Big Innings Sink St. Paul Saints: Saints Summary
The Winnipeg Goldeyes had the Wichita Wingnuts in town, and had their hands full. It was a perfect opportunity to make some ground in the North Division, but instead the Saints lost the last three to the Sioux City Explorers, a team they had beaten seven straight previously, and now find themselves three games out in the division race.
St. Paul sent Drew Gay to the hill, the starter who had been their best pitcher of late. Gay was 5-0 with a 2.03 ERA to start the game, but by the time the game was over he was undefeated no longer. The young right-hander struggled and battled the same three demons that have plagued this team of late. They were the things that put him into the loss column for the first time this season.
So what are the three things killing the Saints lately? They are very simple to pinpoint. The big inning, not being able to close out innings after getting two outs, and giving up runs after their team has scored. These three things have hurt the Saints for weeks, and Gay found himself struggling with the same issues.
The first inning is a great example of the struggles. Gay retired two of the first three batters, then walked Andres Perez and Peter Barrows to load the bases. On a 2-2 pitch, Tommy Mendonca followed with a single that scored Tim Cowell and Perez. Amos Ramon then singled to score Barrows and after Drew got ahead 1-2 on Dillon Usiak, he singled scoring Mendonca and Ramon. Two down and a scoreless game, and just like that he gives up two walks and three hits, and the Saints are losing 5-0.
St. Paul showed great spunk, however, scoring five of their own in the bottom of the third. Dwight Childs doubled to lead off the inning, and moved to third on a single by Devin Thaut. Childs scored on a sacrifice fly, and then Willie Cabrera walked to put runners on first and second with one out. Henry Wrigley singled to score Thaut, and the makings of a real rally were afoot. Angelo Songco walked to load the bases, and then Evan Bigley would hit the second sacrifice fly of the inning to pull the Saints to within two. Now it was time for them to get the much needed two out hit, and that is what happened as Keith Brachold and Joey Becker each drove in a run with a single. The Saints left the third with five on the board, a tie score, and a sense that good things were coming their way. That is when problem No. 3 occurred.
Gay returned to the mound with a chance to make up for his earlier struggles, but he could not get the job done. Two hits to lead off the inning put runners on first and third, and a sacrifice fly put the Explorers back on top. It then looked like Gay was going to get out of the inning without any further issues. Oscar Mesa was nailed trying to steal second base, and suddenly there was two outs with no one on. Remember problem No. 2? Remember problem No. 1 for that matter?
Rene Tosoni walked on five pitches. Perez then reached on an error by the third baseman, and Peter Barrows followed with a blast down the left field line for his 11th home run of the season. Just like that three runs had scored to make it a four-run big inning. Just like that three runs had scored with two outs. Just like that the Saints were losing again.
In the bottom of the fourth St. Paul showed they can be a little resilient themselves, scoring two of their own. Devin Thaut scored on a sacrifice fly by Henry Wrigley and Angelo Songco drove home Willie Cabrera with a double. That was all the Saints could muster however.
The 9-7 loss was a case of the same old story. The team simply cannot end threats and do damage control. After a day off, the team moves on to play the Winnipeg Goldeyes. These are critical games to them, and it is almost mandatory that they win at least two of the three games in the series. To leave Winnipeg down four in the division may be too much to overcome this late in the season.
By Robert Pannier
Senior Baseball Editor
Member of the IBWAA