Devine Divine But Offense Struggles in Loss in Milwaukee, 3-1
SIOUX FALLS, SD (July 17, 2020) – St. Paul Saints starter Mike Devine was on point on Friday night at Sioux Falls Stadium as he struck out a career high 10. A thrilling bottom of the ninth tied the game, but the defense continues to plague the Saints as they committed two errors in the 10th inning that resulted in two unearned runs in a 3-1, 10 inning loss to the Milwaukee Milkmen.
With the Saints trailing 1-0 in the bottom of the ninth Karch Kowalczyk came on to close it out for the Milkmen. He walked the leadoff hitter Chesny Young. Chris Chinea then roped a game tying RBI double to the gap in left-center. Kowalczyk settled down and struck out Josh Allen and Max Murphy and got John Silviano to ground out to end the inning.
In the 10th the Saints, who came in with the worst fielding percentage in the league along with the most errors, hurt themselves on three consecutive plays. Aaron Hill led off with a ground ball just to the left of shortstop Connor Justus who had the ball go off his glove and skip behind him for an error. Brett Vertigan then laid down a sacrifice bunt to first, but as John Silviano went to pick up the ball and take a peek at second he dropped the ball for an error. The Milkmen once again sacrificed with Dylan Tice as the Saints put on the wheel play where the third baseman charges, and the shortstop goes to cover third. Young fielded the ball at third and fired to Justus covering the bag, but the throw was just a touch late to load the bases. Mason Davis followed with a sacrifice fly to left and the Saints got the double play as Vertigan was run down between second and third as Tice took second on the play as the Saints trailed 2-1. After an intentional walk to David Washington, Zach Nehrir made it 3-1 with an RBI single to right.
It was a pitcher’s duel all night between Devine and a host of Milkmen pitchers. Devine was simply brilliant as he struck out at least one hitter in each inning he pitched. He allowed just two singles through the first five innings.
In the sixth, the Milkmen finally got to him as Vertigan reached on a one out single to right. Tice followed with a single to right advancing Vertigan to third. Davis then worked an 11 pitch at bat against Devine and his sacrifice fly scored Vertigan giving the Milkmen a 1-0 lead. Devine went 7.0 innings allowing one run on four hits while walking two and striking out a career high 10. His previous career high was eight on July 31, 2014.
The same two teams meet in the second game of the three-game series on Saturday night at 6:05 p.m. at Sioux Falls Stadium. The Saints send RHP Ryan Zimmerman (1-1, 3.55) against Milkmen RHP Taylor Ahearn (0-0, 2.70). The game can be heard on KFAN Plus, 96.7 FM and seen on aabaseball.tv.
By Sean Aronson, St. Paul Saints