Springfield Cardinals Report: 08/22/08

As the Cardinals battle for the second-half divisional crown, a new and old player join the team in 2008 first-rounder Brett Wallace and rehabbing major league reliever Josh Kinney, a member of the 2005 Springfield club.

Once again, it is amazing what a difference a week can make. As I sat here last Friday, suffering from the beating that the Cards were getting from the Corpus Christi Hooks, I couldn't help but think that with the Cards four games back, and only 18 games to play, the post-season was pretty much out of the question.

 

But here it is another Friday and with only 10 games left in the season, I am excited again as the Cards are one game back of the first place Northwest Arkansas Naturals and are poised to take it all.

 

Friday, August 15

 

Friday night was the beginning of a great run for the Cards and a bit of a slump for the Naturals. It all started in the second inning as Springfield took a 2-0 lead when Jose Martinez and Brandon Yarbrough had back-to-back run-scoring hits.  And it hit a crescendo in the ninth inning when Yarbrough's bases-loaded two-out single in the bottom of the ninth inning knocked in the winning run, as the Cardinals won their second straight game with a 3-2 victory over the San Antonio Missions

 

Yarbrough's game-winning hit pulled the Cards (29-24) to within three games of first place in the North Division, delighting a sold-out crowd of over 7,100 at Hammons Field.

The Missions did respond in the third, picking up three straight doubles against Cards' starter Adam Ottavino, tying the game at 2-2.

Missions closer Greg Burke (2-7) who worked a 1-2-3 eighth inning, gave up back-to-back singles to Brandon Buckman and Mark Shorey with one out in the ninth.  After missing with his first two pitches to Daryl Jones, the Missions elected to load the bases for the on-deck hitter, Jose Martinez.  The strategy worked temporarily, as Martinez popped up on the infield, setting the stage for Yarbrough's heroics.  After falling behind in the count 0-2, Yarbrough pulled a 2-2 pitch into right field, scoring pinch-runner Casey Rowlett for the winning run.

Saturday, August 16

A sold-out crowd of over 8,300 packed Hammons Field to watch St. Louis Cardinals' right-hander Adam Wainwright make a rehab start on Saturday night. And Wainwright didn't disappoint the large crowd as he threw 64 pitches, while firing 4 2/3 innings of scoreless baseball before reaching his pitch limit.  On the disabled list since mid-June with a sprained right middle finger, Wainwright fanned seven, while allowing only four hits.

The Cardinals won their third straight game, behind Wainwright's pitching, pulling to within two games of first place in the North Division with the 5-2 win over the Corpus Christi Hooks.

Springfield scored a pair of runs in the first inning.  After Daryl Jones walked to open the inning, Donovan Solano doubled down the left-field line, scoring Jones to make it 1-0.  Solano eventually scored on a ground ball off the bat of Allen Craig, giving the Cards a 2-0 lead.

The Redbirds took a 3-0 lead in the second with the help of Wainwright's bat as he picked up an infield single, then scored on a Jones' triple.

Wainwright departed in the fifth with two outs, giving way to eventual winner Josh Dew.  With a man aboard at first base, Dew (1-2) came in and fanned Wladimir Sutil for the final out of the inning.  Dew would go on to throw a total of 2 1/3 innings, striking out five while yielding just one hit and one walk. 

Jim Rapoport's sac fly in the fifth inning put Springfield up 4-0.  Donovan Solano's RBI ground-out in the sixth inning made it a 5-0 game.

Corpus Christi got to Cards' reliever Marco Gonzalez in the eighth, as Jonny Ash got an RBI single and Drew Sutton picked up an RBI ground-out, making it 5-2.  With the tying run at the plate though, Cards' reliever Zack Zuercher fanned Brian Bogusevic, before Luke Gregerson struck out Eli Iorg to end the eighth.  Gregerson would work a scoreless ninth as well, picking up his tenth save of the year. 

Sunday, August 17

At the end of a long night at Hammons Field on Sunday, the Cardinals came away with their fourth win in a row and closed the gap to only one game in the standings in the Texas League North Division.

Things didn't look good at the start of the fourth inning as Corpus Christi Hooks Mitch Einertson hit a grand slam to put the Hooks up 6-1 against Cards' starter Justin Fiske, who allowed six runs over five innings in a no-decision. 

Andrew Brown' answered in the bottom of the fourth with his 11th homer of the year, a solo shot that brought Springfield to within four at 6-2.  

The ninth inning didn't look spectacular either as the Hooks led 8-3, but the Cards rallied for five runs in the ninth inning and thought they had the game won with a sixth.  A bases-loaded double by Martinez kicked off the chain-link fence behind the home run fence for what was ruled a ground-rule double.  Two runs scored but the ground-rule double prevented Daryl Jones from scoring the winning run from first base.

In the 11th inning, down 8-7, Andrew Brown and Isa Garcia opened with consecutive singles.  Daryl Jones followed and after attempting to bunt the runners up to second and third, eventually ended up walking to load the bases.  Martinez followed with a chopper to left field.  Corpus Christi left fielder Mitch Einertson overran the baseball, allowing Garcia to score the winning run uncontested. 

Monday, August 18

It was a perfect night for baseball at Hammons Field on Monday night as Springfield completed a three-game sweep of the Corpus Christi Hooks, winning 5-2.  Their fifth straight win, coupled with Northwest Arkansas' sixth straight loss, gave the Cards a piece of first place for the first time since July 25th. 

Springfield leftfielder Daryl Jones had a big offensive night and Brandon Dickson (2-1) fired five shutout innings to earn his second win since joining Springfield

Jones put the Cards on the board in the fourth inning, taking Hook's starter Chance Douglass deep over the right field fence for a 1-0 lead.  The home run for Jones is his third since joining Springfield and his tenth of the year.

Corpus Christi's biggest threat against Dickson came against the Redbirds in the first inning, but the Cards' starter stranded runners at second and third by fanning Brian Bogusevic on a called third strike.  Dickson worked five scoreless frames, allowing four hits, while striking out five. 

Jones and Donovan Solano added to Springfield's lead in the sixth inning with back-to-back hits.  After Mark Shorey was hit by a pitch, one out later, Jose Martinez delivered a bases-loaded single, scoring Jones to make it 2-0.  Brandon Yarbrough followed with a sac fly to score Solano, giving Springfield a 3-0 lead.

Springfield reliever Marco Gonzalez worked a scoreless sixth, but gave up two in the seventh on a ground ball and a wild pitch, making it a one-run game at 3-2. 

Brandon Buckman''s second home run since being called up from Palm Beach gave Springfield some cushion, as his two-run shot in the eighth made it 5-2.

Luis Perdomo gave up a two-out double in the ninth, but fanned Jonny Ash to end it, giving Perdomo his first save in a Springfield uniform. 

Tuesday, August 19

Springfield's five-game win streak came to an end at Arvest Field in Springdale, Arkansas when Northwest Arkansas Naturals beat the Redbirds 8-4, as the Cards committed a season-high five errors. The loss left Springfield one game out of first place behind the Naturals, who also snapped their own six-game losing streak. 

It was a five-run fourth inning that made the difference in the game, as the Naturals took advantage of the fourth of Springfield's five errors. Trailing 3-1, the Naturals used a walk, an error, then four consecutive run-scoring hits to take the lead for good over Cards' starter Brad Furnish

The Cards got a sac fly from Brandon Buckman in the sixth, tightening things up at 6-4, but would get no closer, as Northwest Arkansas got two more unearned runs against Zack Zuercher in the eighth inning to ice the game.

All eight Northwest Arkansas runs were unearned due to the five Springfield errors. 

Mark Shorey had four hits to lead Springfield's offense, as they out-hit Northwest Arkansas 15-7. 

Furnish (1-1) pitched well despite the loss, giving up six unearned runs over five innings. 

With the loss, the Redbirds had dropped eight straight games at Arvest Ballpark.

Wednesday, August 20

It couldn't have happened at a worse time. A chance to make up ground in the standings, and the Cardinals once again blew a big lead and gave the game to the Northwest Arkansas Naturals - the team they most need to beat to have any chance at post-season play.

Leading the Naturals 5-4 in the eighth inning, the Cards could not hold it. Reliever Luis Perdomo's first pitch of the inning was blasted over the wall in right-center field by Cory Aldridge, tying the game at 5-5.  Three batters later, Brian McFall struck for his 16th bomb of the year, his seventh homer against Springfield pitching this season.

The Cards couldn't score with the bases loaded in the ninth inning, as Andrew Brown grounded into a game-ending force-out.

The Redbirds had built an early 5-0 lead.  Daryl Jones homered to open the game, his fourth since joining Springfield, giving the Cardinals a 1-0 lead.  After Donovan Solano doubled behind Jones, Mark Shorey made it 2-0 with an RBI single.

The Cardinals took a 5-0 advantage with three more runs in the second inning.  Misplayed ground balls off the bats of Matt Pagnozzi and Jim Rapoport led to the first two runs of the inning, while Solano capped the frame with a sac fly, scoring Pagnozzi to make it 5-0.

Starter Adam Ottavino shined through the first three innings, before allowing back-to-back hits to open the fourth.  Marc Maddox and Irving Falu singled to open the inning, then scored on a one-out Aldridge double, making it 5-2.

Otttavino lost some of his stuff in the fifth as he gave up another run to McFall who singled and later scored from third base on a double-play ball off the bat of Maddox, making it 5-3. 

Northwest Arkansas pulled to within a run in the sixth, chasing Ottavino three batters into the inning.  One time Springfield Cardinal, Juan Richardson, doubled to open the inning, then after advancing to third base on a bunt-single by Aldridge, scored on a Mario Lisson single, making it 5-4. 

Springfield left the field at 32-26, two full games back of Northwest Arkansas.

In a side-note: St. Louis Cardinals' 2008 first-round draft pick,  Brett Wallace, debuted on Wednesday night, going 1-for-4 with a double in his second at-bat. 

Thursday, August 21

Springfield blew another ninth inning lead on Thursday night, but managed to rally in the 10th for a 5-4 win over the Naturals, to pull within one game of first place.

Brett Wallace had two hits and two runs scored to help Springfield take an early lead. The Redbirds held a 4-1 lead going into the ninth inning but let it once again slip through their fingers as Fernando Salas gave up a two-run homer to Brian McFall with two outs to cap the three-run ninth. 

Tied at 4-4, Casey Rowlett led off the 10th with a double off the left-center field wall.  After moving to third base on a sacrifice bunt by Daryl Jones, Rowlett scored on Solano's single to left field, giving the lead back to the Cards.

With Springfield leading 5-4 going into the bottom of the 10th inning, Salas (7-3) held onto the lead in the tenth, but not without the aid of first baseman Brandon Buckman.  With one on and one away, Irving Falu smashed a one-hopper at Buckman.  Guarding the line, Buckman fielded the ball, stepped on first, then fired to second base, where Solano tagged the on-coming Marc Maddox for the game's final out. 

Northwest Arkansas ninth-inning rally spoiled a superb start for Cards' right-hander Kyle Mura, who surrendered just one run over seven-plus innings in the no-decision. 

The victory helped Springfield end their nine-game losing streak at Arvest Ballpark.  The Redbirds look to move back into a first-place tie on Friday night, sending Justin Fiske (2-0) to the mound against right-hander Julio Pimentel (6-11).

In Other News:

The Springfield Cardinals announced on Thursday that Josh Kinney, the first Springfield Cardinal in franchise history to ever play for the St. Louis Cardinals, will be returning to Hammons Field on Sunday, August 24, as part of his rehab assignment. 

Kinney, who was 2-1 with 11 saves and a 1.29 ERA in 32 appearances for the 2005 inaugural Springfield Cardinals Team, debuted for the St. Louis Cardinals on July 2, 2006 against the Atlanta Braves.  After helping the Cardinals win the World Series in 2006, Kinney was injured in Spring Training 2007.  Kinney would go on to have "Tommy John" surgery as well as a fractured elbow in 2007. 

The Cardinals return to Hammons Field this Saturday, taking on the Arkansas Travelers in the opening game of a seven-game home stand.  Kinney is scheduled to work out of the Springfield bullpen on Sunday, during the second game of the series, as the Cards look to win the second half North Division pennant!


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