The Johnson City Cardinals struggled for the second straight week against the best competition that the Appy League can offer. They were swept for the second time this year by a first place team and suffered their first losing week of the year. They are currently in their longest losing streak of the year (4 games). The Cardinals are seven and one half games behind the Elizabethton Twins (24-8) and two and half games ahead of both the Greeneville Astros and Bristol White Sox (14-18).
I was able to attend three of the
seven games this week in person and those observations provide the basis for
this report. I attended the 3-game
home series against the Danville Braves in the middle of the week. I also listened to the internet
broadcast of the last two games of the week against
Roster and Injury Updates
Cale Johnson (1-0, 1.42 ERA), the
Cardinals 41st round pick in this year's June draft, moved up from FL this
week. Johnson is a 21-year-old
right handed tandem starting pitcher out of
Pablo Ortiz (2-0, 6.75 ERA), a
starting tandem pitcher, missed his scheduled start on Monday July 20 due to
weakness in his shoulder and elbow.
Ortiz is rehabbing in Jupiter, FL.
There is no specific time frame scheduled for his return to
Outfielder CJ Beatty (.191) has
been reduced to a designated/pinch hitter due to a bruised bone in his
elbow. An MRI indicated that no
surgery was needed and that rest and ice would get CJ healthy again. CJ was scheduled to start throwing again
on Saturday or Sunday in
Infielder Romulo Ruiz (.125, 3 HR) returned last week from a hamstring injury that kept him out of action for 12 games. This was after Ruiz missed all of the 2008 season due to labrum surgery. He returned to action at third base this week (3 games) however, he looked a bit rusty on Thursday night (one throwing error and a questionable decision on a fielder's choice). Ruiz will need to be slowly integrated back into a day-to-day fielding position according to the coaches.
Outfielder Michael Swinson (.315, 4 SB) had a wrist injury that forced him to miss 14 games. Swinson returned to the lineup on Friday night and extended his hit streak to 6 games (10-for-22, .454).
Second baseman Luis Mateo (.319, 3
HR, 5 SB, 18 games) suffered a hamstring injury on a single in the sixth inning
at Elizabethton on July 12. Mateo
Outfielder Rainel Rosario (.286, 7
doubles) suffered some kind of blood clot or cyst above his right knee that
forced him to return to Jupiter, FL for rehab. Hitting coach Johnny Rodriguez put a
two-week time frame on his possible return to
The Week in Review
Sunday: Reynier Gonzalez (2-3, 6.23 ERA) and
Andy Moss (0-1, 1.73 ERA) combined on a one hit 6-0 shutout of the Orioles on
Sunday afternoon. It was the league
leading 4th shutout of the season for
Monday night saw the first changes to the opening-day tandem starting pitching rotations. Pablo Ortiz was scheduled to start before Jesse Simpson however, the Cardinals sent Ortiz to rehab, switched Simpson to the primary starter, and added Cale Johnson on the back end of the tandem.
The game started as a duel of Jesse's as Bluefield starter Jesse Beal and Johnson City starter Jesse Simpson (1-0, 1.35 ERA) battled to a 1-1 tie through five innings. Beal held the Cardinals to three singles and one unearned run while Simpson allowed a double, single, and one earned run while striking out four. The Cardinals broke the game open in the eighth inning against the Oriole bullpen after Beal left the game. The Cardinals scored six runs in each of the last two innings to win 13-1. 2B Ted Obregon (.288) hit his first two Johnson City home runs and C Audry Perez (.214) hit a grand slam home run and a 2-RBI double. Cale Johnson (1-0, 1.42 ERA) cruised through three innings (two singles and Racobaldo outfield assist at home) but then ran into trouble at the start of the 9th inning (two singles and a walk). Reliever Aaron Terry (3-0, 3.00 ERA) used a SS Yunier Castillo (8 errors, 27 games) unassisted, line-drive, double play at second base and a swinging strikeout to close out the game and give the Cardinals a 2-1 series win over Bluefield.
Tuesday: The opening game of the series against
Wednesday: The middle game of the
It appeared that the Braves tied the game against second tandem starter Michael Thompson (0-1, 5.40 ERA) in the sixth inning when Matt Weaver doubled home Jordan Kreke. Many of the fans by the Cardinal dugout, including at least one in the Cardinal dugout on the third base side, noticed that Kreke missed third base as he was heading home. The appeal at third base was granted by home plate umpire Rich Gonzalez. The Cardinals kept the lead at 4-3 and CF Ross Smith (0 errors) got his second outfield assist of the game.
The Cardinals added to the lead in
the seventh with their great hitting duo of LF Rich Racobaldo (.410) and 1B Matt
Adams (.388). "Rock" singled on his
first pitch and then
The Cardinals gave up a run in the
eighth and then two more in the ninth to lose 6-5. Closer Dave Kington (1-1, 6.00 ERA) got
his first blown save and the loss.
The Cardinals didn't get another hit after
Thursday: The last game of the series was a 13-5
blowout and a series sweep for the first place Braves.
Starter Randy Santos (1-3, 4.63
ERA) struggled a bit through the first three innings (46 pitches, 4 hits, hit
batter) but took a 3-0 shutout into the fourth inning.
Reliever Aaron Terry (3-0, 3.00 ERA) pitched well during his longest outing of the year (2.2 IP, no hits, no runs, one walk, four strikeouts, 37 pitches, 25 strikes, 6-for-10 first-pitch strikes). Reliever Kyle Heim (0-1, 8.44 ERA) started the ninth inning with an 8-4 deficit and finished it with the Cardinals down 13-4. Ross Smith (.175) added another single and run scored in the bottom of the ninth to finish the game 3-for-5 with 2 HR and 3 runs scored. Every starting position player had at least one hit however, only one of the ten hits was with runners in scoring position (1-for-15). Smith's home runs brought the number of hitters on the roster with at least one HR to 13-of-16.
Friday: The Cardinals travelled to
The Cardinals suffered their
second shutout of the year in the first game against
Saturday: The second game of the series against
the Rays was suspended at the beginning of the fifth inning with the score
Tandem Starting Pitchers
Listed below are the new pairings
RHP Reynier Gonzalez and RHP Andy Moss
RHP Jesse Simpson and RHP Cale Johnson (replaces Pablo Ortiz)
RHP Chris Notti and RHP Justin Smith
LHP Anthony Ferrara and RHP Michael Thompson
Who's Hot (Hitters)
LF/3B Rich "Rock" Racobaldo was named the Appalachian League Player of the Week (for his accomplishments last week) on Monday of this week. Racobaldo continued to wield a hot bat this week as he raised his average from .407 to .410. Rock has an 11 game hit streak (.475). "Rock" was 8-for-19 (.421) this week with six runs and six walks in six games.
Rock now leads the team in batting average (.410), on-base percentage (.472), and OPS (1.082). Racobaldo is in the top five in the Appalachian League in seven different offensive categories: OBP (2nd); AVG, hits, and OPS (3rd); total bases (4th); runs and SLG (5th).
2B Ted Obregon had a very good week. Obregon was 8-for-19 (.421) with three runs, a triple, two home runs, and 4 RBI. Obregon has a very good line with runners on base: .381/.417/.524. However, he has struggled with his fielding (7 errors, .891 fielding percentage) at 2B (15 games, 4 errors), 3B (7 games, 2 errors), and SS (1 game, 1 error).
1B Matt Adams had another solid
week at the plate. Adams was
9-for-23 (.391) with three runs, two doubles, one home run, three RBIs, and two
walks in 6 games.
C Robert Stock (.306) was 4-for-11 (.364) this week with four runs, a triple, a home run, and two RBIs. Stock has an impressive line on the road: .379/.500/.759 but is hitting only .200 against left-handed pitching.
RF Edgar Lara (.276, 9 doubles) has a very quiet 10-game hit streak and is 7th in the league in doubles. Lara is 12-for-44 (.273) with just one double in his hit streak.
Who's Not Hot (Hitters)
3B Romulo Ruiz (.125) was 1-for-11 (.091) this week. Ruiz is hitting .251 against left-handed pitching this year however; he is hitting just .071 against right-handed pitching and .063 with runners in scoring position.
SS Yunier Castillo (.228) took a six-game hit streak into this week. He was 9-for-29 (.310) with a triple last week. Castillo was only 1-for-17 (.059) this week with three strikeouts. Castillo is the only hitter who has yet to take a walk this year (92 at-bats and 22 strikeouts).
Five other hitters had .200 or less batting averages this week: Matt Rigoli (.167), Travis Tartamella (.182), Ross Smith (.190), Hector Alvarez (.190), and Audry Perez (.200).
Who's Hot (Pitchers)
Jesse Simpson (20 IP) is the only current starter with double digit innings to allow no home runs. Simpson is 1st amongst the ten starters in ERA (1.35) and is the only starter with an ERA and WHIP (0.95) near one. Simpson is leading all 17 pitchers in batting average allowed (.181). Simpson has still not figured out the reliever part of the tandem starting pitcher system yet. His starter/reliever splits are 0.69/2.57 for ERA and .130/.269 for batting average allowed.
Justin Smith is 2nd on the team in walks plus hits per inning pitched (WHIP) at 0.97 and is 1st in SO/9 (14.2). Smith is 6th in the league in strikeouts (31). Smith has yet to allow a hit on the road (6 IP) and is holding the opposition to a .213 average. When he figures out how to get hitters out with runners in scoring position (.357), watch out!
Reliever Travis Lawler (10.1 IP) leads the team in earned run average (0.87 ERA) and is 1st among the relievers in SO/9 (13.1). Lawler is 5th in the league in holds with two. Lawler struck out both of the batters he faced this week. The opposition is hitting only .206 against Lawler and he is particularly stingy at home (.083 batting average allowed).
Andy Moss is 2nd amongst the starters in batting average allowed (.194). Moss is third amongst the starters in ERA (1.73) and WHIP (1.00). Moss is in the top ten of the Appalachian League in three categories: ERA (3rd), WHIP (4th), and holds (5th). Moss is very good at getting left-handed hitters to groundout (3.60 GO/AO) and has performed better in the reliever role (0.69 ERA and .146 average) within the tandem system.
Closer David Kington is leading the league in saves (6), is 2nd in games finished (10), and is 3rd in games (11). Kington has not allowed a home run in 9 IP. Kington is second among the relievers in WHIP (1.22). Kington is looking to improve his batting average allowed against left-handed hitting (.400).
Reliever Aaron Terry (3-0, 3.00 ERA) is 4th in the league in victories and 10th in games (10). Terry ranks second among the Cardinal relievers in SO/9 (12.8) and is second amongst the 17 pitchers in batting average allowed (.182). Terry and his slider are a very good groundball combination against right-handed hitters (10.0 GO/AO). He is allowing only a .111 batting average against both right handed hitters and with runners in scoring position.
Michael Thompson, despite allowing hitters a .370 batting average, is first in the league in holds with three.
Who's Not Hot (Pitchers)
LHP John Durham (0-1, 10.80 ERA)
allowed 4 hits and 3 earned runs in one tandem start (1.1 IP) this week. His 3.76 WHIP and 20.25 ERA this week
were the worst for the starters.
The opposition is hitting .362 against
Chris Notti (1-0, 8.50 ERA) allowed six hits and three earned runs in three innings pitched this week. The opposition is hitting .369 against Notti this year. As the second tandem starter (reliever), he allows a .421 batting average. Hitters are hitting an eye-popping .423 average against him with runners in scoring position.
Reliever Kyle Heim (0-1, 8.44 ERA) allowed five hits and five earned runs in two innings pitched this week. The opposition is hitting .341 against Heim this year.
Week Six Schedule
Game 33 (Sun): Justin Smith followed by Chris Notti – @ Princeton Rays
Game 34 (Mon): Michael Thompson followed by Anthony Ferrara – @ Elizabethton Twins
Game 35 (Tue): John Durham followed by Randy Santos – @ Elizabethton Twins
Game 36 (Wed): Reynier Gonzalez followed by Andy Moss – @ Elizabethton Twins
Game 37 (Thu): Jesse Simpson followed by Cale Johnson – @ Elizabethton Twins
Game 38 (Fri): Chris Notti followed by Justin Smith – vs. Bluefield Orioles
Game 39 (Sat): Anthony Ferrara followed by Michael Thompson – vs. Bluefield Orioles
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