The Johnson City Cardinals finished the week (Sunday through Saturday) with a record of 2-5 to take their overall record to 5-11. The Cardinals are currently in third place in the five-team Western Division of the Appalachian League – nine and half games behind the Elizabethton Twins and two and half games behind the Kingsport Mets. The offense is currently in seventh place in the nine-team league in batting average (.263) and most of the offensive statistics. The Cardinals are fourth in the league in home runs with twelve. The offense is last in the league in doubles and runs-batted-in (RBI). In fact, the team's RBI total of fifty-two is less than half of the totals posted by the division-leading Elizabethton Twins (130) and Danville Braves (110).
On the other hand, the pitching has been very good and has been much better than the team win/loss record would indicate. The pitching staff dropped their earned run average over one point the past week and has moved up three places to third (4.02). The staff dropped their walks-plus-hits per inning pitched from 1.76 to 1.56 over the last seven games and they stand first in the league with the fewest home runs allowed (five). The Cardinals have allowed the most unearned runs in the league (twenty-five) and are eighth in the league in walks allowed (seventy-one).
I was able to attend the first two of the seven games in person and those observations provide the basis for this report. The roster has gone through several transactions over the last week to ten days and now stands at thirty "active" players. Listed below is a summary of those transactions.
#5 - OF Joey Hage, promoted to
#38 - 3B Tony Cruz, promoted to
#44 – RHP Ray Silva, a non-drafted free agent from
#48 – LHP Ryan Hodinka, a rehab from extended
spring training who played for
#5 – OF Brian Buck, reassigned to Gulf Coast League Cardinals
#35 - 1B Charlie Pelt, promoted to
#38 – RHP Pete Parise, promoted to
RHP Kris Bakey, released by the St. Louis Cardinals.
C Garrett Bussiere, no longer appears on the Johnson City Cardinal rosters and was presumably released by the St. Louis Cardinals.
OF Wil Pujols
Twenty-seven of the thirty active players on the roster played this
week. Manager Joe Almaraz is
resting relief pitcher Steve Hill due to "soreness". Starting pitcher Matt North continues to
rehab his right arm in
The Week in Review
Sunday's game against the Kingsport Mets was the first of only two home
games scheduled this week. Several
significant milestones occurred in this game. Game ten was the first game this year
that had no
Game ten also was the first game that ended in a
shutout in favor of the Cardinals.
Third baseman Tony Cruz received my vote for player-of-the-game by going 2-for-4 with a line-drive sliding-double (8.27 seconds from home to second) on a 1-2 pitch off the left field wall and a home run on a 1-0 pitch that went about 375 feet over the left field wall. Cruz also initiated two very nice inning-ending double plays.
Starting pitcher Tyler Leach had his best outing of the year so far by giving up only three singles and throwing forty-six pitches, twenty-four for strikes, over three scoreless-innings pitched. Leach still seems to have some control issues to work on. Leach gave up three walks and threw several pitches in the dirt. Second tandem starter Brian Broderick got his first professional win and my second vote for pitcher-of-the-game by scattering four hits over three and two-thirds scoreless innings. Closer Chuckie Fick received his first save in his first appearance in a dual-closer role he now shares with LaCurtis Mayes.
Game Eleven: Monday's game against the Kingsport Mets was the last home game this week. The Cardinals played well, out-hit the Mets 12-8, but missed a number of opportunities to score additional runs and lost the game by a score of 4-3 on two, two-out, two-run home runs.
The first home run came in the second inning off of starting pitcher Jose Mateo and the second came in the eighth inning off of second tandem-starter and eventual losing pitcher, Omar Javier. One example of a missed opportunity was what appeared to be a missed hit-and-run sign by Joey Hage on a 1-1 count called strike in the bottom of the fourth with runners going from first and second base. Travis Mitchell was easily caught stealing at third base on the play.
Four Cardinals had multi-hit games. Right fielder Jon Edwards was 2-for-4 with a run-batted-in and should probably have been 3-for-4 with a triple and a run. Tony Cruz ran into an un-forced tag out near third base on what would have been a tough throw for the Mets third baseman in the bottom of the third inning. Edwards hit a one-out triple to dead center field in the bottom of the fifth but he was credited, instead, with a 410-foot single since he forgot to touch second base on his way to third. A rare case where the appeal play was both asked for and given. Center fielder Travis Mitchell was 3-for-4 with a double and a well-executed bunt single in the second inning. Mitchell's lead-off double in the eighth inning off the base of the left-centerfield wall looked like it might be the eventual game-tying run, however, Nick Vera, with one out, and Joey Hage, with two outs, could not bring Mitchell home from third base. For the second game in a row, catcher Paul Vazquez had what might normally be considered to be "player-of-the-game" results, only to come up short yet again. Vazquez raised his season average to .368 by going 2-for-4 with a solo, 350-foot home run over the scoreboard in left field.
The player-of-the-game award, for the second game in a row, went to third baseman Tony Cruz. Cruz, who raised his two-game average at Johnson City to .625, was 3-for-4 with a walk, a stolen base, an opposite field single, a solid stand-up double into the left field corner, and a line drive, 350-foot, solo home run into the left field netting on a 3-2 pitch. Cruz's hardest hit ball of the night was a one-out, ninth-inning, missile hit right at a third baseman who was defending his life with his anti-ballistic glove.
Game eleven was the first game this year where the two tandem starters were the only pitchers used during the game. Jose Mateo received my vote as pitcher-of-the-game, for the third time in three appearances this year. Mateo has gone five innings in each of his two actual starts this year and threw four innings in his single relief appearance. Mateo had an amazing ratio of eleven groundball outs to zero fly-ball outs with his 67 pitches and 41 strikes.
Tuesday's game was against the 12-1 and
first-place Elizabethton Twins in
The Cardinals jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the fifth
inning off the best pitching of the year so far from lefty starter Senger Peralta. Peralta earned
pitcher-of-the-game honors by going the full five innings, giving up one run, no
earned runs, and just three hits to go with one walk and three strikeouts. Second tandem starter Mark Diapoules ran
into trouble in the bottom of the seventh, giving up four consecutive hits with
no outs and allowing four earned runs.
Diapoules got his first blown save and first loss.
The Cardinals were able to score only one unearned run on six Twin errors. Newly acquired relievers Ray Silva and Ryan Hodinka made their first Johnson City Cardinal appearances with each pitching one inning while giving up no runs and no hits. Four Cardinals had multi-hit games. Right fielder Beau Riportella extended his hitting streak to three games and was 2-for-5 with a run scored. Shortstop Domnit Bolivar (2-for-4 with a run-batted-in) and left fielder Joey Hage (3-for-5 with a run scored and a run-batted-in) had the first two-out runs-batted-in since game three for the Cardinals. Second baseman Jose Garcia was the player-of-the-game by going 3-for-4 with a walk and raising his season batting average to .324.
Game Thirteen: Wednesday night's game road against the Elizabethton Twins was the first extra-innings game for the Cardinals this year but an old nemesis, the error, had a significant impact in the results of this game. The Cardinals took a 5-2 lead into the bottom of the ninth inning but gave up three runs in the ninth, one run in the tenth, and lost the game by a score of 6-5. The two teams combined for seven unearned runs and six errors, four by the Cardinals. That brought the season total to 34 errors and an average of 2.6 errors per game.
Two separate throwing errors by first baseman Matt Arburr, one in the ninth and another one in the tenth, led to both the tying and winning runs for the Twins. The first tandem starter for the Cardinals went five innings for the third consecutive game. Nick Additon had his best outing of the year so far by allowing just one earned run, three hits, and two walks over five innings pitched.
Game Fifteen: The
Cardinals continued their six game road trip with game four in
Game Sixteen: The Cardinals had their best offensive, defensive, and pitching performances of the year in the same game to help end their five game losing streak. Season bests of sixteen hits, eight extra-base hits, nine runs, three home runs, no errors – for the second game this season, no runs allowed – for the second shut-out of the week, and only five hits allowed Johnson City to post a 9-0 victory.
Starting pitcher Mark Diapoules was the pitcher-of-the-game by going five innings while allowing only two hits and no runs. For the second game in-a-row, catcher Casey Mulligan was the player-of-the game. Mulligan was 2-for-3 with three runs scored, his first professional home run, two runs-batted-in, two walks, and his first base stealer caught stealing this year.
Players of the Week
Each week, the roster is categorized into four
categories: Starting pitchers,
relievers, starting position players, and reserves. I then select one player from each
category that warrants special notice as the
Starting pitchers eligible for selection: Tyler Leach, Brian Broderick, Jose Mateo, Omar Javier, Senger Peralta, Mark Diapoules, Nick Additon, and Jose Arredondo.
With what I would consider seven quality starts in seven games, this was a difficult choice this week but with two good appearances, a win, and a line of eight and two thirds innings pitched and no earned runs, Brian Broderick is the starting tandem-pitcher of the week. Broderick dropped his earned run average from 3.68 to 1.69 and his WHIP from 1.50 to 1.25.
Omar Javier, Senger Peralta, and Nick Additon all showed huge improvement this week in both ERA and WHIP. Lefthander Nick Additon was a close second to Broderick. Additon also had two good appearances this week and posted a line of eight innings pitched, one earned run, six hits, three walks, and nine strikeouts. Javier, Diapoules, Leach, and Mateo all had a blown save and a loss in their roles as the second tandem starter this week. It is early but it appears that Broderick and Additon have performed the best so far in both the starter and reliever roles as a tandem starter.
With the tandem starters pitching extremely well this week as a group, the pen only threw eight innings in seven games. However, only one of the relievers made two quality appearances and for that reason, Ray Silva is the reliever of the week. Silva appeared in two games this week, allowing no hits and no walks over one and two thirds innings pitched. Silva also entered game fourteen with the bases loaded and allowed no runners to score.
Starting position players eligible for selection: CF-Travis Mitchell, 2B-Mike Folli, 3B-Tony Cruz, DH-Rob Sanzillo, RF-Jon Edwards, LF-Joey Hage, SS-Domnit Bolivar, 1B-Nick Vera, and C-Paul Vazquez. Note: These are the players that had the most at-bats at those positions this week. Outfielder Beau Riportella and shortstop/second baseman Jose Garcia played in six of the seven games. However, Riportella played all three outfield positions as well as designated hitter so he qualified as a "reserve player" according to my categorizations and Bolivar and Folli each had four games at their positions.
Several starters had good weeks. Joey Hage had six hits, a double, and
two outfield assists. Travis
Mitchell was 7-for-20 (.350) with two doubles, although he was caught stealing
twice. Tony Cruz made his
Reserve players eligible for selection: C/1B/DH-Casey Mulligan, DH/1B-Matt Arburr, LF/CF/RF/DH-Beau Riportella, and SS/2B-Jose Garcia. Casey Mulligan is the reserve player of the week. Mulligan was 6-for-13 (.462), with two doubles, a home run, six runs scored, and three walks in his current four-game hitting streak. Mulligan has raised his season batting average this week from .250 to a team-leading .345. Beau Riportella was a close second to Mulligan. Riportella has been the most consistent hitter on the team, is second on the team in batting average (.333), and currently has a six-game hitting streak. Riportella finished the week going 9-for-26 (.346) with a double, five runs scored, and two stolen bases.
There are no updates on shortstop Pete Kozma. We still expect him to join the Johnson City Cardinals when and if he signs.
Manager Joe Almaraz received his first ejection of the year during the second inning of game fifteen.
Who is hot
- The first tandem-starting pitcher. Six of the seven completed five innings this week and the only exception, Tyler Leach, threw three of his best innings this year on his lower pitch count.
- Beau Riportella. He hit in all six games that he played in this week, recorded three multi-hit games, and added two stolen bases to his team-leading total of five.
Who is not
- The second tandem-stating pitcher. All five of this week's losses, as well as four of the team's five blown saves, went to the second tandem starter.
- The whole team with two outs and runners in scoring position. 9-for-60 (.150 average).
- Matt Arburr. He was 1-for-11 this week with nine strikeouts. His season average stands at .172.
- Jon Edwards. He was 4-for-19, all singles, with a .210 average for the week.
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