As they completed a roller-coaster May that began with 15 losses in 16 games, the Palm Beach Cardinals continued their good play for a second straight report, winning four and losing two on the heels of a 5-1 week prior.
The pitching continued to perform well overall with the offense usually scoring just enough to win. Palm Beach’s last three wins have been by a total of just four runs, with an overall scoring edge for the six-game week of 29-23.
With an overall 25-27 record, the Cards remain in the Florida State League South Division cellar. However, they are only 3 1/2 games out of a share of first place in the first-half race.
The report covers the period of Wednesday, May 25 through Tuesday, May 31.
Wednesday, May 25: Palm Beach 10 at Fort Myers Miracle 4 (10 innings)
The Cardinals secured their seventh win in eight games with a 10-4 road win over the Miracle (MIN).
Starter Ian McKinney went five innings, giving up one run and striking out six. Cody Schumacher yielded a run in his 2 2/3 innings and Nick Frey surrendered another while getting just one out. In the ninth, Rowan Wick blew the 4-3 lead when he gave up a run to send it into extras.
The Palm Beach offense came to the rescue, plating six runs in the top of the 10th. Darren Seferina went 4-for-6 with a double, two RBI and his 12th stolen base. Allen Staton and Steve Bean had three hits, the latter with two doubles. Blake Drake added a three-run triple and Andrew Sohn plated a pair.
Thursday, May 26: Palm Beach 2 at Fort Myers 6
Five late Fort Myers scores broke open a tight contest as the loss prevented a three-game road series sweep by the Beach Birds.
Although Austin Gomber took the loss, the starter performed well, yielding just one run in seven innings. The lefty scattered seven hits and two walks, fanning six.
Relievers Kyle Grana and Nick Frey had a game to forget. Grana yielded four runs on a hit and three walks and Frey gave up three hits that let Grana’s last two runners score plus one of his own.
Palm Beach was kept off the board until the ninth when three straight singles, a sac fly and two walks generated two scores. Blake Drake and Oscar Mercado each went 2-for-4 with a double, Drake scoring once.
Friday, May 27: Palm Beach 3, Jupiter 2
The Cardinals took the lead early and kept it until the Hammerheads (MIA) tied it in the eighth and took the lead in the ninth. Palm Beach did not wilt, rallying for two runs in the bottom half of the ninth for the walkoff win.
Jack Flaherty pitched six strong scoreless innings, giving up only four hits and striking out nine. Chandler Hawkins surrendered a leadoff triple to begin the eighth which led to a sac fly against Landon Beck to plate the tying run. Beck received the unfair blown save, but more importantly, claimed the win when the offense came back.
Allen Staton had two doubles and a single in four at-bats. Orlando Olivera was hitless but picked up two RBI on a first inning groundout and ninth inning walk. Oscar Mercado’s single was the walkoff hit.
Saturday, May 28: Palm Beach 4 at Jupiter 3
This game was tied twice before the Cardinals added the winning run in the eighth.
The offense was held to just four hits by Hammerheads pitching, but it was just enough. Casey Grayson led the way with a single, double, walk, two RBI and a run scored. Blake Drake had an important leadoff triple in the eighth, and scored on Grayson’s sac fly.
Blake McKnight tossed five innings, leaving with the game tied at 2-2. Nick Frey gave up back to back doubles and the lead in the seventh before Kyle Grana struck out the remaining two batters in the seventh and added a scoreless eighth to earn the win. After giving up a leadoff single in the ninth, Rowan Wick struck out the side for his third save.
Sunday, May 29: Jupiter 8 at Palm Beach 7
It was a tale of two games in one. The Cardinals lost the first seven innings, but won the last two. The late rally fell just short as the Beach Birds missed sweeping the Fins and Feathers series.
Down 8-0 through seven, Palm Beach plated three in the eighth and four more in the final frame, and the game ended with their potential winning run at second. Darren Seferina and Cole Lankford had two hits and two runs scored and Allen Staton drove in three. Casey Grayson went 2-for-5 with a walk.
Mercado’s offense did not overcome his defensive woes. The shortstop had two singles and a run scored, but that was overshadowed by his two errors that led to six unearned runs, his 17th and 18th miscues of the season.
Jacob Evans was on the mound for Mercado’s miscues, yielding eight runs, but just two earned, on eight hits and two free passes in 6 2/3 innings. Both Evans’ earned runs scored as part of Michael Heesch’s four hits allowed over the final 2 1/3 frames.
Monday, May 30: The Cardinals were off on Memorial Day.
Tuesday, May 31: Palm Beach 3 at Bradenton 1
The Cardinals continue their road success, winning the opener at Bradenton (PIT). Matt Pearce led the way by limiting the Marauders to a run on five hits and a walk over 7 1/3 innings.
Landon Beck and Rowan Wick shut down Bradenton the rest of the way with Wick coming in to get the final out with a runner on base for his fourth save.
Orlando Olivera doubled and hit a solo home run. Steve Bean launched his first homer of the season, also with the bases empty. Michael Pritchard and Casey Grayson had two hits each.
The FSL South Division’s first-half title remains up for grabs with all six teams within 3 1/2 games of one another. The 25-27 Cardinals remain in last place, by a half-game behind the Mets and Stone Crabs. Bradenton remains on top.
Palm Beach is not the worst team in the league, as their record is better than three teams in the North. The problem has been winning at Roger Dean. The Cardinals have forged a very good road record of 16-10, but need to find the formula to win games at home, where they are just 9-17.
Recently off the disabled list, third baseman Allen Staton is red-hot in the fifth spot in the lineup with 12 hits in 28 at-bats last week (.429) plus six RBI in six games.
Another Beach Bird fresh off the DL, Michael Pritchard, is also doing well. The outfielder went 5-for-16 (.313) and drew four free passes for a weekly on-base mark of .455. With Casey Turgeon out, Pritchard looks to be the new leadoff man. Though he is short on plate appearances due to his earlier injury, Pritchard’s .451 OBP for the season would be leading the FSL by 37 points.
First baseman Casey Grayson went 9-for-25 (.360) and added six walks for an OBP for the week of .469.
Though Steve Bean had a pedestrian .250 (4-for-16) week by most standards, the catcher deserves a mention for striking his first three extra-base hits of the season, two doubles and a home run. That made his SLG for the period a robust .563.
Jack Flaherty had his best outing of the season to date, with nine strikeouts over six shutout innings on Friday. The right-hander picked up his first win in his ninth start while lowering his season ERA to 5.08.
Matt Pearce made two strong starts, totaling 12 1/3 innings. The right-hander allowed just one run on 10 hits and one walk. That dropped his season ERA to 1.87 in nine starts.
Orlando Olivera. Unfortunately, the outfielder is becoming a regular here. Last week, Olivera batted .154 (4-for-26), but half of his hits went for extra-bases. He also walked five times. Olivera’s season average with Palm Beach dropped to .213.
Blake Drake. The outfielder had six hits in 27 at-bats (.222), but two were doubles and one was a three-base knock. Drake is batting .240 for the season.
Nick Frey. The reliever gave up more hits last week, eight, than outs secured, seven. Three earned runs, one in each of his three outings, made for an ERA of 11.57 for the period and 6.48 overall with the Beach Birds.
Kyle Grana. The right-hander had two good outings and one bad, with the latter costing him four earned runs on a hit and three walks in just 1/3 of an inning. For the season, the 25-year-old’s ERA rose to 5.75.
FSL Season Leaders
Pearce is fifth in the league in ERA (1.87) and tied for third with six wins.
Rowan Wick is tied for seventh in the FSL with four saves.
On the negative side, Jacob Evans’ eight home runs allowed is tied for third-most in the circuit, but he still has a 3.19 ERA.
Ian McKinney’s 24 walks issued is tied for sixth-most in the FSL.
With a .377 on-base mark, Casey Grayson is seventh in the league.
Blake Drake’s 11 doubles tie him for eighth in the circuit.
Darren Selerina’s four triples are in a tie for third-most in the FSL.
Oscar Mercado is third in the league with 17 steals and Seferina is seventh with 12. However, Mercado has been caught 13 times for just a 57 percent success rate, while Seferina has just five caught-stealing (71%).
On the offensive side, Palm Beach is continuing to show small improvement across the board. Though they returned to last in the 12-team FSL in batting average, their season mark is up six points to .232. Their slugging is still 11th, but jumped 19 points to .308. OPS is up one place to 10th at .608, up from .606 through last week. The Cards remain ninth in runs scored at 3.6 per game, up from 3.4.
Palm Beach hitters continue to lead the circuit with 201 walks, with 30 last week alone. That elevated their on-base percentage to .317, up from seventh in the league to fifth. The Cards have 50 steals in 77 attempts, fourth-most successful swipes in the circuit, but were just 2-for-7 on the week.
The pitching again improved slightly, with a 3.26 ERA from 3.31 the week before, remaining sixth in the FSL. The staff is still ninth in strikeouts but continue to cut down the free passes issued, moving from the sixth-most walks two weeks ago down to the third-fewest now.
It was the quietest week of the season to date on the transaction front, with just one pair of moves.
5/29: UT Casey Turgeon to Palm Beach seven-day disabled list.
5/29: OF Jhohan Acevedo to Palm Beach from extended spring training (State College roster)
Turgeon, a natural second baseman, had been seeing considerable time in the outfield until his injury, and hitting at the top of the order. He left Friday’s game after grounding out in his first-inning at-bat.
Acevedo has made injury fill-in assignments with Palm Beach twice before, but has struggled in two attempts to stick as a regular player at a level lower, with Peoria.
With the addition of Turgeon, the Beach Birds’ DL list is sitting at nine. Four pitchers are on shelf: Silfredo Garcia, Will Anderson, Luke Weaver and Josh Wirsu. Injured position players are infielders Sohn, Diekroeger, Mason Katz and Juan Herrera plus the utilityman Turgeon.
As reported by TCN's Derek Shore, Katz is now playing in extended spring training games.
The Cardinals complete the three-game series at first-place Bradenton (PIT) on Wednesday and Thursday before returning to Roger Dean for a four-game set against Dunedin (TB) that runs through next Monday. The short home stand will end there with Palm Beach heading back out on the road again for an eight-game road trip that begins at Daytona (CIN) next Tuesday evening.
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