The Johnson City Cardinals went 4-3 during this week’s action, but they became the first Appalachian League team to clinch a playoff spot. It will be the team’s first appearance in the playoffs since 2014, when they won the league championship.
Monday August 22, 2016: Kingsport Mets 3 at Johnson City Cardinals 5
Johnson City played in front of a national television audience Monday as the local telecast was broadcasted on FOX Sports Midwest. The Cardinals responded well in the limelight as they jumped out to an early 4-0 lead before defeating Kingsport, 5-3, in seven innings.
The newest Johnson City Cardinal, Hunter Newman, blasted his first home run with the club to spearhead the four-run first. Matt Fiedler also had a stellar night, going 2-for-4 with a pair of runs scored.
After struggling in his prior three starts, Johnson City’s Daniel Castano put everything together to pick up his first professional win. Castano, now 1-5, tossed 5 2/3 innings while allowing just two earned runs (three total). Estarlin Arias picked up his fourth save, moving him back into a tie for the team lead in that category with Leland Tilley.
Game 2 was postponed to Tuesday night due to a power problem at the ballpark.
Tuesday August 23, 2016: Kingsport Mets 9 at Johnson City Cardinals 10 (Game 1)
Johnson City had a rough go of it early on in Game 1 Tuesday evening, falling behind Kingsport, 9-1. However, the Cardinals pitched outstanding in relief of starter David Oca and the offense kicked it into high gear to come all the way back to walk-off the Mets, 10-9.
Allen Cordoba, who drove in the winning run, surpassed teammate J.R. Davis for the Appalachian League lead in batting average at .357 with a 4-for-5 outing that included a triple.
As mentioned earlier, the bullpen did an outstanding job. The duo of Yeison Medina and Keaton Siomkin combined to toss 4 2/3 innings of shutout baseball to allow Johnson City to mount its comeback. Siomkin was credited with the win, moving his record to 2-1 on the season.
Tuesday August 23, 2016: Kingsport Mets 15 at Johnson City Cardinals 2 (Game 2)
With the league-leader in ERA in Frederis Parra taking the hill for the Cardinals in Game 2, it looked like a very good possibility that the Cardinals were going to pick up a series sweep over Kingsport. After three shutout innings by Parra, the wheels fell off, however. The Mets outscored the Cardinals 14-1 over the final four innings to salvage the final game of the three-game set, 15-2.
Cordoba continued his hot-hitting with another multi-hit game. In the doubleheader, Cordoba went a total of 6-for-8 raising his league-leading batting average to .350. Hunter Newman also had two hits in the nightcap.
Parra was saddled with the loss after lasting just 3 2/3 innings. Parra was bitten by a costly error by Cordoba that allowed four unearned runs to score. Additionally, Parra’s streak of four consecutive starts of pitching at least seven innings was snapped.
Wednesday August 24, 2016: Bristol Pirates 6 at Johnson City Cardinals 5
Despite having the lowest batting average in the Appalachian League coming into Wednesday’s contest, Bristol came out swinging, with 14 hits and six runs. Despite the offensive surge by the Pirates, the Cardinals made a late comeback to get within a run but ultimately fell, 6-5.
Bryce Denton finished a triple short of the cycle, going 4-for-4 with a three-run home run. Caleb Lopes and Matt Fiedler had two hits each.
Starter Ian Oxnevad had one of his bumpiest outings of the season as the Pirates tallied 10 hits against the lefty. Oxnevad did a great job of damage control, however, as he only surrendered two runs in 5 2/3 innings. Reliever Noel Gonzalez was tagged with the loss after his own pair of errors proved to be the difference. Gonzalez’ record moves to 3-1 with the loss.
Thursday August 25, 2016: Bristol Pirates 6 at Johnson City Cardinals 7
Both Bristol and Johnson City had fielding problems Thursday evening as a total of nine errors were committed by the two teams. In addition to the miscues, the Cardinals also had to overcome an early 5-0 deficit - and they did just that as they knocked off the Pirates, 7-6.
The top four hitters in the Cardinals’ batting order did the majority of the damage, going a combined 7-for-13. J.R. Davis led the group at 3-for-5 with two runs scored, while Andrew Knizner drove in three.
Johnson City starter Ramon Santos was bit by some shaky fielding, including two of his own errors, as three of the five runs he allowed in six innings were unearned. The duo of Leland Tilley and Estarlin Arias closed the game out. Tilley picked up the win improving to 2-0, while Arias notched his fifth save after tossing two scorless frames.
Friday August 26, 2016: Bristol Pirates 7 at Johnson City Cardinals 8
The miscues continued, but the Cardinals continued to win close games. Despite committing six errors, Johnson City won the rubber match over Bristol on Friday, 8-7, in 10 innings. The Cardinals scored five runs in the seventh before ralling from a two-run deficit with a three-run bottom of the 10th to pick up their third series win over Bristol this season.
Bryce Denton went 2-for-5 with a home run and four RBI. It marked Denton’s second home run in the past three days. Shane Billings collected a team-high three hits and scored a pair of runs.
Ross Vance made the start and continued to rack up the strikeouts with seven in six innings and three runs allowed, and received a no decision. Keaton Siomkin allowed the two tying runs in the ninth and was tagged with the blown save. Despite yielding two more scores in the 10th, Yeison Medina picked up the win, moving his record to 4-2. Medina’s four wins rank second on the team.
Saturday August 27, 2016: Johnson City Cardinals 8 at Bluefield Blue Jays 9
Johnson City flexed its muscles Saturday in Bluefield as it launched four home runs. Despite the power surge, the Cardinals could not keep up with the Blue Jays as Johnson City dropped the series opener, 9-8.
Andrew Knizner had his best day as a professional Saturday as he went 4-for-4 with two home runs and a double. Knizner, the seventh round selection by the Cardinals in June, has been especially productive as of late as he has hit .414 in the past 10 games. Josh Lopez and Luis Bandes also hit home runs.
Anthony Shew was tagged with the loss after allowing three earned runs in 1 1/3 innings. It marked the first decision of Shew’s career. Starter Daniel Castano worked the first five innings, allowing four earned runs on 11 hits.
Bryce Denton. Denton has put together the best offensive stretch of his career over the past 10 games. The 2015 second round pick is hitting .342 with two home runs and nine RBI. Denton has also shown some more patience at the plate, walking three times in the past three contests.
Andrew Knizner. Knizner has been one of, if not the Cardinals’ best run producer all season long. Knizner has continued that level of run production as of late as he has driven in 14 runs and scored 11 times in the past 10 games. He has also launched three home runs in the past 10 contests, which matched his total from his previous 40 games.
Allen Cordoba. Cordoba is hitting a team-high .452 over the past 10 games with six of multi-hit games. The shortstop has also been a major threat on the basepaths as he has swiped eight bases as well.
Shane Billings. Billings has struggled at the plate as he is hitting just .219 in 18 games this month. Billings’ production has steadily gone down during the season, moving from .333 in June to .224 to July and now all the way down to .219.
Daniel Castano. Castano has had a rough go of it as he owns a 8.71 ERA in the month. The former Baylor Bear did pick up his first professional win against Kingsport on Aug. 22 but little else went right for the lefthander.
David Oca. Oca has been another Cardinals’ starting pitcher that has struggled lately. In his last four starts, the lefty has an ERA of 9.00 in 15 innings pitched. Oca’s strikeout rate has picked up lately, however, as he struck out 17 hitters in those 15 innings.
By The Numbers
4 – Johnson City had four players named to the Appalachian League All-Star Team earlier this week. All are offensive players, as catcher Andrew Knizner, second baseman J.R. Davis, shortstop Allen Cordoba and outfielder Matt Fiedler all were selected. The four were the most of any team in the league this season.
1 – With their victory Friday, Johnson City became the first Appalachian League team to clinch a playoff spot. The Cardinals currently sit two games in front of Elizabethton in the Appalachian League’s Western Division.
45 – The Cardinals have scored 45 runs in the seven games (6.43 runs per game) this week. Although they have scored a ton of runs, Johnson City only went 4-3.
Johnson City had a pair of players reassigned to the team this week as infielder Joey Hawkins and catcher Erik Garcia both rejoined the Cardinals for the stretch run, from State College and Palm Beach, respectively.
There were no injuries last week.
Appalachian League Western Division Standings
Johnson City will look to lock up the No. 1 seeding as the Appalachian League enters its final week of the regular season. The Cardinals will wrap up the series with Bluefield on Monday before they host Pulaski in the final regular season series starting on Wednesday.
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