April 9: Palm Beach Cardinals 3 at Bradenton Marauders 1
The Cardinals took game two of the three-game set behind a strong pitching performance by Marco Gonzales (W, 1-0). The 2013 first-rounder out of Gonzaga University was on point on Wednesday night, hurling five scoreless innings, allowing three hits and striking out seven. He was brilliant in his first start of 2014 after going 1-1 with 1.62 ERA in four starts for Palm Beach last season.
Offensively, the Cardinals took the lead in the top of the second inning with a leadoff homer from David Washington. The first baseman drove a 3-1 pitch over the left field fence. Palm Beach added single runs in the sixth and seventh, extending their lead to 3-0.
In the ninth, Dixon Llorens gave up a run and left the game with runners on first and second with one out. Iden Nazario (S, 1) cleaned up the mess, recoding the last two outs and giving the Cardinals the win.
April 10: Palm Beach Cardinals 6 at Bradenton Marauders 0
For the second straight night, the Cardinals received a stellar performance from their starting hurler. Mike Mayers (W, 1-1) went six scoreless innings, allowing three hits and striking out six. Robert Stock (S, 1) finished the contest with three scoreless innings of his own, completing the three-hit shutout.
The pitching staff didn't have to do too much, as the Cardinals exploded for six runs in second inning. The Cardinals collected seven hits in the frame. Anthony Garcia delivered the final blow, jacking his second homer of the season over the left field fence to make it 6-0.
Breyvic Valera, Jacob Wilson and Ildemero Vargas finished the night with two hits each, while Wilson tallied two RBI.
April 11: Charlotte Stone Crabs 6, Palm Beach Cardinals 5
The string of good starts ended abruptly on Friday night as Joe Cuda (L, 0-1) was roughed up for six runs on seven hits in the first inning. Cuda finished the evening tossing three innings, allowing six earned runs on 10 hits. It was his worst start of his Palm Beach career, as last season he gave up a season-high four runs on August 20 to St. Lucie.
Despite a six-run deficit, the Cardinals chipped away, scoring five runs on eight hits. For the second straight night, Garcia hit a two-run homer in the second inning. It got the Cardinals to within reach at 6-2. Garcia finished the night with three RBI, while Vargas added two hits and two RBI in the loss.
April 12: Palm Beach Cardinals 6 at Charlotte Stone Crabs 2
Kyle Hald (W, 2-0) is not taking his third stint with Palm Beach lightly as the lefty is dominating the circuit. The southpaw went seven innings, allowing seven hits, one run and striking out five to collect his team-leading second win of the season.
Offensively, Garcia made it three straight games with a homer, connecting for a two-run shot in the fourth inning. Nick Martini led the way at the top of the order, going 2-for-5 with an RBI. Valera added two hits and two RBI, raising his batting average to .368 on the season.
April 13: Charlotte Stone Crabs 8, Palm Beach Cardinals 7 (14 innings)
In the longest game of the season, 14 innings, the Cardinals dropped a heartbreaker 8-7 to the Stone Crabs. After a see-saw battle in which both teams had a five-run inning, the Stone Crabs finally broke through in the 14th. With Palm Beach out of pitchers and infielder Vargas on the mound, the Stone Crabs used a little small ball to win. The leadoff man Josh Sale walked and moved to second base on a bunt by Marty Gantt. Sale made a crucial running mistake as he was erased on a force play, but Kes Carter made up for it as he got himself into scoring position during the run down. With Carter at second, Maxx Tissenbaun connected for the game-winning hit.
Cardinals outfielder Starlin Rodriguez had a big night, going 3-for-6 with a run and an RBI. Charlie Tilson collected his first homer of the season. It was his only hit of the game, but it accounted for three runs in the Cardinals' five-run fourth.
April 14: Bradenton Marauders 5 at Palm Beach Cardinals 2
Palm Beach returned to Roger Dean Stadium but forgot to bring their gloves, committing three costly errors that resulted in two unearned runs. Kyle Helisek (L, 0-1) was the innocent bystander in the poor defensive showing of the Cardinals as the lefty took the loss. Despite the lack of support, the lefty went 6 2/3 innings, allowing five hits, three runs - one earned - with five strikeouts.
Offensively, the Cardinals outhit the Marauders 9-to-6, but left eight runners on base. Tilson, Valera and Wilson had two hits each, but the rest of the lineup went 3-for-22.
April 15: Bradenton Marauders 5 at Palm Beach Cardinals 0
Gonzales (L, 1-1) took home the first loss of his professional career after hurling 6 2/3 innings, allowing five runs, three earned, on nine hits. Gonzales earned a quality start, but he was outshined by Marauders' hurler Pat Ludwig. Ludwig went five innings, allowing three hits and striking out four to collect his first victory of the season.
Offensively, the Cardinals mustered six hits on the night. Tilson had two hits and extended his hitting streak to ten games, while Valera pushed his hitting streak to 12 games.
Top Cardinals Pick: Left-handed pitcher Marco Gonzales was the Cardinals' first-round pick in the 2013 First-Year Player Draft. Gonzalez is off to a solid start for the Beach Birds with a 1-1 record and a 2.31 ERA.
Valid Valera: Breyvic Valera has started the season scorching hot, connecting for at least one hit in all 12 games. He leads the Florida State League with a 12-game hitting streak. In those contests, he is batting .380 (19-for-50) with four doubles and six RBI.
Hald Strong: Despite making a return trip to Palm Beach, Kyle Hald has not been discouraged. Instead, he is carving up the opposition, going 2-0 with a 2.13 ERA in two starts. The left-hander has tossed 12 2/2 innings, allowing 11 hits with three runs earned.
Super K: The Cardinals pitching staff has logged 106 strikeouts on the season. The total is the second-most in the FSL - two strikeouts short of the Tampa Yankees for the league lead.
Tilson Timing: Outfielder Charlie Tilson had at least one hit in his first 10 games, but still went just 12-for-45 (.267). The leadoff man has 13 singles and a home run, five RBI, but also 13 strikeouts against three walks.
Homer Happy: Outfielder Anthony Garcia launched long balls in three consecutive contests and has a team-leading four on the season to set up nine RBI. However, the 22-year-old has just three singles, two doubles and no walks for a line of .188/.235/.479.
Bats Missing: As a team, the Cardinals are batting .217 (15-for-69) with two runs scored in the current series against Bradenton.
4/14: Catcher Casey Rasmus onto the seven-day disabled list.
4/14: Catcher Adam Ehrlich off the seven-day disabled list.
On the Horizon
The Cardinals finish their series with Bradenton before they welcome in the Charlotte Stone Crabs for a three-game set this weekend. The Cards will hit the road for a home-road series with St. Lucie starting on Monday.
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