With a 5-2 win on Sunday, the Gulf Coast League Cardinals (30-18) turned away the Nationals’ latest chance to catch them, as the Cards went 3-3 for the week and hold a two-game lead in the GCL East Division.
Through the first five games of the week, the Cardinals and their opponents had each scored 14 runs and had 31 hits, but that changed on Sunday.
In the showdown Sunday against the Nationals in Viera, the Cardinals scored all five of their runs in the third inning. Outfielder Carlos Talavera, the 19-year-old Venezuelan batting ninth, ignited the rally with a bloop single over shortstop. After Delvin Perez fanned, Edwin Figuera grounded a single to right, sending Talavera to third. Dylan Carlson, the Cardinals’ hottest hitter, doubled both runners home, then scored on a triple by catcher Dennis Ortega. Another hot bat, first baseman Stefan Trosclair, singled to score Ortega. After Starlin Balbuena whiffed, Carlos Rodriguez hit a ground-rule double. Luis Flores, the ninth batter of the inning, also singled, scoring Trosclair, but Rodriguez was out trying to score to end the rally. The Cardinals went on to win, 5-2.
Week in Review
At the start of the week, the Cardinals had lost two games in a row for the first time in August. They led in the second of the two, with a 1-0 edge in the bottom of the ninth against the Astros on Wednesday at Kissimmee, but Jonathon Mulford was touched for two runs to take the loss and his second blown save. On Friday, though, Mulford earned his sixth save, third in the GCL, in a 2-0 win as the Cards gained a split of their doubleheader with the Mets. Carlson’s two-run home run in the first inning was the only scoring.
In a remarkable game Thursday, the Cardinals trailed 5-0 going to the bottom of the fifth inning, but roared back to defeat the Marlins yet again. The Cardinals improved to 11-1 against the Marlins, who are 19-16 against the rest of the division. After starting 0-5 vs. the Nationals, the Cardinals are now 5-7 against them. They have split 12 games with the Mets and are 8-4 vs. the Astros. The Cardinals have eight games remaining in the regular season, two against each of their four division rivals.
WHIPping Into Shape
Allowing 39 hits and 16 walks in 51 innings this past week, the Cardinals pitching staff had a 1.08 WHIP, lowering their season WHIP to 1.36, slightly lower than the 1.37 WHIP posted by both Tigers East and West teams. It is the first time since early in the season that the Cardinals did not have the worst WHIP in the 17-team GCL. At week’s end, they were tied for fourth in most hits allowed and fifth in most walks.
Their 3.16 team ERA in seventh best, and though they have been charged with 12 blown saves, their 20 saves tops the league.
On offense, their .250 team batting average ranks fifth in the league, and their .332 on-base percentage is fourth, but the .349 slugging percentage is seventh.
Lefty Jacob Evans joined right-handers Will Anderson and Andrew Morales in the rehab contingent of the pitching staff. Evans, who went on the Palm Beach DL for the second time on July 23, threw five innings over two appearances, allowing one unearned run on five hits with no walks and five strikeouts.
Morales, making his second rehab appearance, started Monday against the Nationals. Though five of the eight outs he recorded we on strikeouts, he also allowed three runs on three hits and two walks.
Anderson, who is recovering from a shoulder injury after pitching for Peoria and Palm Beach last season, made one-inning appearances in back-to-back games Wednesday and Thursday. Though he was charged with a blown save when he gave up a run in the second appearance, his first earned run allowed in six outings so far, he also picked up his third win. In eight innings now, he has allowed seven hits while fanning six without walking anyone.
Centerfielder Dylan Carlson and first baseman Stefan Trosclair carried the Cardinals’ offense, combining for 40 percent of the team’s 43 hits during the week.
Trosclair, 22, the 20th-round pick from the University of Louisiana-Lafayette, was 8-for-19 with three multi-hit games and two of his team-leading four home runs.
Carlson, the 17-year-old switch-hitter who was a supplemental first-rounder from Elk Grove (California) High School, was 9-for-23 with hits in all six games, his third home run and seven RBI.
After his first 20 games as a pro, though July 19, Carlson was hitting .169 (12-for-71) with three doubles and 11 walks, but had struck out in 31 percent of his at-bats.
In the 24 games since, he walked only five times, but his strikeout rate fell to 23 percent. More importantly, Carlton has hit .323 (30-for-93), and with power – nine doubles, two triples and three home runs to take the team lead in total bases (67, tied for eighth in the league). His 12 doubles are tied for the league lead and 17 extra-base hits are tied for second.
Lefty-swinging catcher Tyler Lancaster, the 16th-round pick in June, is 0-for-10 since hitting home runs in three consecutive games.
Though 18-year-old Dominican infielder Starlin Balbuena, the team RBI leader with 23, had only two hits in 21 at-bats for the week, one of those hits was especially timely. Balbuena hit a two-out, three-run, home run in the seventh inning Thursday to break a 6-all tie and provide the Cardinals’ margin of victory.
In the 16 games before this past week, Balbuena had been hot, going 22-for-53 (.415).
Shortstop Delvin Perez, the 17-year-old from Puerto Rice who was the Cardinals’ first draft pick in June, was 2-for-18 with three walks for the week.
Outfielder Walker Robbins, this year’s 5th-round pick out of George County High School in Lucedale, Mississippi, extended his slump by going 1-for-9. Robbins has three hits in his last 34 at-bats, with 16 strikeouts since going 9-for-17 in a brief four-game hot stretch at the end of July.
Sanel Rosendo, a 19-year-old outfielder from the Virgin Islands, is 0-for-14 since he was hit by pitches twice in the same spot on his back following a home run on Aug. 4.
Switch-hitting 6-foot-4 infielder Brady Whalen, the 12th-round pick out of a high school from the Vancouver, Washington, area, was 0-for-8 and has only a single and a double in his last 28 at-bats, though with only eight strikeouts in 65 at-bats as a pro, he is making consistent contact.
© 2016 The Cardinal Nation, thecardinalnation.com and scout.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.