Unlikely leader Descalso trying to help Springfield

Yesterday, I noted the troubles encountered by the Springfield pitching staff through the first nine games of the 2009 regular season. Game ten was the worst yet as the Cardinals yielded 14 hits, ten walks and a dozen runs to Midland on Sunday.

It was the fourth time in those ten games that Springfield pitchers walked ten or more in a single nine-inning contest. The 12 runs scored were a season high for the Cardinals opposition as Springfield once again dropped into the Texas League ERA cellar at 6.17.

On Sunday, every one of the five hurlers contributed to the Midland hit and walk parade. Starter Tyler Herron couldn’t get out of the first inning as his ERA ballooned to 13.50 in two starts. Trey Hearne slowed the bleeding until the fifth at which time the RockHounds put away the game against him and Pete Parise.

Kenny Maiques continued his disturbing return to wildness, walking four in the seventh after hitting his first batter faced. The final pitcher, Elvis Hernandez, allowed two baserunners, but became the only one of the five to actually keep Midland off the scoreboard.

Despite the pitching woes, the Springfield offense again did its best to try to keep the club close. The Cardinals scored enough times, eight, that a win should have been expected to follow.

Only because the Midland club’s hitters have fattened up their stats via three wins in four games against the Cardinals is Springfield ranked second in the league in most offensive categories.

They include runs scored (67 in ten games), walks (57), batting average (.281), on-base percentage (.401) and OPS (.805). The only area of offensive weakness is in the stolen base category, where the Cards are last with four swipes in eight attempts.

The Cardinals are putting up these impressive results as a team, with a balanced attack.

Their top hitting performance in the early going comes from a most unexpected source. Second baseman Daniel Descalso (pictured), is ranked just 13th in the league despite a team-best .371 batting mark.

The 22-year-old Californian came into 2009 with a pedestrian career .258 average over his two previous professional seasons after having been the Cardinals’ third round draft pick in 2007 from UCal Davis. The left-handed hitter did put up a promising .351/.405/.432 line in his 37 at-bat Springfield debut late last summer.

Currently, Descalso’s nine RBI is tied for fifth-best in the Texas League while third baseman Brett Wallace also cracked the circuit’s top ten with eight driven in. Descalso’s slugging mark of .629 is seventh-highest in the league and his OPS of 1.092 is fifth. All of the second baseman’s marks lead the Springfield club.

Wallace is the only Cardinal with more than one home run (two). He tops the league with 11 walks while his on-base mark of .471 also ranks in the top ten.

Centerfielder Jim Rapoport is tied for third in the circuit with 11 runs scored, with Descalso and outfielder Daryl Jones close behind at nine each. Rapoport (.308), Jones (.333) and catcher Steven Hill (.345) are all batting over .300.

Here’s hoping the 5-5 Cardinals can find a way to stabilize their pitching staff and balance out their contribution levels with a group of hitters that have been doing more than their share for Pop Warner’s third Springfield club.