It was yet another losing week for the Palm Beach Cardinals in a season full of them. The Cards extended their losing skid to eight games before winning the finale of the Tampa series at home. For the week, they went 1-4 and were outscored 21-13.
The Cards played the entire month of July without a series win, going 7-23 to drop their second-half record to 11-27. That .289 winning percentage is the worst in the 12-team Florida State League.
In the standings, the Cards are in sixth, last place, 10 ½ games out of first and six games out of fifth place in the South Division. It is hard to see how the final month of the season is not set up to be more of the same. The pitching is usually competitive, but the offense is toothless.
This report covers the period of Wednesday, July 27 through Tuesday, August 2.
Wednesday, July 27: Fort Myers Miracle 7, Palm Beach 3
Palm Beach dropped its fifth in a row and were swept out of Fort Myers (MIN).
In his first start since rejoining the Beach Birds from Springfield, Johnny Walter gave up six runs on six hits in 5 1/3 innings. The right-hander struck out three, walked two and hit one batter. Blake McKnight allowed all three inherited runners to score in the sixth inning. McKnight went on to pitch 1 2/3 innings, giving up a run of his own. Robby Rowland pitched a one-two-three eighth inning to finish.
Cole Lankford went 2-for-4 while batting third. Newly called up shortstop prospect Edmundo Sosa singled and had a run-scoring triple. Oscar Mercado, playing center field, went 1-for-3 with two runs scored, a walk, and his 25th stolen base.
Thursday, July 28: off
Friday, July 29: Tampa Yankees 2 at Palm Beach 1
Despite performing well, starter Matt Pearce lost his eighth game of the season. The right-hander tossed eight innings, giving up two runs on six hits, fanning six and walking none, lowering his ERA to 2.42. Landon Beck pitched a scoreless ninth.
The sputtering Cardinals offense managed only one run on six hits. Edmundo Sosa had the only multi-hit performance, going 2-for-4. The lone Cardinals run was driven in by Cole Lankford on a third inning single.
Saturday, July 30: Tampa 5 at Palm Beach 4
Not enough offense and some ugly defense spelled defeat for the Cardinals on Saturday.
The infield committed three errors in total, one each by Casey Grayson at first, Dylan Tice at second and third sacker Cole Lankford. They were costly, leading to four unearned runs of the five allowed.
Starter Ian McKinney pitched 4 2/3 innings, giving up three runs, one earned, on eight hits. Cody Schumacher followed with one inning pitched, allowing two unearned runs and taking his first loss. Davis Ward and Kyle Grana combined for 3 1/3 scoreless innings.
Edmundo Sosa led the offense, going 2-for-4 with a triple, a run scored and three RBI. Vaughn Bryan was 3-for-5, stole his 13th base and scored once.
Sunday, July 31: Tampa 6 at Palm Beach 0
Palm Beach took its eighth straight loss, including the first three to the Yankees, dropping another home series.
Sandy Alcantara could not get out of the third in his A-Advanced debut, permitting four runs on four hits and four walks in 2 1/3. Blake McKnight left Alcantara’s last runner on but was charged with two unearned tallies in the fifth. McKnight gave up two hits and a walk over 2 2/3.
Michael Heesch shut down the Yankees over three frames, issuing one free pass before Robby Rowland allowed a hit in the ninth.
St. Louis shortstop Jhonny Peralta began and finished his latest rehab assignment by doubling once in three at bats and committing a fielding error that led to McKnight’s two unearned runs.
Monday, August 1: Palm Beach 5, Tampa 1
The Cardinals picked up the win, breaking their eight-game losing skid.
Jack Flaherty lowered his ERA to 4.06 by pitching 6 1/3 one-run innings with five strikeouts to just four walks. Landon Beck followed with 1 2/3 run-free innings and Robby Rowland finished with a scoreless inning.
Michael Pritchard went 2-for-3 plus two walks. Casey Grayson, batting fourth, went 2-for-5 with two RBI. Oscar Mercado went 1-for-2 with a walk and his 26th stolen base. Dylan Tice picked up two RBI, going 2-for-4 including a double.
Tuesday, August 2: Off day
Matt Pearce. The right-hander took another loss despite a 2.25 ERA and 0.750 WHIP in his eight-inning outing. It is crime that a 2.42 ERA on the season is only good for a .500 record (8-8), but that is what happens with very little offense behind you.
Michael Heesch. Having struggled badly earlier in the season, the lefty is on a nice roll, having tossed 4 2/3 hitless, scoreless frames with just one walk.
Davis Ward. In 3 1/3 innings, the steady reliever allowed just an unearned run on one hit and two walks. Ward fanned two. In his first 20 1/3 innings with Palm Beach, Ward has a 1.74 ERA.
Vaughn Bryan. The outfielder is still hot, batting .333 for the second straight week. Bryan’s 8-for-24 performance included two doubles. He walked twice, plated one, scored three times and went 2-for-3 on the basepaths.
Michael Pritchard and Edmundo Sosa. The outfielder and shortstop had identical 6-for-19 (.316) marks with two runs scored for the week. Pritchard doubled, stole a base and plated one while Sosa had a pair of three-base hits and drove in three.
Johnny Walter. Fresh from his return from Double-A, the starter was bombed for six earned runs in 5 1/3 innings. The 25-year-old has a 4.56 ERA in five starts for Palm Beach.
Andrew Sohn. The infielder went 1-for-12 (.083) with no walks last week, though he stole a base and plated two. That lowered Sohn’s Palm Beach average to .184.
Casey Grayson. The cleanup hitter struggled through a 3-for-22 week (.136), though two of his hits were doubles. Grayson plated two and drew a trio of free passes.
Cole Lankford. Another expected run producer as the third-place hitter, Lankford managed just four singles in 22 at-bats (.182), drove in only one and did not score.
Dylan Tice. The new arrival managed just a single and double in 13 at-bats (.164). The infielder added a pair of walks.
Thomas Spitz. The outfielder had just three singles in 18 at-bats (.167). Spitz also drew two walks but did not cross home plate.
FSL Season Leaders
Matt Pearce remains fifth in the league in ERA (2.42) and is tied for eighth with two other pitchers with eight wins. His 130 1/3 innings pitched leads both the FSL and the entire Cardinals minor league system.
At his promotion, Austin Gomber was 10th in the league in ERA at 2.93 and second in the FSL with 101 strikeouts.
Jack Flaherty is tied for fifth in Ks with 95.
Jacob Evans’ total of 12 home runs allowed is tied with two others for fourth-most in the circuit.
Ian McKinney has served up 10 bombs, tied with three others for the eighth-highest total.
With his on-base mark at .379 on the season, Casey Grayson is fourth in the league. (Amazingly at .249, Grayson’s batting average is the highest among qualifying Cardinals, 39th among the leaders in the FSL.)
Darren Seferina’s five triples put him in a tie with six others for seventh-most in the circuit.
Despite not playing for almost three weeks, Seferina still leads the league with 32 steals and has a stellar success rate of 84.2 percent.
Oscar Mercado is tied for third in the FSL with 26 steals but the new center fielder has been caught 18 times for a 59.1 percent success rate. Mercado went 2-for-3 on the bases this past week.
The offense slipped slightly as the team ERA made a slight improvement. Both remain second-division results, however.
|Offense||Season/rank of 12||Last week/rank|
|BA||.228 / last||.229 / last|
|OBP||.312 / 8th||.313 / 8th|
|SLG||.301 / last||.302 / last|
|OPS||.613 / 11th||.614 / 11th|
|Runs/game||3.4 / 11th||3.4 / 11th|
|Walks||407 / 1st||387 / 1st|
|Steals||116 of 168 / 2nd||112 of 162 / 2nd|
|Pitching||Season/rank of 12||Last week/rank|
|ERA||3.60 / 9th||3.62 / 9th|
|Strikeouts||736 / 11th||706 / 10th|
|Walks||289 / 2nd fewest||273 / 3rd fewest|
It was one of the quietest weeks of the season for a club that has churned its roster over and over in 2016. Though there were only three transactions, the Cardinals lost arguably their best pitcher, with his replacement a good prospect. Palm Beach came into the week down one player so the roster is now at its 25-man limit.
7/29: LHS Austin Gomber from Palm Beach to Springfield
7/29: 2B Dylan Tice from Peoria to Palm Beach
Gomber, The Cardinal Nation’s co-Pitcher of the Month for July, had already made one start for Springfield earlier in the month and shined. The big lefty had nothing left to accomplish in the FSL with his promotion warranted.
Tice becomes the next in a long line of Palm Beach second basemen. The position has seen more than its share of injuries in 2016 with both Darren Seferina and Andrew Brodbeck on the disabled list currently. In a very brief stint with Peoria, Tice hit well, though struggled in his first week with the high-A Cards.
7/30: RHS Sandy Alcantara from Peoria to Palm Beach
The Beach Birds received their replacement for Gomber in Alcantara, who like Gomber is a top-20 prospect in the system. The 20-year-old right-hander has triple-digit velocity, but is far less polished than the lefty. His first start went poorly, but Alcantara will have a month to get used to the FSL, where he will likely open 2017.
The Beach Birds’ infirmary list remains at six with no change in the last week. Three pitchers are on shelf: Jacob Evans, Silfredo Garcia and Will Anderson (60-day DL) with the injured position players infielder Danny Diekroeger (60-day), Darren Seferina and Andrew Brodbeck.
However, Anderson has begun a rehab stint with the Gulf Coast League Cardinals. The right-hander has been out since last July.
The coming week looks to be one in which the Cardinals will spend a lot of bus time. After the scheduled day off on Tuesday, the Cards will play a pair at Charlotte (TB) on Wednesday and Thursday before returning to Roger Dean for a three-game weekend set against Jupiter (MIA). It is then back on the road for three at first-half winner Bradenton (PIT) next Monday through Wednesday. The Cardinals then turn right around and head back home for another “Fins and Feathers” series against Jupiter.
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