The Palm Beach Cardinals Report – April 18

Our exclusive weekly report on the 2007 edition of the Single-A Palm Beach Cardinals from our on-site beat reporter in Jupiter, Jim Rutledge.

This week was defined by pitching; the Palm Beach Cardinals were able to take advantage of strong starting and bullpen performances from their pitchers to improve their 2007 record to 6-5. The Cards are now only one game out of first place in the East Division of the Florida State League and are riding a three game winning streak.

Game Notes - 4/11-4/17

Wednesday - Dominating pitching was the key to the Cardinals 2-0 victory against the St. Lucie Mets Wednesday night. Starting pitcher Tyler Norrick pitched six innings allowing only four hits and no runs, Jon Mikrut and Mike Cooper continued their stellar starts to the season as both pitchers picked up holds and Jason Motte (pictured) earned the save. Dan Nelson was the star offensively driving in both Cards' runs, Mike Ferris (since promoted to Springfield) added a double. The team did struggle in the field a little with Allen Craig making a throwing error and Casey Rowlett a fielding error.

Thursday - The St. Lucie Mets won 5-2 and controlled the game all night as Adam Ottavino's tough luck continued Thursday. He dropped to 0-2 despite another strong pitching performance; Adam allowed only one run during his five innings, striking out four. Cards' batters were silenced by St. Lucie's pitchers, scoring their only two on runs batted in by Ferris and Nelson.

Friday - Losing 4-2 is not how the Cards wanted to open their series with the Vero Beach Devil Rays. Outfielders Nathan Southard and Shane Robinson each earned doubles by being aggressive, turning singles into doubles by running hard out of the batters box. Casey Rowlett lifted a ball deep into left field for his first home run of the season. Trey Hearne started strong but began to struggle in the fifth and was pulled after allowing a moon shot by James Hall of the Devil Rays. Cooper (pictured) continued his fantastic start to the 2007 season with another shutout relief appearance, Mikrut gave up his first run of the season in the eighth inning and Motte pitched a scoreless ninth.

Saturday - Adam Daniels got all the run support he needed and then some in the Cards' 10-2 domination of the Devil Rays. Nelson and Southard both had RBI doubles, Ferris drove in two runs, Rowlett had an RBI and Sean Danielson collected his first RBI of the season. The Cards were aggressive all over the field Saturday, stealing bases left and right. Danielson had two and Nelson added one. On the mound, Daniels pitched seven strong innings striking out seven and allowing only one earned run. Scott Vander Weg and Donnie Smith pitched scoreless eighth and ninth innings to help Daniels earn the victory.

Monday - After rain postponed Sunday's finale against the Devil Rays, the Cards traveled to Port St. Lucie to take on the Mets. Cards' ace Norrick (pictured) shut down the Mets 4-0, pitching six dominating innings to improve his record to 3-0 for the season. Luke Gregerson and Mikrut combined to pitch three innings of scoreless relief, allowing only two runners to reach base. First baseman A.J. Van Slyke batted in one with a double, Jose Martinez drove in his fifth run of the season, Nelson and Danielson also had RBIs.

Tuesday - Ottavino had his third straight strong outing on the mound for the Cards, and finally earned his first win of the season after Tuesdays 8-1 annihilation of the St. Lucie Mets. Designated hitter Rowlett was the offensive star, hitting a double and a triple on his way to driving in three runs. Ottavino pitched six innings, striking out four, Nick Webber pitched two shutout innings and Motte came in the ninth and shut the door on the Mets. The Cards go for the sweep of the Mets on Wednesday.

Hot -

Dan Nelson is leading the team with a batting average of .321, 11 walks, and ten runs batted in. Despite playing multiple infield positions, Nelson has committed only one error on the season.

Sean Danielson (pictured) is a speedster on the bases, stealing three to start off the 2007 season. The outfielder is batting .320 and has committed no errors while missing only one game so far.

Allen Craig has leveled off a little after a great beginning, but is still off to an outstanding start to the season. The third baseman leads the team with 12 hits for a .316 batting average, a home run, and six runs batted in.

Tyler Norrick is the definition of being hot. He has an pitched eighteen scoreless innings with nine strikeouts and three wins. So far, you can put a "W" in the win column every day he takes the mound.

Mike Cooper and Jon Mikrut have combined for fourteen innings pitched, allowing only one run, six hits and striking out ten. The two pitchers are the stars of a bullpen that has been strong all season.

Not -

Nathan Southard - Despite the fact that four of his six hits are doubles, that leaves his average at .188, well below what is needed from the speedy outfielder.

Jose Contreras is hitting only .167 and has committed three errors in only four games played.

Brandon Yarbrough started the season hot, but his throwing arm is still erratic and now his bat has become a question mark. His batting average dropped from .357 last week to .222 this week and he has driven in no runs in the past seven days.



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