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
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.
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
Louis the win. The winning pitcher was
Wellemeyer and Jaime Garcia was credited with the loss.
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.
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,
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 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.
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
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