Johnson City Cardinals Notebook: 2014 Week 6

The Johnson City bullpen, led by Ismael Brito, contributed a pair of saves to help savage the 3-4 week.

The Johnson City Cardinals bullpen led by Ismael Brito contributed a pair of saves to help savage the week and keep the Cardinals at .500 on the season. The club is 17-17 overall and third in the Appalachian West Division after a busy slate of games against Bristol, Princeton and Elizabethton, during which the team went 3-4.

Sunday, July 20, at Howard Johnson Field - Bristol 4, Johnson City 3 (10 innings)

Shortstop Oscar Mercado went yard in the bottom of the ninth to send the contest into extra innings but the Pirates plated one run in the next frame against Jonathan Escudero to pull out the win.

Chris Rivera led the charge at the plate, going 3-for-5, while Mercado had a single and double in five at-bats.

Outfielders Blake Drake and Anthony Ray each plated run-scoring singles earlier in the contest for the Cardinals first two runs.

Monday, July 21, at Howard Johnson Field - Johnson City 8, Princeton 4

Oscar Mercado, Blake Drake and Casey Turgeon combined for nine of the Cardinals 13 hits to start off the series against the Rays in dominating fashion. The trio also combined for five runs with Drake and Turgeon adding two RBI and Mercado contributing a run-scoring double.

Jesus Ustariz (2-for-4) knocked in two with a homer in the fifth. Turgeon blasted a bomb in the third while Drake teed-off for his own in the eighth. They were the second home runs of the year for each.

Kevin Carlow (1-3) snapped his three-game skid with the win in relief (1 IP, 2 H, 1R, K).

Tuesday, July 22, at Hunnicutt Field - Princeton 4, Johnson City 1

Infielder Jesus Ustariz plated Casey Grayson on a two-out single in the second but that would be it for the Cardinals scoring.

Ian McKinney was touched for eight hits through six in his start but recorded the no-decision.

Sasha Kuebel (1-1) picked up the loss in 2/3 innings of relief work after allowing three runs.

Wednesday, July 23, at Hunnicutt Field - Princeton 7, Johnson City 3

Princeton kept their bats alive to take the series. The Rays outhit the Cardinals 6-5 and they came in a timely fashion as they took a 4-1 lead through four.

Casey Turgeon knocked in a run on a fielder's choice and Casey Grayson added a RBI to cut the Rays lead to one. The Rays went on to score three unanswered to pull away for the win.

Starter Juan Perez (3-2) chalked up the loss. Perez allowed four runs, one unearned, with three walks and five strikeouts.

Thursday, July 24, at Hunnicutt Field - Johnson City 5, Princeton 4

Designated hitter Jose Gomez and outfielder Devante Lacy each knocked in two to lead a ninth inning charge and win the rubber match in exciting fashion.

Lacy went 2-for-4 with a double and the bullpen helped put the icing on the cake.

Kevin Carlow continued his shining week with a second straight win in relief after an inning of work in the eighth.

Ismael Brito recorded his second save of the week and sixth this season with a scoreless ninth inning with two strikeouts.

Friday, July 25, at Howard Johnson Field - Elizabethton 8, Johnson City 1

The Cardinals outhit the Twins 10-7 but could not come together for the win.

Starter Matt Pearce picked up his third loss of the year through four innings. He allowed six runs on five hits.

Jose Gomez, Jose Godoy and Casey Turgeon contributed two hits each.

Saturday, July 26, at Howard Johnson Field - Johnson City 5, Elizabethton 2

Johnson City reached .500 again after a standout performance by starting pitcher Dailyn Martinez. Martinez (3-1) encountered a snag in the first three innings, allowing two runs but went on to finish 7 2/3 innings with eight strikeouts on seven hits.

Outfielder Anthony Ray led the offense with two hits while Cole Lankford added the lone RBI via a walk. The Cardinals capitalized on the Twins' five errors.

Johnson City Notes

* Infielder Oscar Mercado leads the Appalachian League with 15 stolen bases.

* Casey Turgeon (.361) and Jose Godoy (.357) are among the top three batting average leaders in the Appalachian League, trailing Elizabethton infielder Max Murphy.

* The Johnson City bullpen ranks last in the Appalachian League in innings pitched but is tied for first with Pulaski in saves with 12.

Who's Hot

Ismael Brito - The left-hander has emerged as the clear closer for the team with a pair of saves last week in three appearances and six for the season.

Dailyn Martinez - While Ian McKinney and Landon Beck have led the rotation early, Martinez has regained some of last year's stuff and took a win last week, his third of the year. He has improved his ERA to 4.32.

Kevin Carlow - After three losses, Carlow rebounded in a big way last week with two straight victories. Carlow has pitched 14 2/3 innings but still has a 10.43 ERA.

Jose Gomez – The catcher returned to action this week, reaching base four times in 11 plate appearances, including a walk, a double and two RBI. Gomez was out from July 8-24.

Who's Cold

Matt Pearce - Pearce has a 3.81 ERA but is riding a two-game losing skid as a starter and has allowed 10 runs, eight earned, in his last 14 innings.

Charlie Neil - Neil made two appearances last week behind the plate last week, while going 0-for-7 with three strikeouts at the plate.

Chris Rivera - Rivera had a pair of hits on Thursday, but is still just three for his last 17.

Appalachian League Standings

West Division

1) Elizabethton Twins 22-24
2) Greeneville Astros 18-18
3) Johnson City Cardinals 17-17
4) Kingsport Mets 16-19
5) Bristol Pirates 10-24

East Division

1) Danville Braves 21-13
2) Pulaski Mariners 19-16
3) Princeton Mariners 18-17
4) Burlington Royals 17-18
5) Bluefield Blue Jays 17-19

The Week Ahead

Johnson City wraps up its home series with Elizabethton on Sunday then remains at Howard Johnson Field on Monday-Wednesday facing Bluefield. The Cards will end the week and look to make headway at the Greeneville Astros.

Follow Curtis Carden on Twitter @CurtisCarden_ER.

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