After five long months of baseball, the Palm Beach Cardinals' season comes down to a four-game series with the Charlotte Stone Crabs. Facing a two-game deficit in the South Division second half race, the Cardinals will need to sweep the Stone Crabs to get into the playoffs, as the Stone Crabs will possess an overall better record than the Cardinals for the 2013 season without a complete four-game sweep.
August 22: Palm Beach Cardinals 6, St. Lucie Mets 3
In need of a win to stay within four games of the Charlotte Stone Crabs, the Palm Beach Cardinals received a strong start from first rounder Marco Gonzales. The southpaw hurled 4 2/3 scoreless innings, scattering two hits with two walks and three strikeouts. He didn't factor in the decision as pitch limit restrictions forced him to leave in the top of the fifth.
The Cardinals backed Gonzales with the long ball, as Patrick Wisdom and Jonathan Rodriguez each hit two-run homers. Rodriguez' two-run homer in the seventh inning put the game away, giving the Cards a comfortable three-run lead as St. Lucie rallied to get within one run in the top of the seventh.
August 23: Palm Beach Cardinals 2, Bradenton Marauders 1 (12)
When you are in the middle of a playoff race, you have to win the games that are not supposed to come out in your favor. On Friday night, the Cardinals did just that as they rallied late to tie the game and won it in the 12th inning on an RBI single by Ronny Gil.
The Cards were held to eight singles on the night, but they made the best of every opportunity, going 2-for-7 with runners in scoring position and making use of the sacrifice bunt. The Cardinals used the sacrifice to score both runs, as bunts moved the runners into scoring position before a big clutch hit brought them around.
Ryan Sherriff was brilliant for the Cards. The lefty went seven innings, allowing one run on four hits, while striking out four. The bullpen was also stellar, hurling five innings of scoreless relief. Dean Kiekhefer (4-3) recorded the victory, tossing two innings with four strikeouts.
August 24: Palm Beach Cardinals 2, Bradenton Marauders 1
Sam Gaviglio returned to the Cardinals rotation and turned in a fine performance. The righty went 5 2/3 innings, scattering three hits and allowing one unearned run. He struck out five, but left the game down 1-0.
The Cardinals bats came to life in the bottom of the eighth inning. Charlie Tilson reached with a one-out single and scored on an RBI double by David Popkins, tying the game at 1-1. Jacob Wilson put the Birds ahead, smacking a double to right and scoring Popkins, making it 2-1.
Kiekhefer (S, 7) took it from there, tossing one inning to record the save.
August 25: Bradenton Marauders 2 at Palm Beach Cardinals 1 (11)
After two come from behind victories, the Cardinals tried to stun the Marauders for the third straight night.
Down 1-0 in the bottom of the ninth, the Cardinals' Wisdom reached on a single, advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt and moved to third base on a single by Nick Longmire. With runners on the corners, Alex Mejia smacked the game-winning double to left, but the ball bounced over the fence, forcing Longmire to return to third base and keeping the score at 1-1. The next two hitters would be retired via strikeout and fly out, forcing the game to go extra innings.
In the extra frame, the Marauders knocked in the deciding run with an RBI single by Stetson Allie. It was a particularly tough loss, as the Cardinals slipped to four games back of the Stone Crabs.
August 26: postponed
August 27: Palm Beach Cardinals 5 at Fort Myers Miracle 4 (8), Palm Beach Cardinals 1 at Fort Myers 0 (7)
Rain washed away the contest on Monday night, so the Cardinals returned to the field in need of winning two games to stay in the race. Palm Beach did just that, winning the first game in extra innings and taking game two in an old-fashioned pitchers' duel.
In game one, the Cardinals jumped out to an early lead, scoring three runs in the top of the second inning on a three-run homer by Jesus Montero. Palm Beach pushed it to 4-0 on a solo homer by Longmire.
The pitching staff couldn't hold the lead, allowing two runs in the fourth, one in the fifth and one in the seventh. Hector Hernandez went five innings, allowing three runs, two earned and left the game in line for the victory, but Stock gave up an unearned run in the bottom of the seventh, allowing the Miracle to tie it up.
The Beach Birds picked up the staff in the eighth inning. Wilson reached on a walk, moved to second and scored on a clutch RBI single by Mejia, giving the Cardinals the lead and the game.
In game two, Joey Cuda (4-0) outdueled Manuel Soliman. Cuda threw five innings of shutout baseball, allowing two hits with two walks and five strikeouts. Thomas Lee (S,2) recorded the save, maintaining the shutout with two innings of scoreless relief.
Soliman was dominant for the Miracle. He tossed seven innings, allowing eight hits, walking three and striking out four. He made one mistake on the evening, allowing a homer to Rodriguez, which propelled the Beach Birds to the victory.
August 28: Fort Myers Miracle 7, Palm Beach Cardinals 1
With two-game deficit on the Stone Crabs and a four-game series set to begin on Thursday night, the Cardinals may have looked ahead before showing up to the park on Wednesday night. The Beach Birds were pounded by the Miracle 7-1, as they were dominated the whole way through.
Kurt Heyer (6-5) suffered the loss, allowing three runs, two earned, on five hits in five innings of baseball. The bullpen didn't fare any better. Iden Nazario allowed three runs in 2 2/3 innings, while Corey Baker allowed one run in 1/3 of inning. The bats were kept silent all evening as well, limited to six singles. Wisdom recorded the lone multi-hit game, going 2-for-4 with two strikeouts.
Quality Arm: Joey Cuda is keeping the Cardinals in the race... In six starts, the right-hander is 4-0 with a 1.56 ERA. He has recorded 26 strikeouts in 34 2/3 innings, adding five quality starts…
Standings Watch: The Cardinals are in second place and two games behind the Charlotte Stone Crabs for first in the FSL South Division race. The Beach Birds end the season with a four-game set against Charlotte, but cannot drop a game as the Stone Crabs hold all tiebreakers.
Homers-a-plenty: Jonathan Rodriguez has been a man on a mission. The first baseman clubbed two homers in the last week. The first baseman leads the team in home runs (18) and RBI (72).
8/22/13: OF Anthony Garcia activated from temporary inactive list
8/23/13: RHP Sam Gaviglio activated from the 7-day DL
8/24/13: OF Charlie Tilson assigned to Palm Beach from Peoria
8/26/13: RHP Thomas Lee assigned to Palm Beach from Peoria
8/26/13: LHP Dean Kiekhefer assigned to Springfield from Palm Beach
On the Horizon
The Cardinals begin a home-and-away four-game series on Thursday night. The Beach Birds travel to Port Charlotte to play two games against the Stone Crabs before returning to 'the Dean' on Saturday night for a two-game set against the Stone Crabs, which concludes the regular season.
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