The Johnson City Cardinals finished the week (Sunday through Saturday) with a record of 3-5 to take their overall record to 22-28. The team had eight games in six days scheduled this week, including four games in two nights against the Western Division leading Elizabethton Twins. One of those games was a nine-inning continuation of a rain-suspended game from July 24. The first day of the "week", Sunday, was a scheduled off day. All eight games were against teams with a better record.
The Cardinals are currently in third place in the five-team Western Division of the Appalachian League – fifteen and half games behind the Elizabethton Twins and five games behind the Kingsport Mets. As of Sunday morning, the offense maintained its third place position in the nine-team league in batting average (.264) despite hitting .256 and below their season average for the second week in a row. The Cardinal hitters rank between third and sixth in all offensive categories except doubles (seventh) and triples (eighth).
The pitching staff, as a group, struggled early in the week but then put together very good back-to-back games against the Devil Rays. The team earned run average (ERA) for the week was 5.48, which led to a team average of above four for the first time since week six. As of Sunday morning, the team's 4.03 ERA ranked third best while their walks-plus-hits per inning pitched (WHIP) of 1.42 was fifth best. The Cardinals added to their lead league of seven shutouts by recording one this week. It was the fourth week in row that the staff had recorded a shutout. The pitching continues to suffer through the league's most unearned runs (fifty-eight) although they only had to endure five more this week on nineteen errors. The staff is now tied for last place in the league in walks allowed.
I was able to attend six of the eight games in person. I attended both games against the Kingsport Mets and all four games against the Elizabethton Twins. Those observations provide the basis for this report.
The roster has again undergone some changes as the Cardinals continue to transfer players between minor league levels much more frequently than in past years. Listed below is a summary of those transactions for the last seven days.
#49-1B/DH-Osvaldo Morales promoted from the Gulf Coast League Cardinals.
#46-C-Ivan Castro promoted from the Gulf Coast League Cardinals.
#46-3B/C-Wilmer Alvarado was released by the St. Louis Cardinals.
The injury bug has hit the team hard this week with two .300 hitters seeing no action against the best teams in the division.
RP-Steve Hill – undergoing elbow strengthening and stretching exercises
SS-Melvin Puello – elbow ligament replacement surgery
C-Garrett Bussiere – post-concussion syndrome
SP-Matt North – assigned to GCL Cardinals for rehab
OF-Beau Riportella (.323) – wrist
OF-Adron Chambers (.301) – left knee
All twenty-eight of the "active" players on the roster saw action this week, although Casey Mulligan (.270) sat out the last four games due to a bruised left wrist.
As a reminder, here are the current tandem starter pairings when doubleheaders are not involved:
The Week in Review
Forty-Three: After two
days of rest, I expected the Cardinals to look good against the Kingsport Mets
In the fifth, Arredondo gave up a lead-off double and then hit the next batter in the arm with the first pitch as the batter leaned over the plate for a sacrifice bunt attempt. A discussion between Almaraz and the home plate ump was to no avail and the runner took first base. A second double and a swinging strikeout put runners at second and third with one out. Almaraz, in a 1-0 game, pulled the infield in and Arredondo got exactly what everyone hoped for, a sharp groundball to shortstop Pete Kozma that looked to be an easy out at home. Kozma fielded the ball cleanly but then dropped the ball as he was going quickly from the glove to the throwing hand. That made it a 2-0 game with runners on first and third. It was Arredondo's last pitch and Kozma's fourth error in five games.
The Cardinals went on to lose the game, their fifth loss in the last six games, by a score of 8-2. Second tandem starter Nick Additon had an uncharacteristically poor outing. Additon's outing was his shortest since June 27, lasting only two thirds of an inning. Additon was not spotting his fastball well and was struggling with throwing his breaking pitches for strikes. Additon gave up five earned runs and six hits, including two doubles, with his thirty-five pitches. Addition is not a groundball pitcher and there is a very fine line between getting a fly ball and double on his fastballs. When he is mixing in his off speed pitches for strikes, he can be a very effective strikeout pitcher.
Reliever Ray Silva was the best of the four relievers used, winning his third pitcher of the game award this year. Silva threw thirteen pitches and struck out two over one inning pitched. The Mets center fielder struck out swinging against Silva in the seventh while needing a home run to complete hitting for the cycle.
Two Cardinals recorded multi-hit games. Center fielder Travis Mitchell was 2-for-3 with two runs-batted-in and his sixth stolen base of the year. Mitchell played well in the outfield as well, tracking down several hard hit balls both in the air and on the ground. Second baseman Mike Folli was the position player of the game for a team leading seventh time this year. Folli was 3-for-4 with a double. All three of his hits were solid line drives. The switch hitter was 1-for-2 right-handed and 2-for-2 left-handed in the game. For the season after the game, Folli was hitting .156 right-handed and .355 left-handed.
Beau Riportella missed his fifth game in a row due to a sore wrist and Adron Chambers missed his second game in a row due to a sore left knee. Third baseman Nick Vera extended his hit streak to three games.
Tuesday's game against
Rosales threw just fifty-five pitches, thirty-five for strikes, over his five innings. Rosales allowed no hits, two walks, and one hit batter but faced just one over the minimum by picking-off one and inducing a double play. Rosales easily won his second pitcher-of-the-game award since being called up from the GCL Cardinals in week seven.
Several Cardinals had offensive games of note. Pete Kozma was 2-for-5 although both
singles could have easily been outs.
The first was an 0-2 pitch chopper barely over the pitcher's head and the
second was a 1-0 pitch bloop between the second baseman and the right
fielder. Rob Sanzillo and Roberto Espinoza each had their first two-hit games for
Games Forty-Five and Forty-Six:
Wednesday's doubleheader in
Game One (Nine Innings) – Continuation of Suspended Game from July 24 (Week Seven): As a reminder, here is how I documented the start of the game.
Tuesday's game in
Javier allowed four hits and two walks over four and one third innings but had loaded the bases when the game was delayed. Rain likely contributed to the two walks in the fifth that loaded the bases.
The Cardinals could only muster three hits against
Twins ace, David Bromberg.
It was Omar Javier's turn to pitch so he resumed as starter. Amazingly enough, the game resumed with a first-pitch bases-loaded double play. Unfortunately for the Cardinals, the game didn't end after five innings as a 1-0 win though, as the Mets went on to score seven runs in the seventh off of Javier and win by a score of 7-1. Javier threw thirty-eight pitches to twelve batters in the seventh inning, allowing eight hits including three doubles and a home run. Reliever Joel Pichardo was the pitcher of the game, allowing no runs and a double through two innings. Pichardo threw just nineteen pitches and all three of his strikes in the ninth resulted in outs.
Third baseman Casey Mulligan and first baseman Matt Arburr were each 2-for-2 in the resumed part of the game but center fielder Travis Mitchell won the position player of the game award, his fourth. Mitchell was 1-for-1 on July 24 and was 1-for-3 with a very nice bunt single on August 8.
Game Two (Seven Innings): This was the debut for first baseman Osvaldo Morales (0-for-2 with a run) and was the tenth game in a row with at least one Cardinal error (Vera's fifth on the year and one of his six errors this week). The first three innings were scoreless but the Twins scored first against starter Tyler Leach. The Cardinals never led and went on to lose by a score of 5-2.
Leach gave up a one-out walk in the fourth and then faced the league's leading home run hitter, Ozzie Lewis. Leach got a called first strike and then a swinging second strike against Lewis but Lewis' second swing hit catcher Casey Mulligan on the left catching hand on the follow through. Mulligan had to come out of the game with a bruised left (catching) hand and three pitches later, Lewis hit a deep home run to center field (430 feet to the fence) to give the Twins a 2-0 lead. Leach threw seventy pitches in his five innings but two of his three walks ended up scoring as he left the game with a 3-0 deficit.
Reliever Ray Silva won his fourth pitcher-of-the-game award this year by being the only pitcher not involved in allowing any runs and while recording two strikeouts. Center fielder Travis Mitchell and second baseman Mike Folli were both 2-for-3 but Folli won his eighth position player-of-the-game award. Folli added a walk and hit two very solid singles, one off the base of the right field wall. In fact, Folli would have had a run batted in the third that would have given the Cardinals a 1-0 lead had Mitchell decided to slide into home instead of intentionally running into the catcher with his shoulder.
Games Forty-Seven and Forty-Eight: A
Thursday night doubleheader against the Twins in
Game One: Starter Senger Peralta threw thirty-five pitches to ten batters in the first inning, allowing five runs on six hits, and two walks. The game was essentially over at that point but Peralta was allowed to continue into the fourth inning for the highest pitch count I have seen this year (seventy-nine). The Cardinals were outscored 11-5 and were out hit . The batters looked off balance and overmatched as the Twins lefty-starter Henry Reyes recorded ten strikeouts.
Nick Vera and Jon Edwards each had notable offensive games. Edwards was 2-for-3 with a monstrous two-out two-run home run to left field in the fourth. Edwards crushed a 2-0 pitch so high and far that the left fielder never moved. Vera edged out Edwards for player-of-the-game honors by adding a walk and a run to the exact same line that Edwards recorded. Vera's home run barely cleared the left field wall but it came on a 1-2 pitch after fouling off three consecutive 1-2 pitches. Vera's eighth award of the year tied him with Mike Folli for the most on the team. Vera extended his hitting streak to six games. It was Vera's second home run this week.
Reliever Matt Spade won pitcher-of-the-game honors, his first of the year, by being the only one of three pitchers not allowing any runs. Spade threw eighteen pitches and eleven strikes during his one inning pitched. Spade recorded two consecutive called strikeouts after allowing a couple of hard hit liners, one for a double and one for an out.
The Cardinals loaded the bases on a single, an error, and a walk and then Matt Arburr hit a grand slam to tie the game 6-6. The few Cardinal fans that made the short trip to Elizabethton were quickly awakened from their slumbers. Eduardo Sanchez pitched great over the last two-plus innings, despite some questionable calls behind the plate, and the Cardinals got the ever-exciting suicide squeeze bunt executed to perfection in the top of the ninth. Matt Arburr got a leadoff walk, Pete Kozma scored the winning run - as a pinch runner for Arburr, Travis Mitchell got a bloop single, and Mike Folli got the bunt in play. Cardinals win 7-6!!!!
It was a long game for nine innings and was a game of "firsts" on several fronts. Catcher Ivan Castro made his debut from the GCL Cardinals and shortstop Hector Alvarez gave Pete Kozma some rest with is debut in the field and at the plate. The lead changed hands four times and starter Jose Mateo threw the most pitches I have seen in one game this year (eighty-seven). Three Cardinal errors in the third contributed to two unearned runs. It was the sixteenth game this year that the Cardinals had committed three or more errors.
Arburr easily won the player-of-the-game award by going 2-for-3 with two runs scored, a double, a grand slam home run, and a walk that became the game-winning run. Arburr's double was on a first pitch curve ball and his home run was on a 0-1 fastball. Castro made a nice debut by going 2-for-4 with a double, a run batted in, and a runs scored. Mike Folli was 0-for-4 but his perfectly executed suicide-squeeze play on a 1-0 pitch in the ninth was also noteworthy.
Reliever and closer Eduardo Sanchez won his fifth pitcher-of-the-game award in just nine games since being called up from the GCL Cardinals. Sanchez came into a 6-6 game to relieve Joel Pichardo in the bottom of the seventh of a scheduled seven-inning game. Runners were on first and second with one out. Sanchez struck out the Appy League home run leader on three pitches with a called third strike and then retired the next batter on a one pitch pop-up to left fielder Joe Hage to get out of the jam. Sanchez pitched a scoreless eighth inning in a 6-6 ball game and a scoreless ninth inning in a 7-6 ball game. Sanchez loaded the bases with one out in true closer style in the eighth but made an athletic leaping grab of a one-hopper headed over his head to get a force out at home and then followed that with a swinging strikeout to end the threat. Sanchez retired all three batters he faced in the ninth on nine pitches and seven strikes.
After having pretty disappointing appearances from four of the tandem
starters (Additon, Diapoules, Javier, and Peralta) over the first six games this
week, it was time to turn things around.
The starters did just that as they pitched all of the innings in the
first of two games in
First tandem starter Nick Additon garnered my vote for the pitcher-of-the-game award by going five innings while allowing no runs, four hits, and two walks while recording nine strikeouts. Additon just barely out-pitched second tandem-starter Jose Arredondo, who allowed no runs, two hits, and three walks while recording five strikeouts. Additon got his second win of the year (2-0) and Arredondo got his first save of the year.
Eight of the nine Cardinals starters had at least one base hit with three having multi-hit games. Second baseman Mike Folli broke out of an 0-for-8 with six strikeouts slump by going 3-for-5 with a double, a run scored, and a run batted in. Center fielder Travis Mitchell was 2-for-4 with a run batted in and his second outfield assist at home plate this week (fourth at home plate this week for the team). Shortstop Pete Kozma won his first position player-of-the-game award by going 2-for-5 with a double and his first professional home run. Third baseman Nick Vera extended his hitting streak to eight games and continues to hit twice as well on the road as he hits at home (.409 road vs. .203 home).
Game Fifty: The
second game of the Devil Rays series ended up being the Cardinals third win in a
row. The tandem starters again
pitched very well as
First tandem starter Mark Diapoules garnered my
vote for the pitcher-of-the-game award by going five innings while allowing one
run, two hits, and one walk while recording eight strikeouts. Diapoules just barely out-pitched second
tandem-starter Andres Rosales, who allowed no runs, three hits, and two walks
while recording eight strikeouts.
Rosales got his first win of the year and closer Eduardo Sanchez came in
for the eleventh inning to get his fourth save. The four tandem starters recorded an
amazing thirty strikeouts in nineteen innings against
Six of the nine Cardinals starters had at least one base hit with four having multi-hit games. Shortstop Pete Kozma 3-for-5 with a two-out run batted in. It is still early but Kozma's lefty/righty splits are interesting. Kozma is hitting .077 against left-handers and .357 against right-handers. Left fielder Joey Hage broke out of a two-game 0-for slump by going 2-for-5 with a run scored. Catcher Ivan Castro was 2-for-5 with a run scored. First baseman Osvaldo Morales won his first position player-of-the-game award by going 2-for-4 with a double, a walk, and the game-winning two-run home run in the eleventh inning. Third baseman Nick Vera extended his hitting streak to nine games.
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, Jose Mateo, Omar Javier, Senger Peralta, Nick Additon, Jose Arredondo, Andres Rosales, and Mark Diapoules.
The tandem starters threw seventy-two percent of the sixty nine innings pitched this week and produced a collective 1.55 walks-plus-hits per inning pitched (WHIP) in the process. Two starters recorded WHIPs of less than one, one with two earned runs over eight and one third innings pitched and one with no runs over ten innings pitched.
Jose Arredondo recorded a 0.96 WHIP last week over
two games and was a close runner-up this week to last week's runner-up. Andres Rosales allowed his first
four walks but allowed only three hits this week in ten innings pitched (0.70
WHIP) and is a first time winner of the tandem-starter pitcher-of-the-week award
As a group, the pen threw nineteen and one third
innings while allowing seven earned runs this week. Two of the seven relievers had a very
good week. Eduardo Sanchez had a
win, a loss, a save, and a very emotional outing against Elizabethton that
triggered a three-game win streak.
Eduardo posted a 1.4 WHIP and allowed his first two earned runs this year
Starting position players eligible for selection: LF-Joey Hage, SS-Pete Kozma, 3B-Nick Vera, 1B-Matt Arburr, RF-Jon Edwards, CF-Travis Mitchell, 2B-Mike Folli, C-Roberto Espinoza, and DH-Rob Sanzillo. Five of the nine starters posted batting averages above the team's season average of .264.
Folli was 9-for-34 (.265) with the most doubles (two). Vera was 9-for-33 (.273) with the most runs (five), home runs (two), and total bases (seventeen). Kozma was 8-for-29 (.276). Arburr was 7-for-22 (.318) with the most runs-batted-in (six). This week's position player of the week, for the second time this year, was Travis Mitchell. Mitchell was 10-for-27 (.370) with three stolen bases and several nicely executed bunt singles. Mitchell ended the week with a three game hitting streak.
Reserve players eligible for selection: SS/2B-Hector Alvarez, 1B/DH-Osvaldo Morales, 1B/3B/C-Casey Mulligan, and C-Ivan Castro. Two of the reserves this week posted a batting average above .300. Last week's reserve player of the week Casey Mulligan, despite being out due to injury for four games for the second week in a row, was 3-for-8 (.375). The newest member of the Johnson City Cardinals has won the reserve player of the week award for week nine. Catcher Ivan Castro, here only for three games after being called up from the GCL Cardinals, was 5-for-13 (.385) with two runs scored, a double, and a run batted in.
League Leaders in Hitting
League Leaders in Pitching
Arredondo – tied for ninth in wins (4).
Additon – tied for tenth in strikeouts (47).
Sanchez – tied for sixth in saves (4).
Mayes – first in games (18).
Gonzalez – tied for fourth in games (16).
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