For the Arkansas Travelers, Monday night’s 5-3 victory against the Springfield Cardinals was bittersweet.
While the Travelers did notch a win against St. Louis Cardinals’ pitcher Chris Carpenter, who was making a rehab start, they lost outfielder Luis Montanez for four to six weeks.
“It was good and bad,” Travs Manager Tim Bogar said. “Luis broke two ribs. We did OK. Carpenter is a great pitcher and dominated our right-handers. The left-handers fared better.”
A crowd of 9,709 fans watched Carpenter in his rehab debut. The Travelers notched three hits against Carpenter in the first two innings before they tallied three runs in the third frame. Lefthander Taylor Lindsey started the spurt with a one-out double and was followed by Jimmy Swift, who had replaced Montanez in the previous inning. Swift smashed a home run to give the Travs a 2-0 lead. They added another run when Carlos Ramirez’s hit to third base was botched and scored Kaleb Cowart with bases loaded and two outs.
Now, Bogar is going to have to try and figure out what to do with Montanez, who was in right field, out for several weeks. He and centerfielder Randal Grichuk collided during the second inning.
“It just happened, and I’m still trying to figure it out,” Bogar said. “Not having him takes a quality at-bat from the middle of the lineup.”
Monday’s win stalled a three-game losing streak the Travs were riding. They lost the final two games to Tulsa last Friday and Saturday and then the opener at Springfield last Sunday. As of Monday with a 48-45 overall record and 15-9 league mark, Arkansas had a three-game lead over Northwest Arkansas and Springfield in the second-half standings.
“We are playing good baseball, and we are giving ourselves chances to win,” Bogar said. “The only thing that matters is that we play well that day. We are going to lose a few in a row. We just want to make sure we win the series.”
In last Sunday’s 6-3 loss to Springfield, the Travelers once again had to use the bullpen to make it through the game. With two starters on the disabled list, Mike Cisco made his second start of the season. Nick Maronde and Elvin Ramirez also pitched.
“We are manipulating the bullpen,” Bogar said. “Some guys are pitching longer in situations. You have to make do, and our bullpen is doing a great job.”
Changing of the guard
When Bogar was on his vacation to start the second-half, hitting coach Ernie Young took over the coaching responsibilities at third base. When Bogar returned he decided he liked the situation and decided to spend his time in the dugout and leave Young at third.
“I like the fact I am in the dugout during the offensive side,” Bogar said. “It has worked out well, and we’ll keep doing it.”