Palm Beach Cardinals Notebook: 2012 Week 18

The A-Advanced Cardinals are down to 23 games to claim their Florida State League playoff spot.

The Florida State League playoffs are less than a month away, but apparently none of the South Division teams have received the memo as the see-saw battle for a second-half champion continues.

The Palm Beach Cardinals had a peek at first place last Friday, but have since fallen back to third. With three weeks left in the season, the battle for the crown should get interesting.

August 2nd: Dunedin Blue Jays 7 at Palm Beach Cardinals 3
The Cardinals jumped out to an early three-run lead, but could not hold on as costly errors and bullpen woes doomed the Birds. After taking a 3-0 lead on a two-run double by Starlin Rodriguez, the Cardinals squandered a golden opportunity to take sole possession of first place in the South Division in the top of the seventh. Iden Nazario gave up two runs on three hits in the top of the frame, as the Dunedin Bats came to life, scoring seven runs in the last four innings.

August 3rd: Palm Beach Cardinals 7 at Bradenton Marauders 6
The Cardinals took care of business, taking sole possession of first place for the first time all season. Ryan Sherriff (8-1) delivered another great start, hurling 6 1/3 innings, allowing three runs, two earned, while striking out four to pick up the victory. The Marauders made it interesting in the bottom of the ninth inning, scoring three runs against Zack Russell to pull within one. Jose Almarante came into the fire with two on and one out, but the right-hander induced an inning-ending double play for his first save of the season.

August 4th: Bradenton Marauders 2, Palm Beach Cardinals 0
Pirates prospect Jameson Taillon lived up to the billing, as the former first-rounder dominated the Cardinals for five shutout innings. He gave up three hits, while striking out five. The Cardinals out hit the Marauders 6-3, but Alex Dickerson's two-run home run in the top of the first against starter Chris Corrigan stood up as the Cardinals fell back into a first-place tie.

August 5th: Bradenton Marauders 10, Palm Beach Cardinals 7
The Cardinals offense shook off a poor offensive performance by scoring seven runs on 10 hits on Sunday night, but they were outlasted as the Marauders scored ten. The Cardinals bullpen struggled, hurling 6 1/3 innings, allowing seven runs, six earned on ten hits. Usually-reliable Aidan Lucas was roughed up for the loss, as he gave up four runs.

August 6th: Off Day

August 7th: St. Lucie Mets 9 at Palm Beach Cardinals 1
The Cardinals were held hitless for eight innings, as Rafael Montero dominated. The right-hander did not finish his game because his pitch count exceeded the 100-mark. He gave way to Kyle Allen to complete the no-hit bid but Starlin Rodriguez broke it up with a double in the top of the ninth. The third straight loss dropped the Cardinals into fourth place in the tight division race.

August 8th: Palm Beach Cardinals 4, St. Lucie Mets 2
Todd McInnis looked like the odd man out as the Cardinals kept making moves to bolster their staff. However, since returning to starting, McInnis has been one of the Cardinals' top guns. In 18 innings since being reinstalled in the rotation, McInnis has given up six runs, three earned, while striking out 14. On Wednesday night, he pitched his best game of the year, hurling seven innings, allowing two runs on three hits, while striking out four. His seven innings on the mound were a season-high, while he picked up his second victory of the season.

Like a Fine Wine, Johnny Better With Time
Cardinals Skipper Johnny Rodriguez has managed for three years in the St. Louis Cardinals Organization...The last two seasons, Rodriguez managed Single-A Quad Cities to consecutive playoff births... Both seasons, Rodriguez has done it by winning the second-half crown... Rodriguez has an overall record 111-94 first half record (including 2012), but has posted a 107-78 mark and a Midwest League Championship in the second half....

Solid Stretch Rewarded
Mike O'Neill has been on fire this season... He leads the FSL in hitting (.337), on base percentage (.438), walks (68) and is second in hits (125)... With 23 games left in the season, O'Neill is 17 hits away from breaking the Palm Beach Cardinals all-time hit record set in 2006 by Juan Lucena... His play in the month of July earned him the St. Louis Cardinals Minor League Player of the Month recognition... In 27 July games, he hit .350 with eight doubles, three triples and 11 RBI...

Bullpen Woes No More
After struggling in their last three appearances, the bullpen settled down on Wednesday night... Iden Nazario and Zack Russell combined to throw two score¬less innings, preserving the Cardinals victory...

Give Me Five
In the midst of a playoff push and multiple days off in the upcoming month, the Cardinals have decided to go with a five-man rotation for the remainder of the season...The Cardinals are one game behind the Jupiter Hammerheads in the South Division with 23 games to play...

Klein Strong
Geoff Klein has been on fire of late... In his last five games, the switch-hitting util¬ity player has gone 6-for-14... Four of his hits have been for extra bases, as he collected three doubles and a home run in that span...

Ramsey Atop
Spelling outfielder Mike O'Neill in the leadoff spot, centerfielder James Ramsey went 2-for-4 on Wednesday night... He recorded his first multi-hit game since July 28th…

8/7 P Boone Whiting activated from disabled list and transferred to Quad Cities
8/7 P Anderson Gerdel moved to Gulf Coast League
8/7 P Danny Miranda added from Single-A Quad Cities

In Miranda, the Cardinals added another left-handed arm to the bullpen. The middle reliever joins an already-deep pen.

Injury Report
Luis De La Cruz returned from the DL last Thursday, but is still not 100%. The catcher is taking it day-to-day in his return from a hip flexor strain.

On the Horizon
Having finished their series with the Mets Thursday night, the Cardinals will take on the Bradenton Marauders for three over the weekend. After a day off Monday, the Cardinals will visit Port St. Lucie to face the Mets again for three.

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