August 15: Bradenton Marauders 5, Palm Beach Cardinals 4
The Cardinals dropped the finale with Marauders after jumping out to an early 4-0 lead. Patrick Wisdom guided the offensive attack, smacking a three-run home run in the top of the first inning, while Jonathan Rodriguez clubbed his 16th homer of the season in the third to make it 4-0.
With first rounder Marco Gonzales on the bump, the Cardinals looked well on their way to victory. However, after Gonzales was removed following five innings of one-run ball, the bullpen couldn't hold off the Marauders. Logan Billbrough was tagged for three runs on two hits in 1 2/3 innings, and Dean Kiekhefer took the loss, giving up one unearned run in 1 1/3 innings.
Offensively, Rodriguez paced the attack, going 2-for-3 with two runs scored and an RBI.
August 16: Palm Beach Cardinals 3, Charlotte Stone Crabs 2
In a battle for second place in the South Division, the Cardinals prevailed. They rallied from two runs down to clip the Stone Crabs, 3-2 Friday night. Starter Ryan Sherriff went 5 2/3 innings, allowing seven hits, two earned runs with five strikeouts. He left the game in a tie, as Palm Beach scored two to tie it in the fifth.
The Beach Birds did not look back, closing the door shut with 3 1/3 innings of scoreless relief. Iden Nazario, Robert Stock and Ronnie Shaban took care of business in the late innings. Stock picked up the win, pitching 1 1/3 innings with one hit and one strikeout; while Shaban (S, 16) recorded his team-leading 16th save with a perfect ninth.
August 17: Charlotte Stone Crabs 1, Palm Beach Cardinals 0
The Cardinals bats were kept silent on Saturday night by Stone Crabs pitching. Three pitchers combined to toss a six-hit shutout, guiding Charlotte to a narrow victory.
The Cardinals could muster one extra-base hit, a third inning triple by Popkins, but a fly out ended the threat and the inning. Alex Mejia was the lone Cardinal to record a multi-hit game, as he went 2-for-4.
Cards starter Kyle Hald (5-8) was the tough-luck loser, going seven innings, allowing seven hits, one earned run with one walk and three strikeouts.
August 18: Charlotte Stone Crabs 2, Palm Beach Cardinals 0 (7 innings)
On another rainy, wet evening, the Cardinals were shut out by the Stone Crabs, 2-0, as the final 2 ½ innings of the game were canceled due to inclement weather.
Hector Hernandez (3-2) was the tough-luck loser, going 5 1/3 innings, allowing two unearned runs and suffering his second straight loss. The lefty struck recorded eight of the 16 outs on the night via the strikeout.
Wisdom, Mejia and Nick Longmire all recorded singles, as the Cardinals only had three base runners the whole evening.
August 19: day off
August 21: St. Lucie Mets 6 at Palm Beach Cardinals 4. Palm Beach Cardinals 7, St. Lucie Mets 0 (7 innings)
With the score at 4-2 in favor of the Mets on Tuesday night, the Florida summer rains popped up and washed the remainder of the game in the top of the fifth inning. When the two teams continued the suspended game, the Cardinals jumped on the board early and tied it at 4-4 on a two-run double by Jesus Montero. The lead didn't last long, as the Mets scored two in the top of the seventh to regain the lead against Cardinals reliever Corey Baker. With two men on, Robbie Shields drilled a double off the wall, scoring both and giving the Mets game one of the series.
The Mets didn't stand a chance in the night cap. Cardinals' starter Kurt Heyer (6-4) was brilliant, hurling six innings of scoreless baseball, while yielding four hits and two walks. The right-hander fanned four before passing it along to Shaban, who completed the shutout.
The Beach Birds put the game away by scoring six runs in the bottom of the fourth. Popkins led the way, going 2-for-3 with two runs scored and an RBI, while Wisdom added two hits, one run and an RBI.
Dry spell - Jonathan Rodriguez is having a banner season, earning All-Star nominations and Player of the Month and Week honors, but the first baseman has hit a bit of a dry spot. In his last five games, he is 0-for-17 with four strikeouts.
Quality arm - Joey Cuda has taken over as the Palm Beach Cardinals ace. In five starts, the right-hander is 3-0 with a 1.82 ERA. He has recorded 21 strikeouts in 29 2/3 innings, adding four quality starts.
Popkins closing in - David Popkins has continued to be a force in the Palm Beach lineup. The outfielder is hitting .320 (101-for-316) with 20 doubles, six triples, six homers and 43 RBI. He is 31 points behind Jupiter's Brent Keys for the Florida State League batting title. Popkins could be the second straight Palm Beach Cardinal to win the award, as Mike O'Neill took the title in 2012.
Standings Watch - The Cardinals are in third place, 4.5 games behind the Charlotte Stone Crabs for first in the FSL South Division race. The Beach Birds end the season with a four-game set against Charlotte, but cannot fall further behind.
On the Horizon
The Cardinals are in the midst of a crucial series with the St. Lucie Mets. After they finish the Mets series on Thursday night, they will welcome the Bradenton Marauders for a three-game set starting on Friday, August 23rd. The Cardinals will hit the road after the Bradenton series and match up against the Fort Myers Miracle from August 26-28.
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