The Palm Beach Cardinals started the week where it wanted to be as the season winds down. The club was atop the division standings and a playoff spot seemed almost a certainty. But now the team is in the midst of a five-game losing streak and the team's postseason dreams are far from reality.
The Cardinals started the week off on the right foot with a 7-3 mashing of St. Lucie. Deryk Hooker was superb with seven shutout innings while striking out six along the way.
Leadoff man C.J. Beatty sparked the offense by reaching base four times on three hits and a walk. Twos were wild for D'Marcus Ingram. The speedy outfielder had two hits, drew two walks, drove in two, and stole two bases. Alex Castellanos collected a pair of hits including his 12th home run of the season. Jarred Bogany hit his fifth home run of the season and stole his 15th base.
It was much of the same the next night as the team returned home to host Charlotte. The Cards put up five runs in the third and held on for a 6-3 victory.
Richard Castillo lasted only 3.2 innings after being knocked around for three runs on seven hits. Joel Pichardo was credited with the win while Casey Mulligan pitched a scoreless ninth to log his 10th save.
The Stone Crabs rebounded, exacting some revenge on the Cardinals the next night. Charlotte plated a run in each of the first six innings to log a 6-1 victory.
Brett Zawacki was chased after four innings having given up four runs on six hits including two home runs. Jared Bradford gave up a pair of runs in his three innings of relief. The rehabbing Matt Scherer was credited with a shutout inning of work.
Rich Racobaldo led the offense with three hits.
In the rubber game, the Stone Crabs rode strong pitching to a 2-0 victory. At the plate, Bogany reached four times with three walks and a hit.
Starter Kevin Thomas was deserving of a victory after spinning seven shutout innings but did not factor in the decision. Jesse Simpson got the loss after giving away three walks and a hit that led to both of the Charlotte runs.
Palm Beach welcomed Fort Myers to town on Tuesday night and the Miracle were not very gracious guests. The Minnesota farm team roughed up the slumping Scott Schneider for four runs on six hits in only three innings.
The highlight of the offense was Beatty's first Florida State League home run. Racobaldo and Ryde Rodriguez both collected doubles.
Wednesday's night action was lost to the weather so the Cardinals and Miracle were scheduled for two on Thursday.
In game one, the Cards' bats struggled as the team managed only four hits. Ryan Jackson was the only Palm Beach player to reach base twice with a hit and a walk.
Deryk Hooker pitched well enough to keep his team in the game. The young right-hander yielded two runs on five hits in six innings of work. Reliever Matt Frevert was charged with two unearned runs in his only inning of action.
During the nightcap, the Miracle put up big numbers in the second and sixth on its way to a 7-3 victory. No Cardinal managed multiple hits with Ryan Jackson having two of the teams' three RBIs.
In his return from Springfield, Arquimedes Nieto was tagged with the loss after allowing three runs in five innings. George Brown saw his first game action of 2010 and the rust was evident. The southpaw allowed three runs in only a third of an inning.
Since August 11, Ryde Rodriguez is hitting .345 in 29 at bats. Since being promoted to Palm Beach, the Cuban is hitting .364/.400/.455 with runners on base.
Casey Mulligan has not allowed a run in his last eight outings. During this time, he has nine strikeouts and only one walk while logging four saves.
Over his last 10 games, Scott Schneider is 0-7 and a 5.02 ERA. In 52 innings during the stretch, he has allowed 66 hits while opponents are hitting .313 against him.
Around the League
Palm Beach is 32-28 and sits one game behind Bradenton in the FSL South division.
Alex Castellanos ranks third in the league in slugging, fourth in doubles, fifth in triples, sixth in home runs, and ninth in total bases.
Kevin Thomas ranks third in wins while Casey Mulligan is ninth in saves. Thomas' 2.11 ERA would be tops in the league if he had enough innings to qualify.
The Cardinals play its next four at home against Jupiter although it will alternate as the home team and visitor with the team it shares Roger Dean Stadium with. The club then hits the road to play Fort Myers before returning home to finish out the season.
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