The Palm Beach Cardinals Report: 09/02/08

The St. Louis Cardinals' Florida State League club enters the post-season after taking the first-half FSL East Division flag.

Recap

 

This report covers the period from Wednesday, August 27 through Sunday, August 31, one that was incredibly busy for the Palm Beach Cardinals.

 

Eight games were on the schedule over the final five days, the final contests of the 2008 regular season.  The first three were home games with St. Lucie, including a Wednesday doubleheader, then five contests were supposed to be packed into three weekend days at Vero Beach, with the final regular season game on Sunday.

 

After a 3-3 week previously, the Cardinals had an odd week, winning the first and last games, but losing four in the middle, for a 2-4 finish. They also had three rained out as one of the lost Saturday games was added to Sunday, but the new double-header was rained out, too.   

 

The final standings

 

In the second half, the Cards finished in fourth place in the Florida State League East Division at 33-34, 7 1/2 games behind the Daytona Cubs, their first-round playoff opponent.

 

Overall, taking both halves into account, the Cardinals' 75-62 (.547) mark would have put them ½ game behind Daytona in the East. Including both divisions, Palm Beach had the fourth-best record of the 12 FSL teams.

 

Day by day

 

The week began with a Wednesday doubleheader at Port St. Lucie against the Mets.

 

Nick Additon owned game one, allowing just an unearned run over six innings, lowering his FSL ERA in the process to 0.50. Offensively, Matt Arburr had a pair of doubles and scored twice, Mike Folli singled, tripled, scored three times and drove in two and in an oddity, Pete Kozma picked up two RBI without the benefit of a hit via sac flies as the Cardinals won, 9-1. Even better, the Mets were eliminated from the playoffs in the process.

 

Game two did not go as well for the hitters, as the Mets prevailed by a 2-1 score. Palm Beach managed just two hits over the seven-inning contest.

 

On Thursday, the Cards final regular season home game ended in another loss as the Mets prevailed by an identical 2-1 tally. This time, Casey Mulligan, Samuel Freeman and Francisco Samuel combined for five shutout innings of relief, but the Palm Beach bats were again silenced. Kozma doubled and scored on an RBI single by Tyler Henley in the first but the entire club managed just three hits over the remaining eight innings.

 

What could be the final games played at the venerable Vero Beach facility began with a Friday doubleheader against the home Rays.

 

Mark Diapoules had a rough outing in game one, as he was charged with seven runs (four earned) in five innings en route to an 8-1 defeat. Diapoules committed an error and the Rays swiped three bases against he and catcher Nick Derba. The offense again delivered only three hits with Henley collecting the lone RBI.

 

Game two became Palm Beach's fourth-consecutive loss as Vero Beach won, 6-3. Newcomer Jose Mateo pitched the entire game with five of the six runs earned over his six innings pitched. The offense made their five hits count, as Antone DeJesus had two and scored once while Kozma plated two.     

 

The two clubs would only get in one game of Saturday's scheduled doubleheader. After being down 4-1, the Cards rallied to defeat Vero, 6-4, in what would be their final regular-season contest. Derba drove in three with a pair of home runs while Henley had two hits, including a two-run homer.  Francisco Samuel picked up his 29th save.

 

The rained-out game two of Saturday's doubleheader was to be tacked onto Sunday's finale, but neither game could be played.

 

Who's Hot

 

Outfielder and leadoff man Antone DeJesus has been on fire. He is 16 for his last 33, a .485 mark, but scored only six times as the RBI men aren't bringing him in.  

 

Moved down in the order to the number four and five hole, Tyler Henley has four RBI in his last four games and is batting .313 in his last ten contests.

 

Reliever Pete Parise has four straight scoreless outings, yielding just one hit and two walks over 5 2/3 innings pitched.

 

Who's Not

 

Batting second, shortstop Pete Kozma continues to struggle at the dish, going 2-for-15 (.133) on the week. He did drive in four runs at least.

 

Batting third and clean up, Steven Hill went 7-for-35 (.200) and has 11 strikeouts in his last ten games.

 

In three games, nine at-bats, Colby Rasmus went hitless.

 

Oliver Marmol is just 2-for-28 (.071) with nine strikeouts over his last ten games.

 

Outfielder Charlie Kingrey went 1-for-11 (.091) on the week.

 

Shaun Garceau has allowed 19 baserunners and nine runs in his last 11 innings, yet still managed to win one of the two games.

 

Mark Diapoules is even colder, having yielded 21 baserunners and 12 earned runs in his last 8 2/3 innings. He had won three straight prior to the two bad losses. The Cardinals need both these starters to rebound to have a chance in the playoffs.

 

On the Mend

 

Reliever Gary Daley, Jr. made one Gulf Coast League appearance this week. In one-third inning, he walked three and was charged with one run. His GCL ERA rose to 24.39.

 

Tyler Norrick (shoulder), Elvis Hernandez, Tony Cruz (hand) and David Kopp (shoulder) finished the regular season on the disabled list.

 

They were joined by starting pitcher Mark McCormick and swingman Eddie Degerman last week.

 

On the Move

 

Pitcher Jose Mateo was promoted from Johnson City to take Degerman's place and Samuel Freeman also made the same jump when McCormick was DLed.

 

Outfielder Aaron Luna, mired in a slump and having lost any momentum gained when at Quad Cities, was moved over to the Gulf Coast League Cardinals. Top prospect Colby Rasmus, in a rehab assignment from Triple-A Memphis, was activated to replace him.  

 

Florida State League leaders

 

With all the injuries and roster churn, none of the offensive players finished in the top ten in the league in any major statistical category.

 

Francisco Samuel was the lone pitching leader, tied for the league lead with 29 saves.

 

On Wednesday, manager Gaylen Pitts became the Cardinals' all-time winningest manager. With his 145th victory with the club, Pitts passed Ron "Pop" Warner, now with Double-A Springfield.

 

Team stats and rankings

 

The Cardinals hitters' batting average dropped again to .252, with the club finishing ninth in the 12-team league, while their slugging mark stayed ninth, at .365. They ended with the fifth-fewest strikeouts in the FSL but fell to seventh in runs scored.

 

The pitchers' ERA had steadily fallen to its final 3.86 mark, eighth in the FSL. Their 51 saves were tops in the league. The staff dropped to a tie for fifth in strikeouts and maintained their huge lead in an unpleasant category, walks issued.

 

Up Next

After opening on the road Tuesday night at Daytona Beach, Palm Beach's home games will be on Wednesday, and Thursday if required, in the best two-of-three first round against the Cubs. Daytona took the second-half FSL East crown by a half-game over the Jupiter Hammerheads.

Before the rainouts, the rotation was to be Nick Additon on Tuesday, Mark Diapoules next, and Shaun Garceau to pitch the deciding game if necessary on Thursday. However, since he did not pitch on Sunday as planned, Tyler Herron is getting the Tuesday start instead.

The Cardinals are making their third appearance in the last four years in the Florida State League playoffs, including their 2005 league championship season.

 

Brian Walton can be reached via email at brwalton@earthlink.net

 

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