On Saturday, the Cardinals sent shortstop Aledmys Diaz and right-hander Jordan Walden to join catcher Brayan Pena on rehab assignments with the Palm Beach Cardinals. Those assignments -- Diaz’ and Walden’s, anyway -- were pretty short and sweet, though, as the Cardinals’ season came to a close on Sunday afternoon.
Diaz is expected to join the Springfield Cardinals on Wednesday and continue his rehab. He could return to the major-league team as soon as the upcoming weekend. As for Walden, he was shut down by back discomfort. Walden will be meeting with a specialist during the week to determine if surgery is the best option. Walden is due to become a free agent at season’s end.
Pena’s rehab assignment ended Sunday morning, as the Cardinals activated him off the 60-day disabled list. The club also purchased catcher Carson Kelly’s contract from the Triple-A Memphis Redbirds, transferred right-hander Seth Maness to the 60-day disabled list, and designated infielder Dean Anna for assignment.
After a day off on Friday, Johnson City Cardinals began their postseason campaign on Saturday against the Elizabethton Twins.
Friday, September 2
Express 7, Memphis 0
- Kurt Heyer (SP): 4.2 IP, 8 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 3 BB, 4 K
- Jose Martinez (RF): 1-3, 2B
The Redbirds managed a mere three hits in their 7-0 loss to the Express on Friday. Round Rock scored three runs in the fourth inning and four in the fifth off Redbirds starter Kurt Heyer and reliever Pedro Echemendia, whereas Express starter Austin Bibens-Dirkx hurled seven scoreless innings.
Springfield 5, Travelers 0
- Ian McKinney (SP): 6 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 3 K
- Paul DeJong (3B): 3-5, 2 R
- Jonathan Rodriguez (DH): 3-3, 2 BB, RBI, 2 R
Another strong outing from Ian McKinney paired with big days at the dish led the Cardinals to a 5-0 win over the Drillers’ in the teams’ meeting on Friday. McKinney logged six shutout innings that were followed by a combined three-inning scorless effort from Rowan Wick and Blake McKnight. As for the offense, the Cardinals went 5-for-15 with runners in scoring position and four different players were credited with an RBI.
Palm Beach 4, Stone Crabs 2
- Jack Flaherty (SP): 7 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 8 K
- Brayan Pena (1B): 2-4, 2 RBIs, R
- Casey Grayson (DH): 3-4, 2B
Jack Flaherty’s quality seven innings capped off what turned out to be a pretty solid season for the 20-year-old right-hander, a personal season that he saw come to a close on Friday night, when Palm Beach doubled up the Stone Crabs, 4-2, to give Flaherty his fifth and final win of the 2016 campaign. Cardinals catcher Brayan Pena, who was rehabbing and playing first base on Friday, drove in two runs.
Peoria 2, Snappers 0
- Ryan Helsley (SP): 6.2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 13 K
- Brian O’Keefe (C): 2-2, 2 2Bs, BB, RBI
- Eliezer Alvarez (2B): 2-3, R
Ryan Helsley’s masterful performance served as a good foundation for a 2-0 Chiefs victory over the Snappers on Friday. Helsley allowed just one hit in 6.2 innings of work and whiffed thirteen batters. Chiefs catcher Brian O’Keefe went 2-for-2 at the plate with two doubles and an RBI.
State College 4, Scrappers 2
- Jordan Hicks (SP): 3 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 5 BB, 0 K
- Ryan McCarvel (DH): 1-4, HR, 2 RBIs, R
A pair of RBIs from Ryan McCarvel and Mick Fennell gave the Spikes a 4-2 win on Friday over the Scrappers. Spikes started Jordan Hicks was lifted from his start at three one-hit innings, and Jordan DeLorenzo hurled four innings of one-run ball to pick up his second win of the season.
Saturday, September 3
Express 4, Memphis 2
- Matt Pearce (SP): 6 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 4 K
- Efren Navarro (DH): 3-4
- David Washington (RF): 1-4, HR, RBI, R
The Express’ three tallies in the bottom of the first inning proved to be the backbone of their 4-2 victory over the Redbirds in Saturday’s contest. Redbirds starter Matt Pearce turned in six quality innings, but he was charged with his second loss in as many decisions.
Springfield 11, Drillers 2
- Johnny Walter (SP): 6 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 2 K
- Jesse Walter (C): 3-5, HR, 2 2Bs, 2 RBIs, 3 R
- Jacob Wilson (2B): 3-5, 2B, 2 RBIs, R
With run production of some kind from each spot in the initial batting order, Springfield cruised to an 11-2 rout over the Drillers on Saturday. Cole Lankford was the only player in the Cardinals’ starting lineup not to drive in a run, but he -- along with everyone except starting pitcher Johnny Walter -- scored at least once.
Palm Beach 6, Stone Crabs 5 (F/10)
- Junior Fernandez (SP): 5.1 IP, 2 H, 4 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 4 K
- Brayan Pena (C): 1-5, RBI
- Aledmys Diaz (DH): 0-3, BB
Dylan Tice’s RBI single in the bottom of the tenth inning gave Palm Beach a 6-5 win over the Stone Crabs on Saturday. Catcher Brayan Pena, who was catching in his final rehab game, tied the score at five in the ninth inning to extend the game to extras.
Cougars 3, Peoria 2
- Ronnie Williams (SP): 6.2 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 4 K
- Eliezer Alvarez (2B): 2-4, 2 2Bs, R
Despite entering the sixth inning with a 2-0 lead that appeared to be in good hands, the Chiefs lost Saturday’s game, 3-2. The Cougars scored three runs over the game’s final four innings, including one in the ninth off Chiefs reliever Josh Wirsu for a walk-off victory.
Scrappers 3, State College 0
- Carson Cross (SP): 6 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 6 K
- Anthony Ray (LF): 1-2, 2B, BB
Although Carson Cross turned in a quality start, the Spikes dropped Saturday’s contest, 3-0. The Spikes and Scrappers each recorded five hits, but it was timely hitting that proved pivotal; the Spikes went 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position, while the Scrappers managed to go 2-for-6.
Johnson City 7, Twins 4
- Ross Vance (SP): 6 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 11 K
- Joshua Lopez (DH): 2-3, 2 RBIs, 2 R
- Andrew Knizner (C): 2-4, 3B, BB, RBI, 2 R
Ross Vance’s dominant start and runs up and down the batting order allowed Johnson City to take Saturday’s game over the Twins, 7-4. Vance turned in six quality innings, while J.R. Davis, Matt Fiedler, Andrew Knizner, and Joshua Lopez were each responsible for the Cardinals six earned runs on Saturday.
Sunday, September 4
Memphis 8, Express 0
- Deck McGuire (SP): 5 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 4 K
- Chris Rivera (C): 1-3, HR, 2 RBIs, 2 R
- David Washington (RF): 3-4, 2 RBIs, R
After being held to two runs by Round Rock in the first two games of the series, the Redbirds rebounded for an 8-0 victory over the Express in Sunday’s five-and-a-half-inning game. Deck McGuire provided Memphis with five shutout innings, and Chris Rivera, David Washington, and Anthony Garcia each drove in two runs.
Springfield 3, Drillers 2
- Corey Baker (SP): 5 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 2 K
- Paul DeJong (3B): 3-4, HR, RBI, R
- Harrison Bader (CF): 1-4, HR, 2 RBIs, BB, SB, R
It was Harrison Bader’s two-run blast in the top of the seventh inning that lifted the Cardinals over the Drillers on Sunday, 3-2. An inning before Bader’s blast, his fifteenth of the season, Bader’s teammate, Paul DeJong, hammered his 22nd home run of the year to open up the scoring for Springfield on Sunday.
Palm Beach 3, Stone Crabs 1
- Jacob Evans (SP): 5 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 3 K
- Aledmys Diaz (DH): 1-3, RBI
- Andrew Brodbeck (2B): 2-4, 2B, RBI, R
A fielding error by Stone Crabs second baseman Riley Unroe allowed the Cardinals to score their first run of the game in the fourth inning, and Andrew Brodbeck’s RBI groundout an inning later put the Cardinals and starter Jacob Evans ahead for good, leading to 3-1 victory for Palm Beach in their final game of the season.
Cougars 6, Peoria 5 (F/13)
Dailyn Martinez (SP): 5 IP, 11 H, 5 R, 3 ER, 0 BB, 5 K
- Davis Ward (RP -- 6th & 7th innings): 2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K
- Steven De La Cruz (RP -- 8th & 9th innings): 2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K
- Tyler Bray (RP -- 10th, 11th, & 12th innings): 3 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 5 K
- Chris Chinea (DH/1B): 3-6, 2B, 2 RBIs
After the Cougars tied the score at five in the fifth inning, the run column remained quiet until Cougars second baseman Luis Alejandro Basabe walked with two outs and the bases loaded in the bottom of the thirteenth inning to force in the game-winning run for a 6-5 Cougars victory.
State College 3, Crosscutters 2
- Steven Farinaro (SP): 6 IP, 8 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 7 K
- Jeremy Martinez (C): 2-4, 2 RBIs
Steven Farinaro turned in one of his best starts of the year, and Jeremy Martinez plated a pair in the Spikes’ 3-2 win over the Crosscutters on Sunday. The Spikes’ pitching staff combined to whiff twelve Crosscutters’ batters in the win.
Twins 8, Johnson City 7
- Frederis Parra (SP): 3.2 IP, 8 H, 5 R, 4 ER, 1 BB, 0 K
- Matt Fiedler (RF): 2-4, HR, BB, 3 RBIs, R
A four-run third inning put up by the Cardinals was canceled out by a four-run fourth managed by the Twins. Despite the fact the Cardinals scored two runs in the bottom of the fourth, the Twins’ three runs across the final five innings led to an 8-7 victory for the Twins over the Cardinals on Sunday. In the loss, Cardinals right-fielder Matt Fiedler crushed a three-run home run, accounting for one of his team’s thirteen hits on the afternoon.
Monday, September 5
Memphis 7, Express 6
- Jeremy Hefner (SP): 5.2 IP, 8 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 2 BB, 5 K
- Breyvic Valera (2B): 2-4, 2B, 3 RBIs, BB, 2 SB, 2 R
- Anthony Garcia (LF): 3-5, 2 2Bs, R
A couple of big offensive days gave the Redbirds the necessary edge in their 7-6 victory over the Express on Monday. Second Baseman Breyvic Valera doubled for the fourteenth time this season and plated three runs, and left-fielder Anthony Garcia notched a pair of two baggers to give the Redbirds four extra-base hits on the day.
Springfield 10, Drillers 4
- Austin Gomber (SP): 4 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 5 K
- Harrison Bader (CF): 1-4, HR, 3 RBIs, R
- Jonathan Rodriguez (1B): 3-5, 2B, 2 R
Ten runs and a strong day on the pitching front powered the Cardinals to a win over the Drillers on Monday, 10-4. Harrison Bader jacked a three-run home run, his sixteenth long ball of the season, and third baseman Allen Staton drove in two runs.
Cougars 7, Peoria 6
- Jorge Rodriguez (SP): 3 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 3 K
- Eliezer Alvarez (DH): 2-5, HR, 2 RBIs, R
- Chris Chinea (1B): 3-5, RBI
The Chiefs’ three-run ninth inning fell just a bit short, as the Cougars held on for a tight 7-6 win on Monday. The Cougars scored four runs in the fifth inning off Peoria reliever Harley Holt, who was charged with his fifth loss of the season.
State College 4, Crosscutters 2
- Dewin Perez (SP): 2.2 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 1 K
- Danny Hudzina (3B): 2-5, HR, 2B, 4 RBIs, R
A fine day in the box from third baseman Danny Hudzina was all the Spikes needed (and received) offensive wise on Monday, as State College breezed to a 4-2 win over the Crosscutters. Hudzina plated four runs, including three on his fourth home run of the season.
Johnson City 8, Twins 6
- Ian Oxnevad (SP): 3 IP, 8 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 1 K
- Shane Billings (CF): 2-4, 2 2Bs, RBI, 2 R
- Bryce Denton (3B): 3-5, 2B, RBI, R
A huge three-run seventh inning off Twins pitchers Austin Tribby and Johan Quezada gave the Cardinals an 8-6 lead that they rode to a victory over the Twins. Every player in the Cardinals’ starting lineup, with the exception of designated hitter Joshua Lopez (ironically), drove in a run, and everyone except DeAndre Asbury-Heath picked up a hit.
-The Memphis Redbirds concluded their season on Monday and will not be participating in this season’s postseason. Instead, Ryan Sherriff, Corey Littrell, Harrison Bader, and Carson Kelly -- all members of the Memphis squad at one point or another during the summer -- will represent the Cardinals in the Arizona Fall League. Paul DeJong and Rowan Wick, who both made it to Double-A this season, will play in the AFL, too. Sam Tuivailala, Jose Martinez, and Mike Mayers will all join the Cardinals in Pittsburgh on Tuesday as part of the major-league team’s September roster expansion.
-The Springfield Cardinals will host the Northwest Arkansas Naturals on Wednesday to kick off their postseason.
-As noted previously, the Palm Beach Cardinals’ season came to a close on Sunday. Palm Beach will not appear in the postseason.
-After wrapping up the regular season on Monday, the Peoria Chiefs will begin the postseason on Wednesday, September 7, against the Clinton LumberKings.
-The State College Spikes concluded their regular season on Monday, are off on Tuesday, and will begin their postseason against the Staten Island Yankees on Wednesday.
-The Johnson City Cardinals won their second game in the best-of-three series with the Elizabethton Twins on Monday to advance to the Appalachian League Finals. The Cardinals will face the Burlington Royals Tuesday night in the Finals.