The St. Louis Cardinals’ rookie affiliate in Johnson City posted its first losing week of the season, going 2-4, but still remaining in first place by just one game. A major contributor was the offense. The Cardinals hit .214 in those six games and scored just 13 runs (2.17 runs per game). The pitching staff held its own last week, to the tune of a 3.24 ERA.
Sunday July 3, 2016: Princeton Rays 1 at Johnson City Cardinals 2 (10 innings)
In their first extra-inning game of the season, Johnson City came out on top with a 2-1 victory to clinch the series win over Princeton. The Cardinals’ pitching staff produced perhaps their best collective effort of the season holding the hot-hitting Rays to one run on seven hits in the 10-inning contest.
Johnson City struck first with a RBI single by Bryce Denton, which scored Shane Billings. Princeton eventually tied the game at one a piece in the eighth inning to force an extra frame before the Cardinals loaded the bases in the bottom half of the tenth inning and Andrew Knizner knocked in the winning run with a single.
Starter Daniel Castano pitched well in his second professional outing, tossing 3 2/3 innings with five strikeouts. The lefty, who was St. Louis’ 19th round selection out of Baylor earlier this year, has not yet allowed a run in 6 2/3 innings. Estarlin Arias picked up his team-leading second win in relief.
Monday July 4, 2016: Princeton Rays 6 at Johnson City Cardinals 1
Ian Oxnevad struck out a season-high nine Princeton hitters in six innings Monday, but it was not enough as the Rays picked up a 6-1 win over the Cardinals in the series finale. Oxnevad took the loss, moving his record to 1-1 after allowing two runs (one earned) to go along with those nine punch outs.
The Cardinals’ offense was slowed up by Rays’ pitching as they managed just one run on five hits. The lone run for Johnson City came in the fifth when Matt Fiedler launched his first professional home run over the right field fence.
Tuesday July 5, 2016: Elizabethton Twins 6 at Johnson City Cardinals 4
Tuesday’s game was a late one as the first pitch was not thrown until 9:02 p.m. local time after a two-hour rain delay. Once the rain cleared, the Twins and Cardinals matched each other with single runs in first and second along with the fifth and sixth. Both offenses put together their lone multi-run frame in the seventh with the Twins scoring three, while Johnson City tallied two. Unfortunately for the Cardinals, the Twins added an insurance run in the top of the ninth to preserve a 6-4 victory.
Allen Cordoba was a major cog in the Cardinals’ offense Tuesday evening as he went 2-for-4 with a stolen base. Not only were both of Cordoba’s hits were for extra bases (doubles) but they also both led to runs for Johnson City as Cordoba came around to score each time.
Thursday July 7 (Game 1): Johnson City Cardinals 5 at Kingsport Mets 0
The Cardinals and Mets were set to begin their three-game series on Wednesday but were rained out. As a result, the Cardinals played their second doubleheader of 2016 in Kingsport on Thursday.
In the first game of the twin-bill, the clubs were locked in a pitchers’ duel as neither scored in the first four innings. Johnson City eventually broke things open with a pair of runs in the fifth and sixth before adding another run in the seventh.
The five runs of support was more than enough for Cardinals’ starter Jordan Hicks. The 19-year old notched his second straight quality start, tossing six scoreless innings, while allowing four hits and a pair of walks.
Thursday July 7 (Game 2): Johnson City Cardinals 1 at Kingsport Mets 6
Kingsport jumped on Johnson City early, scoring three runs on a pair of extra-base hits and a Cardinals’ error to take a 3-0 lead. The Cards answered with a run of their own in the top of the third inning, but the offense stalled after that as Kingsport went on to win 6-1.
J.R. Davis was the Cardinals’ top offensive player in Game 2, going 2-for-3 with a pair of stolen bases. Davis manufactured Johnson City’s run in the third inning almost by himself. He reached with a single and followed with steals of second and third before scoring on an errant throw by the catcher to try to catch him at third.
Frederis Parra took the loss but did not pitch all that poorly as he struck out a season-high six batters in four innings. Parra currently ranks third on the team with 12 strikeouts in 12 1/3 innings pitched.
Saturday July 9: Bluefield Blue Jays 3 at Johnson City Cardinals 0
The Cardinals returned home Saturday and played in front of a season-high 2,231 fans. Unfortunately for the locals, Bluefield shut out the Cardinals 3-0. The duo of Hansel Rodriguez and Luke Gillingham struck out nine Johnson City hitters and allowed just five hits and two walks in the contest. Perhaps the most critical factor, however, was Johnson City going hitless in at-bats with runners in scoring position (0-for-6).
J.R. Davis was once again a spark plug, going 2-for-4 with a stolen base. He was the only Johnson City hitter to notch multiple hits. On the pitching side, starter Daniel Castano threw three scoreless innings. Ramon Santos took the loss, moving his record to 1-1 after allowing a run on three hits and a pair of walks in two innings.
Jordan Hicks. After a bumpy first outing, Hicks has put together back-to-back quality starts. This past week, he held Kingsport to no runs on four hits in six innings. Hicks’ ERA is now 1.15, third-best in the Appalachian League.
Allen Cordoba. Cordoba continues to be one of the most consistent players for the Cardinals this season. Last week, the shortstop hit .385 in 13 at-bats. The most impressive part of Cordoba’s week was that he showed off his power and speed. Three of his five hits were for extra bases (two doubles, one triple) and he also went a perfect 3-for-3 on stolen base opportunities.
J.R. Davis. Davis has definitely made an impact since his debut last Sunday. In five games with Johnson City, Davis is hitting .450 (9-for-20) and has stolen three bases in five opportunities. Davis’ .450 batting average was the best on the team this past week. And check out his slick glove work!
Andrew Knizner. Knizner has cooled off considerably after a hot start through the season’s first two weeks. Knizner hit just .188 with no extra-base hits last week. Despite that, Knizner is still hitting .279 for the season.
Joey Hawkins. Hawkins, the 40th round selection by the Cardinals in the 2015 draft, has struggled offensively in the early going as he has gone hitless in 15 at-bats. The offensive woes have not affected Hawkins’ play in the field, however, as he has not committed an error in five games at shortstop.
Anthony Shew. Shew made a pair of appearances last week and neither of them went well. The free agent signee pitched a total of 1 1/3 innings and allowed four runs on six hits. Shew’s ERA sits at 20.25 and his WHIP is 4.50.
By The Numbers
3.49 – Johnson City’s pitching staff has a team ERA of 3.49 through 16 games. A major contributor has been the staff’s stinginess in giving up home runs as they have allowed just six in 2016. That is the second fewest in the Appalachian League.
1.02 – Ian Oxnevad has been one of Johnson City’s best pitchers so far in 2016 as he holds a WHIP of 1.02 in 17 2/3 innings pitched. The lefty has also been the team’s top strikeout pitcher with 19.
.429 – Six of the Cardinals’ next eight games will be played away from home and a player to watch out for in those games might be Bryce Denton. Denton is hitting .429 (11-for-24) in six road games so far this season compared to .167 (4-for-24) at home.
J.R. Davis, who was selected by the Cardinals in the 15th round in last month, was added to Johnson City’s roster on Sunday following Andrew Brodbeck’s promotion to Palm Beach on Saturday. Davis hit .347 with nine stolen bases in 57 games last spring for Oklahoma State to help the Cowboys make an appearance in the College World Series.
Outfielder Carlos Torres was promoted to Class-A Peoria following Tuesday’s game against Elizabethton. Torres collected six hits and drove in three runs in seven games for Johnson City prior to his call up.
There were no injuries last week.
Appalachian League Western Division Standings
Johnson City will host Bluefield Sunday and Monday to wrap up that three-game set. Following the two games against the Blue Jays, the Cardinals will head out on the road for a six-game road trip beginning Wednesday at league-leading Burlington. The Cardinals will then head to Pulaski Saturday for three games beginning Saturday to round out the trip.
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