This report covers the period from Wednesday, August 6 through Tuesday, August 12.
After a 4-4 week previously, the Palm Beach Cardinals won three consecutive series en route to a 5-2 record last week along with one rainout. They carry a three-game win streak into Wednesday.
In the second half, the Cards remain in fourth place in the Florida State League East Division at 26-24, but cut the distance to the top in half, to just 2.5 games behind leader Daytona (Cubs).
Day by Day
The week began with game two of the home series against those first-place Cubs from Daytona. Though he allowed a run in the first, Shaun Garceau kept the Cardinals close until they broke through in the fifth and sixth and went on to win 4-1. Batting third, second baseman Daniel Descalso was on base three times with two hits and a walk while new arrival Pete Kozma had his first extra-base hit in the FSL, a double.
On Thursday, the Cardinals fell short in their attempt for a sweep as Daytona won, 5-1. Tyler Herron wasn't sharp, allowing nine baserunners but only two runs in 4.1 innings. Antone DeJesus had three of the offense's five hits and Nick Derba added two, including a double.
Friday brought a "road" doubleheader of two seven inning contests at the Jupiter facility against the Hammerheads. Game one was an old-fashioned pitching duel, with Brad Furnish and the Cards coming out on top, 1-0. The lefty allowed just two hits, two walks and fanned four. Kozma singled, doubled and drove in the lone run.
The Hammerheads evened matters up by taking Friday's second game, 4-0. The offense managed just two hits in seven innings. Move along, there's nothing to see here…
Sunday meant the start of a road
trip to St. Lucie. The Cardinals offense awakened as they scored early and
often, waxing the Mets, 13-3. The run total was four more than
On Monday, the Cardinals clenched their third consecutive winning series as they took game two at St. Lucie, 5-1. Shaun Garceau had his second straight one-run outing, going seven innings. Quiet the entire game, the bats came alive in the top of the ninth to break a 1-1 tie. In addition to doubling earlier, Daniel Descalso's grand slam was the game winner. Luke Gorsett and Paul Vazquez each had three hits.
The final road match against the Mets on Tuesday was postponed by rain and will be made up as part of a doubleheader on Wednesday, August 20.
As an indication of the roster churn this season, the club's top six batters in terms of average are no longer with Palm Beach and the seventh-best is on the DL. That leaves Tyler Henley at .274 as the highest-average hitter on the active roster.
Despite only 131 at-bats, Matt Arburr's nine home runs lead all current and departed Cardinals this season. Daniel Descalso and Tony Cruz are next with eight long balls in almost three times as many at-bats as Arburr.
Mark Diapoules (2.74) and Tyler Herron (2.52) lead the staff in ERA. Each has 33 strikeouts, but Diapoules has 20 walks compared to only seven by Herron.
Daniel Descalso has a team-high 18 errors.
In his first 27 A-Advanced at-bats, Pete Kozma has just six hits for a .222 average, though three are doubles for a .333 SLG.
Another new arrival, Aaron Luna is even worse, going 1-for-12 (.083). It's still early.
Though he has actually improved his season average lately, catcher Nick Derba's average is still just .147.
Flirting with the Mendoza Line is Matt Arburr at .206. Arburr has fanned in almost exactly 1/3 of his at-bats (44 of 131).
Shaun Garceau has a nifty 3.14 ERA, but of concern are 44 walks compared to 48 strikeouts.
Who's on the Move
Outfielder Aaron Luna and pitcher Pete Parise were promoted from Quad Cities at the start of the week. Luna took Brandon Buckman's roster spot as he had been bumped up to Double-A Springfield while Parise replaced Elvis Hernandez on the active roster.
Starting pitcher Nick Addition was
also elevated from Quad Cities at the end of the week and despite a terrible
July, lefty Brad Furnish was promoted to
On the Mend
Right-handed starter David Kopp is out for the remainder of the season.
After not appearing for 2.5 weeks, reliever Gary Daley, Jr. made an appearance in his long-running rehab tour. He tossed a scoreless inning in the Gulf Coast League, and did not walk anyone.
Starter Tyler Norrick remains on the disabled list with a shoulder strain.
Coming off a blown save, a win and a loss in his last two outings, Elvis "The Mosquito" Hernandez went onto the disabled list last Wednesday.
Catcher/third baseman Tony Cruz, currently on the DL with a ligament sprain in his left hand, may be sidelined for the rest of the 2008 season.
Outfielder Charlie Kingrey hasn't played since Wednesday, August 6.
Having been out of the lineup since July 16, Tony Cruz finally fell out of the top ten in RBIs. Now that Daryl Jones has been promoted, none of the offensive performers have been around long enough or done well enough to rank in the top ten.
Same with the pitching staff now that Brandon Dickson is gone, other than closer Francisco Samuel. He is in a tie for the league lead with 26 saves.
Team stats and rankings
The hitters' batting average dropped one point to .256, falling back to sixth in the 12-team league, while their slugging mark remained in seventh, dropping one point to .370. They still have the third-fewest strikeouts in the FSL and remain fifth in runs scored.
The pitchers' ERA gained back most of the loss from the previous week, improving to 3.81, and from ninth to sixth in the FSL. Their 48 saves are still tops in the league by seven. The staff maintained their FSL lead in both strikeouts and walks issued. The walks lead is substantial, 55 walks more than the second-wildest club on a total of 493.
Six games are on the schedule for
the upcoming week. On Wednesday, the Cardinals return home to welcome
Brian Walton can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org
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