Springfield split a four-game series with the Texas League North Division leading Tulsa Drillers on Sunday following a loss on Saturday that saw Tulsa break a 4-4 tie in the seventh inning, scoring four runs, to take a demanding four run lead and win by a final score of 8-4. Tulsa managed to hit four solo home runs on the day. Going deep for Tulsa were Dexter Fowler, Jeff Draglcevich, Eric Young Jr., and Chris Nelson. Jose Martinez had three hits and four RBI and collected his second home run of the season. All four runs were attributed to Springfield starter P.J. Walters, who got a no decision giving up nine hits in five innings.
Sunday was a different animal in Cardinal Country though, as Mark Mulder (pictured), on the second leg of his rehab assignment for St. Louis, took the mound at Hammons Field and pitched six shutout innings to pound the Drillers 10-3, before a sell-out crowd of 8,421 fans. Though Mulder's pitching was nearly flawless, it was his command of the field from the mound that was really impressive.
The team, defensively, played like an entirely different squad. Maybe it was knowing the St. Louis Cardinals' general manager was in the house or maybe it was knowing that the parent club was indeed watching the day's happenings, but whatever it was, the team played superb baseball. The future for St. Louis looked as bright as the sun that was shining on the field as Mulder not only pitched an excellent game but John Jay missed hitting for the first cycle in Springfield history by a double, going 4-for-4 on the day.
It was Jay that sparked the offense by hitting a one-out triple in the second inning and scoring the game's first run on a Shane Robinson sacrifice fly. The Cardinals took the lead and never fell behind. Springfield scored four more runs in the third to make it 5-0. Mulder led the inning off with a single, moving on to third on a Brendan Ryan double. Mulder came home on a Bryan Anderson double to make it 4-0 and Jose Martinez chased Anderson home with a sac fly to make it a five-run game.
It did get a bit hairy at one point for Mulder. The tall hurler walked two batters in the sixth, but got out of the pinch when Matt Miller lined out hard to short for the final out of the inning. In the bottom of the sixth, Mark Shorey pinch-hit for Mulder and smashed an opposite-field home run to give Springfield a seven run lead.
Cory Rauschenberger (who is either going to have to get a shorter name or a bigger jersey) gave up a two-run homer in the seventh. Jon Jay hit a three-run homer to put Springfield up 10-2. Tulsa scored their final run when Daniel Carte got an RBI hit, making it 10-3.
On Monday, Springfield visited the Northwest Arkansas Naturals in Springdale, Arkansas and were upended in a 1-0 game that saw the Naturals make Springfield starter Jaime Garcia think that the mound in Springdale was surrounded by bad luck trolls. Garcia, who threw the first complete game of the season for Springfield, took a 0-0 tie into the eighth inning. Naturals' Adam Donachie hit a ball back to the mound that went off the glove of Garcia, who after recovering it, threw it wildly to first, allowing Donachie to go on to second. With Donachie on second, the next batter sent one down the third baseline. Catcher Brian Anderson was forced to field the ball and had no play at home and was forced to make the throw to first for the out and watch Donachie cross the plate to score the game's only run, giving Northwest Arkansas the 1-0 win.
Garcia struck out 10 batters, a career high, but saw his two-game winning streak come to an end. Springfield outhit the Naturals 7-3, but still managed to lose the game. This game marked the first meeting between the Springfield Cardinals and the Naturals, a Kansas City Royals affiliate.
On Tuesday, the Cards climbed back into the winners circle, beating the Naturals 7-4 in a marathon 14 innings. Luke Gorsett's very first RBI in Double-A play came at a perfect time, as he hit a two out single to score A.J. Van Slyke to win the game. The 14 innings matched the longest game in Springfield history set back on April 23, 2005, in a 2-1 loss to Tulsa.
Springfield started their 14-inning rally with two outs, as Van Slyke picked up his second double of the night. After intentionally walking Jon Jay, Naturals reliever Pat Green (0-1) gave up a base hit to right field off the bat of Gorsett. Van Slyke got waved around third by Manager Pop Warner scoring just ahead of right fielder Brian McFall's throw. Brandon Yarbrough singled right behind Gorsett, bringing in both Jay and Gorsett to make it 7-4.
Luke Gregerson, just off the DL, got his first save of the year as starter Clayton Motensen, who allowed just one run on five hits in seven innings, got a no-decision.
Springfield looked to make it two in a row on Wednesday, but it was not to be as the game was rained out and the Cards played a double-header on Thursday, losing the first game 4-2, but winning the second, 4-3. Jon Jay hit his fourth home run of the year in the fourth to break a scoreless tie and put Springfield up 1-0. Mark Shorey and Brandon Yarbrough, both hit run-scoring singles in the inning to make it 3-0 Springfield.
Alan Craig scored on a Jose Martinez sacrifice fly in the fifth, to pick up a run that would mean the difference between leaving Arkansas on a bad note and leaving on an even one. The Naturals managed to score three runs in the sixth, making the score 4-3.
Mike Lindskog, the voice of the Springfield Cardinals, called the exciting inning like this: "Springfield would turn out to need all four runs, as the Naturals rallied for three in the bottom of the sixth. Walters (1-2) gave up three consecutive one-out hits, as the Naturals got on the board at 4-1. After a Springfield error allowed another run to score, Luke Gregerson would come out of the pen, immediately surrendering an RBI single to pinch-hitter Brian McFall to make it a 4-3 game. With the tying run at third and the go-ahead run at first and only one out, Gregerson stepped off the mound and caught McFall in a run-down between first and second. After the Cards failed to tag McFall, Ed Lucas raced towards home from third. First baseman Mark Hamilton's throw appeared to be a bit late, but the home plate umpire ruled Lucas out, preserving Springfield's one-run lead. Gregerson would go on to record the game's final four outs to earn his second save of the year."
The Redbirds, now 7-13 after their double-header split, are just three games back of Tulsa in the North Division. The Cardinals will send Mark Mulder (1-0) to the mound tonight (Friday), as he makes his second rehab start for Springfield.
In other Springfield news: A number of different roster moves have taken place in the last 24 hours. RHP Luke Gregerson and LHP Adam Daniels have both come off the disabled list. Gregerson made his first appearance since coming off the DL on Tuesday, collecting his first regular season save for Springfield with a scoreless 14th inning at Northwest Arkansas. Daniels' first appearance may come as soon as Friday night in Tulsa, following Mark Mulder, who is scheduled to start against the Drillers. RHP Kris Honel was released on Monday and Bob Zimmermann was placed on the Disabled List on Tuesday. Brendan Ryan, who had been with Springfield for the last six days, has been activated and has rejoined the St. Louis Cardinals in Pittsburgh. Ryan was 7-for-19 (.368) in four games with Springfield. The moves leave the Cards with 24 active players on their roster.
Bryan Anderson snagged Springfield's first Player of the Week Award this year, being named Texas League Player of the Week on Monday. The 2007 Texas League All-Star went 12-26 in five games with two home runs and seven RBI. Anderson has hit in 10 of his last 11 games and is second in the league with a .375 average entering Monday's game. Arkansas pitcher Robert Mosebach was named Pitcher of the Week, thanks to his nine-inning complete-game victory over Northwest Arkansas. It's the Texas League's first complete game this year and the earliest a complete game has been thrown in the league since 2004.
Juan Richardson, a member of both the 2006 and 2007 Springfield Cardinals has found a new home in Springdale. Richardson signed an off-season free agent contract with the Kansas City Royals and has appeared in all 18 games for the Naturals. After going 0-2 in his debut against his former team on Monday, Richardson picked up a pair of hits and RBI on Tuesday, but has just five RBI this year. The Dominican Republic native spent the first nine seasons in the minors with only two organizations, the Phillies (‘99-‘05) and the Cardinals (‘06-‘07). Richardson is #1 on the Springfield franchise all-time list for games (234), at-bats (874), hits (263), RBIs (156), runs (136), walks (93), doubles (53), total bases (425) and finally, home runs (35).
2008 TEXAS LEAGUE STANDINGS
NORTH W L Pct GB
Tulsa 9 10 .474 -
Arkansas 8 11 .421 1.0
Springfield 6 12 .333 2.5
Northwest Arkansas 5 13 .278 3.5
Frisco 14 4 .778 -
Midland 12 7 .632 2.5
Corpus Christi 11 8 .579 3.5
San Antonio 9 9 .500 5.0
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