Our exclusive weekly report on the 2007 edition of the Double-A Springfield Cardinals of the Texas League. Outfielder Colby Rasmus had a four-game home run streak and a 15-game hitting streak end this week as his club nears a second-half championship.
It's great to be in the city of a
winning baseball team.
St. Louis always seems to grow in
excitement when the playoffs come around. Now, we have that in
Springfield and the city is set to come apart
at the seams. It's one thing to have a team in town, it is another to have a
champion team. It has been a long time since Springfield could boast a winning baseball
season. Well before my time.
The last time
Springfield had pro baseball was back in the
early 50s - and that only lasted one season. Memorial Stadium was built on the
west side of Springfield around 1949 or '50. The Chicago Cubs moved their Double-A farm club team to Springfield to play in Memorial Stadium, but
the Springfield Cubs played only one year.
Why? Because baseball fans had
found something else to be excited about - fast pitch softball.
Springfield parks drew many more fans to
watch these big, burly guys throw larger, softer balls underhanded. These
pitchers were amazing to watch. And a good softball pitcher was a legend in his
time. The stadium was torn down and all that remains of the baseball area is the
Ballpark Tavern that once poured cold ones for the likes of Stan Musial and
I suppose it was the softball
craze overshadowing baseball that led nay-sayers to toss negatives around the
field whenever baseball in Springfield was mentioned. Some (my father-in-law) said
"people want to see big league baseball, they won't come to see the minor league
stuff." Others (my father-in-law) said "they will never get a team in
Springfield," And some (my father-in-law) would swear that they themselves would
have no interest in seeing minor league baseball because they could watch the
big guys on TV.
Well, guess what? Minor league
baseball did come to Springfield and it has thrived. If my
father-in-law had lived to see the Springfield Cardinals and Hammons Field, I
know just what he would have said. "The Springfield Cardinals have brought
baseball back to Springfield and people are really going out
to see them. And that Hammons Field - it is really a fine place to play ball -
way too good for me."
Playoff tickets are flying off the
shelves and fans are talking more every day about when they are going to a
playoff game. Take my word for it (and my father-in-law's) - the city of
Springfield is about to paint the town red.
And now, the week in Springfield
Cardinal game excitement as seen through the eyes of the greatest play-by-play
announcer in minor league baseball--Mike Lindskog,
Monday, August 27 - The Springfield Cardinals won
their third straight game to close out their regular season road schedule on
Monday night, dropping the Arkansas Travelers by a final score of 10-3 at
Dickey-Stephens Park in
Springfield moved to 33-29, 2 ½ games up on
Arkansas in the Second Half North Division
The Redbirds went off for a second
straight day offensively, pounding out double-digit runs to go along with 15
hits, in finishing at 36-33 on the road this year.
Amaury Marti led the way with
three hits, including one of three Springfield home runs.
Eric Haberer got the win, becoming
the team's first 13-game winner. Haberer (13-7) pitched into the seventh inning,
allowing only run run through the first six frames. After allowing back-to-back
singles to open the seventh, Haberer was removed in favor of Cards' reliever
Kyle McClellan. McClellan allowed both inherited runners to score, as Haberer
was charged with three runs on seven hits over six-plus innings.
The Cards got a run in the second
to take the lead against Travs' starter Miguel Gonzalez. Rico
Washington led off the inning with a blast
to right field, his first homer in a Springfield uniform this year, making it 1-0.
Arkansas tied it in the bottom of the
inning, as Sean Rodriguez walked to open the frame and later scored on Ben Johnson's RBI single, tying the game at 1-1.
Springfield tallied five in the fourth to
take the lead for good. Casey Rowlett had a two-run single to break the tie at
3-1. Four batters later, Marti homered to right field, his sixth of the year, a
three-run shot to make it 6-1.
After the Travs got two in the
seventh on a Freddy Sandoval two-run triple, the Cards responded by scoring once
in the eighth and adding three more in the ninth.
Washington's two-out RBI single made it 7-3
in the eighth. Colby Rasmus crushed his league-leading 27th home run of the year
off of Bill Edwards in the ninth, a three-run blast to make it 10-3.
Gonzalez (7-4), the league's ERA
leader coming into the game, got rocked for six runs on eight hits over four
innings to take the loss.
Jason Motte and Zack Zuercher
followed McClellan out of the Springfield bullpen to finish the night, each
tossing a scoreless inning of relief.
Tuesday, August 28 - The Springfield Cardinals held
off the Wichita Wranglers in the ninth inning, winning for the fourth straight
game, a 5-4 win at Hammons Field on Tuesday night. All five runs came via the
long ball, as the Cards belted three home runs on the night.
Cards' closer Mike Sillman was
tested in earning his second save as a Cardinal, surviving a late rally by the
Wranglers. Wichita got two in the ninth, to close to
within a run, on RBI hits by Jeff Nettles and Onil Joseph. With Joseph at first representing the
tying run, Sillman struck out second baseman Mike Gaffney to preserve the win.
Wichita took an early lead against Cards'
starter Cory Rauschenberger, as Kila Kaaihue homered with a man aboard, putting
the Wranglers up 2-0.
Colby Rasmus answered for the
Cards, leading off the bottom of the first inning with a solo home run, his
league-leading 28th, to make it 2-1. Rasmus is just the second
Cardinal in history to homer in four straight games.
Washington gave the Cards the lead for good,
as his three-run homer with two outs in the third inning put
Springfield on top 4-2. The homer for
Washington is just his second of the year.
Casey Rowlett added a solo shot to
left field in the fourth, his second of the year, putting
Springfield up 5-2 against
Wichita starter Danny Christensen.
Rauschenberger (10-8) pitched six
quality innings, allowing just two runs on two hits. He struck out two and
walked three in earning his second straight victory.
Christensen (3-14) surrendered
five runs on five hits over 6 2/3 innings, suffering his league-leading 14th
loss of the year.
Wednesday, August 29
- The Wichita
Wranglers used a six-run second inning, ending the Redbirds' four-game winning
streak with a 9-5 victory over Springfield on Wednesday night at Hammons
Cards' starter Adam Daniels
couldn't get out of the second inning, as the Wranglers scored six runs against
the left-hander, chasing him just five outs into the game. Mike Gaffney's single
put the Wranglers on the board, scoring Kila Kaaihue to put
Wichita up 1-0. Irving Falu then walked
with the bases loaded, pushing across a run to make it 2-0. Valentino Arce added
an RBI single and Geraldo Valentin brought home a run with an RBI groundout,
making it 4-0. Jeff Nettles capped
the inning with a two-run single, ending the night for Daniels at 6-0.
Nick Webber came on for Daniels
(4-7) to finish the second and conceded only one hit until the sixth inning,
when Valentino Arce took him deep to left for a two-run homer. Arce's first
homer of the year made it an 8-0 game.
Wichita starter Dusty Hughes was
outstanding, holding the Cards off the board through the first five innings.
Springfield finally tallied in the sixth, as
Jose Martinez picked up a two-out single to plate Bryan Anderson, making it 8-1.
Hughes (6-2) finished the night by
allowing just one unearned run on three hits over six innings.
Allen Craig's first career
Double-A home run, a solo shot to left field, gave the Cards their second run at
8-2. Cody Haerther blasted a three-run homer to right field in the eighth, his
fifth of the year to make it 8-5 against Wranglers' reliever David Bernat.
Wichita got an unearned run in the ninth
to up the lead to 9-5, as Jeff Nettles scored from third on a two-out passed
ball. Jason Cromer came on in the ninth and retired the side in order to end the
game, helping the Wranglers to avoid playoff elimination.
Colby Rasmus finished the game
1-for-4, extending his hitting streak to 15 straight, tying the franchise mark
held by 2005 Springfield Cardinal Aaron Herr.
The Cards (34-30) remained 2 ½
games up on Arkansas (32-33) with just five games to
play in the regular season.
30 - Mitchell Boggs fired eight scoreless innings on Thursday night, as the Springfield
Cardinals shut out the Wichita Wranglers by a score of 8-0 at Hammons Field. The
Cardinals' win, combined with Arkansas' loss at
Tulsa on Thursday, reduces
Springfield's magic number to one, as the
Cards can now wrap up the Second Half North Division Title on Friday night with
a win at Hammons Field.
Boggs surrendered just two hits
over eight innings, helping the Cards to earn their ninth shutout of the year
and third in the last week. Boggs (11-7) walked three and punched out five
batters in winning his 11th game of the year.
The Cardinals got all the offense
they needed in a three-run third inning against
Wichita starter Mike Connolly. Juan Lucena reached on a one-out error by second baseman Geraldo Valentin, opening
the door for three unearned runs.
With two outs and Lucena aboard at first base, Jose Martinez ripped a
two-run homer into the left field bullpen, his tenth in a
Springfield uniform to make it 2-0. Cody
Haerther followed with a double, then scored on an RBI single by Amaury Marti,
giving the Redbirds a 3-0 advantage.
Boggs was rarely tested, allowing
a total of six base runners on the night, none of which reached third base. He
gave up a lead-off single to Valentino Arce in the eighth, but got the next
three hitters to keep the shut-out intact.
Washington provided some insurance with a
three-run homer to right field in the eighth, his third in a
Springfield uniform to make it 6-0. After an
Allen Craig double, Bryan Anderson singled him home to make it 7-0. Mark Hamilton followed with an RBI double to cap the night at 8-0 against
Wichita reliever Gilbert de la Vara.
Connolly (4-7) got sacked with the
loss, pitching well in defeat. The left-hander allowed just three unearned runs
on four hits over seven innings, walking one and fanning five.
Kyle McClellan worked a scoreless
ninth to end it.
Colby Rasmus saw his franchise
record-tying hit streak end at 15 straight games, as he finished 0-for-4.
The Cards (35-30) are now 3 ½
games up on Arkansas (32-34) and
Tulsa (33-35) with just four games to
play in the regular season. A Cardinals' win would give
Springfield the Second Half North Division