Wednesday, 5/23 - The Cards' batters faced a real test on Wednesday when they faced off against Fort Myers. Miracles pitchers Yohan Pino and Eduardo Morlan combined to hold Cards' batters to only three hits in a 3-1 victory for Fort Myers. The Cards didn't register a base runner until Isaias Garcia's two out smoking line drive single to center in the third. Any hope of a rally was crushed after Dan Nelson struck out swinging on a wicked curve from Pino. The Cards went hitless in the top of the fourth and after Brandon Yarbrough's dribbler to the mound for the first out in the fifth, the inning didn't look promising. Ian Church stepped up to the plate and took one for the team and earned first base after being drilled by a Pino pitch. After Jose Martinez put a charge into a deep fly ball out into right field, Church caught Pino napping and stole second base to put him in scoring position for Nathan Southard, who promptly struck out swinging on a ball out of the zone, to end the inning. Things looked promising in top of the eighth after the Miracles changed pitchers and Morlan came into the game to face the Cards hitters. Southard took advantage of the first strike Morlan threw and drove the ball deep into right center for a double; Southard's aggressive base running allowed him to advance to third on throwing error from the right fielder. The Cards' finally got on the scoreboard after a fielders choice RBI from Garcia, but that was the only run the Cards would tally. Adam Daniels took the loss for the Cards, tossing seven innings, giving up three runs on five hits.
Thursday, 5/24 - Adam Ottavino gave up four of his five runs in the fourth, giving the Lakeland Flying Tigers a five-run lead. That was more than enough for Lakeland starter Burke Badenhop (4-3), who allowed only one run in seven strong innings. The Cards attempted a comeback in the top of the eighth scoring three runs off Flying Tiger reliever Paul Hammond. The Flying Tigers reliever got off to a good start, fooling Cards' star Allen Craig on an off-speed breaking ball for a swinging strikeout. The rally started with Mark Hamilton's worm-burning single to center field. Yarbrough moved Hamilton to second with a scorching line drive that followed the identical path as Hamilton's hit. Jose Martinez came up after a Church strikeout and singled on a ground ball that split the shortstop and third baseman, driving in a hustling Hamilton. A throwing error on the left fielder allowed Yarbrough to score and moved Martinez to third. The rally forced the Flying Tigers to make a pitching change, bringing in Brendan Wise, who promptly forced Garcia to ground into a fielders choice out. The Cards were unable to do anything in the ninth and fell to the Flying Tigers 8-4.
Friday, 5/25 - The Cards dropped their third straight on Friday, losing to Lakeland 5-0. The entire lineup was shut down by a overpowering performance by Lucas French of the Lakeland Flying Tigers. Cards starter Trey Hearne had a rough outing, allowing eleven hits and five runs in five innings pitched. Hearne's main problem was his inability to throw strikes, which forced him into hitters' counts and allowed Flying Tigers batters to tee off. The only player who had any success with the bat against Lakeland was Southard; the outfielder had two of the Cards' seven hits. His first time up, Southard didn't even get to take a swing before Martinez was caught napping and was picked off first base. When Southard was eventually able to take his swings, he was effective. In the top of the third, he lined a rope to dead center field for a single and in the top of the eighth, he hit another liner to center.
Saturday, 5/26 - Trailing 5-3 heading into the seventh, the Cards looked like they were on their way to fourth straight defeat, but Martinez was not going to let that happen. Nelson starting out the inning by grounding to the shortstop for what looked like a sure out, but the first baseman was unable to handle the throw and the hustling Nelson reached on an error. A.J. Van Slyke stepped up to the plate and launched a ball deep to left center that bounced off the wall for an RBI double. After a walk to Mark Hamilton, Yarbrough executed a perfect sacrifice bunt to advance Hamilton to second and Van Slyke to third. After an intentional walk to Church to load the bases, Danilo Sanchez looped a fly ball to short center allowing Van Slyke to score. After a Southard groundout, Martinez stepped up to the plate and hit a home run just over the fence in left. Gary Daley Jr. got the start for the Cards, pitching four innings and giving up five runs. Fernando Salas earned the victory pitching a scoreless fifth and sixth. Luke Gregerson came on in the ninth and shut the door on Lakeland giving the Cards a 9-6 victory and earning his tenth save of the season.
Sunday, 5/27 - Van Slyke put the Cards ahead for good in the top of the ninth, taking advantage of throwing error on the Flying Tigers. That topped an exciting ninth- inning comeback by the Cards, who were trailing 2-0 going into the inning. Martinez started the rally with a line drive to left for his eighth double of the season. After back to back fly ball outs by Craig and Southard, Nelson drove the ball into center for a RBI single. Van Slyke followed with a rocket double to left center driving in Nelson and tying the game at two. Hamilton appeared to have ended the inning with a fly ball to center but the center fielder dropped it and Van Slyke was able to score the eventual winning run. Gregerson came on in the bottom of the ninth and shut down Lakeland to earn his eleventh save of the season.
Tuesday, 5/29 - After having Memorial day off, the Cards were back in action on Tuesday. Unfortunately the day off cooled the Cards, who lost to Jupiter 5-3. The start of the game looked promising when newly-promoted outfielder Jim Rapoport reached base on a throwing error by the shortstop. The speedy Rapoport wasted no time hanging out at first base; he stole second the first chance he got. Rapoport had a great jump on a breaking ball from Jupiter's starter Ryan Tucker and swiped second easily. The stolen base seemed to rattle Tucker, who walked Van Slyke on six pitches. Craig came up and put a charge into Tucker's pitch and drove the ball deep to right. Unfortunately, it was right at the outfielder, but the fly ball did allow Rapoport and Van Slyke to advance. Hamilton followed Craig and drove in Rapoport with a bouncing ball to first. That's when the real fun began; Yarbrough stepped up to the plate but could not figure out Tucker, so the Cards' runners took matters into their own hands. Van Slyke and Hamilton executed a perfect double steal. As soon as Tucker made his move toward the plate, Van Slyke took off and stole home. At the same time, Hamilton stole second and ended up at third after a throwing error. Unfortunately that was it for highlights from the Cards.
A.J. Van Slyke has been on fire this week racking up nine hits, three doubles, two RBI's and two stolen bases. The hot streak has raised Van Slyke's batting average to .261 and his stolen base total to eight.
For the first time this season, Allen Craig is struggling. He has only four hits in the past week with no home runs and zero runs batted in.
News and Notes
5/29 - Outfielder Jim Rapoport was promoted to the Palm Beach Cardinals.
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