grube (5-3), blasting a solo shot down the left-field line, his fifth of
the year to tie the game at 10-10.
Springfield came within one hit of their
season-high, banging out 19 hits on Friday night against
Tulsa pitching. Bryan Anderson, Juan
Lucena and Mark Hamilton all had three hits for
Springfield, while a total of seven different
Cardinals had multi-hit games. St. Louis Cardinals' left-hander Tyler Johnson,
down as part of a Major League rehab assignment pitched a 1-2-3 seventh inning, striking out one
man. The Cards fell to 23-17 with the loss, still two games up on
Arkansas in the North Division standings.
Saturday, August 4
On Saturday night, P.J. Walters
won his first Double-A game, helping the Cards end a two-game skid, as
Springfield knocked off
Tulsa by a score of 4-2 at Drillers
Stadium. In just his third Double-A start, Walters (1-2) worked seven strong
innings, his longest outing with the Cardinals. The right-hander allowed just
two runs on six hits, striking out two, while walking just one.
Walters was staked to an early
lead, as Cards left fielder Amaury Marti hit a two-run home run in the first
inning, putting the Redbirds up 2-0. The homer for Marti was his second in just
four games since joining the Cards. Tulsa struck for a run in the second,
cutting Springfield's advantage to just a run. Aaron Rifkin opened the inning with a
double, then moved to third on a bunt-single by Jordan Czarniecki. Walters
uncorked a wild pitch, bringing home Rifkin to make it 2-1.
Springfield took a 4-2 lead in the fourth
inning against Tulsa starter Jon Asahina. Colby Rasmus
and Amaury Marti were issued back-to-back walks to open the fourth. Mark
Hamilton moved the runners to second and third with a groundout to second base
for the first out of the inning. Juan Lucena then hit a grounder that went off
of third baseman Christian Colonel's glove. Both Rasmus and Marti scored on the
error, making it 4-1. Tulsa got their final run in the sixth,
as Colonel's 13th homer of the year made it 4-2.
Springfield got a scoreless eighth from Tyler
Johnson, his second scoreless frame in as many nights. Johnson's appearance was
the third in a Springfield uniform during his Major League
Rehab Assignment. Johnson was expected to rejoin the St. Louis Cardinals within
the next few days.
Jason Motte came on to close the
ninth, his first save situation since closer Chris Perez was promoted to
Triple-A Memphis. Motte allowed a lead-off single to Chris Frey to open the
ninth, but induced Matt Miller into a 6-4-3 double play. With two outs and
the bases empty, Motte then hit Rick Guarno with a pitch, bringing the tying run
to the plate. Tommy Duenas, who hit a pinch-hit walk-off homer on Friday night,
stepped to the plate in another pinch-hitting situation. Duenas wasn't as
successful on Saturday, as Motte fanned him with a fast ball, giving Motte his
fifth save in a Springfield uniform this year.
Asahina, making his first start
since late-April after sustaining a line drive to the head on April 26th, took
the loss. The right-hander allowed four runs (two earned) on three hits in just
3 1/3 innings. Lucena finished the night with two hits to lead the
Springfield offense, which collected just six
hits on the night. Lucena has hit safely in his last nine games, currently the
longest hitting streak on the team. Springfield improved to 24-17 with the win,
still two games up on Arkansas in the North Division.
Sunday saw the Tulsa Drillers hold
on for a 6-5 win, defeating Springfield in game three of a four-game set.
Tulsa closer Steven Register allowed
the Cards to get within a run in the ninth, but kept the tying run at third base
to preserve his league-leading 31st save of the year. Trailing 6-4 in the ninth,
Springfield opened the inning with
back-to-back singles from Casey Rowlett and Jose Martinez. A walk to Colby
Rasmus loaded the bases for Juan Richardson with no outs.
Richardson ripped a fast ball to left-center
field, taking Matt Miller all the way to the warning track to make the catch. On
the play, Rowlett scored from third and Martinez moved to third, making it 6-5 and
runners at the corners with one out. Cody Haerther then ripped a line drive that
was caught by third baseman Christian Colonel for the second out. Amaury Marti
popped up to end the game, giving Register his seventh save in as many tries
against Springfield this year.
Some sloppy defense and a bright
sun (no excuses, just the facts) allowed the Drillers to grab a big lead against
the Cards in the third inning. After Springfield got on the board with a run in
the third, Tulsa answered with five runs in the
home-half of the inning. Cards' starter Eric Haberer allowed a walk and hit a
batter to open the inning. Colonel followed with a single to load the bases. A
ground ball to first base by Aaron Rifkin brought home the Drillers first run,
tying the game at 1-1. Matt Macri then stepped to the plate and lifted a routine
fly ball to right field. Springfield right fielder Amaury Marti lost
the ball in the sun though, allowing a run to score to make it 2-1. After an
intentional walk to Matt Miller loaded the bases, Duke Sardinha popped up to
right field. Marti struggled again, losing the ball out of his glove, allowing
another run to score to make it 3-1.
Rick Guarno then followed with a
two-run double, giving the Drillers a 5-1 lead. Jordan Czarniecki singled to
open the sixth, later scoring from third on a wild pitch to make it 6-1.
Springfield would chip away, tallying three
runs in the sixth to make it 6-4. Mark Hamilton and Sean Danielson highlighted
the inning, each collecting a run-scoring single against
Tulsa starter Samuel Deduno (5-6).
Haberer (11-5) took the loss,
ending his personal seven-game winning streak. In five innings, Haberer allowed six
runs (five earned) on seven hits, while walking four and striking out three.
Zack Zuercher fired two perfect innings, while Chris Russ worked a scoreless
eighth out of the Springfield bullpen. The Redbirds fell to
24-18 with the loss.
Monday didn't get any better as
the Drillers took the final game of the four-game series that night, shutting
out the Cardinals by a score of 3-0 at Drillers Stadium.
Springfield has dropped six of the last seven
meetings between the two teams in Tulsa.
Tulsa starter Sean Thompson (2-1) was
brilliant, limiting the Cards' offense to just four hits over 6 2/3 shut-out
innings. The Cards rarely threatened, never moving a man past second base all
night. The Drillers got a run in
the first against Cards' starter Cory Rauschenberger. Aaron Rifkin's sac fly
scored Jonathan Herrera from third base, giving the Drillers the only run they
would need. They added another in the third, as Chris Frey singled with two
outs, advanced to second on a wild pitch, then scored on an RBI single from
Christian Colonel, making it 2-0.
Rauschenberger (8-8) pitched well, working six full innings before being
removed for a pinch hitter in the seventh. He allowed just two runs on five
hits, with one walk and one strike out.
The Drillers got their final run
in the seventh, taking a 3-0 lead. Cards' reliever Matt Scherer walked Matt
Miller with one out, then wild pitched him to second base.
Tulsa pitcher Jarrett Grube then
grounded a ball up the middle. Cards' second baseman Casey Rowlett fielded it,
but his throw got away from first baseman Mark Hamilton, allowing Miller to
score the third Tulsa run. Drillers' closer Steven Register worked around a
two-out walk in the ninth, getting pinch hitter Colby Rasmus to foul out to end
the game, giving Register his league-leading 32nd save of the year.
Springfield fell to 24-19 in the second half
and 60-50 overall.
After a day off on Tuesday, the
Cards returned to Hammons Field in hopes of racking up the first of a six game
home stand sweep—but it was not to be. The only thing cooler than the
Springfield Cardinals' bats was the frozen lemonade being hawked around the
ballpark. But, the San Antonio Missions managed to rip four home runs on
Wednesday night, taking the opening game of a three-game series by a final score
of 12-8 at Hammons Field.
The Missions jumped on Cards'
starter Adam Daniels in the second inning, scoring five times to take the early
Antonio sent ten men to the plate,
capping the inning with a two-run single from Colt Morton, as the Missions went
Springfield responded with two in the bottom
of the inning, as Mark Hamilton brought two home with a two-run single to center
field, making it 5-2. San
Antonio clubbed three solo home runs in
the third, taking an 8-2 lead.
Daniels surrendered long balls to Chad Huffman and Luis Cruz before being
chased just one out into the third. Nick Webber then came out of the bullpen and
gave up a home run to Matt Antonelli, his first of two long balls on the night.
The Redbirds countered with a pair
in the bottom of the third, cutting the deficit to 8-4. Cody Haerther drove in a
run with an RBI double to make it 8-3. Bryan Anderson then brought home Juan
Ricardson from third with a sac fly, making it 8-4. The Missions scored two in
the fourth and two in the fifth against Webber, taking a commanding 12-4 lead.
Matt Antonelli's second homer of the game and seventh of the season highlighted
the fifth inning. Springfield scored the game's last four runs,
getting three in the seventh and one more in the eighth to cap the scoring. Jose
Martinez homered in the seventh, his sixth homer in a
Springfield uniform to make it 12-5. Cody Haerther also picked up a
run-scoring double in the inning, his third two-bagger of the night. Amaury
Marti brought home a run with an RBI groundout, making it 12-7. Juan Lucena
capped the scoring with a solo shot in the eighth, his second home run of the
year to make it 12-8.
Daniels (4-5) suffered the loss,
allowing seven runs on seven hits in just 2 1/3 innings.
Antonio starter Josh Geer (13-5) earned
his league-leading 13th win of the year, giving up four runs on seven hits in
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