The Palm Beach Cardinals Report: 07/23/08

Seven is not a lucky number when it reflects the length of your current losing streak. The St. Louis Cardinals' Florida State League entry had a week to forget, going 0-7 and falling from first place into fourth.



Coming off a 5-1 week during which they had a five-game winning streak, the Palm Beach Cardinals of the Florida State League East Division were in first place, looking to pad their lead.


Instead, they headed in the 180 degree direction, losing seven straight and counting.


It began as the Cardinals scored just six runs over four games at Sarasota (Reds). Despite getting good pitching in two of the contests, Palm Beach was swept out of town. At Dunedin (Blue Jays), the situation actually worsened as the Cardinals pitching staff was ripped for 32 runs over three games, all losses.


Day by Day


The week began on Wednesday with a solid start by Brandon Dickson that went for naught. Tied 1-1 with two outs in the eighth inning, the Reds pushed across two runs to take the lead. Rain ended the game at that point as Dickson took the complete-game loss.


On Thursday, starter Brad Furnish and Blake King were touched up for nine earned runs, and down seven tallies after four innings, the Cardinals did not score again. Friday brought a continuation of the lack of offense as Palm Beach managed just two hits and one run in seven innings against an opposing starter that lugged an ERA of seven into the game.


Sarasota completed the disappointing four-game sweep on Saturday in a closely-fought contest.  Cardinals starter Mark Diapoules took the tough loss despite allowing just one run and striking out nine over six innings. Palm Beach threatened in the ninth, scoring once, but fell by a 2-1 margin.


Sunday brought a new town and a new opponent, the Dunedin Blue Jays, but the same result, another loss. The Jays padded their league-best second-half record at the Cardinals' expense. The Palm Beach hitters found their bats, scoring more runs in that game than in the entire four games in Sarasota. Still they fell short as the pitching staff yielded a ten-spot. Coming off 13 scoreless innings the previous week, Shaun Garceau had allowed only one run through five innings. Then the roof collapsed on him and reliever Elvis Hernandez in the sixth. Matt Arburr homered and stole a base in the losing cause. Charlie Kingrey also went deep.


Game two against Dunedin on Monday started badly and went downhill from there. The Jays scored in every inning early as the Cards and Brandon Dickson found themselves down 5-0 after three. In the fifth, the Jays plated nine more against Dickson and reliever Eddie Degerman. The offense managed just one meaningless run in the ninth to end yet another disappointing day at the ballpark, on the wrong end of a 14-1 score.


The Cardinals seventh game in seven days on Tuesday was also their seventh consecutive loss. The Jays got out ahead quickly, scoring four runs in the first two innings against Brad Furnish. They chased the starter with two more runs in the fifth. The offense was again MIA, with just four hits and no runs. They lost, 8-0.


Where they stand


The Cardinals are 14-16 in the second-half standings in the FSL East, in fourth place, 3.5 games behind the St. Lucie Mets and Daytona Cubs. Overall, the first-half champion Cardinals are 56-44, 3.5 games ahead of their nearest FSL East competition and second-best in the full league.


Who's Hot


Outfielder Charlie Kingrey continues to swing a hot bat as he has hit in seven of his last ten games. Last week, he went 8-for-25 (.320) with two home runs and three RBI. Kingrey is batting .303 since joining Palm Beach.


Outfielder Daryl Jones went 7-for-21 (.333) on the week, raising his season average to .317.  


Third baseman Brian Cartie went 6-for-20 (.300) during this period.


Since converting from catching to pitching, Casey Mulligan has quietly posted a stellar 0.82 ERA after pitching one scoreless frame Tuesday night.


Who's Not


With a losing streak like this one, I could probably feature almost the entire team.


First baseman Brandon Buckman came off the DL Friday for his first action since late June. He went 3 for his first 20 (.150), all singles, as he unsuccessfully tries to shake the rust off.


In four July starts, Brad Furnish has yielded 19 runs in 20.1 innings for an ERA of 9.63.


Brandon Dickson has given up 12 runs in his last 11.2 innings, both losses. The opposing hitters have been all over the bases, collecting 19 hits and four walks.


Since his promotion from Quad Cities, Blake King has a 7.84 ERA in seven games. In a continuing pattern, he has fanned 16, but walked 11 in 10.1 FSL innings.


Catcher Nick Derba can't buy a hit. Since his last safety two weeks ago on July 9, he has gone 0-for-24, dropping his batting average down to .122 on the season.


Leadoff man Tyler Henley went 5-for-30 (.167) this week.


Who's on the Move


After being promoted all the way up to Triple-A Memphis, lefty Tyler Norrick was returned to Palm Beach on Friday. Norrick lost his only game while with the Redbirds despite allowing just one run over four innings. His return to Palm Beach was less positive as he was charged with six earned runs in five innings of Friday's defeat.


On the Mend


Right-handed starter David Kopp continues his rehab assignment with the Gulf Coast League Cardinals, having allowed two runs over 3.2 innings in two games.


Pitcher Gary Daley, Jr. continues to struggle mightily in his rehab assignment with the GCL Cardinals. The 22-year-old yielded seven runs in just 1/3 inning over two outings last week. In ten GCL games, his ERA is 27.00.


Florida State League leaders


Jones is third in average (.317), second in on-base percentage (.399), seventh in slugging (.463) and tied for tenth in stolen bases (17).


Tony Cruz is sixth in RBIs (58) though he has been out of the lineup since last Tuesday the 16th.


Brandon Dickson's season ERA is up from 2.95 to 3.62 over the last week, but is still tenth-lowest.


Dickson and Brad Furnish are among those tied for eighth in wins with seven.


Closer Francisco Samuel is in a three-way tie for second in the league with his 19 saves despite spending the week as the Maytag repairman.

Team stats and rankings


The hitters' batting average fell to .255, now fifth in the 12-team league, while their slugging mark dropped all the way from second to sixth at .374. They still have the third-fewest strikeouts in the FSL but dipped to fourth in runs scored.


The pitchers' ERA grew from 3.55 to 3.77 and went from fourth-best in the league to seventh. Their 41 saves are still tops. In the good and bad news department, the staff maintained their FSL lead in both strikeouts and walks issued.


Up Next


The Cardinals try to break their skid as they finish the series at Dunedin (Blue Jays) with a day game on Wednesday. They return home to entertain Brevard County (Brewers) for three from Thursday through Saturday. After a much-needed day off Sunday, Palm Beach heads to Daytona for three against the FSL East-leading Cubs.



Brian Walton can be reached via email at


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