The Springfield Cardinals Report: 09/05/08

While St. Louis' Double-A affiliate missed the Texas League playoffs, their 76 wins overall and the 40 in the second half both set franchise records.

Friday, August 29

 

The Springfield Cardinals didn't win the 2008 Texas League Championship or even make the playoffs, but the largest crowd of the season was on-hand Friday night to watch their team play the most exciting game of the year, and prove once again that there are no fans like Cardinal Fans--no matter what league they follow.

 

The crowd of almost 10,000 watched the Redbirds fight for their playoff lives as they rallied from a sure defeat to beat the Tulsa Drillers 6-5 in 13 innings. It was the last regular home season game scheduled at Hammons Field and it could not have been more exciting.

 

Brandon Yarbrough got things started in the second inning with a two-run triple off Tulsa starter Chaz Roe to give Springfield an early 2-0 advantage. Tulsa responded in the fourth inning, getting a two-run blast from Justin Nelson, his third of the series, tying the game at 2-2. 

 

In the fifth inning the Drillers took their first lead of the night, but Springfield got the equalizer in the seventh. Brett Wallace, who was hit by a pitch to open the inning, scored from third on a Jim Rapoport ground ball to second, tying the game at 3-3.

 

The game remained tied and went into extra innings until the 12th when Tulsa could have ended Springfield's playoff hopes as Eric Young's two-run double off eventual winner Jon Mikrut (4-3) put the Drillers up 5-3. 

The Cards didn't' give up though, as Matt Pagnozzi led off the 12th with a single, then moved to third on a hustle-double by Daryl JonesDaniel Descalso followed with a deep drive to center field.  Although Dexter Fowler made the catch, both Jones and Pagnozzi moved up, with Pagnozzi scoring to make it 5-4.  Casey Rowlett followed with another sac fly, as his drive to left plated Jones to tie the game at 5-5. 

Tied at 5-5 in the 13th, Andrew Brown and Donovan Solano singled to open the inning.  Rapoport followed with a soft line drive to right-center field.  Brown scored without a play, giving the Cards the come-from-behind win, keeping their playoff hopes alive. 

St. Louis reliever Josh Kinney worked for the third time in a Springfield uniform on Friday night, as part of his then-rehab assignment.  Although Kinney gave up a lead-off double, his first hit allowed in three appearances, he stranded the runner at second base, retiring the next three hitters consecutively.  Kinney threw 14 pitches over his scoreless inning.

Saturday, August 30

Springfield entered Saturday's game against the Arkansas Travelers at Dickey-Stevens Park in North Little Rock with their playoff dreams in the dumpster. After the division leading Northwest Arkansas Naturals beat the Travs 8-2 on Friday night, the Naturals needed only one win or one Springfield loss to give them the Texas League North Second-Half Division Crown. And even though the Cardinals won their second straight game, edging the Travelers by a score of 2-1, it was not enough, as the Naturals beat the Tulsa Drillers 7-3 earlier in the day.

Adam Ottavino (3-7) turned in one of his best performances of 2008, firing seven innings of one-run baseball to earn the win. Ottavino allowed just four hits, getting some defensive help along the way. 

Leading 1-0 in the third, thanks to an Allen Craig RBI single, Ottavino gave up a long fly ball to right field off the bat of Brian Stavisky.  Right fielder Mark Shorey braced himself against the four-foot high wall in right field, reached high in the air to make the catch, then toppled over the wall and into the Arkansas bullpen.  Shorey re-emerged with the baseball for the final out of the inning, keeping Springfield in front 1-0. 

Springfield made it 2-0 in the sixth.  Brett Wallace walked to open the inning, then moved to second on Andrew Brown's second hit of the game.  Jim Rapoport''s two-out single to left field plated Wallace for Springfield's second run.

Ottavino was taken deep by Adam Morrissey in the seventh, as the Travs made it a 2-1 game.  Ottavino would retire the final three hitters in the seventh, before turning it over to Josh Dew in the eighth.  Dew worked two scoreless innings, benefiting from a double-play in the ninth, to earn his second save of the year. 

Sunday, August 31

The Arkansas Travelers ended their eight-game losing streak, dropping the Cardinals on Sunday night by a final score of 5-3 at Dickey-Stephens Park in North Little Rock.

Springfield starter Kyle Mura didn't pitch poorly, but lasted just 4 1/3 innings, taking his second straight loss to finish the year at 3-5. 

Mura allowed three unearned runs in the bottom of the first inning, as the Travs grabbed the early advantage.  Nate Sutton opened the inning by reaching on an error.  Wil Ortiz and Brian Stavisky would follow with back-to-back singles, loading the bases.  Mura got Corey Smith to pop up for the first out, then got Adam Morrissey to fly to center field.  Morrissey's ball was deep enough for a sac fly, as Sutton scored to make it 1-0.  Mark Trumbo then followed with a two-run triple, scoring two to make it 3-0.

Springfield finally got to the Travs' starter David Austen in the fifth, tying the game with three runs.  Brandon Buckman and Isa Garcia opened the inning with back-to-back hits, with Garcia's double putting runners at second and third.  One out later, Jim Rapoport singled home Buckman, putting the Cards on the board at 3-1.  Daniel Descalso followed with a ground ball back to the hill.  Austen threw the ball away, allowing another run to score to cut the Arkansas lead to 3-2.  Allen Craig followed with a single to center, tying the game at 3-3. 

In the bottom of the inning, the Travs came right back to take the lead for good.  Coby Smith opened the inning with a double off Mura.  After moving to third base on a sacrifice, Smith scored on Wil Ortiz's RBI double. Three batters later, Ortiz scored on Adam Morrissey's RBI single, giving the Travs a 5-3 lead. 

Austin gave up back-to-back hits to open the sixth, but got out of the inning with the two-run lead intact.  Arkansas' bullpen would only allow a two-out ninth-inning single to Descalso over the final three innings.  Rafael Rodriguez got Daryl Jones looking on strikes to end the game. 

Monday, September 1

Springfield finished off the 2008 regular season on Monday afternoon, falling to Arkansas by a score of 3-2 in North Little Rock. In the shortest game in franchise history, the Cards and Travelers wrapped up the contest in just one hour and 46 minutes.

The Travs scored three times in the bottom of the eighth inning against Springfield reliever Josh Kinney, erasing a 2-0 Springfield lead. With one out, Kinney (0-1) allowed three consecutive hits, as Jordan Czarniecki, Chris Pettit and Ryan Leahy all reached safely.  Leahy's hit dropped just in front of a diving center fielder Jim Rapaport, as the ball got away, allowing Czarniecki to score, making it a 3-1 game.  Fernando Salas was brought into the game with runners at second and third and only one out.  Coby Smith's blooper over a drawn-in infield plated two, giving the Travs the lead for good at 3-2. 

The Arkansas comeback ruined a tremendous start for Justin Fiske, who was dominating, allowing two hits over 6 2/3 shut-out innings. 

Springfield had taken a 1-0 lead in the second, as Andrew Brown opened with a single, and scored two batters later, as Isa Garcia delivered a run-scoring single. 

The Redbirds made it a 2-0 advantage, as Casey Rowlett singled to open the sixth inning.  Rowlett stole second and moved to third on a pitch in the dirt. Rapoport followed with an RBI single, giving the Cards a two-run lead. 

Kinney, who joined the St. Louis Cardinals in Arizona on Tuesday, was called upon to make his fourth appearance as part of his rehab assignment.  Kinney came in with a runner at first and two outs, throwing just one pitch to end the inning, as Mark Trumbo grounded out.   

The loss for Springfield gave them an overall record of 76-64, as they finished the second half with a 40-30 mark.  The 76 wins overall and the 40 in the second half are both franchise records. 

In Other Springfield Cardinals News

Texas League President Tom Kayser announced on September 2, that Hammons Field has been voted the 2008 Texas League Field of the Year.

 

The award, which is the second consecutive for Hammons Field, is voted upon by all eight Texas League managers.

 

Very fittingly, Head Groundskeeper Brock Phipps and his entire crew have been named the 2008 Texas League Field Crew of the Year. "It's an absolute honor to receive this award for a second straight season," Phipps said. "I'm very proud of our crew and our staff for all the hard work that's gone into this field."

 

It has been a great season and I look forward to sharing another with the Birdhouse gang in 2009. The 2009 season begins on April 9, at Hammons Field and I hope to see you all there. Have a great winter. And "Go Cardinals!"


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