The Johnson City Cardinals went 4-2 on the road this week, improving their record to 26-29 on the year. While the Birds are still in last place in the Appalachian League West, they still hold post-season hopes as they head into the final round of regular season play.
Here’s how it all went down!
August 16th: Johnson City Cardinals 5 at Greeneville Astros 3 (13 innings)
The Cardinals were ready to end their three-game losing skid, opening a nine-game road trip beginning at Pioneer Park on Sunday against the Greeneville Astros. It was a slow-starting game for both teams, but JC got a single run on the board in the top of the second. Luke Doyle scored when Ricardo Bautista, who had two hits and two RBI in the contest, singled on a ground ball to right field.
Greeneville scored single runs in the third, fourth, and fifth innings, shifting the momentum in their favor and making the score 3-1 going into the 6th. The Birds added single runs in the 7th and 9th, sending the game into extra innings.
In the top of the 13th, Johnson City got another run on the board when Allen Staton scored on a Hunter Newman double to left field. With a final run via a DeAndre Asbury-Heath walk, the Birds went up by two.
The Astros went scoreless in the bottom of the 13th, drawing the long game to a close with the Cards on top. Steven Farinaro was granted the win.
August 17th: Greeneville Astros 9, Johnson City Cardinals 5
On Tuesday, the Birds took on the Astros in game two of their three-game Appalachian League series. The Astros struck early with three runs in the first inning, but the Cardinals answered right back in the top of the second, putting four runs on the board, with RBI from Joey Hawkins, Ryan McCarvel and Magneuris Sierra.
The Cards scored again in the top of the fourth when Anthony Ray came home on a Ryan McCarvel line drive double to center field, but the Astros answered right back with a single run in the bottom of the inning.
Greeneville plated four runs in the 6th and one more in the 7th, making the final score 9-5. Sierra had three hits and catcher Ryan McCarvel added two hits and three RBI in the contest. Juan Caballero took the loss.
August 18th: Johnson City Cardinals 3 at Greeneville Astros 1
The rubber match started off very slowly on Tuesday evening with a pitching duel between starting pitchers Josh Wirsu for the Cardinals and Edgardo Sandoval for the Astros.
The Astros scored first, in the fourth, but the Cards plated two in the 6th. It started with an Edmundo Sosa homer to left field, his seventh of the year. Sierra also scored on a Hunter Newman double. Sosa homered again in the seventh, another solo shot. The Cardinals pitching staff kept the Astros hitters quiet for the rest of the game, ending with a score of 3-1. Wirsu was granted the win.
August 20th Burlington Royals 6, Johnson City Cardinals 5
The Cardinals got started quickly on Thursday evening when Magneuris Sierra scored on an Eliezer Alvarez single to center field in the top of the first inning in the road series opener between the two teams. Burlington answered quickly in the first with a single run in the bottom of the inning.
The Royals got hot in the third, scoring three times. The Cards closed the gap to 4-2 when Edmundo Sosa scored on a Sierra groundout to first base. In the sixth, the Cardinals took advantage of LHP Mark McCoy in relief. An Allen Staton triple to center field plated three, and tying the score at 5.
The Royals put one more run on the board in the bottom of the seventh, and the Cards were unable to answer, hanging the loss on Julio Mateo. Alvarez had three hits and an RBI, while Chinea and Sierra drove in two each.
August 21st: Johnson City Cardinals 5 at Burlington Royals 1
The Cardinals took full advantage of Burlington’s mistakes and steadily earn a 5-1 win on Friday evening. The game was scoreless through the first three frames, but the Cards scored an unearned run in the fourth inning when Sierra came home on an Eliezer Alvarez sacrifice fly to center field. The Cards added single runs in the 5th when Anthony Ray homered on a fly ball to right field and in the 7th when Chris Rivera scored on a Luke Doyle ground ball single to center field.
In the 8th, Ryan McCarvel and Alvarez scored the Birds’ final runs of the game. Hunter Newman and Anthony Ray accounted for three hits apiece, and Ray also had an RBI. Ryan Helsley earned the win, his first of the season.
August 22nd: Johnson City Cardinals 9 at Burlington Royals 3
After a slow start for both teams, the Cardinals finally got the ball rolling in the top of the fourth inning in game three of series against the Burlington Royals on Saturday. Allen Staton plated Sierra on a homer to left field, but the Royals put a single run on the board in the bottom of the frame.
The Cardinals scored a single run in the top of the 6th, and the Royals added two more runs, but the bats really came alive for the Cards in the top of the 8th when they plated five runs. It started when Edmundo Sosa scored from a Chris Chinea single to center field, but the biggest play of the night came when Allen Staton hit a grand slam to left field plating Sierra, Chinea, and Alvarez, making the score 8-3 going into the bottom of the 8th.
The Cards scored another run in the top of the 9th, finishing the game on top, 9-3. Staton had a phenomenal night with two home runs and six RBI in the final game of the series. Frederis Parra got the win, his first of the season.
Pitcher Sasha Kuebel has been dependable out of the Birds bullpen, posting a 3.18 ERA in 20 appearances. The left-hander has 29 strikeouts and six walks in 28 1/3 innings. Kuebel logged three wins in five decisions and is three of four in save opportunities.
Reliever Steven Farinaro is doing very well since rejoining Johnson City. In his 12 innings over six appearances, the right-hander has two wins, a save and a 1.50 ERA. He has allowed 10 hits, struck out 12 batters and walked six.
Another Cards pitcher who has been posting some phenomenal performances is righty Ryan Helsley. Helsley has posted a 1.87 ERA in nine appearances including seven starts with 29 strikeouts and 15 walks in 33 2/3 innings pitched.
After an ice cold start, Hunter Newman is red-hot, batting .412 in his last 10 games with one home run, which came on August 15th against Kingsport and four RBI.
Magneuris Sierra has batted .300 in his last 10 games. That would be good for most, but in his case, the outfielder’s batting average at Johnson City dipped slightly to .332. That is still fourth in the league, one spot ahead of teammate Eliezer Alvarez at .324.
Allen Staton has nine RBI in his last two games, bringing his Johnson City total for the season to 38 in 37 games. That is first on the Cards and fifth in the Appy League. Before joining JC, Staton logged eight RBI in 11 GCL contests, as well.
Pitcher Ronnie Williams has been good this season with an ERA of 3.22 in 50 1/3 innings. However, Williams has allowed six earned runs in his last 10 1/3 innings over two starts. His last win was on August 2nd.
Joey Hawkins has hit a rough patch for the Cardinals, going one for his last 21 and lowering his season average to .172 in 99 at bats over 30 games.
Pitcher Ramon Santos is struggling, with runs allowed in nine of his 10 appearances this season, for an 8.15 ERA. His last two outings have been out of the bullpen (three earned runs in 1 1/3 innings) after eight starts.
Luke Doyle went 3-for-21 (.143) last week, which dropped his season average to .230 in 135 at-bats over 36 games.
The Cardinals lost a member of their rotation this week when Josh Wirsu was assigned to the State College Spikes.
The Cardinals finished the week in in last place in the Appalachian League West with an overall record of 26-29, four games out of first. The Kingsport Mets are in the lead with a 31-26 mark, followed by the Elizabethton Twins in second, then the Greeneville Astros and Bristol Pirates.
Only the first two teams in the division will make the playoffs, with the Cards three games out of second place.
On Sunday, the week begins with a three-game road series at Danville, beginning on Sunday at 4 pm, on Monday at 7 pm, and on Tuesday at 11 am. That series will be followed by a game on Wednesday the 26th against the Elizabethton Twins at Cardinal Park at 7 pm. The Cardinals’ week will wrap up with a three-game series against the Princeton Rays in Johnson City on Thursday through Saturday evening. All three of those games will begin at 7 pm.
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