Johnson City Cardinals Notebook: 2014 Week 2

First-place Johnson City has two hitters batting over .420 in Blake Drake and Carlos Torres.

The 5-3 Johnson City Cardinals currently hold a share of first place after ending the week with two wins over Bristol before Mother Nature intervened Saturday night. Prior to that, the Cardinals opened up the week with Danville taking the first home series at Johnson City.

Sunday, June 22 at Howard Johnson Field - Johnson City 10, Danville 8

Second baseman Chris Rivera (2-for-5, 4 RBI, 2 HR, 2 R) made enough things happen at the plate for the Cardinals withstand a late rally and score a win over the Braves Sunday evening.

Third baseman Cole Lankford, center fielder Carlos Torres and first baseman Casey Grayson each helped the Cardinals reach 16 hits as a team with 3-for-5 plate appearances. Charlie Neil also came out of the dugout with two hits and an RBI in a pinch hit role.

Dailyn Martinez recorded his first win of the season but had his share of rough spots. Martinez went five innings and was touched for seven hits and five runs, two unearned, and struck out three.

Jonathan Escudero provided two innings of relief in the sixth and seventh and kept the Braves at bay with just two hits. Kender Villegas added an inning in the eighth. Ismael Brito came on in the ninth to score his first save of the season, giving up no hits and ringing up a batter.

Monday, June 23 at Howard Johnson Field - Danville 6, Johnson City 2

The Cardinals used five pitchers Monday night but could not find the right combination to score consecutive wins against Danville.

Left fielder Anthony Ray posted the lone multi-hit performance with two and added an RBI. Oscar Mercado drove in the other run for Johnson City. Both were scored in the seventh inning. First baseman Jesus Ustariz and outfielder Carlos Torres each scored in the loss.

Matt Pearce (3 IP, 4 H, 1R, 1K) took the loss in his first professional start.

Tuesday, June 24 at Howard Johnson Field - Danville 7, Johnson City 2

Johnson City received seven hits but could not stop Danville from taking the series - a first for the Braves over the Cards since 2011.

Shortstop Chris Rivera and first baseman Casey Grayson each posted 2-for-4 efforts at the plate. Grayson and Blake Drake accounted for Johnson City's scoring. Josh Wirsu picked up the loss in the start after tossing three innings and allowing three runs.

Wednesday, June 25 at Boyce Cox Field - Johnson City 9, Bristol 4

Catcher Jose Godoy and second baseman Casey Turgeon combined for four of the Cardinals nine runs to take the opening win in the series against the Pirates.

Right fielder Blake Drake and infielders Jesus Ustariz and Turgeon accounted for eight of the Cardinals 10 hits. Turgeon and Drake each scored twice.

Landon Beck kept his perfect ERA but recorded a no-decision in four innings of work with just one hit and five strikeouts. After showing his stuff in one inning of relief, Anderson Gerdel picked up the win.

Thursday, June 26 at Boyce Cox Field - Johnson City 7, Bristol 5

A five-run second inning brought the juice to move forward in Bristol to take a two-game advantage over the Pirates.

Carlos Torres (3-for-4) plated both of his RBI in the top of the frame with a triple to get the rally going. Jose Godoy, Casey Turgeon and Blake Drake each added ribbies to prop up the lead.

Cole Lankford and Turgeon each went 2-for-4 at the plate with a double and Drake added a 2-for-5 performance.

Steven Farinaro rebounded from a rough debut last week and score the win, working 5 2/3 innings with five strikeouts and allowing three unearned runs on five hits. Anderson Gerdel picked up his second save with a one-hitter in an inning and a third of work.

Friday, June 27 at Boyce Cox Field - Johnson City and Bristol PPD

Due to inclement weather in Sullivan County, the Cardinals and Pirates will meet again on August 17 in Bristol.

Saturday, June 28 at Howard Johnson Field - Johnson City 8, Kingsport 1 (suspended)

The Cardinals brought the red thunder back home, taking a 8-1 lead in the bottom of the third before the game was suspended due to rain. Action will resume Sunday, and the full game report will appear in next week's notebook. The remainder of game one will be played at 4 p.m. while a second game will be played at 7 p.m.

Who's Hot

Carlos Torres - Torres has emerged on the scene and tore things up in his six games with the Cardinals this season. The first-year member of the Cardinals currently is tied for second in the league for batting average at .429. Torres has nine hits with five RBI on the season so far with two doubles.

Blake Drake - Drake joins his offensive counterpart Torres in the Who's Hot after rattling off 11 hits in seven games, including six this week. Drake is right behind Torres in batting average with a .423 mark and four RBI.

Steven Farinaro - Farinaro got things going in a big way this week in his second start of the year. His ERA currently sits at 1.74 now after his win against Bristol. The right-hander's 10 1/3 innings pitched so far this season is the most of the squad.

Landon Beck - After a stellar performance to open the season, Beck continued his strong stretch of pitching last week with a shutout in his no-decision against Bristol. The right-hander has pitched seven innings for Johnson City and has just allowed two hits while his ERA stays at 0.00.

Who's Cold

Isaac Silva - The Cardinals relief pitcher has an 8.31 ERA, highest on the team, after making two appearances this week on June 23 and June 26 and allowing two runs each time out.

Kender Villegas - The right-handed reliever struggled a bit this season through four appearances this season - tied with Anderson Gerdel for most on the team. In five innings, Villegas has been touched for six hits and six runs, though only two tallies were earned.

Bladimil Franco - The Cardinals outfielder has played in just three games so far this season, going 1-for-9 with two walks.

Oscar Mercado - Mercado is tied for the most played games with seven but has seen only a slight decrease in offensive production. In four games this week, Mercado brought across a hit in the final two games to raise his average to .152.

JC Notes

* Starting pitcher Ian McKinney was named the Appalachian League Pitcher of the Week for June 16-22.

* The Johnson City Cardinals have three home runs this season - all from infielder Chris Rivera. Rivera is second on the team with six RBI.

* Jose Godoy leads the Cardinals in RBI with 10.

* Eight games into the season, the Cardinals boast a 4-1 record on the road, the best in the Appy League West Division.

* The Cardinals are currently second in the entire Appalachian League in hitting with an overall batting average at .281. They are tied for third in runs scored with 47, behind Danville's 69 and Elizabethton's 57.

* Johnson City's pitching staff collectively currently has the third-lowest ERA in the league at 2.79.

* Johnson City has four hitters currently with a .400 or higher batting average - Carlos Torres .429, Blake Drake .423 and Casey Turgeon .400.

Appalachian League Standings

Appy League West
1) Johnson City Cardinals 5-3
2) Elizabethton Twins 6-4
3) Kingsport Mets 5-4
4) Greeneville Astros 4-6
5) Bristol Pirates 2-7

Appy League East
1) Danville Braves 7-3
2) Pulaski Mariners 6-4
3) Princeton Rays 5-5
4) Bluefield Blue Jays 4-6
5) Burlington Royals 4-6

The Week Ahead

The Cardinals will be at Howard Johnson this entire week, continuing the Mets' series until Tuesday, when they welcome the Elizabethton Twins in Appy League West play. Johnson City will be off Wednesday before a three-game stretch against Princeton to end the week.

Follow Curtis Carden on Twitter @CurtisCarden_ER.

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