St. Paul Saints manager George Tsamis made some adjustments to his lineup Thursday night, but one thing did not change – Keith Brachold in right field, and thankfully for Tsamis Brachold came through for him for the second game in a row, as the Saints beat the Sioux City Explorers 4-2 in a Thursday matinee. The win was St. Paul’s third in a row and moved them just two games behind the Winnipeg Goldeyes for the top seed in the North Division.
The Saints got on top in the bottom of the first inning against Explorers starter Patrick Johnson.
Devan Thaut singled to center field and scored one out later when Willie Cabrera doubled into the gap in center to give the Saints a 1-0 lead. It was a big game for Cabrera who was 3-3 at the plate with a run and first inning RBI. The first inning hit also extended Cabrera’s hitting streak to 19 games now; a streak where he has gone 35-83 (.422) with 14 runs scored and 12 RBI.
Sioux City would get the run back and take the lead over the next two innings. In the top of the second. Saints starter Robert Coe gave up a double to Andres Perez to start the inning, and looked like he was going to get out of it unscathed, but Amos Ramon would provide a two out single to score Perez and the game was tied. In the top of the third Coe would give up another leadoff double, this time to Michael Lang. Two batters later Lang would score on a suicide squeeze by Tim Cowell, and the Saints were trailing 2-1.
Despite the two early runs, Coe would settle down and pitch a masterful game. He gave up six hits in his six innings of work, with a walk and two strike outs. His quality start would not go unrewarded.
In the bottom of the sixth the Saints would put together a huge inning to get the lead. Cabrera singled to lead off the inning, and his hit was followed with a single by Henry Wrigley that put runners on first and second with no one out. Angelo Songco laid down a perfect bunt that moved the two into scoring position, and Jake Taylor dug out of 0-2 count to draw the seven pitch walk. Brachold then came through. The right fielder, down 1-2 in the count, doubled off the wall in right field to send Cabrera and Wrigley home and give St. Paul the lead. Joey Becker followed with a shot to right field that scored Taylor, but Brachold was thrown out at the plate on a beautiful throw from Explorers right fielder Michael Lang. The inning ended, but the damage was done. The Saints were up 4-2 and they were not going to relinquish the lead.
Mikey Mehlich pitched in the seventh and eighth innings, giving up two hits while also striking out two. Saints closer Dan Sattler came on in the ninth to end the game and earn his 18 save of the season. The win went to Coe who moved to 5-6, while the loss fell on Johnson, who now drops to 6-5.
For the second straight game Brachold had the winning hit. In Tuesday’s game he had a single that scored Evan Bigley to give the Saints a 1-0 lead. The Saints won the game 5-0, and Brachold homered to lead off the ninth to raise the score to 2-0. Thursday night he came through again, with a big two-run that turned a one-run deficit into a one-run lead. He is clearly coming up clutch for the Saints.
By Robert Pannier
Senior Baseball Editor
Member of the IBWAA