Springfield Cardinals Notebook: 2012 Week 8

Kyle Conley's three home runs and nine RBIs in week 8 led the Double-A Cardinals back to within one game under .500 overall. The club finished a strong road trip with a 4-2 record on the week.

Consistency is something the Springfield Cardinals have been searching for all year. Ironically, the Double-A birds are finding it during the time of year when the roster is rapidly changing. After enduring at 10-game losing streak a few weeks ago, the Cards now find themselves just a game below the .500 mark. Offense from Kolten Wong, Oscar Taveras, and Jermaine Curtis combined with the starting pitching of newcomers Seth Maness and Richard Castillo has pulled the Cardinals back within reach as the competition heats up for the first-half division title.

Thursday, May 24th, Springfield 2 at San Antonio 3 (12 innings)

Thursday's matchup sent Tyler Lyons to the mound for his ninth start of the season to shut down the Missions hitters. San Antonio put up two runs on eight hits against Lyons in 5 2/3 innings pitched. Deryk Hooker followed Lyons with 2 1/3 innings of scoreless baseball allowing just one hit and striking out 5 out of the bullpen. Eric Fornataro entered in the ninth and pushed the game two extra innings with two more innings of hitless action. After Fornataro was lifted to start the 11thinning, Jesse Simpson followed with another inning of scoreless work before giving up the winning run with one out in the 12th.

The good news for Springfield is that they banged out 15 hits. Unfortunately, timely hitting was at a premium and the Cards managed to hit only 2-for-17 with runners in scoring position while stranding a season-high 17 batters. The Cardinals had five extra-base hits including doubles from Oscar Taveras, Chris Swauger, Adam Melker, and Jose Garcia and a triple from Jermaine Curtis. Swauger, going 3-for-5 at the dish, drove in the only two runs for the Cardinals. Kolten Wong extended his hitting streak to 10 games.

Friday, May 25th, Springfield 3 at San Antonio 1

Scott Gorgen got the Cardinals back on track Friday with a strong performance to cap off the three-game set with San Antonio. Gorgen gave the Cardinals seven strong innings, surrendering only one run on five hits following his 10 strikeout performance last week. Gorgen's performance was followed by yet another scoreless outing for the hard-throwing Fornataro for his sixth hold of the season. Keith Butler closed the game with a scoreless ninth, earning his ninth save of the season.

Springfield hitters scraped together three runs on eight hits. Audry Perez had the Cardinals' only extra base hit with a two-run double in the fourth inning. Wong, still continuing his hot month of May, was 2-for-5, raising his average to .327. Curtis drove in the only other run for the Cardinals with a RBI single in the fifth.

Saturday, May 26th, Springfield 5 at Corpus Christi 6

On Saturday, the Cardinals made the short two-hour bus trip from San Antonio to Corpus Christi and sent Seth Maness, fresh off his impressive Double-A debut, to face the Hooks. Although he wasn't as strong as his first outing at home, Maness still gave the Cardinals seven strong innings, allowing two earned runs on nine hits. Hooker followed Maness in the eighth inning and relinquished the lead by giving up two runs on three hits in just 1/3 inning pitched. Michael Blazek escaped the eighth inning jam before giving up a walk-off solo blast to the Hooks' Jonathon Villar with one out in the ninth. Errors hurt the Cardinals as top prospects Kolten Wong and Oscar Taveras committed three between them, two of those coming from Wong at second base.

Springfield bats were quiet for most of the game with the exception of a five-run burst in the sixth inning. Curtis led the Cardinals at the plate going 2-for-5 with two RBIs and smashing his first home run of the season. Outfielder Jake Shaffer added the Cardinals other two RBIs and went 2-for-4 with a double. Chris Swauger also had a strong game adding a double in 3-for-4 showing.

Sunday, May 27th, Springfield 10 at Corpus Christi 1

Trevor Rosenthal made the start in Corpus Christi on Sunday. Rosenthal, who has steadily gotten stronger each outing recently, was effective again surrendering one run on four hits. However, Rosenthal was lifted after five innings with a high pitch count. The bullpen followed with four strong innings including scoreless frames from Kevin Thomas, Jesse Simpson, and Chris Corrigan.

The Cardinals had a great night offensively, plating 10 runs on 11 hits. Curtis put together another solid game at the dish with a 4-for-4 night, including a double and a RBI. Kyle Conley was also a big contributor, going 2-for-4 with his sixth home run and two RBIs. Wong continued his hitting streak with his fourth triple of the season. Xavier Scruggs also got in on the action with a two-run home run in the first inning.

Monday, May 28th, Springfield 3 at Corpus Christi 2

Springfield closed the road trip deep into Texas by sending Richard Castillo against Corpus Christi looking for the series win. Castillo has been brilliant since being called up and delivered another strong performance, going 6 1/3 scoreless innings allowing six hits. Eric Fornataro followed Castillo with 1 1/3 innings but nearly relinquished the lead with a rare outing giving up two runs. Keith Butler, however, was able to put out the fire with a scoreless 1 1/3 frames for his 10th save of the season.

Springfield put all their runs on the board with a three-run tally in the eighth inning. Kyle Conley had a two-run double and was later driven in by Scruggs, who was 2-for-4 on the evening. Jose Garcia had the Cardinals' only other multi-hit game, going 2-for-4.

Wednesday, May 30th, San Antonio 5 at Springfield 10

After the day off on Tuesday and a long road trip back to Springfield, the Cardinals opened a six-game homestand on Wednesday in front of the hometown faithful at Hammons Field by sending lefty Tyler Lyons against the Missions for their second consecutive matchup. Lyons gave the Cards six innings of work, allowing three runs on seven hits and striking out seven. Lyons' only hiccup came when he hit the wall in the fifth inning and gave up back to back home runs.

Hooker followed Lyons out of the bullpen with 2/3 inning before giving up a solo home run. Fornataro relieved Hooker in the seventh and threw 1 1/3 innings of scoreless before handing the ball to Michael Blazek in the ninth. He gave up one run before finally closing the game.

In typical Texas League fashion, the Cardinals topped the Missions' five runs with ten of their own led by Kyle Conley, who drove in half of those runs. Conley hit a power surge with a double in the second inning, a line drive solo shot with two on in the third, and a monster home run that landed outside the left field fence with one on in the seventh inning. Taveras added to the lead with two RBIs and a double of his own during the 2-for-4 evening.

Who's Hot

Richard Castillo - Castillo has been great since being called up from Palm Beach, going 2-0 with a 1.33 ERA in three starts.

Kyle Conley – The outfielder hit a power surge late and totaled three home runs and nine RBIs on the week.

Jermaine Curtis- Springfield's third baseman went 13-for-28 with four extra base hits and four RBIs this week.

Who's Not

Michael Blazek - Moving to the bullpen has proven unkind to the Blazek as he has given up a run in each of his last two outings and is now 2-5 on the season.

Team Transactions

May 26 - C Nick Derba Sent to Triple-A Memphis
May 26 - C Travis Tartamella received from A-Advanced Palm Beach

Division Standings

Texas League North W L PCT GB Home Away L 10 Streak
Tulsa Drillers (COL) 29 22 .569 - 19-9 10-13 5-5 L2
NW Arkansas Naturals (KC) 26 25 .510 3.0 18-10 8-15 2-8 L2
Springfield Cardinals (STL) 25 26 .490 4.0 15-8 10-18 7-3 W3
Arkansas Travelers (LAA) 21 30 .412 8.0 13-10 8-20 5-5 L2

The Cardinal Nation Top 40 Prospect Watch

#2 Carlos Martinez – Currently on the DL, Martinez announced via Twitter this week that he has been promoted to Springfield. Spotted in the dugout on Wednesday night, he will begin to rehab with Springfield as Cardinals fans anxiously wait for him to make his Double-A debut.

#3 Oscar Taveras – Although Taveras' bat has cooled a bit, he is still showing a knack for extra base hits. He now has 27 extra base hits but has seen his average dip to a season-low .309.

#4 Kolten Wong - The second baseman continues to hit and has been impressive at the plate. However, if there is one weakness in his game, it might be his defense. After showing some slick plays to start the season, Wong now has eight errors in the field.

#12 Trevor Rosenthal – Rosenthal has steadily improved in his recent outings and has seen his ERA improve to 2.72. However, he needs to find a way to go deeper into games by being more effective with his pitch count.

#31 Jermaine Curtis - Curtis was 13-for-28 this week and has improved to a .514 slugging percentage showing his comfort with Double-A pitching.

#38 Keith Butler – Butler now has 10 saves in 21 appearances and is most trusted to pull the Cardinals out of late inning jams.

What's Next

The Cardinals look to even their overall record by sending Scott Gorgen to the hill at home against the Missions on Thursday. After wrapping up the next two games against the Missions, the Cards will finish their homestand with a three-game set against Corpus Christi before hitting the road again next week.

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