The Palm Beach Cardinals Report: 04/23/08

Beat reporter Herb Uzzi's update on the 2008 season of the Palm Beach Cardinals of the Florida State League (A-Advanced). Isa Garcia is batting .417 on the season for the first-place club.

Record: 13-6 season, 5-2 week

Longest Streak: W4


Sometimes all a team needs to get back on track is a visit from one of the league's lesser teams.  Luckily for the Palm Beach Cardinals, the 2-17 St. Lucie Mets were on the schedule this week, and Palm Beach discarded them with a three-game sweep to wrap up another fine week.


The Cardinals played to a 5-2 record and retook sole possession of first place in the Florida State League's East Division in convincing fashion.  Their current four-game winning streak has them at 13-6, tops in all of the FSL.  They have opened their lead in the East to two games over Brevard County and Jupiter.


The Cardinals, amidst a long 14-day home stand, started the week by splitting the final two games of a three-game set with the Daytona Cubs.  Both games were well-played defensively and on the mound, as the clubs combined to score only four runs in both. 


Next, the Cards split a couple "away" games against Jupiter, their Roger Dean cohabitants.  The second game, a 12-5 Cardinals win, featured Steven Hill's second homer of the season, a two-run laser beam that found its way over the left-field fence.  University of Houston product Isa Garcia made the most of a spot start at DH by knocking in a career-high four runs in the victory.


It wasn't until St. Lucie came in that the Cardinals hit their stride, and finished out the week as the league's leader.


McCormick 100 percent?


First-round pick Mark McCormick has continued to impress this season.  Much has been made of his injury history, particularly surgery a few years ago that cost him most of last season, but he has shown absolutely no reason to doubt his health.

The 24-year-old pitched seven scoreless innings this week, lowering his ERA to an astounding 0.56. He has allowed only one earned run in his 16 innings of work this season.  Due to the tandem-starter system, McCormick hasn't yet recorded a win, but he hasn't been charged with a loss either.  His strikeout-to-walk ratio (5:4) isn't great, but when his pitch count increases, he should be able to correct that. 


New faces


The Cardinals have made a few transactions over the past week, including saying so-long to closer Josh Dew.  Dew was called up from Palm Beach to Double-A Springfield last Wednesday.  Jon Mikrut was sent down to Palm Beach to make room for Dew.


Jim Rapoport was placed on the disabled list this week as well, and Palm Beach called-up catcher David Carpenter from the Quad Cities to fill the roster spot. Pitcher Gary Daley also headed to the DL, and again the Cardinals called upon a Quad Cities player in Francisco Samuel to take his spot.


Lastly, as expected, Mark Mulder and Brendan Ryan were called up to Springfield, as they continue their journey toward St. Louis.  


Who's Hot


Steven Hill, C/DH:  Hill continued his hot-hitting this week, going 8-for-24 and blasting his second homer of the season.  He also doubled twice and drove in six runs.


Brandon Buckman, 1B:  Buckman, Hill's middle-of-the-order companion, did some heavy lifting of his own this week.  Buckman drove in nine runs in seven games to pace the Cardinals offensive attack.


Isa Garcia, IF:  Garcia, seeing time at DH this week, really took advantage of his opportunity.  Garcia went 8-for-19 during this period, scoring four runs and knocking in five.  His big week included a couple of doubles and a triple.  Garcia now has a nine-game hit streak dating back to April 9th, and is hitting a robust .417.


Honorable mention


Infielder Donovan Solano just keeps on hitting.  Solano picked up seven more hits this week and his average for the season is a solid .310.  However, he has walked only four times in 71 at-bats entering Wednesday, which has affected his on-base percentage (.347).  Nevertheless, his steady bat coupled with his slick glove-work has made Solano stand out thus far in the season.


The Week Ahead


The Cardinals begin their week with an exciting test, as they finish out their home stand with a three-game set against Vero Beach. The Devil Rays will be starting rehabbing ace Scott Kazmir Wednesday night as he tries to make his way back to the major leagues.  Next, Palm Beach will travel to Port St. Lucie to battle the lowly Mets for three games, with another three-game series, this one away, against Vero Beach to follow.    


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