The Palm Beach Cardinals Report – May 9

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. The club shares first place despite a 2-4 record on the week.

It was a rough week for the Palm Beach Cardinals, as inconsistent fielding and pitching forced the Cards to drop four of seven games. The week started great with back-to-back victories over the Brevard County Manatees, but those wins were followed by four straight losses. Despite their up and down play, the Cards were able to earn a tie with the Daytona Cubs for the top spot in the Florida State League Eastern Division. Let's take a look back at the week that was to see what caused the Cards to have such an inconsistent time.

The contest between the Cardinals and the Manatees on Wednesday was one of the most exciting games of the season. The Cards' 6-5 victory was spurred by a pair of two-run home runs in the top of the forth and fifth innings by Allen Craig. Tyler Norrick took the mound and had one of his worst outings of the season, giving up five runs in seven innings, but did leave the game with the score tied 5-5. Relievers Nick Webber and Luke Gregerson combined to pitch two scoreless innings and outfielder Ian Church drove in the game-winning run in the top of the ninth on a sac fly.

On a roll from Wednesday's victory, the Cards' rolled over Brevard 5-1 led by Mark Hamilton who had two RBI singles. His efforts were aided by Casey Rowlett, Dan Nelson and Church who each drove in one run. Starting pitcher Adam Ottavino had another strong outing, earning his second win of the season by pitching five innings and striking out six. The bullpen had another strong game, reliever Scott Vander Weg and Zach Zuercher pitched four spectacular innings, allowing zero runs.

Friday was the start of that four-game losing streak for the Cards, who lost to the Manatees 6-2. Starting pitcher Trey Hearne took his second loss of the season by giving up five runs in just over six innings pitched. Hearne got little help from the Cards' offense, whose only two runs were driven in by Jose Contreras and Shane Robinson.

Saturday's 4-1 loss to the Sarasota Reds can be explained by a parade of Cardinals errors. Craig had two fielding miscues and catcher Brandon Yarbrough allowed two passed balls. The only saving grace for Craig was his sac fly in the bottom of the first that drove in the Cards' only run.

The Cards continued their losing streak on Sunday, dropping another game to the Reds of Sarasota, this time by a closer 4-2 margin. Gary Daley Jr. gave the Cards a strong start, pitching seven innings, striking out two and bringing his earned run average just over three. Craig launched a home run deep into the stands in the forth inning to give the Cards a 1-0 lead, and Nelson drove in his 15th run of the season in the fifth. The game stayed tied 2-2 until the top of the eleventh inning when Vander Weg took the loss by giving up two.

I sound like a broken record as the Cards' dropped another game to the Sarasota Reds, as this time they were destroyed 7-1. Norrick pitched seven innings, allowing only three runs (two earned) and striking out four. Jon Mikrut had his worst outing of the year allowing three runs (two earned) in his one inning of relief and Donnie Smith couldn't stop the bleeding, allowing another run in the ninth. The only highlight for the Cards was Yarbrough's first home run of the season.

Finally the Cards stopped their losing steak at four by defeating the Reds 3-1 on Tuesday. Zuercher picked up his first win of the season and Gregerson was credited with the save. Mark Hamilton drove in Robinson with a line drive double in the bottom of the second, Yarbrough drove in one on a single in the seventh and Jose Martinez topped off the scoring by driving in Yarbrough on a sac fly in the same inning.

Hot

-- After starting the season at third base, Allen Craig has been playing games at first and designated hitter this week. Despite the position change, Craig has continued his hot hitting this week, improving his numbers to eight home runs, 26 runs batted in and a robust .339 batting average.

-- Catcher Brandon Yarbrough continued his hot hitting, improving his average to .313 and hitting his first home run of the season.

-- Yarbrough's battery mate Danilo Sanchez has been on a hot streak with bat hitting .290 with two home runs.

-- Adam Ottavino had a fantastic week, earning his second win of the season by allowing only two runs in eleven innings pitched and striking out eleven.

Not

-- I never thought I would see this, but Tyler Norrick had a tough week at least by his standards. Norrick pitched fourteen innings allowing seven runs and raising his earned run average to 2.59. His numbers are still great and he did bounce back from his poor start earlier this week, but still an out of character week for Norrick.

-- Dan Nelson is an enigma. He is hitting .186 with 25 strike outs, but the interesting thing is his 23 walks. Those are numbers that almost never go together.

-- Jose Contreras is hitting only .185 with five errors on the season.

-- Isaias Garcia has only seven hits so far this season contributing to his .171 batting average.



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