CLEARWATER, Fla. - The offense for the Clearwater Threshers bounced back in a big way in a 7-3 victory over the Palm Beach Cardinals on Tuesday night at Spectrum Field. The win snapped the Threshers' three-game losing streak and put them 3.5 back of first in the Florida State League North second half.
The bats got going early for the Threshers (49-39, 13-9) in the first. With Danny Mayer inserted in the leadoff spot, the slugger blasted a home run to left against Edgar Gonzalez (4-11) to give Clearwater a 1-0 edge.
The home team struck again in the second frame to extend the lead to 2-0. After two hits and a walk loaded the bases for Jhailyn Ortiz, the No. 11 prospect for the Philadelphia Phillies worked the count and drew a free pass to force in the second run for the offense.
Palm Beach (41-43, 6-14) found success against right-hander Julian Garcia (6-5) in the third. A wild pitch from Garcia scored Nick Plummer to make it 2-1. Three batters later Juan Yepez plated Wadye Yfante with a double to right to knot the score at two. Luken Baker put the Cardinals ahead with a groundball to second, but Garcia would end the frame without further damage.
Clearwater responded quickly to the St. Louis Cardinals' affiliate in the bottom of the third. With the bases loaded and two outs, Edgar Gonzalez exited the game for CJ Saylor. Daniel Brito fell behind 1-2 to the new hurler, but drilled Saylor's next pitch into right center for a bases-clearing triple. Brito's first triple of the year gave Clearwater a 5-3 advantage they would not relinquish.
Garcia settled in and retired his final 10 batters while picking up four strikeouts along the way. The 24-year-old earned his eighth quality start by going six innings with four hits allowed and five strikeouts. Tuesday's performance was the third consecutive quality start for the Bloomfield, Colo. native.
Clearwater increased its lead further in the middle innings. A squeeze bunt from Simon Muzziotti plated Ortiz in the fourth to push the lead to 6-3. Nick Maton connected for a solo blast to right in the sixth off Zach Prendergast to make it 7-3.
The bullpen finished the job, as Austin Ross and Zach Warren held the visitors hitless in the final three frames. The Cardinals had just two baserunners after the third, both coming on errors from Luke Miller. Ross struck out four over two frames to push his strikeout total to 55, second to only Warren for the most by Thresher relivers.
Clearwater earned its first win over the St. Louis Cardinals' affiliate in 2019 and is now 20-18 against teams from the FSL South. With two home runs tonight, the Clearwater Threshers are tops in the FSL with 68 long-balls as a team.
The Threshers aim to take the lead in the series against the Cardinals on Wednesday morning at Spectrum Field in game three of the four-game set. RHP Tyler Carr (2-0 1.44) will toe the rubber for Clearwater against Palm Beach RHP Griffin Roberts (0-4 6.21). First pitch is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. with coverage beginning at 10:15 at threshersbaseball.com.
Wednesday's game features Silver Sharks club by Belcher Bingo. Designed for Threshers fans 55 and older, membership includes admission to and parking for all Wednesday home games. Only $25 per senior per season.
Wednesday is also the second camp day of the year. Bring your summer camp to the ballpark for the special 10:30 a.m. time.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.