The Johnson City Cardinals (2-1) relied on strong pitching and an offensive onslaught in their season opener and went on to score their first series win of the year against their Appy League East rival, the Bluefield Blue Jays.
Thursday, June 19 at Bowen Field - Johnson City 13, Bluefield 0
For 19-year-old catcher Jose Godoy, there was no better way to make his Johnson City debut.
Johnson City benefited from his a career-high six RBI and a 4-for-5 effort at the plate to score a 13-0 win over Bluefield Thursday night.
The pitching also did work, including a masterful showing from starter Landon Beck. Beck, the recent 25th-round draftee of St. Louis, worked six innings and allowed just four hits with six strikeouts while blanking the Blue Jays at the plate.
A six-run effort in the fifth inning in which Johnson City batted around helped put the nail in the coffin for the season opener. Shortstop Oscar Mercado got things going with a leadoff single and chipped in a stolen base to second. No more running was needed by Mercado with third baseman Chris Rivera cracking a two-run homer to move the advantage to 5-0 with no outs. Godoy, center fielder Blake Drake, and left fielder Anthony Ray each hit run-scoring singles while Mercado chipped in an RBI off a fielder's choice to move the advantage at 9-0.
Friday, June 20, at Bowen Field - Bluefield 4, Johnson City 1
The Blue Jays were not going to let a sweep occur on their home field by keeping the Cardinals to a one lone run in the fifth inning while tacking on three of their own in the bottom half on Friday.
Anthony Ray and Casey Turgeon each had two hits. DH Cole Lankford and Blake Drake each had one hit to account for the Cards' six total. Turgeon scored on an error in the fifth off a ground ball to short by Jose Godoy to provide Johnson City's only output.
Steven Farinaro got the start but picked up the loss in 4 2/3 innings of work. The right-hander was touched for seven hits and four runs (two earned).
Saturday, June 21, at Bowen Field - Johnson City 3, Bluefield 0
McKinney looked sharp in his Appy League debut, giving up two hits in seven innings. The left-hander retired five on strikes.
Center fielder Carlos Torres (2-4) plated two runs in the seventh off a single to cushion the close ball game. Oscar Mercado took advantage on a Blue Jay miscue in the first to give Johnson City the early 1-0 advantage.
Ian McKinney - The 2013 fifth-rounder made his debut for the Cardinals and looked as solid as ever in the squad's 3-0 shutout over Bluefield on Saturday. McKinney only scattered two hits in seven innings of work with five strikeouts.
Jose Godoy – Leading the way in the monster win in the season opener on Thursday was Johnson City's catcher who knocked in six of the squad's 13 runs. Godoy went 4-for-5 at the plate with a pair of doubles.
Landon Beck - The Cards' 25th-round righty in this year's draft had everything working for him in his debut against the Blue Jays, helping orchestrate a shutout on Thursday. Beck's debut included six innings pitched with one walk and six strikeouts. He allowed only four hits.
Casey Turgeon - Johnson City's second baseman has looked sharp in the box this season with five hits, tied Blake Drake with for most on the team. Turgeon has also showed his wheels by legging out two doubles.
Anderson Gerdel - Gerdel made some noise last season with his relief work for Johnson City and continued it on Thursday - closing the door for McKinney's win and scoring his first save of the year.
Steven Farinaro - Johnson City's Farinaro did ok in his opening start but currently has the only ERA on the team that isn't zero, at 3.68. Farinaro worked 4 2/3 innings - second most for the Cardinals so far. Look for him to excel as the season progresses.
Chris Rivera - The third baseman got things going in the opener with the lone home run for the team to date - which has been Rivera's only hit in the three games played.
Devante Lacy - Lacy made the return to Johnson City this season but is going to have to perform to get playing time from among a group of outfielders. In two games, Lacy has made six appearances at the plate with a single and two strikeouts.
Oscar Mercado - Mercado has made 14 plate appearances in three games with just three hits and has struck out three times in his debut with Johnson City.
The Johnson City Cardinals boast the lowest team ERA in the league at 0.69. The squad ranks fourth in the Appalachian League in hitting with an overall team average of .273.
Frankie Rodriguez, a catcher with the team last year, was sent to the Gulf Coast League Cardinals on Friday.
Appalachian League Standings (as of 6/21)
Appy League West
1) Elizabethton Twins 2-1
2) Johnson City Cardinals 2-1
3) Bristol Pirates 1-1
4) Greeneville Astros 1-2
5) Kingsport Mets 1-2
Appy League East
1) Pulaski Mariners 3-0
2) Danville Braves 2-1
3) Princeton Rays 1-1
4) Bluefield Blue Jays 1-2
5) Burlington Royals 0-3
The Week Ahead
The Cardinals open their first home stand of the season against Danville at 4 p.m. on Sunday. The following contests on Monday and Tuesday will commence at 7 p.m. Howard Johnson Field will welcome the Twins to town on Wednesday. Johnson City ends the week in the comfy confines of Washington County Thursday-Saturday with games against Princeton.
Follow Curtis Carden on Twitter @CurtisCarden_ER.
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