Springfield Cardinals Report – 04/04/08

Beat reporter John Brayfield's weekly report from the St. Louis Cardinals' Double-A affiliate in Springfield, MO

It was a wet, soggy, cold, windy Ozarks weekend--perfect weather for Cardinals vs. Cardinals baseball. Nearly 20,000 fans sat through several hours of miserable weather to witness three dreams become a reality. The first was seeing Albert Pujols hit a home run; the second was seeing former Springfield Cardinals Rico Washington and Kyle McClellan in St. Louis Cardinals uniforms; and the third was seeing the Springfield Cardinals overwhelmingly beat the parent team.


One thing about exhibition games - you can always expect some entertainment that has absolutely nothing to do with baseball. Such was the case on Friday night when the Beatles-mimicking group the Legends of Liverpool, who perform in Branson, were deposited in short right field at Hammons Field by helicopter. They jumped from the chopper, running beneath the still spinning blades, very "Hard Days Night" like, and took the stage for a series of four songs. They were very impressive, although obviously stuck in 1964, and I certainly had my doubts about their ability to catch a fly ball or steal home. 


First 2008 baseball in Springfield


Enough about the Fab Four. The reason the fans were there was to see Cardinals baseball. Fireworks were promised to follow the game, but they struck as early as the second inning on the field. St. Louis took a 1-0 lead as Chris Duncan scored a run on a throwing error. Springfield fans saw their first wish come true in the third inning when Pujols lined a home run over the left field wall.  He was followed by Rick Ankiel finding his way on base and Yadier Molina hit an RBI single to drive Ankiel home and make it 3-0 St. Louis.


In the bottom of the third, Springfield came back with the first of Jose Martinez's hits, as he drove one off St. Louis starter Todd Wellemeyer, to drive in Tyler Greene, making it a 3-1 game. Greene made some more noise in the seventh inning when he homered down the left field line against reliever Russ Springer (who closed out St. Louis' first win of the season against the Colorado Rockies) bringing the Double-A franchise  within a run.


Both bullpens pitched flawlessly into the ninth inning when Springfield threatened with a single from Jon Jay off closer Jason Isringhausen, with two outs. Springfield fans somehow found a way to rise above the cold, damp air and deliver a great roar of noise from the stands as Dan Nelson stepped to the plate. The roar turned into a collective sigh as Nelson went down swinging, giving Isringhausen the save and St. Louis the win. The winning pitcher was Wellemeyer and Jaime Garcia was credited with the loss.


Defeating St. Louis


Saturday continued to be wet, cold and windy--another perfect day for baseball.  A sell-out crowd of 9,777 fans witnessed the Springfield Cardinals get their first win in four exhibition games against the major league parent club, pounding St. Louis 10-3.


Hopefully, Saturday's game was just a glimpse of what the Springfield offense has in store for rest of the Texas League this season. Jon Jay, Jose Martinez and Allen Craig each had three hits on the day for Springfield with Jay and Martinez pairing up with back to back hits in the first and second innings to give Springfield a 4-0 lead.


In the fourth and fifth innings, St. Louis roughed up Springfield starter P.J. Walters and reliever Nick Webber for two runs.  But the fans didn't seem to mind at all as both runs were scored by former Springfield players Rick Ankiel and Rico Washington. Ankiel was driven in by a two out double from Adam Kennedy in the fourth and Washington blasted a home run in the fifth making the score 4-2.


The next two innings saw Springfield put the game in the bank by scoring three runs in the sixth and two more in the seventh inning. In the sixth, Mark Hamilton and Dan Nelson both had run scoring hits boosting the score to 7-2 and Luke Gorsett launched a two-run homer into the left field bullpen to make it 9-3. Shane Robinson added a tally in the eighth with an RBI double to set the final score at 10-3.


Springfield starter P.J. Walters was credited with the win and Brad Thompson, starter for St. Louis, took the loss. Thompson gave up four runs on 10 hits in four innings while Walters allowed only one run on four hits in 3 2/3 innings.


The Opener


The Springfield Cardinals set a new team record on opening night, Thursday, April 4, by losing their fourth season opener in as many years. They are now 0-4 for opening day games and they will have to agonize for another year to try and end that streak. Springfield lost to the Frisco RoughRiders 6-3 on another chilly, damp, windy night at Hammons Field.


Frisco's starting pitcher, Matt Harrison, was responsible for a lot of the lop-sided scoring. The left-hander, acquired from Atlanta last year in the Mark Teixiera trade, pitched a shut-out game into the sixth inning, allowing only one run and four hits in 5 2/3 innings. Springfield starter P.J. Walters, who got the win in Saturday's victory over St. Louis, pitched well, but several two-out hits came back to haunt him. Frisco scored three times on three two-out hits in five innings against Walters.


Nick Webber, who replaced Walters in the sixth, didn't do much better. With the score 3-0 and the bases loaded, Webber hit Craig Gentry with a pitch to force in a run and a fielders' choice off the bat of Elvis Andrus made it 5-0.


As dismal as the weather and the action on the playing field was, there were two glimpses of future hope in the Springfield line-up. Shane Robinson was responsible for two of the Cards' three runs by getting three hits in the game, his third one driving in Luke Gorsett to make it 5-2. The Cards scored their third run when Frisco catcher Taylor Teagarden was charged with a passed ball, allowing Tyler Greene to score from third to make it 5-3.  The other glimpse of hope came from former Missouri State Bear Bob Zimmermann who threw two innings of scoreless relief, stiking out three and giving up only one hit.  Springfield reliever Jon Mikrut got tagged for a run in the ninth as Chris Davis got a RBI single to knock in John Mayberry to create the final 6-3 scoring.


Looking ahead


The Springfield Cardinals are 0-1 for the season, and hope to even that stat Friday night at Hammons Field as they take on the RoughRiders in game two of a three game series. That series will be followed by a three game series with the Midland RockHounds before the Cards hit the road to play a three game series in Frisco, Texas and a three game series in Midland, Texas.



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