Palm Beach Cardinals Notebook: 2011 Week 14

The Cardinals of the Florida State League continue to alternate wins and losses but are in the second half playoff hunt. Starlin Rodriguez and Robert Stock lead the way.

This report covers the period from July 8 through July 14.

Just like the previous week, the Palm Beach Cardinals traded wins and losses as the team searches for consistency. The week started out wet as the team's match up with Dunedin was rained out. The team might have wished Saturday's contest was washed out as well as it dropped the tilt 6-1. Eric Fornataro threw six solid innings, allowing only three runs on four hits but two long balls would saddle him with his seventh loss of the season. At the plate, Alan Ahmady and Edgar Lara both collected a pair of hits while Lara drove in the game's only run.

The next day, the Cards played two to make up for Friday's rain out. The team pulled out a victory in a pitcher's duel in game one. Tyler Lyons allowed only one hit in five shutout innings for the win. Jordan Swagerty spun two innings for his first save of the year. Ted Obregon had two hits batting ninth while Rainel Rosario doubled and scored the only run. Results were different in the nightcap as the Blue Jays put five runs on the board and once again allowed Palm Beach only a single tally. Adam Melker and Xavier Scruggs collected two hits each. Starter Arquimedes Nieto was tagged with the loss after allowing four runs in 4.2 innings of work. Jeff Lyman allowed a run after walking four batters but did not allow a hit.

After the game two defeat the previous night, Palm Beach bounced back with an 8-4 victory on Monday. Domnit Bolivar was the offensive catalyst with three hits and three RBIs. Starlin Rodriguez reached base three times and stole a base out of the leadoff spot. Recent addition Blaine Boyer made the start, lasting 1.2 innings after yielding three runs. Justin Smith picked up the win after allowing a run and striking out four in four innings of work. Another recent, but short-term addition, Ron Mahay, struck out two in a scoreless frame.

As has been the pattern of late, a win was followed by a defeat. The Cardinals dropped a 5-3 decision to Tampa on Wednesday. Richard Castillo is now 0-2 after yielding four runs on eight hits in his five innings. The rehabbing Francisco Samuel tossed a scoreless inning. At the plate, Bolivar and Rodriguez both had a pair of hits including a double while Bolivar drove in a pair of runs, as well.

On Thursday, the team picked up a 5-3 victory over the Yankees. Robert Stock and Xavier Scruggs had three hits while Niko Vasquez blasted his sixth home run of the season, a solo shot. On the mound, reliever Jesse Simpson picked up the win after blowing a save of Eric Fornataro's potential win. Keith Butler was credited with his fourth save.

Who's Hot

Since being promoted from Quad Cities, Robert Stock and Starlin Rodriguez have really helped pace the offense. Stock is hitting .340 in 15 games after hitting only .176 while playing for the River Bandits.

Rodriguez has been on fire while hitting at the top of the Cardinals lineup. The infielder is hitting .394/.432/.576 with a pair of RBIs and a stolen base in 10 games.

The Cardinal Nation Top 40 Prospect Watch

#40 Niko Vasquez. Playing mostly third base, Vasquez has been solid in the field while struggling at the plate. The former shortstop is hitting .227/.290/.409 but does rank third on the team with six home runs.

#39 Robert Stock. The backstop is hitting .340/.400/.434 with a home run and five RBIs since joining Palm Beach.

#30 Rainel Rosario. Though he has struggled at times, Rosario has put up a fine slash line of .280/.342/.408 with seven home runs and a team high 53 RBIs.

#24 Jordan Swagerty. Now working out of the bullpen, Swagerty has allowed only one run in eight innings while striking out 10 in relief.

#5 Carlos Martinez. The right-hander participated in the Futures Game this past Sunday and flashed a high 90s fastball in a scoreless inning during the showcase event.

Around the League

The Cardinals are 12-9 in the second half of the Florida State League season. That puts them tied for third place in the South Division but only a half-game out of first place. As a team, Palm Beach ranks fifth in ERA and third in strikeouts. At the plate, they rank tenth in batting average and slugging while ranking eleventh in on-base percentage.

Up Next

The Cardinals will play two more games at Tampa before returning home to host Brevard County. Then it's back on the road for a four-game set with the rival Daytona Cubs.

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