The Springfield Cardinals Report: 05/17/08

The St. Louis Cardinals' Double-A affiliate in Springfield is in the midst of an eight-game losing streak, but only three games out of first place.

I am looking for a word to describe the Springfield Cardinals performance this past week, but I seem to be having trouble coming up with the right superlative--what is the opposite of skyrocket?

Last week the Cards were in first place all by themselves, but this week, after losing all six games, they find themselves in third place, three games behind the Northwest Arkansas Naturals--and very lucky to be in that position.

Saturday, May 10

Springfield lost their third game in a row, falling to Northwest Arkansas, 10-2, in Springdale, Arkansas. That loss put Springfield two games back of the Texas League North Division leading Naturals.

Carlos Rosa, Northwest Arkansas starter, was impressive over six innings allowing only one unearned run on three hits. Rosa posted a league-leading ERA of 1.20, following the win.

The Cards allowed 19 hits to the Naturals, a season-high, and the Naturals won their 11th game out of their last 12. Adam Ottavino, in his first start since coming off the D.L., allowed five runs (two earned), over 2 2/3 innings. Ottavino was chased in the third inning as the Naturals took an early 5-0 lead. Former Springfield Cardinal, Juan Richardson, turned in four big hits including a solo homer off Ottavino in the first inning. The Naturals scored in six different innings, getting at least one run off each Cardinal pitcher to enter the game.

The Cards made six player transactions last Saturday bringing up from Palm Beach infielder Steven Hill, who homered in his debut, and Isa Garcia, in addition to reactivating Ottavino. Going to Palm Beach were Luke Gorsett, A.J. Van Slyke (son of Andy), and RHP Josh Dew.

Monday, May 12

After having Sunday off, the Cards committed four errors as they lost to the Arkansas Travelers 8-3 at Dickey-Stephens Park in North Little Rock, Arkansas. Corey Rauschenberger received his third loss of the year as the Travs scored in each of their first five innings. Rauschenberger allowed eight runs (five earned) on nine hits over four-plus innings.

In the second inning, Mark Shorey tied the score at 1-1 on an RBI single to match a score for Arkansas on a sacrifice fly from Michael Collins in the first inning. Arkansas scored one in the second, one in the third, and two more in the fourth, to give them a 5-1 lead. Springfield got a run back in the fifth when Steven Hill got a two-out RBI single against eventual winning pitcher Fernando Rodriquez. The Travs put the game away in the bottom of the inning, scoring three runs to make it an 8-2 game.

The Cards scored the final run of the game in embarrassing fashion when, with runners at first and second, Mark Shorey hit a fly ball to deep left field that got past Drew Toussaint for a hit. On the play though, Shorey passed Brandon Yarbrough on the bases and was called out. Steven Hill scored on the play from second base, bringing the score to the final 8-3. The Cards remained two games behind Northwest Arkansas.

Shane Robinson, named Texas League Player of the Week on Monday, saw his seven-game hitting streak end, going 0-for-4 with a walk.

Tuesday, May 13

The Arkansas Travelers scored three times in the bottom of the ninth inning, sending the Springfield Cardinals to their fifth straight defeat with a 5-4 win over the Redbirds on Tuesday night at Dickey-Stephens Park in North Little Rock. Right-hander Jess Todd had a great start for the Cards. Todd pitched six scoreless innings and left the game with a 4-0 lead. He allowed just two hits and a walk, while striking out two.

Springfield scored the first four runs of the game on two RBI from Jose Martinez and an RBI single from Jon Jay. Arkansas began their comeback in the eighth inning, scoring a pair of runs off the Springfield bullpen. Bob Zimmermann sat down the first five men he faced, but gave up a two-out single to Nate Sutton. Zimmermann was replaced on the hill by Zack Zuercher, who pitched to Greenberg. Greenberg made it 4-1 with an RBI double. That brought Luke Gregerson out of the bullpen, who gave up an RBI double, before getting the final out of the inning, making it a 4-2 ballgame.

Mike Lindskog, the voice of the Springfield Cardinals, would call the bottom of the ninth inning like this: "Cards? closer Luke Gregerson (0-1) struggled in the ninth, as Ben Johnson took his first pitch out with a solo home run to right field, making it a one-run game at 4-3. After striking out the next hitter for the first out of the ninth, Gregerson got Jordan Czarniecki to hit a routine grounder to short. Jose Martinez's throw to first baseman Steven Hill was in time, but Hill pulled his foot off the bag, allowing the tying run to reach. After a single from Tim Duff put runners at first and second, Drew Toussaint grounded one just to the left of Martinez. Instead of a possible game-ending double-play, the ball rolled up the glove hand of Martinez, loading the bases with only one out. Gregerson then uncorked a wild pitch to score Czarniecki, tying the game at 4-4. Nate Sutton was then intentionally walked to reload the bases, setting up Greenberg's game-ending heroics."

And the Cards found themselves 17-21, three games back of the division leading Northwest Arkansas Naturals. The late loss for Springfield is the first time they have given away a ninth-inning lead in 14 tries. Arkansas right-hander Stephen Marek (1-2) got the win by working a perfect ninth inning.

Wednesday, May 14

Make that six straight losses for the Springfield Cardinals as the Arkansas Travelers once again put together a ninth inning rally to down the Redbirds, 4-3. It was a true heartbreaker as Luke Gregerson, who had been superb in his past outings, could not hold a one run lead in the ninth. Jordan Czarniecki and Nate Sutton opened the inning with back-to-back singles, putting runners at first and third and no outs in a one-run game. Adam Greenberg then grounded a pitch back to Gregerson. Czarniecki got tagged out by Springfield catcher Brandon Yarbrough, but stayed alive long enough to allow the runners to advance to second and third. Gregerson (0-2) intentionally walked Hainley Statia to get to Collins, who delivered with the game-winning hit to center field.

The Cards scored all of their runs in the second inning. Steven Hill hit a double; Jose Martinez hit an RBI sac fly scoring Hill; Mark Shorey hit a RBI double driving in Brandon Yarbrough; and Isa Garcia got an RBI double to score Shorey, making it 3-0.

Arkansas starter Bobby Mosebach worked all nine innings, picking up his second complete game win of the year.

Thursday, May 15

The Springfield Cardinals dropped another heart-breaker to the Arkansas Travelers on Thursday night, losing by a final score of 6-5 at Dickey-Stephens Park in North Little Rock.

Travs' reliever Kevin Jepsen loaded the bases in the ninth inning with no outs, but Springfield came away empty-handed, leaving them loaded and suffering their seventh straight loss.

Leading 6-5 in the top of the eighth, the Travs sent Jepsen out of the bullpen to keep the tying run at second base. Jepsen got Casey Rowlett to ground out, leaving Isa Garcia in scoring position to end the inning.

Jepsen opened the ninth by walking Jon Jay. He then gave up a hit to Steven Hill and walked Mark Shorey, loading the bases with no outs. The Cards couldn't push across the tying run though, as Allen Craig and Brandon Yarbrough both hit ground balls to third base, resulting in a pair of outs recorded at the plate. With the bases loaded and two outs, Jose Martinez grounded to third to end it, giving Jepsen his sixth save of the year.

The Cardinals took the early lead in the first, as Jon Jay delivered his fourth homer of the year, a solo shot to right field for a 1-0 lead.

It didn't take the Travs long to counter though, as Ben Johnson smacked his first of two home runs, a three-run blast to right field to give Arkansas a 3-1 lead. Johnson added another shot, his team-leading eighth of the year in the third, giving the Travs a 4-1 lead.

Allen Craig struck for a solo shot in the fourth, a bomb to straight-away center field, pulling the Cardinals to within two at 4-2.

The Travs finally chased Tyler Herron in the sixth, as Nate Sutton led off with a triple. After Herron retired Ryan Leahy, Adam Daniels came out of the pen and gave up an RBI double to Adam Greenberg, making it 5-2. Hainley Statia scored Greenberg from third with an RBI groundout, giving the Travs a 6-2.

Springfield got three in the eighth off Francisco Gonzalez, making it a one-run game at 6-5. Isa Garcia had an RBI single in the inning, while Matt Pagnozzi drove home a run with a sac fly.

Herron (0-2) took the loss, allowing five runs on seven hits over 5 1/3 innings. Arkansas starter Dan Denham (3-4) got the win, allowing two runs on eight hits over 6 2/3 innings.

Friday, May 16

The Tulsa Drillers won the opening game of a four-game series on Friday night, sending the Cards to their eighth straight loss in a 10-9 win in 11 innings. Tulsa actually jumped out to a 7-0 lead after just an inning and a half against Springfield starter Adam Ottavino. Tony Blanco capped a five-run first inning with a grand slam, his third homer of the year. Blanco followed Matt Miller's RBI single in the second with one of his own, making it 7-0.

Springfield responded with four runs in the bottom of the inning, all with two outs. Tyler Greene tripled home Mark Hamilton for Springfield's first run, then scored on Mark Shorey's RBI double, making it 7-2. Isa Garcia singled home Shorey, then scored on Jon Jay's RBI double, making it a three-run game at 7-4.

Greene homered with one out in the fifth to make it 7-5, his fifth home run of the year. Springfield completed the seven-run comeback with two in the fifth, as Jose Martinez delivered a two-run single with two outs against Drillers' starter Alan Johnson, evening the score at 7-7.

Tulsa got a pair of unearned runs in the sixth against Nick Webber, taking a 9-7 lead.

Springfield again countered, as Steven Hill and Alan Craig hit back-to-back homers, tying the game at 9-9.

It stayed that way until the 11th. With the bases loaded and only one out, Brian Esposito laid down a perfect bunt, scoring Matt Miller from third with the go-ahead run to make it 10-9.

The Cards got some help from Drillers' reliever Casey Weathers in the bottom of the inning, as he walked Brandon Yarbrough to lead off the inning, then gave up a one-out double to pinch hitter Matt Pagnozzi, putting runners at second and third with only one out. Casey Rowlett grounded to third base on the first pitch he saw though, for the second out of the inning. Jon Jay then popped to third to end it, securing Weathers' first save of the year.

Tulsa reliever Ryan Mattheus (1-2) got his first win of the year by tossing two scoreless innings.

Springfield (17-24) looks to end their eight-game skid on Saturday night, sending Mark McCormick (0-0) to the mound in his first Double-A start. Tulsa will throw right-hander Brandon Hynick (2-2).

MEMPHIS REPORT: The Memphis Redbirds (19-21) got an awesome pitching performance from Jaime Garcia in a 6-0 win over Tucson on Tuesday afternoon. Garcia (1-0) allowed six hits over seven shut-out innings, striking out six while walking just one in picking up his first career win at the Triple-A level. Joe Mather hit his fifth homer of the year and second in as many games. Nick Stavinoha had two more hits, upping his average to .381, fourth in the league.

FORMER SPRINGFIELD CARDINAL UPDATE: Right-handed starter Stuart Pomeranz, a member of the Springfield Cardinals in both 2005 and 2006 was released by the St. Louis Cardinals earlier in the week. Pomeranz, who went 12-10 in 36 career starts for Springfield, was a Texas League All-Star in 2006. Outfielder Reid Gorecki, a member of the Cardinals in 2005, 2006 and 2007 has just signed a free agent contract with the Atlanta Braves. Gorecki, who was cut by St. Louis during the final days of spring training, will be assigned to the Mississippi Braves of the Southern League.

TEXAS-LEAGUE "HOT CORNER" ONLINE: To hear interviews with current and former Texas League stars, visit the Texas League website at and click on the "Hot Corner". The "Hot Corner", hosted by Dave Barr, has already featured interviews with former Cards' outfielder Colby Rasmus and other former stars of the Texas League.

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