Devine Dominates But Saints Blanked, 1-0
ST. PAUL, MN (September 1, 2020) – It was a pitching match-up for the ages. St. Paul Saints starter Mike Devine, fifth best ERA in the league, against former 12-game winner in the Major Leagues, and a man who has a no-hitter with the Florida Marlins, Henderson Alvarez. The showdown didn’t disappoint. Devine fanned the second most in franchise history, 13, but the Saints couldn’t do anything against Alvarez and lost 1-0 on Tuesday night at CHS Field in front of a sellout crowd of 1,500. The loss drops the Saints to 25-27 and they remain 2.5 games out of a playoff spot with eight to go.
Devine gave up a leadoff single to Brett Vertigan, but then showed a sign of things to come by striking out the next three hitters.
In the bottom of the first the Saints collected one of only two hits on the night. With two outs Max Murphy singled to center, but Alonzo Harris grounded into a fielder’s choice to end the inning.
In the second, Devine gave up the lone run of the game, but it was due in part to an error. With one out, Mason Davis was hit by a pitch. Zach Nehrir then hit a ground ball to third, but Chesny Young had the ball slip out of his hand as he went to transfer the ball from his glove to his hand. Christian Correa then knocked in the lone run with a single to right. Devine fanned Logan Trowbridge before walking Vertigan to load the bases. David Washington then struck out to end the inning.
The Saints final hit of the night was a Chris Chinea lead off single in the second. Alvarez would get John Silviano to ground into a fielder’s choice, Nate Samson to fly out and Young to line out. Alvarez then went on to retire the next 21 batters he faced.
With two outs in the third, Devine gave up a double to Dylan Tice and then got Mason Davis to fly out to end the inning. That started a string of 17 in a row retired by Devine. Between the last out of the third and the first out of the top of the ninth, Devine and Alvarez retired a combined 38 consecutive hitters. Alvarez went 8.0 shutout innings allowing two hits while striking out five.
Devine, who struck out at least one batter in every inning from the first through the seventh, including all three outs twice, recorded his 13th strikeout to lead off the top of the seventh. Needing one strikeout to tie the franchise record and two to break it, Devine recorded six straight outs without a strikeout, the longest streak without a strikeout for him during the game. With one out in the ninth, Tice doubled to right and Devine departed. Brian Glowicki came on in relief and struck out the two hitters he faced. Devine went 8.1 innings allowing one unearned run on four hits while walking one and striking out 13. He threw 138 pitches, 97 for strikes. The franchise record of 14 was set on June 12, 1999 at Fargo-Moorhead by Roy Smith.
In the ninth the Saints faced Milkmen closer Peyton Gray, who had not allowed a run all season in 27.0 innings. They finally ended the string of 21 consecutive hitters retired when Drew Stankiewicz reached on a leadoff walk. However, he was thrown out trying to steal second and Grey struck out Mikey Reynolds and Chuck Taylor to end the game.
The 1-0 loss was the 18th in franchise history, and first since June 25, 2015 at Fargo-Moorhead.
The same two teams meet in the second game of the three-game series on Wednesday night at 7:05 p.m. The Saints send RHP Nick Belzer (3-3, 4.60) to the mound against Milkmen RHP Chad Hutchison (1-1, 2.08). The game can be seen on the Saints Cable Network, cable access channels in and around the Twin Cities area, streamed at aabaseball.tv, and heard on KFAN Plus, 96.7 FM.
By Sean Aronson, St. Paul Saints