The Palm Beach Cardinals lost their second-half of May momentum, winning two and losing three this past week. With an overall 27-30 record, the Cards are tied for last in the Florida State League South Division, 5 1/2 games out of first place in the first-half race.
The report covers the period of Wednesday, June 1 through Tuesday, June 7.
Wednesday, June 1: Palm Beach 7 at Bradenton Marauders 3
The Cardinals earned their 11th win in 14 tries, putting them one win away from .500 and out of last place.
Starter Ian McKinney earned his fourth win. The lefty struck out five in five innings, allowing two runs on 91 pitches. Nick Frey followed with three innings of one-run ball, striking out five. Kyle Grana finished with a scoreless ninth.
Oscar Mercado led the offense with a three hits, was hit by a pitch and scored twice. Catcher Jesse Jenner added a double, single, and a walk in five plate appearances and scored two runs. Blake Drake went 2-for-5 with a double and a stolen base. Casey Grayson and Darren Seferina added a single, free pass and a run each.
Thursday, June 2: Bradenton 8, Palm Beach 3
This loss to Bradenton prevented a three-game road series sweep by Palm Beach.
Austin Gomber cruised until a three-run fifth and left after the first three batters reached in the seventh. Gomber gave up six hits, including a solo home run, and four walks in six plus innings.
Landon Beck allowed two hits and walk, allowing all three runners inherited from Gomber to score plus one of his own in just 1/3 inning. Chandler Hawkins finished the game, yielding two hits and a free pass, letting one of Beck’s runners to come home.
Casey Grayson and Allen Staton each had two hits. Grayson added a walk, run scored and RBI and Staton doubled once and drove in two.
Friday, June 3: Dunedin 3 at Palm Beach 0
Starter Jack Flaherty had his best outing in 2016, pitching seven scoreless innings, giving up only two hits, striking out seven and walking two. However, he did not receive any run support. Reliever Landon Beck surrendered all three Blue Jays scores on an eighth inning home run and took the loss. Rowan Wick pitched a clean ninth and struck out the side.
The Cardinals offense managed just five hits, all singles.
Saturday, June 4: Palm Beach 9, Dunedin 4
The Cardinals offense took an early lead, then lost it before pouring it on in the middle innings to secure the win.
Eight of nine starters had at least one hit. Orlando Olivera and Cole Lankford were each 3-for-4 as Lankford drove in two runs. Rehabbing Jhonny Peralta was 2-for-4 with two doubles and an RBI. Darren Seferina was 2-for-3 and plated one. Allen Staton went 2-for-5 with two RBI. The 15 hits from the offense was one shy of their season high.
Starter Blake McKnight pitched five innings and earned the win despite giving up four runs on a third-inning grand slam. The right-hander walked five, two of whom scored. Chandler Hawkins, Michael Heesch and Kyle Grana combined for the final four innings, all scoreless.
Sunday, June 5: Dunedin 5 at Palm Beach 0
Palm Beach dropped the third game of the scheduled four at home versus Dunedin.
Jacob Evans took his sixth loss in eight decisions despite a quality start of three runs on three hits over six innings, including two solo home runs. Evans fanned five and hit a batter.
Cody Schumacher struck out two and walked one in the seventh, handing off to Nick Frey, who was touched for two tallies on four hits in two.
The Beach Birds managed just four hits. Cole Lankford’s double was the only one to go for extra bases.
Monday, June 6: at Dunedin canceled
Monday’s game was canceled due to bad weather. The game will not be made up as the Cards dropped the shortened series, two games to one.
Tuesday, June 7: off
The Cardinals had a scheduled day off Tuesday.
Two FSL All-Stars
The Cardinals had just two players named to the South Division squad for the Florida State League All-Star Game, scheduled on Saturday, June 18 at Ft. Myers. Both players recognized are pitchers – left-handed starter Austin Gomber and right-handed reliever Rowan Wick.
In 2013, six Cardinals were selected. In 2014, five were named and last season, three Palm Beach players were all-stars – Alex Reyes, Luke Voit and Bruce Caldwell – though the former did not play due to injury.
The FSL South Division’s first-half title may be going to the 32-24 Bradenton Marauders (PIT), who have opened up a four-game lead. The 27-30 Cardinals are tied for last place, sixth, 5 1/2 games out of first with an elimination number of seven. Though Palm Beach is just two games out of sole possession of second place, it does not have a playoff berth attached.
A major problem has been winning at Roger Dean. The Cardinals have forged a very good road record of 17-11, but need to find the formula to win games at home, where they are just 10-19, including 1-2 during this period.
Jack Flaherty. TCN’s second-ranked Cardinals prospect threw seven innings of no-hit ball this past week. It was Flaherty’s second consecutive scoreless outing, totaling 13 innings while dropping his season ERA to 4.38.
Chandler Hawkins. The lefty reliever threw 3 2/3 scoreless innings during the week on three hits and a walk. He struck out two.
Cole Lankford batted 5-for-11, (.455), including two doubles, scored a run and plated two.
Catcher Jesse Jenner went 3-for-8 (.375) including a double.
Allen Staton. One of last week’s hottest players went cold this week as the third baseman went 5-for-22 (.227).
Landon Beck. The reliever had a week to forget, allowing more runs, five, than outs secured, four. Beck’s season ERA is now 3.91.
Austin Gomber. The prospect lefty yielded six runs in six innings for a symmetric, but rough 9.00 ERA for the week. Gomber’s season mark is up to a still-respectable 3.12.
Blake McKnight. The right-hander allowed four runs in five frames for a 7.20 weekly ERA. McKnight’s ERA for 2016 is 3.57 in 10 starts.
FSL Season Leaders
Matt Pearce is third in the league in ERA (1.87) and tied for third with six wins.
Rowan Wick is tied for eighth in the FSL with four saves.
Jacob Evans’ 10 home runs allowed is tied for most in the circuit, but he still has a 3.31 ERA.
Ian McKinney’s 25 walks issued is tied for seventh-most in the FSL.
With a .394 on-base mark, Casey Grayson is eighth in the league.
Blake Drake’s 12 doubles tie him for eighth in the circuit.
Darren Selerina’s four triples put him in a tie a number of others for fourth-most in the FSL.
Oscar Mercado is tied for second in the league with 17 steals and Seferina is sixth with 15. However, Mercado has been caught 13 times for just a 57 percent success rate, while Seferina has just five caught-stealing (75%).
On the offensive side, Palm Beach is continuing to show small improvement across the board. They moved up two spots to 10th in the 12-team FSL in batting average, as their season mark is up two points to .234. Their slugging is still 11th, holding steady at .308. OPS remains 10th at .628, but is up 20 points from last week. The Cards moved up one spot to eighth in runs scored at 3.6 per game, same as last week.
Palm Beach hitters continue to lead the circuit with 222 walks, with 21 this past week alone. That elevated their on-base percentage to .320, fifth, up three points this week. The Cards have 54 steals in 81 attempts, fourth-most successful swipes in the circuit, and were 4-for-4 on the week.
The pitching had a rough week, with a 3.38 ERA up from 3.26 the week before but still 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 three weeks ago down to the second-fewest now.
After the quietest week of the season to date on the transaction front last time, the player moves picked up again during this period. Three key Palm Beach players from 2015 came off the DL, but all quickly moved up to Springfield.
6/2: OF Michael Pritchard to Palm Beach seven-day disabled list.
6/2: 2B Mason Katz off Palm Beach seven-day disabled list.
This is Pritchard’s second trip to the DL, following time out due to an ankle sprain from May 2-24,
Katz is making his long-awaited season debut after a recurring groin injury kept him sidelined several months more than originally expected.
6/4 SS Juan Herrera off Palm Beach seven-day disabled list, assigned to Springfield.
6/4 RHS Luke Weaver off Palm Beach seven-day disabled list, assigned to Springfield.
Herrera was a solid performer, but had been out almost a year after two shoulder surgeries. He is off to a slow start with the S-Cards, with one single in his first 10 at-bats.
Weaver, St. Louis’ first-rounder in 2014, made his 2016 debut Friday night and fanned 10.
6/6 SS Oscar Mercado to Palm Beach seven-day disabled list.
6/6 SS Jose Martinez to Palm Beach from extended spring training (Johnson City roster).
Mercado had finally gotten going a bit at the plate last week, raising his season average to .200, before being injured.
Martinez will be making his Cardinals organization debut, having come over from Kansas City in return for Tony Cruz.
6/7: 2B Mason Katz from Palm Beach to Springfield.
6/7 2B Dylan Tice to Palm Beach from extended spring training (GCL Cardinals roster).
Breyvic Valera’s promotion to Memphis created a Double-A roster opening for Katz, who should be ready for the level.
Tice is back for another injury-fill in stint with Palm Beach, having done it previously for a few days in April.
6/7: OF Blake Drake from Palm Beach to Springfield.
6/7: OF Bladimil Franco to Palm Beach from extended spring training (GCL Cardinals roster).
This may only be temporary, as Springfield needed an extra outfielder to provide backfill while Anthony Garcia is away on a personal matter.
6/7: C Steve Bean from Palm Beach to extended spring training (Johnson City roster)
6/7: C Chris Rivera to Palm Beach from extended spring training (State College roster)
The Cardinals apparently decided Bean’s two-month struggle trying to hit Florida State League pitchers needed to be addressed with a roster move. After two seasons at Peoria, it is difficult to see what Bean can prove back in short-season ball.
Rivera, a converted infielder, has received high marks from coaches in his prior two stints filling in at Palm Beach.
With three coming off and two going on, the Beach Birds’ DL list is sitting at eight. Though it looks like improvement, the three are all at Springfield plus the Cards lost two starters in Pritchard and Mercado. Their replacements are much younger players.
Three pitchers are on shelf: Silfredo Garcia, Will Anderson and Josh Wirsu. Injured position players are infielders Andrew Brodbeck, Danny Diekroeger and Mercado plus utilityman Casey Turgeon and outfielder Pritchard.
Weather permitting, the Cardinals will open an eight-game road trip that begins with a four-game series at Daytona (CIN) on Wednesday. Palm Beach then moves on to Brevard County (WAS) for four more that will run Sunday through next Wednesday, June 15. That will conclude first-half action with league play resuming on June 20. The FSL All-Star Game will be held at Ft. Myers on Saturday, June 18.
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