Saints Road Woes Continue, Finally Return Home
The Saints Story is a weekly publication that is focused on the St. Paul Saints, the AAA-affiliate of the Minnesota Twins. The Saints Story will discuss the past week’s games, take a look at what lay ahead, and discuss who’s hot and who’s not, plus much more. Also, news from throughout the Minnesota Twins minor league system will be provided, including from the Wichita Wind Surge (AA), the Cedar Rapids Kernels (High-A) and the Fort Myers Mighty Mussels (Low-A).
Record: 16-24, (Ninth place in International League West Division)
Week Record: 1-5
Batting Average: .239 (156h in International League)
Team ERA: 5.18 (18th in International League)
St. Paul Saints Week in Review
It was another disappointing week on the road for the St. Paul Saints as the club went 1-5 against the Omaha Storm Chasers. The club gave up at least eight runs in five of the six games and were outscored during the week 45-27.
Omaha took the opener, winning 8-1 on Tuesday. This was a very close game for six innings, as seen starter Chi Chi Rodriguez allowed one earned run in 5.0 innings. The Saints trailed just 2-1 entering the bottom of the seventh, but gave up five earned runs as Ronny Henriquez allowed five runs on three walks and two hits, including a homerun that secured then victory for Omaha.
On Wednesday, the Storm Chasers scored three runs in the bottom of the first and added single runs in the third and fourth to take a 5-2. The Saints put together an impressive rally, scoring single runs in the sixth and seventh innings, then plating three in the eighth to take a 7-6 lead. However, the bullpen could not hold it, allowing Omaha to tie the score sending this game to extra innings. In the 10th, the Storm Chasers earned the victory when Gabriel Cancel singled up the middle to score Nick Pratto with the winning run. Alex Kirilloff had a big game for St. Paul, going 4-6 with a run and three RBI. That included hitting his first homerun of the season. Jake Cave also went deep for St. Paul as part of a two hit, three run performance.
On Thursday, Omaha scored three runs in the first and second innings to take an early 6-1 lead on their way to an 11-2 victory. The Storm Chasers scored at least one run in five of the eight innings, including adding three more in the sixth. Jordan Balazovic had a tough day, allowing six runs on six hits in 4.0 innings to suffer his first loss of the season. Royce Lewis returned from the Minnesota Twins, going 3-3 including hitting his fourth homerun of the season.
On Friday, the Saints made an impressive comeback, falling behind 5-0 before scoring three in the fifth and four in the seventh to tie the game at seven. Kevin Merrell led the comeback with two hits, a homer, his third of the season, and three RBI. Kirilloff had three hits, but the comeback was thwarted when Vinnie Pasquantino singled to right field to score Angelo Castellano with a winning run in the bottom of the eighth inning. Jharel Cotton took the loss.
On Saturday, St. Paul scored four runs in the top of the first inning then held on for a 4-2 victory. Cave was the hero of the contest, hitting a grand slam for his second homerun of the season. The first three batters of this game reached base for St. Paul before Cave delivered the big blow. Dereck Rodriguez was solid, allowing one run on three hits and five innings, striking out nine. He moved to 2-0 with the victory. Jordan Gore gave up a run in the ninth, but was able to close out the contest for his first save.
On Sunday, St. Paul got off to a great start once again, plating four runs in the top of the first inning thanks to a two-run homer off the bat of Curtis Terry. However, Omaha scored three in the bottom half the inning and tied the score with a run in the second. The Storm Chasers put up one of the sixth and three more in the seventh to take a four-run lead. St. Paul tried to mount to rally in the ninth, pulling within two thanks to RBI singles by Cole Sturgeon and Elliott Soto, but Omaha was able to hang on for the 8-6 victory.
The loss dropped St. Paul to 1-12 in their last 13 games and they went 1-11 during their two-week road trip.
This week, the St. Paul Saints return home to welcome the Indianapolis Indians. Indianapolis enters the contest in fourth place in the International League West at 21-19. The Indians are 15th in hitting with a .240 batting average, hitting 34 home runs in 40 games. Pitching has been the key for Indianapolis, as they are third in ERA (3.82).
The Indians are led by outfielder Cal Mitchell, who is hitting .306 with five homers and 26 RBI. Mason Martin leads the club in homeruns with eight and has 24 extra-base hits in 37 games.
Pitching is what the Indians are all about, however, which is a bit surprising considering that they have had a significant number of transactions involving the staff during the season. So many that no one on this club has pitched as many as 40 innings this year. Cam Alldred has been impressive out of the bullpen, allowing three runs in 20.1 innings (1.33 ERA), striking out 17. Cam Vieaux has also been a key part of this bullpen, posting a 1.42 ERA in 11 appearances. Terry De Los Santos has a 1.72 ERA in 12 appearances, striking out 20 in 15.2 innings. He leads the club with three saves.
Down on the Farm
AA-Wichita Wind Surge
The Wichita Wind Surge went 4-2 during the week against the Springfield Cardinals. Wichita earned victories in the first three games of the series before dropping the contests on Friday and Saturday. The Wind Surge responded with a 2-1 victory on Sunday to win the series.
The club showed a lot of pop early against Springfield, producing 24 runs through the first three games and finished the series with 36 runs scored. Catcher Chris Williams had quite the week, going 9-17 (.529) with four runs scored and two RBI. He also walked six times, giving him a .652 OBP. Williams is now hitting .327 in 15 games since moving up to the Wind Surge. Spencer Steer continues to be the big bat in this lineup, hitting .307 with a club leading eight homeruns and 30 RBI. His 27 runs scored also leads the team.
After struggling in his last two outings, Simeon Woods Richardson was solid in his start again Springfield on May 19, allowing two runs on six hits in 5.0 innings. That lowered his ERA for May to 5.63. This after he had not allowed any earned runs in 21.2 innings in April. Austin Schulfer continues to be a beast out of the bullpen, allowing one earned run in 20.2 innings, striking out 28. There is a core group of guys who have been outstanding out of the bullpen for Wichita, helping them post a 4.03 ERA, tops in the Texas League. Evan Sisk has also been outstanding, posting a 1.08 ERA in 12 appearances and Alex Scherff has given up two earned runs in 11.0 innings (1.64). Cody Funderburk has a 1.90 ERA and three victories in 10 relief appearances.
The Wind Search travel to take on Corpus Christi starting on Tuesday. The Hooks are 15-24, last in the Texas League South Division. They are 3-7 in their last 10, and are 6-9 at home this season. The Corpus Christi pitching staff has struggled this year, posting a 6.40 ERA, ninth best, and the hitting has not been much better, as the club is eighth overall with a .249 batting average. The Hooks are tied with Wichita for sixth with 42 homeruns.
High-A-Cedar Rapids Kernels
The Cedar Rapids Kernels had their toughest week of the season, going 2-4 against Lake County. The Kernels lost the first two games of the series before earning an 11-2 victory on Thursday. Lake County then earned victories on Friday and Saturday before Cedar Rapids came away with a 6-1 victory on Sunday.
Christian Encarnacion Strand had been struggling since his red-hot start, but had a solid week, going .278 with two home runs and five RBI. Encarnacion Strand is hitting .320 with seven home runs and 34 RBI in 37 games. Anthony Prato is still struggling, going 2-16 in the series and is hitting .186 over the last month.
The pitching continues to be the story for Cedar Rapids. They are first in the Midwest League with a 2.84 ERA. This despite allowing 29 runs in the six-game series last week. The starting staff continues to dominate for the Kernels, led by Brent Headrick who is 4-1 with a 1.36 ERA in seven starts. Headrick has allowed just 15 hits and seven walks in 33.0 innings pitched. Sawyer Gipson-Long has also been brilliant, posting a 2.56 ERA in seven starts. He has allowed 25 hits and six walks in 31.2 innings. The starting pitchers have a 2.78 ERA for Cedar Rapids, going 15-9 with 212 strikeouts in 174.2 innings pitched, posting a 1.04 WHIP.
The Kernels welcome the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers to town starting on Tuesday. Wisconsin is 1.0 games behind Cedar Rapids in the Midwest League West Division, going 6-4 over their last 10 games. They are 10-8 on the road. The Timber Rattlers are fifth in ERA at 3.93 and fifth in batting average at .229. They have hit 29 home runs in 39 games.
Wisconsin is led by Tristan Peters and Tyler Black. Peters is hitting .300 with 24 runs scored and 15 runs driven in. He has a .377 on-base percentage and a .860 OPS. Black is also hitting .300, scoring 20 runs and driving in 21 in 25 games. He has walked 15 times, giving him a .413 OBP.
The starting staff has performed well for the Timber Rattlers. Brandon Knarr has made eight starts this season, posting a 1.17 ERA in a 0.91 WHIP. Antoine Kelly has made eight starts and has a 2.52 ERA, posting a 0.99 WHIP.
A- Fort Myers Mighty Mussels
The Fort Myers Mighty Mussels added two extra games during the week, as they completed a suspended game from May 1 and made up a postponed contest from April 30. The Mighty Mussels went 5-3 overall in the series against Clearwater. Pitching was the key for the team once again, as Fort Myers allowed 31 runs in eight games, and 10 of those came in one contest.
The Mighty Mussels are in first in the Florida State League West Division at 25-13, 4.0 games ahead of Clearwater. They are 8-2 in their last 10, and 13-8 on the road as they head for Bradenton on Tuesday. Fort Myers is fourth in hitting (.240), but this club is about pitching, first in the league with a 2.81 ERA.
Travis Adams enters the series at 3-0 with a 2.03 ERA in six starts. He has allowed just 21 total baserunners, giving him a 0.68 WHIP and an opponent batting average of .151. John Stankiewicz has been impressive in his four starts, going 3-0 with a 0.83 ERA, striking out 31 in 21.2 innings while allowing 11 hits and five walks. David Festa (1.50 ERA) and Marco Raya (2.63 ERA) have been fantastic in the starting rotation as well. The starting pitching for the Mighty Mussels is first with a 2.76 ERA. The bullpen combination of Matthew Swain (0.00 ERA, 12 appearances, 7 saves) and John Wilson (0.61, 8 appearances) has been spectacular.
Fort Myers travels to take on Bradenton. The Marauders are in third in the West Division, 6.5 games behind Fort Myers. Bradenton is 12-6 at home and are 4-6 in their last 10 games. The Marauders are sixth in ERA (3.87) and third in hitting (.240).
Jacob Gonzalez is off to an impressive start for Bradenton, hitting .393 with four home runs in 16 RBI in 24 games. He has a .477 on-base percentage and a 1.129 OPS. Jase Bowen leads the club with five homeruns and 22 RBI in 37 games.
The pitching staff is led by an impressive bullpen that has four relievers who have combined to make 27 appearances and all four hurlers have ERA’s under 2.00. Dante Mendoza has been spectacular, posting a 4-1 record with a 1.17 ERA in 10 appearances.
By Robert Pannier