The Palm Beach Cardinals Report: 04/09/08

Beat reporter Herb Uzzi's update on the 2008 season of the Palm Beach Cardinals of the Florida State League (A-Advanced). Daryl Jones is one of the hot hitters out of the gate for the 5-1 club.

Record: 5-1 week, 5-1 season

Longest Streak: W4


Manager Gaylen Pitts and the Palm Beach Cardinals stormed out of the gates in 2008 with a 5-1 start, including an opening-series, "home and home" sweep of their venue roommates, the Jupiter Hammerheads. 


The Cardinals, who sit alone atop the Florida State League East Division, have done most of their damage on the road, sporting a 4-1 record as the away team.




Palm Beach's early surge has undoubtedly been led by their pitching staff.  The Cardinals have allowed only 14 earned runs in the first six games. 


Former first-round pick Mark McCormick started the second game of the season and showed no ill effects from an arm injury that kept him sidelined much of last season.  Matched up against Jupiter's Jeff Allison, McCormick pitched three innings without allowing an earned run.  The right-hander, who departed after reaching his pitch count of 60, exhibited excellent arm strength, reaching 94 mph on the radar gun with his fastball.  


As expected, the Cardinals staff has been bolstered by their relievers.  In the season's second game against the Hammerheads, the bullpen, led by three perfect innings from Brad Furnish, retired 15 consecutive batters to preserve the win.  Josh Dew and Kenny Maiques, who comprise the back end of the Cardinals pen, have combined for three saves in the team's first five wins. 


New role?


Maiques, owner of the Quad Cities' single-season saves mark, closed out the first game of the season, but suffered an erratic outing the following night.  Maiques entered the game in the ninth inning with a 6-2 lead and walked four batters, one with the bases loaded, while recording only two outs.  Josh Dew came into the game and induced Jupiter's Dante Brinkley into an inning-ending groundout to earn the save.  The Cardinals next, and only other, save opportunity belonged to Dew, who capitalized with a two-inning, one hit performance. 


Who's hot


Daryl Jones, OF: Jones is hitting .391 (9-for-23) on the young season and belted the Cardinals' first home run of the season in Tuesday night's 9-0 thrashing of Daytona.  The speedster stole two bases without being caught. 


Tony Cruz, C/3B: Cruz leads the Cardinals with six RBI and also has two doubles.  Cruz made his debut at catcher, which may eventually become his full-time position.


Marco Gonzalez, RP:  Gonzalez, who worked four perfect innings in relief this week, has assumed the set-up duties for Josh Dew. 


Slow starts


Nick Derba, C: The Cardinals' opening-day backstop has gone hitless in his first 14 at-bats to start the season. 


Tommy Pham, OF: After a standout spring training, Pham, the Cardinals' two-hole hitter, is hitting only .227 and has struck out nine times, second-highest in the Florida State League. 


The Week Ahead


The Cardinals play two more games at Daytona before returning home to start a stretch of 14-straight games at the friendly confines of Roger Dean Stadium.  Palm Beach closes out the week with three-game sets against Brevard County and Daytona, respectively.



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