The Palm Beach Cardinals Report – Week Nine

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. First baseman Mark Hamilton continues to hammer the baseball with five home runs in the last week.

The past week was the definition of up - Mark Hamilton's three home run performance - and down - Matt Trent giving up five runs on Tuesday. Despite their up and down performance, the Cards were able to stay in second place in the Florida State League's Eastern Division. Let's take a look at the week that was.



Wednesday, 5/30 - The Cardinals started their three game home-and-home stand against the Jupiter Hammerheads with an 8-4 victory on Wednesday. After getting hits from A.J. Van Slyke and Ian Church in each of the first two innings, Isaias Garcia got things started for the Cards in the third. Garcia ripped a groundball past third for a double to start the inning, followed by opposite field RBI triple by new arrival Jim Rapoport, giving the Cards a 1-0 lead. Two pitches later, Rapoport scored on a wild pitch in the dirt by Jupiter starter Aaron Thompson putting Palm Beach ahead 2-0. The Cards followed with two more runs in the bottom of the fourth on an RBI single from Garcia. Heading into the bottom of the fifth, the Cards were leading by only one run. The inning started with a hustling Van Slyke reaching on a mishandled ball by the first baseman. Van Slyke's speed rattled Thompson, who threw the ball away attempting to pick him off. The wild throw allowed Van Slyke to reach third base. Allen Craig continued to struggle, swinging right through a slider from Thompson, but Mark Hamilton was able to pick up the slack for the slumping Craig. Hamilton tore a groundball through the gap between second and first for a RBI double, upping the Cards' lead to 5-3. Danilo Sanchez worked the count and was able to draw a walk from Thompson, and after a Jose Martinez strikeout, Church stepped up to the plate and hit a rope deep to center driving in Sanchez and Hamilton. Jupiter was forced to pull the ineffective Thompson; his replacement was greeted by Nathan Southard who hustled out a infield single on a groundball to short, allowing Church to score the last run of the game for the Cards. Eight runs were more than enough for the Cards' pitching staff; Adam Ottavino, Fernando Salas (W. 2-0) and Kyle McClellan combined to hold the Hammerheads to four runs on six hits.


Thursday, 5/31 - Since Palm Beach shares a stadium with Jupiter, the Cardinals were the away team in their own stadium. That didn't seem to affect the Cards hitters who jumped all over last year's number one pick for the Marlins, Brett Sinkbeil. Van Slyke got things going for the Cards with a grounder up the middle for a single. He was followed by Craig who broke out of his slump and ripped a double to right allowing Van Slyke to score from first. Hamilton hit a slow roller to the shortstop and mayhem ensued. The shortstop made an errant throw allowing the hustling Craig to score all the way from second, Hamilton later took second on a pass ball. After a Brandon Yarbrough out, Dan Nelson ripped a first pitch fastball to right for an RBI single. The two teams traded runs throughout the game until things fell apart for the Cards' pitching staff. The usually reliable Scott Vander Weg (L, 3-3) and Luke Gregerson imploded, allowing five runs in the inning, putting the Cards' behind 10-7. After back to back swinging strike outs by Craig and Hamilton to start the ninth, things looked bleak for Palm Beach. Yarbrough started a two out rally with a grounder that he pulled past the third baseman; Nelson followed Yarbrough with a single up the middle, after a Church reached on bobbled ball by the third baseman, the bases were loaded with two outs. With the Cards' half of the crowd cheering like crazy, Martinez calmly strolled to the batters box, and after taking two pitches, he ripped the ball past the pitcher and into center driving in Yarbrough, Nelson and advancing Church to third. With the entire crowd going wild, Garcia was unable to complete the comeback, hitting a can of corn to right to end the game.


Saturday, 6/2 - Tropical Storm Barry rained out the final game of the Cardinals - Hammerheads series on Friday. On Saturday, the Cards headed to Clearwater to take on the Thrashers. The Cards were able to bounce back from the disappointment of their loss to Jupiter and beat Clearwater 6-4 in the opener. The Cards ended the Thrashers three-game winning streak by combining the efforts of five pitchers to earn the victory. Gary Daley Jr. started and had the dubious distinction of allowing three runs on no hits; the downfall for Daley was an inability to throw strikes. The Cards starter gave up five walks in three innings and was replaced in the fourth after walking the first two batters and throwing a wild pitch. Donnie Smith entered the game and allowed one run in two innings pitched. Matt Trent tossed a scoreless sixth to earn the hold, McClellan allowed one run in two innings to pick up the victory and Gregerson locked down the save with a hitless ninth. Craig and Hamilton were the offensive stars as they each hit home runs. The pair combined to drive in four of the Cards' six runs.


Sunday, 6/3 - Tyler Norrick tossed six strong innings for the Cards but was outdone in a pitching duel, losing 3-2 Sunday. Despite allowing only three runs on four hits and striking out seven, Norrick dropped to 5-4 on the season. Hamilton and Craig were the only source of offense for the Cards, as the duo of corner infielders hit back-to-back home runs to give the Cards an early 2-0 lead. That was it for the Cards offense, who were only able to register three more hits the rest of the game. Salas continued his dominance coming out of the bullpen allowing no runs and no hits in his two innings of relief.


Monday, 6/4 - Monday's Cardinals 11-5 victory was all about Mark Hamilton. The streaking first baseman was dialed in for the Cards' match-up with the Thrashers. Hamilton pounded three home runs and drove in six in what was probably the most impressive performance of any Cardinal this season. Hamilton had a consistent swing evident by the fact that he hit all three of his home runs to right field. Adam Daniels (W. 3-5) set a career high for strikeouts with eight, while pitching six strong innings and giving up four runs.


Tuesday, 6/5 - Palm Beach batters were unable to take advantage of another strong performance by starter Adam Ottavino. Nathan Southard and Rapoport registered four of the Cards' six total hits off Clearwater pitchers. Ottavino gave up three runs in five innings while striking out six. With the game still up for grabs heading into the ninth, reliever Matt Trent had a disastrous inning, giving up five runs on five hits, allowing the Thrashers to put the game out of reach.


Hot - First Baseman Mark Hamilton has five home runs, eleven runs batted in and nine hits in the past week. Hamilton's big game on Monday set career highs for home runs and runs batted in. He is currently third in FSL with ten home runs.


Not - Matt Trent gave up five runs on five hits in the Cards' 8-0 loss on Tuesday. It was his first poor outing of the season. This performance really stands out because of Trent's stellar performance in his previous outings.



News and Notes


-          5/29 - Placed outfielder Shane Robinson on the 7 day DL


-          5/31 - Catcher Danilo Sanchez promoted to Springfield


-          5/31 - Catcher Henry Guerrero sent to Palm Beach



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