Despite a favorable home schedule, the Palm Beach Cardinals continued to struggle, scoring almost half of their runs, eight of 17, in their lone victory in six tries last week. They managed just nine runs in total over their five losses. In the second half, the Beach Birds are playing dismal .267 ball as the home club at Roger Dean Stadium.
The Cardinals are cemented in the South Division cellar, sitting 11 ½ games out of first with a 19-38 (.333) second-half record. Their official magic number for post-season elimination is two, but realistically, Palm Beach has been out of the hunt for weeks.
This report covers the period of Wednesday, August 17 through Tuesday, August 23.
Wednesday, August 17: Game 1: Bradenton Marauders 1 at Palm Beach 0 (7 innings)
Game 2: Bradenton 5 at Palm Beach 4 (7 innings - make up from 8/10 rainout)
Ian McKinney was the hard-luck loser in the opener after going six innings, striking out eight and allowing just a single tally. McKinney walked just two in his longest outing since the middle of July. Landon Beck relieved with a one-two-three seventh.
The Cardinals managed just six hits. Outfielders Michael Pritchard and Jose Fernandez each smacked a double. Oscar Mercado singled, but was picked off once and caught stealing. Casey Grayson reached base twice with a single and walk and also stole a base.
The Cardinals were done in by their defense in Game 2, with four of five Bradenton runs unearned due to errors by Michael Pritchard, Matt Davis and Orlando Olivera.
Starter Derian Gonzalez went five innings, striking out eight and allowing one earned and three unearned runs. Dakota Hudson took the blown save and loss after he was charged with an unearned score in the sixth. Hudson pitched one inning, giving up two hits and a walk. Cody Schumacher tossed a scoreless final inning.
Center fielder Oscar Mercado went 3-for-4 from the leadoff spot with two RBI and a run scored. Davis went 2-for-3, Steve Bean added a double and both scored. Michael Pritchard drove in two.
Thursday, August 18: Palm Beach 8, Bradenton 6
Chris Rivera’s grand slam capped a six-run first as Palm Beach picked up its only win of the four-game home set with the Marauders.
Casey Grayson led the 11-hit effort, going 4-for-5 with a double, run scored and two driven in. Jose Fernandez had two singles, two walks, a stolen base, a run scored and two RBI.
Sandy Alcantara allowed one run over four innings but ran into trouble in the fifth. Alcantara yielded four runs in total on six hits and a hit batsman, striking out five over 4 1/3 innings. Blake McKnight allowed two of Alcantara’s runners to score and was charged with two more runs on three hits and a walk in 1 2/3. Cody Schumacher tossed two scoreless frames and Kyle Grana picked up his sixth save.
Friday, August 19: St. Lucie Mets 7 at Palm Beach 3
Neither rehabbing Lance Lynn nor regular Palm Beach starter Jack Flaherty had a good night on the mound. Lynn went two innings, threw 36 pitches and gave up three runs, two earned, on three hits. Flaherty surrendered four runs, three earned, on four hits in his six innings pitched. Flaherty took the loss, his ninth.
The offense managed just seven hits, all singles. The Cardinals scored two runs in the second inning; one run scored on a groundout by Dylan Tice, the other on sac fly from Steve Bean. Rehabbing St Louis backup catcher Brayan Pena plated a third inning run on a sac fly. Casey Grayson was 2-for-4.
Saturday, August 20: St. Lucie 3 at Palm Beach 1
This was a pitchers' duel until the seventh inning. Starter Junior Fernandez pitched six strong innings, giving up no runs and allowing five hits. In the seventh, struggling Daniel Bard could not record an out, as he hit two batters and walked two, the second of which scored a run. Blake McKnight again allowed two inherited runners to score.
The Cardinals offense managed only one run on eight singles. Brayan Pena was 2-for-4 and drove in the only run. Juan Herrera and Dylan Tice also had two hits each.
Sunday, August 21: Palm Beach vs. St. Lucie - suspended
The last of three contests between Palm Beach and St. Lucie at Roger Dean Stadium was suspended in the top of the fourth with the Mets up 1-0. It is scheduled to be completed as a twin bill when the Beach Birds travel to St. Lucie this Friday, August 26th.
Monday, August 22: Off day
Tuesday, August 23: Fort Myers Miracle 2, Palm Beach 1
In the road series opener, the Beach Birds were held scoreless until the ninth, and had the potential tying run in scoring position, but it ended there. Juan Herrera and Cole Lankford each went 2-for-4 for four of the team’s six hits, with Lankford driving in Jose Fernandez for the only run.
Ian McKinney performed well, striking out six through 5 2/3, giving up a run on six hits and two walks. Cody Schumacher shut down the Miracle on two hits in 1 1/3 but Dakota Hudson was charged with an unearned run in the eighth, after issuing two free passes and not being able to work around Casey Grayson’s error.
Casey Grayson. The steady first sacker went 9-for-22 on the week (.409) but as usual, had little power behind it (one double). Grayson scored two, plated two and even stole a base.
Juan Herrera. The shortstop returned from Springfield had eight hits in 22 at-bats (.364) and also drew three walks for a .440 OBP. Herrera had no RBI, scored once and was caught stealing in his only attempt, however.
Junior Fernandez. It looks like the top 20 prospect is turning the corner after a rough start in the FSL. Last week, the 19-year-old tossed six scoreless innings after having just allowed one run over seven frames in his prior start. Still, Fernandez’ strikeouts are way down compared to the past, with six over his most recent 13 innings.
Cody Schumacher. The reliever allowed no runs on three hits and one walk to go with three strikeouts over 4 1/3 innings. The 25-year old lowered his season ERA to 3.51.
Dylan Tice. After two weeks among the hot hitters, the law of averages caught up with the infielder. Tice had just two singles and a walk in 20 at-bats (.200 BA) and was caught stealing twice.
Steve Bean. I feel like I am piling on the catcher by including him here so often, but that is what happens after just two hits in 12 at-bats (.167). Bean did double once, drive in one and score one to go with four strikeouts. On the season, the 22-year-old is batting .191 with a 29 percent strikeout rate.
Blake McKnight. Not only did the reliever allowed four inherited runs to score, he was charged with two of his own for a 4.91 ERA for the week. Three hits and three walks in 3 2/3 innings made for a rough 1.875 WHIP.
FSL Season Leaders
Jack Flaherty is fourth in the league in Ks with 114.
Jacob Evans’ total of 12 home runs allowed is tied with three others for sixth-most in the circuit.
With his on-base mark at .386 on the season, Casey Grayson is up to fourth in the league. (At .263, Grayson’s batting average remains the highest among qualifying Cardinals at 27th among the leaders in the FSL.)
Darren Seferina’s five triples put him in a tie with ten others for ninth-most in the circuit.
Despite not playing for over a month, Seferina is tied for the league lead with 32 steals and has a stellar success rate of 84.2 percent.
Oscar Mercado is third in the FSL with 31 steals but has been caught 20 times for a 60.8 percent success rate. Mercado went 1-for-2 this past week.
Despite the 1-5 record, the yearly offensive and pitching stats improved - ever so slightly. The club was four of eight in stolen base attempts this past week. Fortunately for the Cardinals offense, the utterly dreadful Brevard County Manatees (.247) are even worse, keeping them out of the statistical cellar
|Offense||Season/rank of 12||Last week/rank|
|BA||.233 / 11th||.231 / 11th|
|OBP||.316 / 8th||.315 / 8th|
|SLG||.306 / 11th||.305 / 11th|
|OPS||.622 / 11th||.620 / 11th|
|Runs/game||3.4 / 11th||3.4 / 11th|
|Walks||474 / 1st||455 / 1st|
|Steals||129 of 190 / 2nd||125 of 182 / 2nd|
|Pitching||Season/rank of 12||Last week/rank|
|ERA||3.57 / 7th||3.59 / 7th|
|Strikeouts||865 / 11th||815 / 11th|
|Walks||360 / 3rd fewest||341 / 3rd fewest|
The week’s roster changes were relatively quiet in a season of incredible churn. Two offensive stalwarts came off the disabled list while a catcher went back on after just two days. St. Louis moved their pair of rehabbers on to other levels.
Wed. 8/17: 3B Danny Diekroeger off the 60-day disabled list.
The 24-year-old was badly missed by the offense-starved Palm Beach club, after having been the Florida State League squad’s top run producer over the first six weeks of the season. At the time he went on the DL, the left-handed hitter led the Beach Birds with 16 RBI, was tied for first with 14 runs scored and was second in all four slash line categories. Diekroeger crafted a line of .286/.362/.371/.733 over 32 games. Palm Beach had a roster opening coming into the week, so did not need to make a corresponding move.
Fri. 8/19: C Chris Rivera back onto the seven-day DL.
Fri. 8/19: C Erik Garcia to Palm Beach from Johnson City.
Rivera, 21, had appeared in just two games since being activated off the DL, going 1-for-7 over Wednesday and Thursday. His one hit was the biggest possible, a grand slam that helped power Palm Beach to its Thursday victory.
Over the season, in 43 games between Palm Beach and State College, Rivera has a very modest slash line of .163/.255/.230/.485.
Last time Rivera was injured, the Cardinals brought up Stephen Zavala from Johnson City. This time, his Appalachian League teammate Garcia received the call to join Palm Beach.
The 23-year-old, a free agent signee last October, has a slash line of .225/.271/.288/.559 in 80 at-bats over 22 Appy League contests. Garcia has a 39 percent strikeout rate this season.
Mon. 8/22: IF Cole Lankford off seven-day DL
Mon. 8/22: IF Matt Davis from Palm Beach to Peoria.
Lankford, 23, missed two weeks, with his move onto the DL having been effective on August 8.
Since joining Palm Beach from extended spring training in May, Lankford has spent all of 2016 in the Florida State League, slashing .289/.327/.430/.667 with a home run and 24 RBI through 66 games played (256 at-bats). Defensively, he has played at first, second, third base, left field and right field this season.
Davis was reassigned to the Peoria Chiefs from Palm Beach, reversing the move he made on August 9. With the Beach Birds, the 23-year old went 2-for-10, both singles, and drew one walk.
Earlier, Davis, a free agent signee last month, played in eight games with the Chiefs after nine with State College, but did not hit at either level, with a combined line of .172/.254/.172/.425.
Tue. 8/23: Rehab of St. Louis P Lance Lynn transferred to Springfield
Tue. 8/23: Rehab of St. Louis C Brayan Pena transferred to Gulf Coast League.
Both of the Major Leaguers appeared in two games with Palm Beach in their first of multiple stops back from their respective injuries. Pena just hit and did not work behind the plate.
The Beach Birds’ infirmary list is down to seven with the removal of Diekroeger and Lankford and the return to the DL by Rivera this past week. Three pitchers are on shelf: Jacob Evans, Silfredo Garcia and Will Anderson (60-day DL) with the other injured position players all infielders - Darren Seferina, Andrew Brodbeck and Edmundo Sosa.
Evans and Anderson have been rehabbing with the Gulf Coast League Cards.
Palm Beach has two remaining at Fort Myers (MIN), followed by four at St. Lucie (NYM) from Friday through Sunday. Fort Myers comes into Roger Dean for three starting next Monday. Only one final four-game series with Charlotte (TB) will remain after that.
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