In the second week of the season, the Palm Beach Cardinals started off well, completing a six-game winning streak, before falling apart the last few days, going just 1-4. Although they are currently just half a game out of first with a respectable 8-5 record, they will certainly be hoping to turn things around during the home stand this week. But before we get to that, let’s look at what happened this last week.
April 13: Palm Beach Cardinals 2, Daytona Tortugas (CIN) 1
The Cardinals won their fifth straight game in a tight contest with the Tortugas as Jack Flaherty tossed five innings without giving up an earned run, and the offense managed to just squeak past with two runs on eight hits.
Shortstop Oscar Mercado and first baseman Danny Diekroeger led the charge, as they each gathered a pair of hits, including a triple, a run, and an RBI from Mercado. Michael Heesch worked to redeem a poor start to the season as he tossed two scoreless innings in relief and earned the win, and Kevin Herget collected the save.
April 14: Palm Beach Cardinals 1, Daytona Tortugas 0
In another tight ballgame, the Cardinals completed their sweep of the Tortugas and extended their win streak to six. Austin Gomber carried the day with a strong pitching performance, giving up just four hits and two walks while striking out seven over five innings before turning the game over the bullpen.
Offensively, Palm Beach managed ten hits and two walks, but only eked across one run on Diekroeger’s single in the first. Thankfully, that was enough for the win. The first baseman put together a three for four performance in yet another multi-hit night.
April 15: Dunedin Blue Jays (TOR) 8, Palm Beach Cardinals 7 (10 innings)
Once again, the Cardinals were in a close contest, but for the first time in six games, they failed to come away with the win, ultimately giving away the victory in the 10th inning. The pitching staff had a rough night as each of the five pitchers gave up at least one earned run, and they struggled to stymie the Blue Jays’ offense.
The Cardinals offense managed to keep up for the most part, led by second baseman Darren Seferina, who went 2-for-4 with a walk, a double, a run scored, and an RBI. Unfortunately, it simply wasn’t enough as Kyle Grana allowed the losing run in the bottom of the 10th to take the loss.
April 16: Dunedin Blue Jays 3, Palm Beach Cardinals 2 (13 innings)
For the fourth consecutive night, Palm Beach was involved in a one run competition; for the second consecutive day, it was an extra inning game; and for the second consecutive game, they were on the losing end.
Although the Blue Jays allowed a whopping 13 base runners, only two came around to score, and the Cardinals struggled in the field, committing three errors that led to two unearned runs. Although the pitching staff managed to limit their opponents to just one earned run over 13 innings, that run ended the game.
First baseman Casey Grayson, second baseman Mikey Reynolds, and right fielder Nick Thompson each collected two hits on the night, and Jacob Evans went 5 2/3 innings without giving up an earned run, although he gave up seven hits and four walks that didn’t ultimately help his cause.
April 17: Palm Beach Cardinals 7, Dunedin Blue Jays 6 (10 innings)
In yet another close game, and their third consecutive extra inning contest, the Cardinals managed to pull out a Sunday win after back to back losses. Matt Pearce had a rough outing, allowing five runs over five runs, but the offense managed to pull out the victory anyway.
Center fielder Michael Pritchard went two for three with a pair of walks and two runs scored en route to the victory, and first baseman Casey Grayson collected three walks and scored the winning run in the 10th inning.
April 18: Dunedin Blue Jays 10, Palm Beach Cardinals 3
After a come from behind win the day before, the Cardinals fell apart in their final game against the Blue Jays, losing in spectacular fashion. Starter Ian McKinney allowed four earned runs in 4 1/3 innings, and the bullpen struggled to do any better, giving up six additional runs in just 3 2/3 innings.
Offensively, right fielder Orlando Olivera and catcher Chris Rivera led the way with two hits apiece, but they were unable to lead the team to a win.
April 19: Bradneton Marauders (PIT) 11, Palm Beach Cardinals 5
In their return home Tuesday, the Cardinals were hoping to turn things around, but instead struggled to keep up for the second consecutive night. In Jack Flaherty’s second start of the week, he absolutely imploded, allowing seven earned runs while recording just one out in the first inning, a deficit that Palm Beach wouldn’t come back from.
Oscar Mercado led the offense with a 2-for-5 night and two RBI, and centerfielder Blake Drake added a solo home run, but ultimately they came up well short and ended the week on a sour note.
Austin Gomber is having a fantastic start to the season, and with another five shutout innings and seven strikeouts against the Daytona Tortugas, the lefty has definitely earned a spot on this list. With a K-rate over 10 and an ERA under 2.00, it is hard to ask for anything more. If Gomber can maintain this pace, he will be one of the best pitchers in the league.
Back with another strong week, Danny Diekroeger has been rolling to start the season. With a 10-for-25 week, including a pair of doubles, five RBI, three walks, and a stolen base, the infielder brought his overall line up to .340/.382/.480 on the season. After a rough 2015, it is good to see Diekroeger bounce back and carry the offense for Palm Beach.
Kevin Herget is off to a great start to the season, allowing just two hits and a walk over 11 2/3 innings while striking out 13 batters. For those keeping track, that’s an 0.26 WHIP to kick off the season. Herget has also settled in as one of the Palm Beach’s go-to closers, with three saves and a hold to his name so far. If I had to bet, I’d guess that Kevin Herget won’t be at high-A for a whole long longer if he keeps shutting down opposing batters with the same consistency.
With just three hits over 20 at-bats this past week, Casey Grayson has really struggled offensively. Although he managed to temper that some with six walks, his .179 average is lackluster to say the least, and without an extra base hit to his name yet, he’ll need to add some to his offense to retain his playing time. That said, if Grayson can add a bit of power and boost his average, his plate discipline could turn him into a really dangerous hitter.
Jack Flaherty had a really tough week. After one solid outing to open the week up, he gave up seven runs over just 1/3 of an inning, which is something he’ll want to forget going forward. For one of the St. Louis Cardinals’ top prospects, this is just a bump in the road for the young pitcher, and we’ll look for him to turn it around in the weeks ahead.
Last Thursday, second baseman Darren Seferina was activated from the seven-day disabled list with second baseman Dylan Tice returned to the Gulf Coast League.
On Sunday, catcher Steve Bean was placed on the DL, with Joshua Lopez (temporarily) added from the GCL. On Tuesday, catcher Brian O’Keefe was promoted to Palm Beach from Peoria.
Monday’s moves included the transfer of Michael Heesch to extended spring training, replaced by another reliever, right-hander Josh Wirsu.
On Tuesday, outfielder Orlando Olivera was sent down to Peoria. His replacement is expected to be second baseman Andrew Sohn, transferred to Palm Beach from Double-A Springfield.
In addition to Bean, five other Cardinals remain on the DL. They are pitchers Luke Weaver and Will Anderson plus infielders Mason Katz, Juan Herrera and Andrew Brodbeck.
The Palm Beach Cardinals will finish their series at home against the Bradenton Marauders before facing the Jupiter Hammerheads (MIA) in a three-game split series. Then they will kick off a road trip to Bradenton next Tuesday.
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