The Palm Beach Cardinals started the week only a half game behind first place St. Lucie in the Florida State League second half standings. But the team didn't have the week it had hoped, losing more games than it won.
The Cardinals started off the week with a lopsided victory over the Jupiter Hammerheads. Starter Kevin Thomas led his team with 5 2/3 innings of shutout baseball as the Cards notched a 7-0 win. Alex Castellanos led the offense with three hits, two of which were doubles. Niko Vasquez added a home run and four RBIs.
The team fell to Bradenton the next night by a score of 7-3. Scott Schneider was handed his second consecutive loss after yielding four runs in six innings of work. Reliever Jared Bradford was knocked around for three runs in his only inning of the night. Leadoff man Oliver Marmol collected two doubles and scored two runs.
Palm Beach rebounded the next night to drop the Marauders, 1-0. Arquimedes Nieto was brilliant with seven strikeouts in seven innings. David Carpenter pitched a perfect ninth to pick up his ninth save of the season. Vasquez continued to punish Florida State League pitching with two more hits while the team's only run came on a Domnit Bolivar solo home run.
Unfortunately, the baby birds could not carry that momentum and dropped the rubber game of the series 5-3. Chris Swauger and Xavier Scruggs each collected a pair of hits while Jarred Bogany and Niko Vasquez each homered for the home team. On the mound, Richard Castillo was handed his sixth loss of the season after five walks and five hits led to three runs. Matt Frevert returned from the disabled list and worked a scoreless inning of relief.
The Cardinals hit the road to face Lakeland but the Flying Tigers would not prove to be very gracious hosts. Palm Beach fell 4-3 in the opening game of the series. Brett Zawacki struggled but the bullpen picked up the slack and gave two shutout innings from both Cory Rauschenberger and Jared Bradford. In an almost shocking turn of events, Ramon Delgado gave up a walk-off home run in the bottom of the ninth for his first loss of the season. It was only the fourth earned run he has given up in 2010.
The team's Thursday night contest was postponed due to the weather.
Since the calendar has turned to July, Charles Cutler seems to have found his stroke. The backstop is hitting .324/.390/.486 and has seen his overall average rise to .284.
After getting knocked around in his first two appearances, Cory Rauschenberger appears to have gotten the rust knocked off. The right-hander has pitched 5 1/3 scoreless innings in his last three outings as he returns from a delayed absence from the game.
In nine games since being promoted from Quad Cities, Niko Vasquez has posted a slash line of .375/.474/.688 with two home runs and nine RBIs.
After gaining victories in his first two FSL starts, Scott Schneider has dropped his last two decisions. The 22-year-old has given up eight earned runs on 13 hits over his last 12 innings.
Around the League
The Cardinals are now 10-8 in the second half and sit in third place in the Florida State League South. The team is 2.5 games behind first place St. Lucie and one game behind second place Bradenton.
Xavier Scruggs is tied for second in the league with 12 home runs, tied for fifth in RBIs, and is sixth in the league in slugging.
Alex Castellanos is second in the league with 24 doubles and Nieto is tied with multiple players for third in wins with seven.
As a team, Palm Beach is second in doubles and walks while ranking third in the league in on base percentage, runs, and stolen bases.
On the mound, the Cards rank last in the league in team strikeouts.
The Cardinals finish up its three-game set with Lakeland before heading home to Roger Dean Stadium. The team will welcome in Brevard County for a four-game series before hosting the Tampa Yankees for three.
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