Gulf Coast League Cardinals Notebook: Week 10

The Cardinals can blame Hurricane Irene for their missing the playoffs. Gerwuins Velazco was the team's top defender this season.

Final Standings

GCL East W L Pct. GB
GCL Marlins 38 16 .704 -
GCL Cardinals 31 24 .564 7.5
GCL Mets 27 29 .482 12.0
GCL Nationals 20 33 .377 17.5
GCL Astros 20 34 .370 18.0
GCL Wild Card W L Pct. GB
GCL Pirates 34 26 .567 -
GCL Cardinals 31 24 .564 0.5
GCL Twins 31 29 .517 3.0
GCL Tigers 29 31 .483 5.0
GCL Mets 27 29 .482 5.0

Chalk up the GCL Cardinals as another victim of Hurricane Irene. The Cardinals finished 31-24, the best record in the team's five-year history. That was not quite good enough as cancellation of Thursday's home game against the Astros, the worst team in the East Division, because of the passing storm, was costly.


For the week, the Cardinals were 2-3, finishing a ½-game behind the Pirates (34-26) for the wild card spot. A win over the 20-34 Astros, however, would have given the Cardinals the wild card spot. With fewer games played, their better win percentage would have been the tiebreaker.


Successive bands of rain from Irene on Thursday morning made all the fields at the Roger Dean Complex unplayable. "It's unfortunate it worked out that way," Cardinals manager Steve Turco said.


The Pirates lost a one-game semifinal Sunday against the East Division champion Marlins in Jupiter, while the Yankees defeated the Orioles in the other semifinal. If they had won the wild card, though, the Cardinals would have played the Orioles in Sarasota.


The semifinal winners start their best-of-three series for the GCL championship Monday in Jupiter.


Comings and goings

OF Charlie Tilson's stint in the Gulf Coast League was short-lived. After four games, he was moved up to Johnson City. OF Victor Encarnacion and OF Reggie Williams were sent to Batavia.


Weekly Recap

Monday, lost 6-5 to Nationals in Jupiter in completion of Aug. 17 game: Suspended mid-fourth with the Nationals leading 1-0 in Viera, the game was resumed in Jupiter. The Nationals added another run in the fourth, but the Cardinals scored one in the fifth and two more in the sixth to take a 3-2 lead, Suddenly, Cardinals SP Victor De Leon looked like he not only had a chance to finally earn his first win but also, because he started the game five days earlier, had a chance to accomplish a rare feat in the GCL - a nine-inning complete game. (The Tigers' Brenny Paulino pitched a three-hit shutout on Aug. 5 for the only nine-inning complete game in the GCL all season.) 

Cardinals highlight: Knox's two-run home run in the eighth was his team-leading fifth of the season, but his first not against the Marlins.


Monday, defeated Nationals 3-1 (7 innings): In the regularly scheduled game, the Cardinals took advantage of six walks by Nationals pitchers to score their three runs. 2B Leandro Mateo walked to lead off the bottom of the first, advanced to second on a single by SS Ildemaro Vargas and scored one out later on a single by 1B Jem Argenal. The Nationals tied the game with a run against SP Ramon Ulacio in the third, but the Cardinals came back in their half of the third with two runs driven in by bases-loaded walks to LF Reggie Williams and CF C.J. McElroy, batting eighth and ninth, respectively.

Cardinals highlight: Mateo robbed Nationals C Erick Fernandez of a hit with a sparkling defensive play leading off the top of the seventh.


Tuesday, lost to Mets 4-2 in Port St. Lucie: C Luis Perez and 3B Sam

Tuivailala each had two hits and an RBI – Tuivailala's on his first home run of the season – but the Mets solved Cardinals lefty Dail Villanueva (1-2) for three runs, two of them earned, on three hits and three walks. The Mets added an insurance run in the eighth against Willy Paulino, ending his streak of six consecutive appearances without allowing an earned run.

Cardinals highlight: A season-high nine strikeouts by Villanueva.


Wednesday, no game.

Thursday, vs. Astros rained out.


Friday, lost to Marlins 5-0 at Jupiter: 2B Leandro Mateo, 1B Jem Argenal and 3B Sam Tuivailala each had two of the Cardinals' eight hits, but they couldn't string them together into any runs. The loss dropped the Cardinals ½-game behind the Pirates for the wild card spot.

Cardinals highlight: RP Cole Brand pitched 2-1/3 innings of scoreless middle relief.


Saturday, defeated Nationals 3-2 in Viera: Batting in the ninth hole, CF C.J. McElroy had three of the Cardinals' six hits. The Cardinals, however, were also aided by five walks. SP Ramon Ulacio (4-3) allowed only one hit, a solo home run, in five innings. Three relievers combined to hold the lead, with Willy Paulino earning his 12th save. The Cardinals needed the win, but they also needed the Pirates to lose. The Pirates defeated the Yankees 14-9.

Cardinals highlight: McElroy's three hits raised his final batting average to .228.

A Closer Look at …

Best defensive player: C Gerwuins Velazco didn't make a bad throw to second base all season, and that includes his throws after between-inning warm-ups. Even those warm-up throws were invariably on the bag, say knee level or lower. Often his throws to nail base stealers elicited "oohs" from the extra pitchers charting the game from behind home plate. Velazco was also better than average at blocking potential wild pitches. Defensive stats are not available for the Gulf Coast League, but Velazco's play as the backstop was an advantage for the Cardinals.



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