Johnson City Cardinals Notebook: 2011 Week 9

RF Gary Apelian was 8-for-22 (.364) with a double and two home runs this week to help lead the first-place Cardinals (38-20) to a 3-3 record.

The Johnson City Cardinals were 3-3 this week (38-20 overall).  They maintained their first-place position in the five-team Western Division of the Appalachian League, five games ahead of both the Elizabethton Twins and the Kingsport Mets.  The Cardinals have the best record in the league by three games and are two games ahead of the pace set by the 2010 Championship team. 


Johnson City is on pace to finish 45-23 (.662).  If they did, it would be their best finish since 1986 (.667).  The Cardinals ended the week (Sunday morning) with a magic number of six and a good chance to clinch a playoff spot before the end of the coming week.  If the playoffs started today (Sunday morning), Johnson City would travel to Danville, VA to play the Danville Braves on Wed. July 31 for game one of the first round and then would come home to host the Braves for games two and three (if necessary) on Thu. and Fri. (Sep 1 and 2).  The Cardinals are 1-1 against Danville this year. 


Johnson City is 14-14 so far this year against teams with a winning record (Bluefield, Danville, Kingsport, and Elizabethton) and 24-6 against teams with a losing record (Princeton, Pulaski, Greeneville, and Bristol).  They have four games left against Danville (33-25) and six games left against Burlington (20-38). 


I was able to attend five of the six games this week.  I missed Tuesday night's game in Kingsport.  Those observations provide the basis for this report. 


In case you missed a previous 2011 report, you can review them here: 


Johnson City Cardinals Notebook:  2011 Week 8

Johnson City Cardinals Notebook:  2011 Week 7

Johnson City Cardinals Notebook:  2011 Week 6

Johnson City Cardinals Notebook:  2011 Week 5

Johnson City Cardinals Notebook:  2011 Week 4

Johnson City Cardinals Notebook:  2011 Week 3

Johnson City Cardinals Notebook:  2011 Week 2

Johnson City Cardinals Notebook:  2011 Week 1

Johnson City Cardinals Pre-Season Notebook


Roster Changes


P Ryan Sherriff (2-2, 4.54 ERA) was promoted to the Batavia Muckdogs in the New-York Penn League earlier this week (Sherriff: Checking Out A New Town).  The lefty made a successful debut against Mahoning Valley (Cleveland Indians) Saturday night when he started and allowed just one run and four hits over five innings while walking one and striking out three. 


The roster decreased from 32 to 31 active players (max of 35). 


Josh Lucas

Injuries and Playing Time


P Josh Lucas (4-1, 3.97 ERA) told me this week just before he left for the season that he would not need surgery on his ailing right elbow (Lucas: Elbowed Out).  Rest should have him ready for Spring Training 2012.  Lucas joins 2B Trevor Martin and 1B/DH/LF David Bergin as members of the 2011 Johnson City Cardinals who had their Appy League season ended prematurely due to injury.


Team Statistical Review


The offense took a big step backward this week as they faced some good pitching and had all six games against teams chasing playoff spots.  Hitting Coach Ramon "Smokey" Ortiz was pretty vocal this week from the dugout as the batters posted an extremely meager .220/.275/.369 line this week.  They hit 17 doubles and five home runs in six games.  Their AVG/OBP/SLG line through 58 games this year is .275 (1st)/.337 (3rd)/.451 (1st).  The Cardinals lead the league in runs (356), hits (566), doubles (145), home runs (60), total bases (929), average (.275), slugging (.451), and on-base plus slugging or OPS (.788).  They are third in the league in triples (19), third in on-base percentage or OBP (.337), second in at bats (2058), and second in RBIs (303).  They remained ninth in the league in drawing walks (160).  Johnson City remained the most efficient stolen base team in the league (80%) after being caught just once this week in six attempts (83%). 


The defense committed 11 errors that contributed to five unearned runs this week.  LF/CF Ronald Castillo (4 errors) made two more weird errors this week.  Castillo had an easy fly ball go in and out of his glove.  He also threw wildly through the infield from shallow centerfield with no runners trying to advance after tracking down an errant pickoff attempt from the catcher.  SS Matt Williams, 2B Tyler Rahmatulla, and RF Gary Apelian each had two errors this week.  LF Anthony Garcia also had a critical misplay (no error) when he called for a catchable fly ball with two outs in extra innings that he then let drop untouched for a double and an earned run allowed.  CF Steven Ramos (seven outfield assists) continued to play superior defense as he added two impressive assists at third base.  RF Gary Apelian has shown off his strong and accurate arm this season also by recording a team leading eight outfield assists. 


The Cardinals pitching staff had another good week (3.15 ERA) but remained second in team earned run average (3.56) for the season.  Through 58 games, the pitchers have the second best walks plus hits per inning pitched (WHIP) in the league (1.28), the most wins (38), the fewest losses (20), the most holds (31), the most saves (18), the fewest walks allowed (158), and the second fewest earned runs allowed (208).  Probable first round playoff opponent Danville is first in the league in both team ERA (3.08) and WHIP (1.27).  The starters were 2-2 this week while the relievers were 1-1 with five holds, three saves, and one blown save.  The relievers inherited 8 runners this week and allowed just 2 runners to score (20% scored).  On the season, the pitchers have allowed 36% of inherited runners to score.   


John Mozeliak

Weekly Summary


Johnson City was 3-3 this week against possible playoff teams.  They recorded their second shutout this year on Thursday night (1-0 against the Mets) but were also shutout for the second time this year on Wednesday night (both against the Kingsport Mets).  The pitchers earned bragging rights and a batting practice session for the 1-0 shutout.  Unfortunately, their team's worst game of the year was probably in front of St. Louis Cardinals' General Manager John Mozeliak on Wednesday night.  The Cardinals almost had as many errors (five) as they had hits (six).  Wednesday starter Tyrell Jenkins (4-2, 3.71 ERA) recorded his second loss this year as the batters combined for a 0-for-7 effort with runners in scoring position.


Tyrell Jenkins

Jenkins again struggled with keeping his mechanics consistent.  His delivery became more over the top and his velocity decreased as his pitch count increased.  Jenkins touched 94 MPH and sat 92-93 MPH in the first inning but saw his velocity decrease in his last inning (pitches 68-79) when he touched 91 MPH and sat 86-88 MPH.  Jenkins' movement and location was pretty good as he recorded two walks and five strikeouts.  All five of his hits allowed were singles, four of his strikeouts were on curve balls (three swinging), and one strikeout was on a changeup (called).  Jenkins still needs to work on his delivery mechanics to continue to improve.


Nick Gillung

Friday night's loss actually occurred early Saturday morning as the Cardinals lost their opener against the Danville Braves by a score of 5-4 in 16 innings.  It was the longest game of the year in both innings and time (five hours and four minutes).  Johnson City used seven of their eight relief pitchers Friday night.  RF Gary Apelian hit two home runs Friday night including a game tying home run in the eleventh inning.  P Nick Gillung (0-0, 1.71 ERA) made his first professional start. 


Saturday night's win was an exciting one as Venezuelan 1B Hector Garcia (.261) and Venezuelan P Roberto Canache (2-1, 2.60 ERA) made major contributions in a 6-4 come-from-behind victory.   Garcia had a double and a home run and Canache, pitching for the second consecutive night, closed out the Braves in the ninth with a runner on third and the tying run on second and just one out.  Saturday night starter Eduardo Hiraldo (2-2, 3.95 ERA) helped out a tired bullpen by completing the longest outing of the year for a starter (31 batters faced).  RF Gary Apelian (.298) continued his good performance against the best pitching staff in the league with a big, game-tying, two-run double in a four-run eighth inning.  Most people stayed after the late inning fireworks for more fireworks twenty minutes after the victory. 


Hopefully, the playoffs will not come down to a tie-breaker but if it does, Johnson City needs to pull for Elizabethton to finish in a tie with them.  Johnson City ended their season long head-to-head match-up against the Twins this week with a 5-4 record.  The Kingsport Mets edged out the Cardinals in their 11 game season series this week by finishing with 6-5 head-to-head record.


Tyler Rahmatulla

Tyler Rahmatulla saw his ten-game hit streak end on Wednesday night while Anthony Garcia's five-game hit-streak ended the following night.  Matt Williams (six games), Neal Pritchard (six games), and Gary Apelian (five games) all take active hit streaks into Sunday night's game against the Danville Braves. 


Johnson City 6 @ Elizabethton 4, Cardinals Minor League Notebook: 08/15/11

Johnson City 4 @ Kingsport 7, Cardinals Minor League Notebook: 08/17/11

Kingsport 6 @ Johnson City 0, Cardinals Minor League Notebook: 08/18/11

Kingsport 0 @ Johnson City 1, Cardinals Minor League Notebook: 08/19/11

Danville 5 @ Johnson City 4, Cardinals Minor League Notebook: 08/20/11

Danville 4 @ Johnson City 6, Cardinals Minor League Notebook: 08/21/11


Chris Costantino

Starting Pitchers and Pitch Counts


With an end to Josh Lucas' season and with the promotion of Ryan Sherriff, Johnson City and Pitching Coach Doug White have added left-handed relief pitcher Nick Gillung to the 6-man rotation with a 65-pitch limit.  It appears that RHP Chris Costantino may be "paired" in a tandem with Gillung although Costantino will probably come out of the bullpen again this week.  The starters have 85-90 pitch limits. 


Starting Pitchers (6): 

RHP Tyrell Jenkins (1)

LHP Kyle Hald (2)

LHP Nick Gillung (3)

RHP Eduardo Hiraldo (4)

RHP Jose Pasen (5)

LHP Ben Freeman (6)


Kyle Hald and coach Doug White

8/14:  Jose Pasen:  87 pitches, 60 strikes, 16-for-23 first-pitch strikes.

8/17:  Tyrell Jenkins:  79 pitches, 47 strikes, 13-for-21 first-pitch strikes.

8/18:  Kyle Hald:  84 pitches, 54 strikes, 18-for-26 first-pitch strikes.

8/19:  Nick Gillung:  65 pitches, 41 strikes, 11-for-17 first-pitch strikes.

8/19:  Chris Costantino:  41 pitches, 24 strikes, 7-for-12 first-pitch strikes.

8/20:  Eduardo Hiraldo:  88 pitches, 57 strikes, 21-for-32 first-pitch strikes.


Who's Hot (Hitters)


Four different batters hit .300 or better this week.  That list, in decreasing order of weekly batting average, included:  Gary Apelian (.364), Ronald Castillo (.333), Neal Pritchard (.316), and Matt Williams (.300). 


Gary Apelian

RF Gary Apelian (.298) was 8-for-22 (.364) with a double, two home runs, five RBIs, and 15 total bases over five games this week.  Apelian is tied for fourth in the league in doubles (17).


LF/CF Ronald Castillo (.237) was 4-for-12 (.333) with a double over four games this week.  Castillo is tied for eighth in the league in triples (4).


3B Neal Pritchard (.277) was 6-for-19 (.316) with five runs, a double, a home run, and five RBIs over five games this week.


Matt Williams

SS Matt Williams (.280) was 6-for-20 (.300) with two runs, four doubles, three stolen bases, and three walks over five games this week.  Williams is third in the league in runs (44), tied for sixth in doubles (16), seventh in stolen bases (17), and tied for eight in walks (25).


Despite slow but not cold weeks, Tyler Rahmatulla (.263 this week) and Anthony Garcia (.211 this week) continue to lead the league in several categories. 


2B Tyler Rahmatulla (.328) is first in the league in doubles (23), third in OPS (0.991), fourth in total bases (108), fifth in slugging (.581), fifth in runs (41), eighth in OBP (.410), tied for eighth in walks (25), and ninth in batting average (.328).


Anthony Garcia

LF Anthony Garcia (.314) is sixth in the league in OPS (.945), seventh in OBP (.413), eighth in slugging (.533), and tied for eighth in triples (4).


Who's Not Hot (Hitters)


1B/DH David Washington, a week after recording the best week on the team, was 0-for-14 (.000) with three walks and four strikeouts over four games.  Washington is tied for ninth in the league in home runs (9).  Washington hit a controversial foul home run on Thursday night that would have given the Cardinals a 3-0 lead.  Washington turned on the 1-2 pitch and sent it high over the foul pole down the right field line.  Home plate umpire Jimmy Hollingsworth ruled that it was foul despite several cries from the Cardinal dugout and fans in the stands that it was clearly fair.  As usual, after a brief conversation with Manager Mike Shildt, Hollingsworth did not change his mind. 


Steven Ramos

CF Steven Ramos (.269) continues to see his average plummet as he was 2-for-20 (.100) with seven strikeouts and one caught stealing over five games this week.  Despite the cold streak, Ramos is fourth in the league in runs (42), fourth in at bats (219), and sixth in stolen bases (18). 


DH Roberto De La Cruz (.274) has cooled off dramatically after going just 3-for-21 (.143) this week.  De La Cruz is not getting cheated with his swings though as all three of his hits were for extra bases (two doubles and a home run).  "De La" (his nickname) is third in the league in home runs (13), fifth in total bases (106), sixth in slugging (.558), tied for eighth in RBIs (39), and tied for tenth in doubles (15). 


Kolby Byrd

C/DH Kolby Byrd (.226) was 2-for-14 (.143) over three games this week. 


C/DH Jonathan Keener (.214) was 1-for-7 (.143) over two games this week. 


SS/2B Breyvic Valera (.341) was 2-for-12 (.167) over three games this week. 


Who's Hot (Pitchers)


Eight pitchers either allowed no earned runs this week or had a WHIP of 1 or less over at least three innings pitched.  In order of decreasing innings pitched, those pitchers were:  Jose Pasen (0.83 WHIP), Kyle Hald (0.00 ERA), Michael Santana (0.33 WHIP and 0.00 ERA), Dyllon Nuernberg (0.53 WHIP and 0.00 ERA), Chris Costantino (0.75 WHIP and 0.00 ERA), Logan Billbrough (0.00 ERA), Heath Wyatt (0.33 WHIP), and Roberto Canache (0.00 ERA). 


Kyle Hald

Kyle Hald (6-0, 1 SV, 2.08 ERA, 0.90 WHIP, 2.08 BB/9, 10.6 K/9) is first in the league in WHIP (0.90), tied for second in wins (6), second in ERA (2.08), and tied for third in strikeouts (56).  Hald has somewhat quietly become the ace of the pitching staff this year and should garner several votes for Appy League All-Star left handed starting pitcher despite pitching in the tandem for much of the year. 


Jose Pasen (4-2, 3.93 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, 2.32 BB/9, 8.0 K/9) is fourth in the league in WHIP (1.11) and tied for seventh in wins (4).


Logan Billbrough (3-0, 5 SV, 1.29 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, 1.93 BB/9, 11.25 K/9) has allowed no home runs over 28 innings pitched this year, is tied for first in the league in games (20), and is tied for fifth in both holds (4) and saves (5).


Heath Wyatt (3-1, 5 SV, 2.95 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, 2.95 BB/9, 11.8 K/9) is tied for fifth in the league in saves (5). 


Who's Not Hot (Pitchers)


Four pitchers posted ERAs of 5.4 or greater or WHIPs of 2 or greater this week:  Ben Freeman (Loss, 19.31 ERA, and 3.43 WHIP), Matt Rein (Loss, 2.0 WHIP), Tyler Mills (9.0 ERA and 2.0 WHIP), and Tyrell Jenkins (Loss, 5.40 ERA). 


Week Ten Schedule


Game 59 (Sun):     Pasen vs. Danville Braves

Game 60 (Mon):     Freeman @ Burlington Royals

Game 61 (Tue):     Jenkins @ Burlington Royals

Game 62 (Wed):     Hald @ Burlington Royals

Game 63 (Thu):     Gillung @ Danville Braves

Game 64 (Fri):       Hiraldo @ Danville Braves

Game 65 (Sat):      Pasen @ Danville Braves


NOTE:  Burlington and Danville both have internet radio for their home games so join me in listening to those games this week as the Cardinals hit the road and try to clinch both a playoff spot and a Western Division Championship this week! 


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