The Springfield Cardinals Report: 05/02/08

Beat reporter John Brayfield's weekly report from the St. Louis Cardinals' Double-A affiliate in Springfield, MO. The hard-charging club had stormed into a share of first place after a rough start.

I hate it when my wife is right; especially when it involves baseball, and even more so when it involves the Springfield Cardinals. On Wednesday, I decided to be a good sport and take her to the ballpark with me to watch Springfield take on the Northwest Arkansas Naturals. In the sixth inning she said those three little words that all real Cards' fans hate to hear--"Can we go?" Of course we couldn't. The Cardinals were hot, having won six in a row and were standing alone in first place atop the Texas League North, and who was to say a team playing like they had been playing could not come back from an 8-0 deficit. But, when the score went to 11-2 in the eighth, there was no need arguing anymore. And of course she was right again, as the Cards lost to the Naturals, 11-6.

 

But the week had not started out on such a sour note, as the Cards won their second game in a row of what would turn out to be a season high streak of six straight wins. And the Cards did it in style too, as they dropped the Tulsa Drillers 12-4 at Drillers Stadium. The win brought them to within two games of the Texas League North-leading Drillers.

 

Mark Mulder made the second start of his rehab assignment, but got into a little trouble when he walked three batters in the first inning.  Mulder's first walk was followed by a single and then two more walks to force in the first run. Matt Miller's bases-loaded walk, was followed by a two-run single from Daniel Carte to give the Drillers a 3-0 lead. With the bases still loaded and only one out, in the first, Mulder managed to get Neil Wilson out on strikes, and then get Alan Johnson to ground out to first to end the inning.

 

But it was innings like the fourth that gave me the confidence to say "No, of course we can't leave," to my wife on Wednesday, as Springfield scored six times in the fourth inning to give the Cards a 6-3 lead. Mark Hamilton and Jose Martinez each hit RBI singles to start the scoring marathon. Mulder did his part offensively by blasting a double off the top of the center field wall, scoring Luke Gorsett to tie the game at 3-3. Bryan Anderson and Allen Craig both hit run-scoring hits to give the Cards a 6-3 lead.

 

In the fifth, Mulder gave up a solo home run to Matt Miller to bring the Drillers within two runs, Except for Miller,  Mulder retired five of the final six men he faced, to complete a five inning outing.

 

Shane Robinson scored from third base on a wild pitch in the eighth to give the Cards what looked to be an important insurance run, making it 7-4, but the hot Springfield team would break the game open by scoring five more runs in the ninth to take a commanding 12-4 lead. Allen Craig hit a three-run blast after Robinson and Anderson both got RBI singles. Craig's home run was his second of the season and would wind up highlighting a four-hit, four RBI night.

 

Mulder allowed four runs on six hits over five innings to earn the win. The tall left-hander struck out five and walked four to earn his second straight win for Springfield.

 

Shane Robinson picked up four of Springfield's 17 hits.

 

April 26

 

The Cards came from behind on Saturday night in Tulsa to take their third straight win, beating Tulsa 7-3. The game went into the eighth inning tied 3-3, when Tulsa reliever Jarrett Grube (0-2) walked the bases loaded with two outs. Shane Robinson then walked on four straight pitches to force the go-ahead run, and Bryan Anderson followed with a three-run double to put the Cards up for good, 7-3.

 

Starting pitcher Adam Daniels, making his second start since coming off the disabled list, was pulled from the mound in the fourth after giving up an infield single and issuing a walk with two outs. Cory Rauschenberger came in out of the bullpen and gave up an RBI single to Jeff Dragicevich, giving Tulsa a 1-0 lead. Tulsa scored two in the bottom of the fifth off Rauschenberger to reclaim a 3-2 lead.  Nick Webber followed Rauschenberger to the mound to earn a win in relief, his second of the road trip.

 

April 27

 

The winning streak continued on Sunday afternoon as the Cards beat the Drillers 5-2. The win put Springfield in a tie for first place in the Texas League North Division with Tulsa.

 

The Cards took an early lead as Tulsa starter Ching-Lung Lo tossed a wild pitch allowing Jose Martinez to score from third with two outs. The Drillers tied the game 1-1 in the fourth inning as Dexter Fowler scored on a Jeff Dragicevich two-out hit.

 

In the sixth inning, Springfield grabbed the lead for good, when Allen Craig lined a two-run double down the right field line to score Shane Robinson and Jon Jay to make it a 3-1 ballgame.  The Cards got some help in the eighth, as Tulsa second baseman Corey Wimberly bobbled a two-out ground ball, allowing Jose Martinez to reach base, scoring Shane Robinson from third. Catcher, Brandon Yarbrough followed with an RBI singe, scoring Mark Hamilton from second to give Springfield what would be the game's final score of 5-2. John Jay finished the night 2-for-4, giving him a team-best eight-game hitting streak.

 

Jaime Garcia, Cards starter, earned his team-leading third win of the year, as he allowed only two runs on two hits over six innings. Garcia opened up the seventh inning issuing back-to-back walks, as Tulsa made an attempt to come back from a 3-1 deficit. Fernando Salas took the mound as Garcia left, and though he did allow one of the two inherited runners to score, he did manage to keep the Cards in the lead, 3-2. Luke Gregerson, got his third save of the season as he followed Salas out of the bullpen and pitched two scoreless innings of relief. Lo (0-5), completed six innings allowing three runs on four hits, as he took the loss.

 

April 28

 

The Springfield Cardinals rode out of Tulsa on a broom, as they got their first sweep of the season, beating the Tulsa Drillers 6-5 in a come-from-behind victory that put them alone in first place in the Texas League North Division. It was their fifth straight win.

 

In the first inning, Jose Martinez hit a two-run single to give Springfield the lead at 2-0. Tulsa answered in the bottom of the inning with four runs scored off starter Clayton Mortensen. Jeff Dragicevich hit his third home run of the year to make the score 4-2 Tulsa, after Dexter Fowler and Daniel Carte both had RBI hits to tie the game, 2-2.

 

Springfield picked up three more runs in the third as Brandon Yarbrough got a ground-out RBI and Tyler Greene lined a two-run homer over the wall in left-center  field, driving in Yarbrough, to give Springfield a 5-4 lead.

 

But, Mortensen couldn't hold that lead as Daniel Carte smacked a double off the center field wall in the bottom of the inning, to tie the game 5-5.

 

Luke Gorsett's first Double-A home run couldn't have come at a better time. In the fifth inning, Gorsett hit a line-drive down the left-field line to give Springfield the lead for good, 6-5--but the game did not end without some excitement (good thing my wife wasn't there or I would have missed it). Reliever Luke Gregerson, who pitched two innings in Monday's winning game, came out of the bullpen to battle his way out of an eighth-inning jam, and after doing so, got himself into his own jam in the ninth. With only one out, Gregerson walked one and then another. Josh Dew was called out of the bullpen to finish the inning. He retired Jeff Dragicevich, getting him to hit a deep line drive to left field. Then Brian Esposito hit into a force out to end the game. The save was the first for Dew since his promotion from Palm Beach.

 

April 29

 

The Springfield Cardinals moved to two games in front of second place Tulsa in the Texas League North Division, beating the Northwest Arkansas Naturals, 5-4, at Hammons Field on Tuesday night.

 

Springfield picked-up a pair of runs in the first inning off starter Blake Johnson as Mark Hamilton and Brandon Yarbrough both collected RBI with ground balls, giving the Cards a 2-0 lead.

 

Tulsa picked up their first run off Cards' starter, P.J. Walters, in the fifth, when Gerlado Valentin scored on a wild pitch, after hitting a single into center field, to make it 2-1. In the bottom of the inning, Springfield would take that run back when Allen Craig got an infield single and scored on a Jose Martinez single, making it 3-1.

 

In the sixth inning, Kila Kaaihue smacked his seventh home run of the season, a team best, three-run blast, to give Northwest Arkansas a 4-3 lead. That lead wouldn't hold up though, as Tyler Greene evened things up with this third homer of the year, tying the score at 4-4.

 

Taking the mound in the ninth, Walters got into some trouble issuing a one-out walk and a throwing error, which led to his being pulled and replaced by Fernando Salas. Facing Geraldo Valentin, pinch-hitter, and tying run, Ovandy Suervo stole third base and Salas was issued ball four putting men on the corners. Salas then got Ed Lucas to ground-out to end the inning.

 

With the game tied at 4-4 in the ninth Jarod Plummer (0-1) came out of the bullpen for the Naturals and allowed Mark Shorey to hit a double. Shorey then moved to third on a perfectly executed sacrifice bunt by Tyler Greene. Shane Robinson, ignoring all the times he has heard "never swing at the first pitch," drove that initial delivery into deep center field. It was almost a replay of Saturday's St. Louis Cardinals win over Houston, as the Natural's center fielder, Jose Duarte, went back to make the catch, but didn't bother throwing the ball home, as Shorey practically walked home to score the game's winning run.

 

Salas (2-0) earned the win. Walters pitched 8 2/3 innings and got a no-decision.

 

April 30

 

It was no wonder my wife was right on Tuesday, as the decision took off in her favor when Cody Clark hit a solo home run against starter Cory Rauschenberger to make it 1-0. The score jumped to 3-0 in the fifth when Brian McFall hit the first of his two homers, a two-run blast. McFall hit his second of the game in the sixth, a grand-slam to left-center, making it 8-0 (that was when someone said "Can we go now?").

 

Casey Rowlett's two-run homer in the seventh gave me hope and cut the score to 8-2. In the eighth, Bob Zimmerman gave up three un-earned runs, to make it 11-2. Shane Robinson tried to keep me in the ballpark as he drove a home run off Greg Antencio to left-center field in the eighth to make it 11-3. In the ninth, (following my exit) Casey Rowlett hit his second home run of the game to make it 11-5 and that was followed by a back-to-back home run by Matt Pagnozzi to make it 11-6.

 

The good news: Jon Jay, Jose Martinez and Shane Robinson al extended their hitting streaks, to 11, nine and seven games respectively.

 

May 1

 

On Thursday night, the Northwest Arkansas Naturals beat the Springfield Cardinals 9-6 at Hammons Field. Mario Lissons hit a grand slam off Cards reliever Josh Dew (0-2) to break a 3-3 tie, as part of a six-run seventh inning.

 

Trailing 9-3 in the bottom of the eighth, Springfield's first five batters reached to open the inning.  Jon Jay's RBI single made it a 9-4 game.  Allen Craig would follow with a run-scoring single, making it 9-5.  After a walk to A.J. Van Slyke loaded the bases, reliever Roman Colon was removed in favor of Kyle Crist.  Brandon Yarbrough grounded into a force out, as Jay scored to cut the deficit to three, at 9-6.  Crist got Luke Gorsett to pop up for the second out, then after walking Mark Shorey to reload the bases, got Casey Rowlett to fly out to the right-center field warning track, ending the Springfield threat. 

Crist allowed a base hit to Jay in the ninth, but earned his first save by retiring Craig on a ground ball to end it. 

 

The Springfield Cards were then 12-15, and in first place tie with Tulsa in the Texas League North Division, and facing the Northwest Arkansas Naturals on the weekend.

 

Current Texas League Leaders

 

AVG: Shane Robinson SPR, .418

HR:   Chris Davis FRI, 6

        Kila Kaaihue NWA, 6

         Max Ramirez FRI, 6

         Jon Zeringue MID, 6

RBI:  Jesus Guzman MID, 27

SB:    Ovandy Suero NWA, 14

ERA:  Will Inman SAN, 1.05

K:      Jaime Garcia SPR, 36

IP:     Jaime Garcia SPR, 29.0

  

Transactions

April 23: Infielder Brendan Ryan completed his rehabilitation assignment and rejoined the St. Louis Cardinals after being activated from the 15-day disabled list. Springfield activated starter Adam Daniels from the seven-day disabled list. Reliever Bob Zimmermann (ankle), who had recorded a 3.97 earned run average in nine appearances this year, was placed on the D.L.

 

 

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