The Palm Beach Cardinals continue their downward trend, as they dropped five of seven contests in the last week. Their 10-16 record has them in sixth place, six games behind Fort Myers. With Matt Williams moving to Double-A, the Cardinals will need to find a quality bat to help fill the void that the shortstop will leave in the middle of the order.
April 23: Palm Beach Cardinals 3, St. Lucie Mets 1
The Cardinals snapped their two-game losing streak behind a strong pitching performance by Mike Mayers (W, 2-2). The right-hander went six innings, scattering four hits and allowing one run. He struck out six without issuing a free pass. It was Meyers' third straight start in which he tossed six innings. Iden Nazario (S, 2) recorded the save, tossing three innings of scoreless baseball.
Palm Beach got off to a strong start, scoring in the first inning. However, the Mets answered in the top of the second to tie the game at 1-1. With the score tied, the Cardinals plated two runs in the fourth. Anthony Garcia started the inning with a single and scored on an RBI triple by David Washington. The final run of the game came on an RBI groundout by Matt Williams, giving the Cardinals the 3-1 edge.
Washington and Starlin Rodriguez finished the game with two hits and a run each.
April 24: St. Lucie Mets 15 at Palm Beach Cardinals 5
It was another rough outing for right-hander Joey Cuda (L, 0-3), as he was hit around for eight runs on six hits in 1 1/3 innings. The right-hander walked three and struck out three, but he couldn't avoid the big inning. In the top of the second inning, the Mets batted around, scoring seven runs on five hits, chasing Cuda with one out in the inning.
The Mets held a commanding 13-0 lead after the top half of the seventh. The Beach Birds answered by scoring five runs in the final three innings, but it wasn't enough.
Williams hit his first homer of the season in the seventh. He finished the game 3-for-4 with two runs and two RBI, while Rodriguez added two hits, a run and an RBI.
April 25: Fort Myers Miracle 5, Palm Beach Cardinals 1
The Cardinals offense was handcuffed on Friday night, as Fort Myers hurler Jose Berrios tossed six innings of one-run baseball. He allowed eight hits, but fanned seven. On the home side, Thomas Lee (L, 1-2) was roughed up for five runs on nine hits in 5 1/3 innings. Jorge Polanco was Lee's worst enemy, as the middle infielder went 3-for-3 with a homer and three runs scored against Lee.
Charlie Tilson matched Polanco's effort, as he went 3-for-5 with a run scored on the night.
April 26: Palm Beach Cardinals 9 at Fort Myers Miracle 4
On Saturday night, runs came easy to the Beach Birds, as they scored two in the third, six in the sixth and one in the ninth. At one point they led 9-0, as they pounded out 16 hits in the drumming of the Miracle. Garcia paced the attack, going 4-for-5 with two runs and one RBI. Breyvic Valera and Jacob Wilson added two RBI each.
While every player in the lineup recorded a hit on the night, starting pitcher Cory Jones (W, 1-0) was dominant. The right-hander went six innings, scattering two hits, walking four and fanning six. He did not allow an earned run for the first time since opening week.
April 27: Fort Myers Miracle 10, Palm Beach Cardinals 7
Kyle Helisek can't buy a win. The southpaw put together another solid performance for the Beach Birds, tossing five innings, allowing two unearned runs on two hits. He struck out four and left the contest on Sunday afternoon with a 7-2 lead. However, the bullpen spoiled another one of his starts. Nazario came in with a big lead and promptly loaded the bases before serving up a grand slam to Max Kepler, putting the Miracle within one run at 7-6. Aiden Lucas (L, 1-2) relieved Nazario, and he gave up the lead and took the loss. In three innings, the bullpen allowed eight runs on seven hits.
Despite the hot start by the Cardinals, they dropped the rubber match and lost their second straight series.
April 28: Jupiter Hammerheads 4 at Palm Beach Cardinals 1
In a matchup of former first-rounders, Marco Gonzales and Jacob Turner, the Miami Marlins' hurler prevailed. Turner, rehabbing with the Hammerheads, held the Cardinals to four hits in seven strong innings on the bump. He fanned seven, while walking one. His lone blemish came on a solo homer by Washington.
Gonzales wasn't too shabby either. The southpaw tossed six innings, scattering seven hits, allowing one run and striking out four. He took the no-decision, as Mitch Harris (L, 0-2) allowed the game-winning runs in the eighth inning. With the loss, the Cardinals dropped to a season-worst four games under .500.
April 29: Jupiter Hammerheads 5 at Palm Beach Cardinals 3
The Cardinals dropped a heartbreaker on Tuesday night, as they fell to their local rival, the Hammerheads, 5-3 in 13 innings. Trailing by one run in the bottom of the eighth, Nick Martini laced a double, moved to third on a single by Valera and scored on a double play ball to force extra innings.
In the extra frames, the Hammerheads broke through in the 13th inning against Corey Baker (L, 2-1). Despite giving up two runs in the 13th, Baker was solid in extended relief overall, tossing five innings, allowing six hits and the two runs. He struck out two and kept the Beach Birds in the game, but it wasn't enough as the Cardinals dropped their third straight.
Tilson finished the contest 2-for-5 with two runs, while Jesus Montero added two hits.
Missing Cuda?: Right-hander Joey Cuda continues to have a dreadful start to the 2014 campaign. In four starts, he is 0-3 with a 13.85 ERA. In his last outing, he allowed a season-high eight run on six hits. Opponents are hitting an alarming .409 against him.
Bad Luck Kyle: Despite owning the eighth-best ERA in the Florida State League with a 1.59 mark, Kyle Helisek has yet to record a win. In three of his four starts, the left-hander was in line to win the contest, but the bullpen has failed him.
Swing-And-Misses: Sam Tuivailala has been good in relief in 2014, hurling 10 1/3 innings, allowing five runs on nine hits. His numbers are solid, but his strikeout rate is overwhelming. The right-hander has fanned 19 batters in 10+innings. His 16.55 strikeout per nine innings ratio leads the FSL.
I have a craving…for homers: Through 25 games, David Washington has already clubbed a team-high five homers. The lefty is tied for second in the FSL in the home run category. However, the first baseman is batting just .182.
Pitching in: The Cardinals are tied for second in the 12-team FSL in strikeouts, but have also issued the most free passes. Their team ERA of 4.22 is eighth.
4/29/14: IF Matt Williams assigned to Springfield from Palm Beach
4/29/14: IF Bruce Caldwell added to Palm Beach from State College
On the Horizon
The Cardinals finish their home-and-away series with the Hammerheads (MIA) before welcoming in the first-place Fort Myers Miracle (MIN) for a three-game set starting on Friday night. After the Miracle roll through town, the Cardinals will engage in another series matchup with the Hammerheads, starting on Monday.
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