Johnson City Cardinals Notebook: 2015 Week 1

In the first week of the 2015 season, the defending Appalachian League champions alternated losses and wins. Magneuris Sierra is leading the offense with seven RBI in four games.

This notebook covers Tuesday, June 23rd through Saturday, June 27th.

Tuesday, June 23rd – Kingsport Mets 4, Johnson City 3

The 2015 season for the Johnson City Cardinals got off to a sluggish start in their season opener against the Kingsport Mets at Hunter Wright Stadium on Tuesday.

The Cardinals fell to the Mets by the score of 4-3.

Edmundo Sosa opened the scoring via a Paul DeJong double on a fly ball to right, producing the only run for the Cardinals in the first inning.

The Mets answered when Raphael Ramirez came home on a Dash Winningham sacrifice fly to left field in the bottom of the first. Milton Ramos scored another Mets run in the second inning via an Arnaldo Berrios single.

Both teams were quiet until the 6th when Sosa scored his second run of the night for the Cardinals on a Magneuris Sierra single, following his line drive triple to right field. The Mets answered the Cards with a run of their own.

Going into the 6th inning falling behind by one, the Cardinals knew that something had to be done. Catcher Chris Rivera scored the tying run on Craig Aikin’s single line drive, and the score would remain tied through regulation play.

The game ended in the bottom of the 10th inning after a sacrifice fly to center field, as Dionis Rodriguez came in, making the final score 4-3, in favor of the Kingsport Mets. Reliever Juan Caballero took the loss.

Wednesday June 24th – Johnson City 10 at Kingsport 5

After a tough loss on the road in their season opener, the Johnson City Cardinals were ready for another shot to take on the Kingsport Mets.

The Mets had a 2-0 lead until the 4th inning, but things for the Cards seemed to take off from there.

Luke Doyle and Hunter Newman scored almost simultaneously, spurred by a Ryan McCarvel sacrifice fly to center field.

The defining moments of the game came with the Cardinals scoring eight runs in the 5th inning.

Leading off, DeJong was hit by a pitch, and Sierra singled on a ground ball to right field. Sierra scored on Doyle’s single to right field, followed by Doyle, who was knocked in by a Jesus Ustariz double to left field.

After a Mets pitching change, the Cardinals scored their final four runs of the evening in the 5th inning, and the Mets offense could not counter.

Juan Bautista took the win in relief of starter Ronnie Williams, allowing one run in 2 1/3 innings. Steven De La Cruz pitched the final 2 1/3, picking up his first career save.

Thursday, June 25th – Kingsport 10 at Johnson City 8

On Thursday, the Cardinals took to Howard Johnson Field for their home opener, also the last game in their series against the Mets. Neither team wasted time getting runs on the board.

The Mets were up to bat first, as starter and eventual losing pitcher Julio Mateo took to the mound for the Cardinals. After a two-run homer and an RBI single, the score was 3-0 going into the bottom of the first inning.

Mateo’s fastball velocity seemed to be good, but his off-speed pitches were getting hit rather hard, providing scoring opportunities for the Mets, but the Cardinals would have an answer to counter the Mets quick offense.

Infielder Eliezer Alvarez led the way for the Cardinals with a double to left field, followed by another quick hit by Edmundo Sosa, who batted in Alvarez with another double. After a homer to right field by Magneuris Sierra which also brought in Sosa, the score was tied.

Kingsport got another run in the second after a double by Raphael Ramirez. Sierra answered after running through a stop sign at third base, and luckily, it paid off.

Cards catcher Chris Chinea homered over the left field wall in the bottom of the third, sending infielder Paul DeJong across home plate as well, making the score 4-3, Cardinals on top.

Catcher Darryl Knight tied the game in the top of the 4th with a homer to left field and launched another in the sixth to put the Mets on top, 10-6.

The Cards were also thrown off when the Mets made a pitching change in the 6th to left-handed pitcher Adrian Almeida. Almeida threw Cardinals hitters off-balance with his nasty breaking ball and effectively wild fastball.

Friday, June 26th – Johnson City 10, Burlington Royals 0

The Cardinals seemed to have no problems holding off the Burlington Royals in the series opener, with a 10-0 final in favor of the Cardinals.

The pitching was the story of the game as Josh Wirsu held the Royals to one hit over the first five innings. Ryan Helsley, Ben Yokley and Sasha Kuebel handled the final four scoreless innings.

After plating one run in the second inning, the Cards added six more in the bottom of the third. It began with a throwing error by Royals second basemen Austin Bailey, causing Malik Collymore and Anthony Ray to both score. After a homer to right field by Magneuris Sierra, knocking in Edmundo Sosa, things seemed to really heat up for the Cardinals.

The inning ended with scores by Chris Chinea and Luke Doyle, a pitching change for the Royals, and a score of 7-0.

The 4th though the 7th innings were scoreless for both teams, except for one run in the 5th for the Cardinals by Paul DeJong, who was batted in by a Chinea single.

The Cardinals got their final two runs in the bottom of the 8th inning when Sierra doubled and scored on a homer by DeJong, who had a spectacular night for the Cardinals.

Johnson City handed the Burlington Royals their third straight loss this season.

Saturday June 27th – Burlington at Johnson City - suspended

Game 2 of the Cardinals three-game home stand against Burlington was rescheduled as a double-header for Sunday, June 28th, due to inclement weather. The game, which will begin at 6 p.m., and will be followed shortly after with the final game of the series, a seven-inning affair.

Who’s Hot

Magneuris Sierra: In just four Appalachian League games, the 2014 Player of the Year in the Cardinals system has as many RBI as he collected in two months with Peoria (seven). Sierra is batting .400 (8-for-20) including two home runs in the early going.

Paul DeJong: The Cardinals’ fourth-round draft pick from Illinois State is on fire with five extra-base hits and two singles in 17 at-bats (.412 average) and five driven in over his first four contests.

Hunter Newman: The first baseman, St. Louis’ 22nd rounder this June, is 6-for-16 (.375) including three doubles and two RBI.

Chris Chinea: It has been only two games since his arrival, but the former LSU catcher brought his hitting shoes to Johnson City. Chinea is five for his first nine as a professional, including a double, a home run, four RBI and three runs scored. The only blemish is three strikeouts.

Sasha Kuebel: The reliever is only one of two JC pitchers to appear in more than one game. In 2 2/3 innings, the lefty has allowed no runs on one hit and one walk while striking out four.

Who’s Not

Malik Collymore: The 20-year-old, playing in left field with Sierra in center, is off to a slow start at the plate. The former second baseman is 1-for-11, .091, though he has drawn three walks and swiped a base.

Luke Doyle: The second-baseman, taken in the 20th round this June, has struck out four times in his first eight at-bats versus just one hit, a single. However, Doyle has two walks and driven in two.

Ricardo Bautista: The outfielder is off to an 0-for-8 start, with four strikeouts.

Juan Caballero: The reliever has appeared in two games and allowed a run each time, taking one loss to go with a 4.15 ERA. Caballero yielded two runs on two hits and two walks over 4 1/3 innings.

Julio Mateo: As noted above, in his lone start, Mateo was bombed for eight earned runs in five innings on 11 hits, including two home runs, and a walk.

Ronnie Williams: The right-hander’s Appy League debut was less than ideal as the starter yielded four earned runs in 4 1/3 innings on six hits and three free passes.

Transactions

Monday, 6/22: Pitcher Josh Wirsu assigned to Johnson City from Peoria
Wednesday, 6/24: Outfielder Craig Aikin, infielder Josh Swirchak assigned to State College from Johnson City
Thursday, 6/25: Catcher Chris Chinea (17th round) signed, assigned to Johnson City
Friday, 6/26: Pitcher Jonathan Escudero assigned to Johnson City from State College

Wirsu had been relieving in Peoria, but made a superb five-inning start on Friday. The other pitching addition, Escudero, is back after serving as Johnson City’s most reliable reliever last season.

Aikin and Swirchak were moved up as the result of injuries at the Class-A level. Aikin was the Cardinals’ 13th round draft pick while Swirchak was signed as a free agent.

17th rounder Chinea came to terms with St. Louis this week and fit right in, as noted above.

Injuries

None reported.

Team Stats

The Cardinals lead the league with a .282 team batting average and are just two runs off the top spot in runs scored with 31, despite playing just four games while the other leaders have completed five.

Johnson City pitching is sixth of 10 teams, with a 4.17 ERA through four contests. The Cards staff has the third-fewest strikeouts with 31, but also the fourth-fewest walks with 13.

Appalachian League West Division Standings

1. Greeneville Astros (HOU) 3-2
2. Kingsport Mets (NYM) 3-2
3. Johnson City Cardinals (STL) 2-2
4. Elizabethton Twins (MIN) 2-2
5. Bristol Pirates (PIT) 1-3

What is Next

After completing Saturday’s suspended game, the Cardinals will complete the home series against Burlington Sunday night. Johnson City will then head out on the road to take on the Pulaski Mariners for three starting on Monday night. Next Thursday, July 2nd, will bring an unusual six-game series with Bristol in which games 2, 4 and 5 will be held at Cardinals Park.





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