With Pedro Hernandez heading to the disabled list, St. Paul Saints manager George Tsamis turned to Drew Gay to give his team a solid outing against division rival Winnipeg. Gay did much more than that, allowing just 3 hits and 1 run over 5 innings in the club’s 8-1 victory over the Goldeyes.
The Saints right-hander retired the side in order in the first, but got into a bit of trouble in the second. Nic Jackson led off with a double and two batters later moved to third on a ground out. After Luis Alen was intentionally walked, Adam Heisler lined a double into left field that scored Jackson. With second and third and two away, Gay got Ramon Ortega to ground back to the mound to end the threat.
The Winnipeg Goldeyes Rob Nixon had allowed a single walk through the first two innings, but things fell apart after being staked to the one-run lead. Anthony Phillips and Alonzo Harris each drew walks with one out, and a single by Mitch Elliot loaded the bases. Willie Argo followed with a single, scoring both Phillips and Harris to make it 2-1.
In the top of the fourth, the St. Paul Saints extended their lead to two when Vinny DiFazio began the inning with a home run to make it 3-1. It was DiFazio’s fifth home run of the season, which leads the club.
In the fifth, St. Paul plated three more. Harris singled and, after stealing second, moved to third on a sacrifice bunt by Elliot. That brought Argo to the plate, who doubled to bring home his third run of the game. Ian Gac was intentionally walked and Argo came home on a wild pitch that moved Gac to second. Two batters later DiFazio singled to send Gac home and it was 6-1.
Staked to the five-run lead, Gay (1-0) was pulled after five innings. The right-hander allowed 3 hits, 2 walks and an earned run in 5 innings of work for his first win of the season. He retired the last 10 hitters he faced.
From there the St. Paul Saints bullpen closed the door of the Winnipeg Goldeyes. Mikey Mehlich pitched 2.2 innings of shutout ball. Alex Sogard chipped in a third of an inning, where he struck out the only batter he faced. Mike Zouzalik finished out the game with a scoreless ninth inning.
The Saints added two more in the ninth. Gac singled with two outs and Angelo Songco followed with a two-run homer to make it 8-1. It was Songco’s fourth home run of the year, moving his American Association RBI lead to 28.
Argo and DiFazio remain red hot. Argo was 3-5 with a run and 3 RBI. Over the last three games he is 9-15 with 6 runs and 7 RBI. DiFazio extended his hitting streak to five-games. He is 10-23 with 5 runs, 10 RBI and 3 home runs during that span.
The victory is the St. Paul Saints 21st in 24 games. They now have a 10 game lead over the Sioux Falls Canaries, and are 3.5 games ahead of Sioux City for the American Association’s best record.
By Robert Pannier