The Gulf Coast League Cardinals (17-12) moved into first place in the East Division at midweek after winning their seventh game in a row, but then lost the next two to fall back into second place, a half-game behind the Nationals.
Though they outscored their opponents 20-16, the Cardinals were outhit 49-44 and committed 10 errors for the week while their opponents were charged with only one. Those 10 errors resulted in only four unearned runs, but two of those unearned runs came in the late innings of their loss Saturday to the Mets.
Though this Cardinals squad has not yet displayed much power with only eight home runs, the combination of ranking ninth in hits (249) among the 17 GCL teams and sixth in walks (106) has them tied with the Marlins for fifth in on-base percentage (.335).
Good Week for Rotation
The biggest reason for the seven-game win streak, though, was pitching.
The starting pitchers in the five games this past week averaged 5-1/3 innings and one run on five hits for a 1.69 ERA and 1.24 WHIP, compared with only 3.5 innings and a 5.19 ERA with 1.67 WHIP the week before.
Despite the good week, the Cardinals’ pitching staff’s WHIP stayed flat at 1.45, once again the highest in the league. They remain second to the Astros in walks allowed (119), fifth for in most hits allowed (266), but tied for lowest in the league in hit batters (16), an indication they might not be pitching inside enough.
Franyel Casadilla and Juan Alvarez each pitched six shutout innings to earn their second wins. Though he did not get a decision, 17-year-old Venezuelan right-hander Alvaro Seijas pitched five shutout innings, his fourth start among six since his promotion to the GCL in which he went at least four innings and allowed zero or one earned run.
Lefty Anthony Ciavarella, conversely, gave up three earned runs in 4-2/3 innings after not giving up any earned runs in his first six appearances covering 17 innings.
The bullpen was almost as good, pitching to a 3.15 ERA in 20 innings, though the WHIP was a bit steep at 1.80. Those 20 relief innings include another inning apiece by the three college pitchers the Cardinals drafted in the first three rounds: Dakota Hudson, Connor Jones and Zac Gallen, the latter earning his first pro save.
Though an unearned run scored in Hudson’s inning, he now has retired nine batters in this three innings of work, eight of them on strikeouts. In his frame, Hudson threw 18 pitches, 12 for strikes. 12 of them were fastballs, 93 to 95 mph, nine for strikes. He also threw three 84-mph changeups and three 88-mph cutters.
Carlson Warming Up
With a 4-for-20 week and 10 hits in his last 42 at-bats, shortstop Delvin Perez’s hot-hitting has tapered off, with his average falling to a season-low .305. Though Perez bats leadoff, his splits show that so far his most productive situation is facing a right-hander in an away game with one out and two or three runners on base. Perez is hitting .185 in the first inning and .213 when leading off an inning.
While Perez has cooled off some, switch-hitting Dylan Carlson’s bat has come alive. He was 6-for-16 during the week, including his first home run, and is 10 for his last 26 to raise his average to .227.
Based on Carlson’s splits so far, he is most likely to get a hit in an away game against a left-hander with the bases empty or first base occupied.
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