In American Association Daily, Robert Pannier looks at the Sioux Falls Canaries and the impact they are having on the North Division playoff race after going 5-2 last week, and what impact they will likely have aas the season is winding down.
Sioux Falls Canaries – The Team No One Wants to Face
It has been a disappointing season for the Sioux Falls Canaries. The team that started the 2018 season with such high hopes has been left wondering what might have been. The hitting did not deliver as expected and the pitching staff took months to finally start to come around.
Manager Mike Meyer has made a number of great moves during the season to improve the team’s chances, especially in signing four former St. Paul Saints, and that has helped to change the fortunes of the Canaries greatly. Over the last week, Sioux Falls has been the team that no one wants to face and, with 19 games left against playoff contenders, they are in a position to have the most dramatic impact on the 2018 playoff chase.
What a Week Indeed
Last Monday, the St. Paul Saints rolled into Sioux Falls riding high after sweeping the Kansas City T-Bones at home. The Canaries had lost nine of 11 entering the series, and it looked like the Saints would quite possibly sweep.
After winning the first game of the series, 6-4, the Saints had to feel pretty confident with their chances, however, the Canaries clearly had other ideas. Two games and 17 runs later, they had won the series, pushing the Saints into third in the North Division.
The Canaries won Game 2 7-5, as former Saints starter John Straka came out of the bullpen to allow just one run in four innings of work in the victory. Mitch Glasser drove in three and Chris Grayson scored three runs to help lead the way.
In the rubber match, the Canaries looked like they had squandered a huge lead when the St. Paul Saints rallied for five runs in the eighth inning to tie the score at seven. However, another former Saint, Jordan Smith, plated a run in the bottom of the eighth and Sioux Falls scored three runs in the frame to earn the 10-7 victory. Jeff Malm, a left-hander who had started the season in the Saints rotation, drove in two to help lead the team to victory.
The Canaries had helped to put some distance between the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks, second in the North at the time, and the Saints, but it would be the RedHawks turn to find out how much Sioux Falls was relishing the spoiler roll.
The Canaries rolled to victories in the first three contests of the four game set, moving their winning streak to five and pushing Fargo out of second and into third in the North. The Canaries got outstanding pitching, allowing four total runs through the first three games, while getting just enough hitting to win each contest. Mark Seyler, Miles Nordgren, and Dylan Thompson made the first three starts, yielding a total of 15 hits and 3-runs in 19-innings pitched. That dropped the RedHawks to 1.5 games behind the Saints and Gary Southshore RailCats, who are now tied for first in the North Division.
What Lay Ahead
The St. Paul Saints are riding high (once again) after taking three of four from the RailCats to move into a first place tie, but now they welcome the Sioux Falls Canaries for four games, in a series where the Canaries would love to push the Saints back into third once again. After this four game set, St. Paul has three more contests against the Canaries in Sioux Falls starting on August 20.
Fargo-Moorhead is not done with Sioux Falls either. They will finish the season with three against the Canaries in Fargo starting on September 1. The RailCats will have two three-game series against Sioux Falls starting with three in Gary on August 17 and then have three in Sioux Falls on August 29. The Canaries also have three games against the Explorers in Sioux City beginning on August 23.
With that kind of schedule, no team has the ability to play spoiler more than Sioux Falls. If nothing else, they have sure changed the way that teams in the North are looking at the schedule ahead.
By Robert Pannier