It was a fantastic week for the Palm Beach Cardinals. The team started off a game and a half out of first but ended this period with a three-game lead in the division thanks to a seven-game winning streak.
The team began the week with a doubleheader sweep over Dunedin. Brett Zawacki set the tone with six solid innings of two-run baseball. He picked up his sixth victory while David Carpenter earned his 16th save with a perfect inning of relief. At the plate, Jarred Bogany led the charge with three hits and two stolen bases. D'Marcus Ingram, Alex Castellanos, and Domnit Bolivar each had a pair of hits with one of Bolivar's being a solo home run.
In the nightcap, Kevin Thomas continued his mastery over the hitters of the Florida State League. The right-hander picked up his eighth victory with six shutout innings and nine strikeouts. Ryan Jackson was the only Cardinal with multiple hits including his first home run since being promoted from Quad Cities.
After 4-2 and 6-2 victories the previous night, the Cards looked to continue their momentum. The Cardinals jumped out early with three RBIs in the top of the first. Niko Vasquez got things started with a two-out solo home run. Jermaine Curtis then singled and scored on Alex Castellanos' ninth home run of the season. Palm Beach would add a couple more but could not hold off the Blue Jays and outfielder Anthony Gose. The newly acquired outfielder hit a solo home run in the bottom of the ninth to send the game to extra frames. In the top of the 11th, Rich Racobaldo homered to left center to put the Cardinals on top and Cory Rauschenberger closed the door to pick up his first save since returning to the organization.
Ryan Jackson and Charles Cutler combined for four hits and a pair of runs scored. Scott Schneider struck out five and allowed three runs in his 5.2-inning night. David Carpenter picked up his fifth victory after contributing two innings of relief. With the win, the Cards moved into a first place tie with Bradenton.
The team would next welcome into town their new rivals, the Bradenton Marauders. It was a wild back-and-forth affair that was highlighted with a three-run seventh inning by the Cardinals. The bullpen would hold close it out and Palm Beach hung on to a 6-5 victory and took sole possession of first place.
Vasquez reached base three times with a single, double, and a walk. Ryan Jackson singled and scored two runs.
Tuesday's game was rained out so the two teams returned to the field on Wednesday for a doubleheader. In game one, the Cards continued their hot streak with a 5-2 win.
Niko Vasquez collected two hits and drove in a run. Alex Castellanos hit his 10th home run of the season and drove in a pair. On the mound, Richard Castillo bounced back after several rough outings with six solid innings to pick up the victory. David Carpenter closed it out to notch his 17th save.
Palm Beach doubled up Bradenton in the second game, 2-1, to sweep the doubleheader and the series. Joel Pichardo secured the victory, his first, with a scoreless inning of relief. Mulligan logged his eighth save with three strikeouts in 1 1/3 innings.
Rich Racobaldo singled, doubled, and drove in a run. Vasquez reached base twice with a double, a walk, and scored a run.
To close out the week, the Cardinals welcomed St. Lucie to Roger Dean Stadium. The Mets got out in front with a run in the third and it would stay 1-0 until the Cardinals put a run on the board in the bottom of the seventh. The visitors could not answer in the top of the eighth but Palm Beach finally broke through with a crooked number in the bottom of the inning. The Mets managed only one in the top of the ninth, giving the Cards the 4-2 victory.
Brett Zawacki put forth his third straight strong outing. The right-hander allowed only one run on three hits in six innings. Cory Rauschenberger picked up the victory while Carpenter closed it out for save number 18.
Jermaine Curtis and Ryde Rodriguez combined for four hits and two RBIs. Leadoff man D'Marcus Ingram had two hits and scored a run.
After struggling through June and July, it appears Rich Racobaldo has found his stroke again. The 25-year-old is hitting .342/.405/.605 with two home runs and 11 RBIs in 38 at bats this month.
Over his last 10 games, D'Marcus Ingram has posted a slash line of .343/.378/.514 with three doubles, a home run, and a pair of stolen bases.
Ryan Jackson has collected a hit in each game during the team's current win streak. During the stretch, he is batting .360 along with three doubles and his first home run for the team.
After hitting only .241 in July at Palm Beach, Niko Vasquez seems like a new man in August. The third baseman is hitting .323/.382/.516 in 31 at bats.
Brett Zawacki has made three outstanding starts in a row. The 21-year-old has allowed only three runs 11 hits in his 18.2 innings. Over his last 10 starts, he has a record of 5-2 with a 3.21 ERA.
Around the League
The Cardinals are now 26-19 and sit in first place in the Florida State League South division.
Kevin Thomas has the ninth-most victories in the FSL. David Carpenter ranks second in appearances and fourth in saves.
Richard Castillo has tied for the most starts in the circuit while allowing the third-most runs and the fourth-most hits.
In the FSL, Alex Castellanos is tied for third in doubles, tied for fourth in triples, fifth in slugging, and eighth in total bases.
Palm Beach closes out its three-game series with St. Lucie before hitting the road to face Bradenton. Then they travel to take on the Mets for another three-game set.
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