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Pitching is said to be the key to any successful baseball team. This was definitely true for the Springfield Cardinals during the initial week of the 2013 season. The Cardinals earned their first two wins largely thanks in part to dominant performances from their starting pitchers. Despite Springfield not starting the season with the trio of Carlos Martinez, Michael Wacha, and Jordan Swagerty - all of whom were all expected to be with the club - the core group of starting pitching looks very strong.
Thursday, April 4th, Springfield 2 at Corpus Christi 3
Set the open the season with a six-game road trip, Springfield started 2013 in Corpus Christi. Richard Castillo took the mound to face-off against Ross Seaton of the Hooks. Castillo spent part of the last two seasons with Springfield and was a part of the successful run in 2012.
Castillo was very sharp Thursday, going six innings on 87 pitches. The righty from Venezuela surrendered just six hits and three runs, only two of which were earned, while striking out five Hooks batters. Sent to preserve Castillo's performance was Ramon Delgado, now in his third stint with Springfield. The right-hander entered in the seventh and threw two scoreless innings, allowing two hits. The unearned run proved to be the difference in the game though, and despite the strong showing, Castillo took the loss.
The Springfield bats started cold, following the winter weather. The Cardinals offense managed to put together seven hits, none of which came from the four through eight hitters. New shortstop Jake Lemmerman and outfielder Mike O'Neill were each 2-for-4 with Lemmerman adding the team's only extra base hit with a double. Second baseman Starlin Rodriguez also had two hits in his Double-A debut and former big leaguer Ruben Gotay added a single and later stole home for the team's second run.
Friday, April 5th, Springfield 2 at Corpus Christi 0
Hoping to redeem their loss in the season opener, the Cardinals sent Scott McGregor to stifle the Hooks. McGregor delivered with a very strong season debut, tossing 5 2/3 shutout innings of one-hit baseball. Earning the win, McGregor struck out five batters and walked three in his first start.
After McGregor was pulled with 86 pitches and two outs in the sixth inning, Justin Wright took over and allowed a walk before getting a strikeout for the third out. Following Wright, Deryk Hooker and Michael Blazek each threw a scoreless inning while striking out two before they turned it over to Keith Butler for the save. Butler, who had 25 saves in 2012, earned his first in 2013 by striking out the side in the ninth.
Remaining consistent from the previous night, Springfield's offense put together two runs on seven hits for the second straight game. This time, the hits came from a few different people. Centerfielder Tommy Pham led the way, going 2-for-4 with a triple and a RBI single. Chris Swauger added the other run with a solo home run in the second inning and Lemmerman contributed a double for the second straight night.
Saturday, April 6th, Springfield 2 at Corpus Christi 5
After earning their first win in 2013, the Cardinals looked to get the series win on Saturday night in Corpus Christi. Starter Anthony Ferrara was charged with the task of giving the Cards a shot at the series win. Overall, Ferrara was inefficient in his first start of 2013, needing 85 pitches to get through 4 1/3 innings. The left-hander surrendered two hits, one earned, on seven hits and a walk. Impressive was his six strikeouts.
Following Ferrara, Dean Kiekhefer took over and allowed two runs on two hits in 1 2/3 innings to get through the sixth. Kevin Thomas tossed a scoreless seventh before turning it over to Kevin Siegrist, who allowed a solo home run in the eighth inning.
For the third straight game to open the season, Springfield scored just two runs. Two of their six hits came off the bat of Adam Melker, who went 2-for-4 and added a solo home run that went back to back with Xavier Scruggs' solo shot for all the Cardinals scoring. Pham added a double in the game.
Sunday, April 7th, Springfield 2 at San Antonio 1
On Sunday afternoon, the scene for the Cards shifted to San Antonio. Coming off the series loss in Corpus Christi, the team hoped to get off to a good start as they took on the Missions.
Boone Whiting took the bump for Springfield and picked up right where he left off last year. Whiting gave an outstanding effort, throwing six strong innings while allowing just one run on five hits. Perhaps more impressive was Whiting's seven strikeouts to go with no walks and that he needed just 68 pitches to get through six innings.
Hooker entered in the seventh and allowed a harmless hit before turning the game over to Blazek and Butler, who each threw perfect innings to end the game. Butler earned his second save of the young season.
Again, it was two runs for the Cardinals on Sunday and it was third baseman Gotay who led the way. The veteran free agent signee was 2-for-4 with a double and a RBI, his second of the season. The other RBI came off the bat of Swauger who added a double. Speedy Tommy Pham contributed his second triple of the season in the 2-1 Cardinals win.
Monday, April 8th, Springfield 2 at San Antonio 5
On Monday evening, former first-rounder Seth Blair made his Springfield debut. Blair had a relatively short outing, pulled after 70 pitches in four innings of work. The right-hander allowed two runs on five hits and walked three batters.
Following Blair, Wright received the ball to get through the fifth and sixth innings, giving up just one more hit and striking out two batters. Siegrist followed in the seventh and absorbed his first loss of the season by surrendering two runs on one hit and two walks. After Siegrist, Delgado took the mound and allowed an additional run on three hits.
You guessed it - the offense that has grown accustomed to putting up two runs, did so again for the fifth straight game to open the season. The team had eight hits, each of them coming from a different batter. Scruggs got things started with a solo shot in the second inning. Starlin Rodriguez had a pinch-hit double in the fifth and later came around the score for team's only other run in the 5-2 loss.
Who is Hot
Scott McGregor - Tossed 5 2/3 scoreless innings, allowing just one hit in his 2013 debut.
Boone Whiting - Struck out seven batters and allowed one run in six innings of work in his first start of the season.
Who is Not
Audry Perez - After spending significant time in big league camp during spring training, the catcher is off to a 1-for-14 start to his season.
North Division Standings
|Arkansas Travelers (LAA)||2||3||0.400||-||2-3||0-0||2-3||L2|
|Springfield Cardinals (STL)||2||3||0.400||-||0-0||2-3||2-3||L1|
|Tulsa Drillers (COL)||1||4||0.200||1.0||0-0||1-4||1-4||L3|
|NW Arkansas Naturals (KC)||0||5||0.000||2.0||0-5||0-0||0-5||L5|
The Cardinal Nation Top 40 Prospect Watch
#5 Carlos Martinez - Beginning the year at extended spring training after being unable to report due to visa issues during big league camp.
#11 Jordan Swagerty - Still recovering from last season's Tommy John surgery, Swagerty is starting 2013 back the DL.
#17 Starlin Rodriguez – The second baseman is 3-for-4 with a double to start the season.
#22 Kevin Siegrist - In two innings of work over two outings, the lefty has allowed three earned runs, sending his ERA to 13.50 to start the year.
#25 Boone Whiting – The right-hander struck out seven and only allowed one run in six innings in his first start of the season.
#30 Seth Blair - Blair only went four innings in his first Double-A outing, but after a solid Arizona Fall League, the newcomer will be a guy to keep an eye on.
#32 Mike O'Neill – The outfielder is 3-for-20 to begin 2013 after hitting around .500 during his Springfield debut late last season.
#38 Audry Perez - Perez is off to a slow start with only one hit in his first 14 at-bats.
#40 Keith Butler - After earning 25 saves last season, Butler has struck out five and is 2-for-2 in save opportunities through the first five games.
What is Next
The Cardinals will finish their opening road series on Tuesday night in San Antonio with Richard Castillo taking the hill. On Wednesday, they make the long bus ride back to Springfield before the home opener against Corpus Christi on Thursday evening at Hammons Field.
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