Springfield Cardinals Notebook: 2013 Week 13

The Double-A Cardinals struggled through a long 1-5 road trip through Texas but return home. Catcher Cody Stanley has two ninth inning game-winning hits in the last two weeks.

The long Texas League bus rides can be a challenge for many teams and players and it certainly seemed to wear on the Springfield Cardinals during their recent road trip. As the Cards hit the road to make their furthest route into Texas, they found themselves in a tailspin, dropping five out of six. After their recent slide, the Cardinals now find themselves two games out of last place in the early second-half division battle.

Wednesday, June 26th, Springfield 1 at Corpus Christi 13

Following Tuesday's Texas League All-Star Game, the Cardinals made the Texas League's longest journey to Corpus Christi to face the Hooks at Whataburger Field on Wednesday night.

Richard Castillo got the start for the Cardinals but did not give a solid outing. Castillo allowed five runs, including a grand slam, in the second. After being responsible for five of the six runs that crossed in the third, Castillo's night was finished after 2 2/3 innings. He surrendered a total of 10 runs on 10 hits and was the hook for the loss. Corey Baker followed Castillo and allowed the sixth run in the third and two more in the fifth for a total of three runs in 4 1/3 innings. Jose Almarante finished with a scoreless eighth inning.

The Cardinals scored their first run with one down in the eighth inning. James Ramsey got things started with a single, followed by a base hit from Jake Lemmerman. Tyler Rahmatulla then ripped an RBI single through the middle, bringing Ramsey in from second to make it 13-1. Cody Stanley was 3-for-4 and Stephen Piscotty was 2-for-4 with Chris Swauger adding his ninth double in the series-opening loss.

Thursday, June 27th, Springfield 6 at Corpus Christi 5

After being trounced on Wednesday, the Cardinals looked to bounce back on Thursday but the Hooks got off to a quick start against starter Jonathan Cornelius. Cornelius escaped a jam in the first, allowing one unearned run, and settled in to throw five innings allowing two runs, one earned.

Justin Wright followed and allowed two runs in the sixth before Kevin Thomas threw a scoreless seventh and eighth. After the Cardinals took the lead in the ninth, Heath Wyatt took over to close out the game, but before he knew it, he had given up a run on two hits before recording an out. Lee Stoppelman was summoned to put out the fire and delivered a perfect outing, earning his first Texas League save.

The Cardinals very patiently sliced the deficit, starting in the top of the sixth inning. Walks worked by Vance Albitz, Ramsey and Lemmerman loaded the bases. With one away, Ruben Gotay took the frame's fourth free pass, forcing in Albitz from third to get the Cardinals on the board and within only one run, 2-1.

The Cards trailed until they mounted a rally in the top of the ninth. Gotay led off the inning with a base hit before Swauger bounced into a fielder's choice. With Swauger at first and one down, Xavier Scruggs and Piscotty loaded the bases with consecutive singles, with Piscotty replaced at first base by pinch runner Adam Melker. Luis Mateo, who had two hits, then placed an RBI single to shallow right field, scoring Swauger and advancing all runners. Albitz followed with a sharp single to center, bringing in Scruggs. Melker tried to score from second on the play, but was thrown out at home plate with a perfect throw from center field, keeping the Hooks ahead, 4-3. However, pinch hitter Stanley belted a two-strike pitch over the left-field wall, lifting the Cardinals to victory with a three-run home run, 6-4.

Friday, June 28th, Springfield 6 at Corpus Christi 7 (10 innings)

In the rubber match of the series against the Hooks, the Cardinals looked to win their opening series following the All-Star break. The Hooks capitalized early on a pair of Cardinals errors to plate five runs in the bottom of the third against starter Seth Blair. Of the six runs that crossed in his six innings of work, Blair was responsible for just two of them as earned runs while he struck out six batters and walked one.

After Blair, Almarante and Stoppelman combined for 2 1/3 innings of scoreless work before manager Mike Shildt handed the ball to Hooker to finish the ninth. After getting one out in the 10th, Hooker allowed a walk-off double to the Hooks' Stassi, absorbing the 7-6 loss.

Unlike the previous two nights, the Cardinals struck first offensively with three runs in the top of the second. With two down and the bases empty, Lemmerman and Mateo extended the frame with consecutive singles. Audry Perez then chopped an RBI double just inside the left-field line, plating both runners. Perez cruised home next on an RBI double from Mike O'Neill, stretching the lead to 3-0.

After losing the early lead, the Cardinals put together another late-game comeback, plating three runs in the top of the eighth to tie the game. Swauger led off with a triple to right-center field, before darting home on an RBI sacrifice fly by Scruggs. Back-to-back base hits by Stanley and Lemmerman then got two runners on, and Mateo followed with an RBI single placed just inside the third base line, plating Stanley. One out later, O'Neill struck again with a two-out RBI single to center field, bringing in Lemmerman to tie the game, 6-6.

O'Neill and Mateo both had three hits while Scruggs, Lemmerman, and Stanley each had two hits.

Saturday, June 29th, Springfield 3 at San Antonio 5

After falling in the series with the Hooks, the Cardinals made the trip to San Antonio to take on the Missions at Wolff Stadium on Saturday night. Anthony Ferrara made the start.

Ferrara kept the Cardinals lead intact into the bottom of the sixth when he allowed two runs to tie the game in addition to the one he had surrendered in the third. Ferrara finished his night after six innings having allowed three runs on four hits. After pitching a scoreless seventh and getting two out in the eighth, Wyatt allowed two runners to reach. Wyatt then gave way to Justin Wright, who allowed a two-run triple just inside the right field line, scoring two runners for the two-run Missions advantage.

Springfield got on the board in the top of the fourth. Consecutive singles by O'Neill and Stanley put two runners on. Gotay then lined an RBI single to right field, plating O'Neill and moving Stanley to third. Scruggs chopped a grounder to short that resulted in a double play, but it also enabled Stanley to dart home.

After falling behind, Springfield evened things out again in the top of the eighth inning. Melker led off with a perfectly placed double inside the third base line, before moving to third on a sacrifice bunt from Albitz. One out later, Stanley, who was 2-for-4, ripped a line drive to the right side of the infield that that resulted in an RBI base hit to tie the game, 3-3.

Sunday, June 30th, Springfield 2 at San Antonio 3

Tim Cooney got the start for Springfield in San Antonio on Sunday night. After allowing a run in the first, Cooney allowed only two walks and one single through his next four innings, while registering seven of his eight total strikeouts. Unfortunately, Cooney would relinquish his lead in the sixth when he surrendered a two-run homer over the left field wall, lifting San Antonio into the 3-1 lead with one on and two down. After Cooney's 5 2/3 innings, Almarante entered to retire four batters in perfect fashion to get through the seventh. Thomas followed with a perfect eighth inning.

The Cardinals mounted their first charge early, plating their first run in the second. With the bases clear and two away, Mateo extended the frame with a double. Audry Perez then placed an RBI single through the middle, plating Mateo to tie the game, 1-1.

After losing the lead in the sixth, Springfield again refused to go down without a fight, attempting another comeback in the top of the ninth. With one away, Lemmerman rocketed a triple into the right field corner, before Melker brought him home with a pinch-hit RBI single through the left side. Melker moved to second on a wild pitch, but the Missions got out of it with a strikeout and a fly out, closing the 3-2 loss for the Cardinals.

Ramsey and Piscotty each had two hits for Springfield.

Monday, July 1st, Springfield 1 at San Antonio 3

Desperately hoping to avoid dropping their fourth straight game and the series sweep in San Antonio, the Cardinals sent Richard Castillo to the mound. Castillo kept the Missions scoreless through his first four, but San Antonio got on board with a solo home run in the bottom of the fifth. Castillo lasted a season-high eight innings, giving up just the one run on three hits while striking out five.

Stoppelman relieved Castillo to start the ninth and lost the first batter to an inning-opening walk. Stoppelman, however, retired the next two batters with the runner advancing to third and came one out away from extra frames. Unfortunately, that's when Missions first baseman Johan Limonta drove a fly ball just inside the right-field foul pole, coming through with the two-run home run for the 3-1 walk-off win for San Antonio.

Springfield's only run came in the second when Scruggs crushed the first pitch of the frame over the right field fence for a solo home run, The home run lifted the Cards into the 1-0 lead at the time but that is all they would muster. It was Scruggs' 20th on the season while Mateo had the team's only other hit.

Who's Hot

Cody Stanley - Springfield's newest catcher was 8-for-18 this week with four RBI and another game winning hit to his name.

Who's Not

Heath Wyatt - Since appearing in the Texas League All-Star Game, Wyatt allowed either the tying run or winning run in both of his outings this week.

Team Transactions

June 27 - LHP Nick Greenwood sent to Triple-A Memphis
June 29 - OF Chris Swauger sent to Triple-A Memphis with Oscar Taveras's return to the DL
June 29 - RHP Deryk Hooker received from Triple-A Memphis with activation of Sam Freeman from suspended list

North Division Standings – second half

Texas League North W L PCT GB Home Away L10 Stk
Arkansas 7 5 .583 - 5-3 2-2 6-4 W1
NW Arkansas 7 5 .583 - 4-2 3-3 6-4 L1
*Tulsa 7 5 .583 - 2-2 5-3 7-3 W5
Springfield 5 7 .417 2.0 4-2 1-5 3-7 L4
* Won 1st Half Division Title

The Cardinal Nation Top 40 Prospect Watch

#12 Stephen Piscotty - Two of his first six Double-A hits have been for extra bases but the outfielder is hitting just .231 through his first seven games.

#13 James Ramsey - Ramsey struggled at the plate this week, going just 3-for-19 with no extra base hits or RBI.

#30 Seth Blair - It is hard to fault Blair for the six runs that crossed in his start this week as four of them were a direct result of two fielding errors made behind him.

#32 Mike O'Neill - The leadoff man finally returned to action late this week and delivered five hits in his first 13 at-bats since returning.

#38 Audry Perez - Splitting time with Stanley, the former All-Star catcher was just 2-for-16 at the dish this week.

#39 Tim Cooney - Cooney delivered another strong start, striking out eight batters, but paid for his one mistake with the loss.

What's Next

The Cardinals will return to Springfield on Wednesday to begin a home series facing the two teams that gave them grief on the most recent road trip. The homestand will begin with the Cards looking to bounce back against Corpus Christi with Jonathan Cornelius on the mound against the Hooks before the Cardinals welcome San Antonio to town on Saturday.

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