The Springfield Cardinals Report: 05/30/08

After winning five of six on the road, the Double-A Springfield Cardinals look to break their current two-game home Texas League losing streak.

Friday, May 23

The Springfield Cardinals came so close to making it four wins in a row, but no cigar. Close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades (and according to my grandmother, it also counts in nuclear warfare). Last Friday, the Cards led the San Antonio Missions until the final two bats of the eighth inning, when the Missions would score four times to beat Springfield 5-2.

The Cards reached another unpleasant plateau by tying a season-high record of errors, with four, responsible for three unearned runs. The score was tied 2-2 in the eighth when San Antonio's Craig Cooper broke the tie with a single to left field scoring Chad Huffman, who opened the eighth by reaching on one of the four errors. That would prove to be the winning run, though the Missions would go on to add two more, taking advantage of a bases-loaded walk by Zack Zuercher and a sacrifice fly by Sean Kazmar. Final score, 5-2, San Antonio.

Allen Craig was the entire offense as he extended his hitting streak to eight games and scored both Springfield runs. The Cards were trailing San Antonio in the fourth, 1-0, when Craig opened the inning with a single off Missions' starter, Stephen Faris, tying the game 1-1. Craig also led off the sixth inning with another single, then scored on an RBI grounder from Jose Martinez, giving the Cards a 2-1 lead.

The Missions would tie it in the seventh, as Jon Mikrut gave up an unearned run and then let them take the lead in the eighth. Mikrut allowed three runs in one-plus inning of work and was saddled with the loss.

Joe Ellis got the win for San Antonio, pitching an inning of scoreless relief. Springfield starter Mark McCormick worked four innings, allowing one unearned run on four hits in a no-decision.

Saturday, May 24

The Cardinals moved on to Corpus Christi to take on the Hooks at Whataburger Field. Saturday, they improved their road trip record to 3-1. It was the kind of game that makes a pitching coach proud, puts white hair under a manager's cap, and brings tears to the eyes of fans on the wrong side of the win. Thank the baseball gods, and anyone else responsible, the Springfield Cardinals wound up on the right side of the scoreboard.

Jess Todd, Springfield starter, pitched what had to be one of the best performances by a pitcher in Cardinal history. Todd was throwing a no-hitter into the seventh inning when he saw that elusive goal fade. Todd blanked the first two hitters, but the third, Ole Sheldon, singled off the glove of third baseman Isa Garcia. The play was ruled a hit. Todd then struck out Billy Hart to end the inning. Todd finished with 90 pitches, striking out four batters, walking one and allowing only one hit. He was replaced on the mound by reliever Luke Gregerson, who pitched scoreless eighth and ninth innings. Marco Gonzalez threw a perfect 10th inning, getting the win.

Fernando Salas earned his third save of the year in the eleventh, but not before Corpus Christi's defense made the inning interesting. Mark Shorey opened the inning getting on base by being hit by a pitch from reliever Ryan Thompson. Shorey then moved to second on a Matt Pagnozzi bunt. Shorey then wound up on third base on a ground ball and finally scored the winning run on a Jon Jay single to right field. The game ended 1-0, Springfield, and moved their record to 21-27, four games back of division-leading Northwest Arkansas.

Sunday, May 25

It was again an "almost" as the Springfield Cardinals missed their second shutout in a row by three outs. In the ninth, Ole Sheldon took Jon Mikrut's first pitch of the inning deep for his fourth home run of the season and Corpus Christi's first run of the series. Clayton Mortensen got his second decision in a row, allowing only three hits over eight scoreless innings. He also picked up his first RBI in his professional career as he chased home Casey Rowlett in the second inning, making it 3-0 Springfield.

Allen Craig got the scoring started in the first by hitting a long-ball with a man on-board to make it 2-0, Cards. Casey Rowlett got his second hit of the game in the third, and an RBI, plating Steven Hlll, to make it 4-0.

The Cards would hold on to the lead, even after Sheldon's big blast to lead off the ninth, and win the game 4-1. They remained four games back of Northwest Arkansas in the Texas League North Division, with a record of 22-27.

Monday, May 26

The Cardinals swept the Corpus Christi Hooks, taking all three games at Whataburger Field. Springfield repeated Sunday's score beating the Hooks 4-1, improving their record to 23-27, winning six of their last seven games.

Tyler Herron, who was scheduled to start for the Cards, was under the weather and Kyle Sadlowski, was pulled from the bullpen to start. Sadlowski, along with the better part of the remaining bullpen, managed to pull-off a big win and a very much needed morale booster. Sadlowski allowed just one hit in 3 2/3 innings. Nick Webber, Luke Gregerson and Fernando Salas combined for one run on four hits over the final 5 1/3 innings.

With two outs in the first inning, Mark Shorey got a two-run single, putting the Cards ahead 2-0. Sadlowski was pulled in the fourth with bases loaded and two outs, and was replaced by Webber, who allowed an RBI single off the bat of Orlando Rosario, as the Hooks came within a run at 2-1. But, that was as close as they would get.

A Corpus Christi error in the bottom of the ninth made way for an additional insurance run as Shane Robinson got a two-out RBI single to drive in Tyler Greene for a 4-1 lead.

The Hooks scored their only run in the ninth against Salas, as Rosario took Salas deep for his first home run of he year. Salas regained his composure on the mound, retiring the final two batters to earn his fourth save of the season.

Wednesday, May 28

It was another heartbreaker at Hammons Field on Wednesday night as the Cards returned to take on the San Antonio Missions at home, losing 7-5, and crashing their hopes for a third win in a row.

The real heartbreaker came in the seventh inning when the Cards, leading 5-4, managed to load the bases with no outs, but failed to score. San Antonio got three runs in the eighth off Luke Gregerson. Sean Kazmars hit a double to tie the game at 5-5 and a two-run single by Drew Macias put the Missions in the lead for good.

The only good thing to come out of the game was Shane Robinson getting three hits.

Thursday, May 29

Will the heartbreaks never cease? The Springfield Cardinals lost their fourth game in a row to the San Antonio Missions. It was a four-hit game for San Antonio center fielder Drew Macias, who also scored three times. Springfield starting hurler Tyler Herron pitched three innings of scoreless baseball, but the Missions broke through in the fourth, taking a five-run lead. In the fifth inning, they added to the lead as Macias and Blanks both had hits to make it 7-2.

In the bottom of the fifth, Isa Garcia cracked his first Double-A home run to make it 5-2. Jose Martinez also hit a home run to improve the score to 5-3. In the eighth, Jon Jay homered to make it a 6-4 game. And San Antonio's Craig Cooper answered in the ninth against Cards reliever Jonathan Mikrut, with a solo homer to left field to end the scoring at 7-4.

In the bottom of the ninth, Greg Burke walked back-to-back batters with only one out, but Shane Robinson struck out and Jose Martinez popped up to end the game. Herron took the loss for the Cards.

The Cards are now 23-29 and look to end their two-game slide Friday night at Hammons Field against the San Antonio Missions.

Springfield Cardinals Alumni

Memphis OF Nick Stavinoha ('06) had an even .400 average through 21 games in May, inserting himself into an interesting PCL batting race. Entering Saturday, his .374 average ranked fourth in the league behind Las Vegas teammates Terry Tiffee (first) and Luis Maza (third) and Tucson's Jamie D'Antona (second). Stavinoha has hit safety in 15 of his last 17 games, including multi-hit games in eight of them, and his season average has been at .350 or higher every day since April 25. The 26-year-old, in his fourth professional season, is trying to bounce back from his worst hitting year in 2007, when he batted .261 in 139 games for the Redbirds..."He just violated it."--Manager Chris Maloney to the Memphis Commercial Appeal on Memphis OF Joe Mather's ('07) estimated 450-foot home run in a victory over Oklahoma.

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