The Palm Beach Cardinals had alternated wins and losses the past two weeks as the team struggled with consistency. Unfortunately, that was not the case this week. The week was lost when the team dropped three in a row to Brevard County. The highlight was a comeback win in the final game of its series with the Manatees.
The Cardinals forgot to bring their bats in the Friday game with Tampa. The team managed only three hits as Yankees' starter Jose Quintana struck out nine in seven innings. Palm Beach starter Carlos Martinez was the tough luck loser after allowing only one run in six innings while striking out seven.
Palm Beach put up a run in the eighth and ninth to pull out a 3-2 victory on Saturday. Jesse Simpson was the victor of 1.2 innings of shutout relief. Jordan Swagerty was credited with his second save. Niko Vasquez had two hits while Adam Melker's sacrifice proved to be the game winner.
After pulling out a solid victory, one would think the Cardinals would ride the momentum into the next day's contest. But as the old saying goes, "Momentum is your next day's starting pitcher." That pitcher, former reliever Blaine Boyer, gave up three earned runs in four innings as the Cards fell to Brevard County, 7-0. Seems that conditioning might have been the key as the right-hander threw three scoreless frames before allowing all the runs in his final inning. Arquimedes Nieto followed Boyer and he was tagged for four runs in only three innings of work. At the plate, the team managed only three hits for the second time in a week. Ted Obregon collected two of them.
The next night, Palm Beach put runs on the board early and led the Manatees 7-1 after four innings. Unfortunately, Francisco Samuel imploded to allow four runs in his only inning of relief and was charged with the loss. Domnit Bolivar highlighted the offensive effort with a grand slam in the third inning.
On Tuesday, Brevard County continued to punish Palm Beach pitching. The visitors put six runs on the board as the hometown Cardinals managed only three on six hits. The prior night's star, Domnit Bolivar, had two while Starlin Rodriguez added a pair as well.
The Cardinals closed out the series with Brevard County with a comeback win in extra innings. Starter Carlos Martinez had his worst start of the season. In only 1.2 innings, the fireballer allowed four runs on four hits and four walks while not logging a strikeout. Jeff Lyman picked up the victory after working a shutout tenth. Starlin Rodriguez and Xavier Scruggs both had a pair of hits while Kyle Conley had a pair of RBIs including the game winner.
The Cardinals ended the week on the wrong foot with a 3-2 loss to their rival Daytona. Xavier Scruggs, Rainel Rosario and Robert Stock collected two hits each. Tyler Lyons put together a solid start, going six innings and allowing only one run. Justin Smith was charged with the blown save and the loss after surrendering two runs in 1.2 innings.
During the month of July, Domnit Bolivar is hitting .320/.370/.580 with three home runs and 14 RBIs. Though it seems like he has been around for years, the shortstop is only 22 years old.
In 14 games since being promoted from Quad Cities, Starlin Rodriguez is hitting .375/.426/.500 in 48 at bats.
The Cardinal Nation Top 40 Prospect Watch
#40 Niko Vasquez. The 22-year-old has struggled all season to find his stroke especially at home. At Roger Dean, he is hitting only .162 while on the road he has posted a mark of .282.
#39 Robert Stock. The backstop is hitting .313/.365/.418 with a home run and five RBIs.
#30 Rainel Rosario. Definitely looking for the calendar to turn, Rosario is hitting .204/.237/.278 during July.
#24 Jordan Swagerty. In eight appearances out of the Palm Beach pen, the right-hander has an ERA of 0.90 with 12 strikeouts in 10 innings.
#5 Carlos Martinez. The phenom now sits at 1-1 with a 5.40 ERA. In 18.1 innings, he has racked up 17 strikeouts but has walked 11.
Around the League
The Cardinals are now 14-14 and have fallen to fifth place in the six-team South Division. The team sits 3.5 games behind first-place St. Lucie.
The club ranks sixth in team ERA and third in team strikeouts. In the box, the Cards are 10th in slugging, 11th in batting average, and dead last in on base percentage.
Palm Beach will play the role of road warriors over the next week. The team will finish out its series with Daytona and then will travel to Lakeland. The Cardinals will return to Roger Dean Stadium on July 29.
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