The Johnson City Cardinals were 5-2 this week (35-17 overall). They maintained their first-place, six-game lead over the Elizabethton Twins in the five-team Western Division of the Appalachian League. They are seven games ahead of the Kingsport Mets for a playoff spot. The Cardinals have the best record in the league by five games and are two games ahead of the pace set by the 2010 Championship team.
I was able to attend all five home games and one of the two road games in person this week. I missed Saturday night's game in Elizabethton. Those observations provide the basis for this report.
In case you missed a previous 2011 report, you can review them here:
P Chris Costantino, the Cardinals' 43rd
round pick in this year's draft, signed earlier this week and has
joined the team. He will wear
jersey number #46 and should see his first action out of the
The roster increased from 31 to 32 active players (max of 35).
Note: The Cardinals released P Eric Binder
from the roster of the Batavia Muckdogs this week (Binder: The Book Closes). Binder made three relief appearances for
Injuries and Playing Time
SP Josh Lucas (4-1, 3.97 ERA) felt
some pain in his pitching elbow prior to his scheduled start on Thursday of this
week. The coaches and staff decided
to skip his start to give him a little more recovery time. Lucas was scheduled to throw a side
session on Saturday, during which a decision would be made about his start
scheduled for Thursday at home against
1B/DH David Bergin (.284) injured
his shoulder on July 29 when he slid head-first into second base on a successful
pickoff by the
3B/2B Neal Pritchard (.271) suffered back spasms on Tuesday Aug 2 after pulling a single down the left field line in the first inning in Elizabethton (Pritchard: Back Off). After missing seven games in a row, Pritchard returned to action with a pinch at-bat on Tuesday Aug 9.
|Garcia dodges a pitch|
Although it hasn't impacted any playing time to my knowledge, five different Cardinals were hit with 10 different pitches this week. Anthony Garcia (4 HBP) took the brunt of the damage with Matt Williams (2 HBP), Gary Apelian (2 HBP), Roberto De La Cruz (1 HBP), and Neal Pritchard (1 HBP) also getting bruised up. Williams' HBP on Monday night was very scary as he took a pitch solidly off his helmet that bounced all the way to the third baseman after contact. Fortunately, Williams continued in the game and played the next night.
Garcia took exception to his HBP on Friday night against the Twins and exchanged a few words with the pitcher before being calmed down by Manager Mike Shildt. The team total over 52 games is now 41 HBP. Kolby Byrd is the only original roster member to avoid a "leather tattoo" so far.
Team Statistical Review
With a 20-run, 22-hit effort on
Wednesday, the first-place offense improved even further this week. The batters posted a very impressive
.310/.368/.549 line this week after a .276/.353/.412 line last week. They hit 20 doubles, one triple, and 13
home runs in seven games. Their
AVG/OBP/SLG line through 52 games this year is .281 (1st)/.344
The Cardinals lead the league in at bats (1844), runs (335), hits (519),
doubles (128), home runs (55), RBIs (285), total bases (850), average (.281),
slugging (.461), and on-base plus slugging or OPS (.805). They are third in the league in triples
(19) and second in on-base percentage or OBP (.344). They moved out of the cellar and are now
ninth in the league in drawing walks (145).
The defense committed seven errors that contributed to three unearned runs this week. LF/CF Ronald Castillo made a couple of odd fielding errors, 2B/SS Breyvic Valera had two throwing errors, and C Jesus Montero (9 errors, 4 PB) added two passed balls, a catcher's interference, and a throwing error. The best defensive play of the year (that I have witnessed) was made this week by CF Steven Ramos on Monday night in the sixth inning of a 2-2 game. Ramos was completely horizontal as he caught a line drive just before it hit the grass in right centerfield. The outstanding play saved a run. Ramos has shown excellent range, superior speed, quick jumps, and accurate routes in centerfield this year. I am sure his fielding is probably not an 80 on the 20-80 scouting scale but it has to be as close to an 80 that I have seen in CF in Johnson City in the last 16 years.
The Cardinals pitching staff had a good week but remained second in team earned run average (3.61) after posting a 3.30 ERA this week. Through 52 games, the pitchers have the second best walks plus hits per inning pitched (WHIP) in the league (1.29), the most wins (35), the fewest losses (17), the most holds (26), the most saves (16), the fewest walks allowed (142), and the second fewest earned runs allowed (187). The starters were 4-1 this week while the relievers were 1-1 with three holds, and two saves this week. The relievers inherited 5 runners this week and allowed just 2 runners to score (28% scored). On the season, the pitchers have allowed 37% of inherited runners to score.
The Cardinals were 5-2 this week
with both of their losses being by scores of 7-6.
The Cardinals then swept
David Washington's two-run home
run on Tuesday night was captured in picture by me in a rare double. A home run swing with the bat on the
ball. That picture is shown
here. Washington (.259) has a
currently active seven-game hit streak while Tyler Rahmatulla (.335) saw his
season-high streak extend to eight games.
Roberto De La Cruz saw his season-high hit streak end at 8 games on
Starting Pitchers and Pitch Counts
With Josh Lucas' tender pitching
elbow, changes were made to the rotation that essentially split up the
Hald/Sherriff tandem. As of now,
Starting Pitchers (7):
RHP Tyrell Jenkins (1)
RHP Josh Lucas (2)
LHP Kyle Hald (3)
LHP Ryan Sherriff(4)
RHP Eduardo Hiraldo (5)
RHP Jose Pasen (6)
LHP Ben Freeman (7)
8/7: Eduardo Hiraldo: 82 pitches, 58 strikes, 13-for-24 first-pitch strikes.
8/8: Jose Pasen: 71 pitches, 46 strikes, 13-for-21 first-pitch strikes.
8/9: Ben Freeman: 84 pitches, 54 strikes, 14-for-21 first-pitch strikes.
8/10: Tyrell Jenkins: 81 pitches, 50 strikes, 12-for-22 first-pitch strikes.
8/11: Kyle Hald: 83 pitches, 56 strikes, 12-for-21 first-pitch strikes.
8/12: Ryan Sherriff: 75 pitches, 46 strikes, 8-for-17 first-pitch strikes.
|Mike Shildt congratulates David Washington|
Who's Hot (Hitters)
Nine different batters hit .308 or better this week. That list, in decreasing order of weekly batting average, included: Jesus Montero (.545), David Washington (.409), Kolby Byrd (.400), Breyvic Valera (.389), Tyler Rahmatulla (.385), Anthony Garcia (.375), Jonathan Keener (.375), Neal Pritchard (.308), and Matt Williams (.308).
2B/3B Tyler Rahmatulla leads the team in batting average (.335), OBP (.423), slugging (.599), and OPS (1.022). Rahmatulla (.335) was 10-for-26 (.385) with eight runs, five doubles, two home runs, four RBIs, and three walks over six games this week. Rahmatulla is first in the league in doubles (20), second in slugging (.599), second in OPS (1.022), fourth in OBP (.423), fifth in runs (38), fifth in total bases (100), sixth in batting average (.336), tied for seventh in walks (24), and tied for ninth in hits (56).
DH Roberto De La Cruz (.290) is tied for second in the league in home runs (12), fourth in slugging (.580), sixth in total bases (98), tied for sixth in RBIs (37), eighth in OPS (.911), and tied for tenth in doubles (13).
SS Matt Williams (.278) is tied for second in the league in runs (42), tied for sixth in stolen bases (14), and tied for tenth in walks (22).
RF Anthony Garcia (.327) was 9-for-24 (.375) with nine runs, two doubles, three home runs, seven RBIs, and three walks over seven games this week. Garcia is third in the league in OPS (.995), fifth in slugging (.573), tied for fifth in doubles (14), sixth in OBP (.421), tied for sixth in triples (4), and seventh in batting average (.327).
C/DH Jesus Montero (.263) was 6-for-11 (.545) with three runs, one double, and two walks over three games this week.
SS/2B Breyvic Valera (.414) was 7-for-18 (.389) with five runs and two doubles over four games this week.
C/DH Kolby Byrd (.236) was 4-for-10 (.400) with two runs, a double, and three RBIs over three games this week.
C/DH Jonathan Keener (.222) was 3-for-8 (.375) with two runs, a double, and a home run over three games this week.
3B Neal Pritchard (.271) was 4-for-13 (.308) with three runs this week over four games this week.
Who's Not Hot (Hitters)
LF/RF Gary Apelian (.289) was 2-for-24 (.083) with nine strikeouts over six games this week. Despite the cold spell, Apelian is still tied for second in the league in doubles (16).
LF/CF Ronald Castillo (.227) was 1-for-11 (.091) with seven strikeouts over five games this week. Castillo is tied for sixth in the league in triples (4).
CF Steven Ramos (.286) was 5-for-24 (.208) with seven strikeouts over five games this week. Ramos is tied for third in the league in stolen bases (18), fourth in runs (41), fourth in at bats (199), and tied for seventh in hits (57).
Who's Hot (Pitchers)
Six pitchers either allowed no earned runs this week or had a WHIP of 1 or less over at least three innings pitched. Jose Pasen (0.33 WHIP), Kyle Hald (0.50 WHIP), Eduardo Hiraldo (0.83 WHIP), Ben Freeman (0.00 ERA), Dyllon Nuernberg (0.00 ERA), and Nick Gillung (0.00 ERA) all pitched well his week.
Kyle Hald (5-0, 1 SV, 2.38 ERA, 0.84 WHIP, 1.94 BB/9, 11.0 K/9) is first in the league in WHIP (0.84), tied for third in wins (5), fourth in ERA (2.38), and fourth in strikeouts (51).
Logan Billbrough (3-0, 5 SV, 1.48 ERA, 0.95 WHIP, 1.48 BB/9, 11.1 K/9) recorded two saves over two and two thirds innings pitched and two games this week. Billbrough has allowed no home runs over 24 and one third innings pitched this year.
Who's Not Hot (Pitchers)
Three pitchers posted ERAs of 5.79 or greater over three or more innings pitched this week.
Roberto Canache (1-1, 2.96 ERA, 5 HLD, 1.22 WHIP, 1.48 BB/9, 9.99 K/9) was 0-1 with a 5.79 ERA over three games and four and two thirds innings pitched this week.
Tyler Mills (1-1, 6.86 ERA, 2 SV, 1 HLD, 1.83 WHIP, 6.86 BB/9, 7.78 K/9) was 1-0 with a 8.08 ERA, 2.10 WHIP, and 5.39 BB/9 over two games and three and one third innings pitched this week. Mills allowed two home runs this week.
Ryan Sherriff (2-2, 4.54 ERA, 1.37 WHIP, 2.16 BB/9, 6.48 K/9) was 0-1 with a 9.84 ERA, 1.91 WHIP, and 4.92 BB/9 over three and two thirds innings pitched this week. Sherriff allowed two home runs this week.
Week Nine Schedule
Game 53 (Sun): Pasen @ Elizabethton Twins
Mon – Off Day
Game 54 (Tue): Freeman @
Game 55 (Wed): Jenkins vs.
Game 56 (Thu): Lucas vs.
Game 57 (Fri): Hald vs.
Game 58 (Sat): Sherriff vs.
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