After a rough stretch to start the season, the Palm Beach Cardinals strung together a couple of wins before returning to losing.
The team continued its struggles in the first game of the week, a 5-4 loss to Jupiter in 11 innings on Friday. Starter Maikel Cleto yielded three runs in the bottom of the first. Rainel Rosario led the attack with four hits out of the leadoff spot. Phil Cerreto and Jarred Bogany each chipped in a pair of singles.
The Cardinals bounced back on Saturday to post a 4-3 victory over the Hammerheads. Hitting leadoff and second, respectively, Luis Mateo and Ronald Ramirez each collected three hits. After an inconsistent start, Zack Cox chipped in two hits and drove in two runs. Joe Kelly put together a solid start, yielding three runs in six innings of work though he would not factor in the decision. Chase Reid picked up his victory of the season with two shutout innings. Aaron Terry pitched a scoreless ninth to earn his second save.
The win streak was ended on Monday as the Stone Crabs grabbed a 5-2 win. Rosario had another pair of hits as did Audry Perez. Justin Smith was tagged with the loss after yielding three runs in his five-inning start.
The losing continued on Tuesday as Charlotte took the contest 5-4 in 12 innings. Rondon was charged with his second loss after giving up two runs after his team had gained the lead in the top of the final frame. Shelby Miller allowed three runs to score while striking out eight in seven innings. Cox had his best game to date with four hits and a run scored. Ramirez produced two more hits as did Perez.
It must have been a long bus ride back because it would seem the Palm Beach hitters got little sleep as they returned home. Edgar Lara and Mateo had four of the team's six hits in a 5-0 loss to Jupiter on Wednesday evening. John Gast was charged with his first loss after scattering 13 hits and allowing four runs to cross the plate.
The Cards returned to the field on Thursday hoping to right the ship but unfortunately the team could not take advantage of a strong pitching performance. Once again, Jupiter dropped its Roger Dean Stadium roommate 2-1 with reliever Daniel Calhoun taking the loss. Starter Maikel Cleto was solid with nine strikeouts in five innings of work. Aaron Terry threw three innings of shutout relief. Zack Cox led the offense with a pair of singles with Alan Ahmady contributing a pair as well.
The Cardinals are now in the midst of a four-game losing streak.
Over his last 10 games, Rainel Rosario is hitting .349/.391/.558 with two home runs and seven RBI.
In his last 37 at bats, Ronald Ramirez has 13 hits for a .351 average.
Zack Cox has seven multi-hit games in his last 10 games played. During the stretch, he is hitting .381/.391/.381.
Luis Mateo is hitting only .184 on the season and has been caught stealing three times more than he has been successful (3:1).
The Cardinal Nation Top 40 Prospect Watch
#30 Rainel Rosario. The outfielder is hitting .283/.317/.433 with two home runs and eight RBIs. Rosario is blistering left-handed pitching with a .500 average in 20 at bats so far this season.
#28 John Gast. His third start was his worst of the season to date but hopefully it was just a bump in the road. The southpaw is 0-1 with a miniscule 1.89 ERA. Gast has allowed only four walks in 19 innings while holding lefties to a .182 average against.
#27 Joe Kelly. Though he has not factored in a decision, he has been impressive none the less. Kelly has posted an ERA of 2.45 and opponents are hitting only .237 against him.
#2 Zack Cox. After a so-so start, the former Arkansas Razorback is really heating up. Cox is now hitting .317/.358/.333 on the season. Although it is still early, a cause of concern is his lack of power. Of his 19 hits, only one has been for extra bases.
#1 Shelby Miller. The right-hander has a 0-1 record to go along with a 2.55 ERA. In 17.2 innings, Miller has racked up an impressive 28 strikeouts and an even more impressively, has given up only three walks. Right-handed hitters are only batting .152 against him.
Around the League
On the season, the Cardinals are now 4-11, the worst record in the Florida State League. The team is nine games behind first place St. Lucie in the Florida State League South.
Phil Cerreto is tied for sixth in the league with five doubles. Edgar Lara's three home runs is tied for the sixth best mark in the league as well. Alan Ahmady is tied for fifth in walks. Only four players have struck out more times than Rosario and Jarred Bogany (17 each).
John Gast is leading the league in innings pitcher while Shelby Miller is third in workload. Miller is leading the league in strikeouts with 28 while teammate Maikel Cleto is second with 21. Cleto also ranks 10th in WHIP with a mark of 0.94.
The Cardinals finish off their home series with Jupiter on Friday before heading for Bradenton for the first time this season. After that three-game set, Palm Beach will return home to welcome Fort Myers.
Dustin can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Dustin on Twitter
© 2011 The Cardinal Nation, thecardinalnation.com and stlcardinals.scout.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.