John Straka Dominates Again in St. Paul Saints 5-0 Victory
The mystery as to what is wrong with starter John Straka is over as the question now becomes how good the St. Paul Saints right-hander can be. After struggling for much of the early part of the season, Straka delivered his second outstanding outing, tossing seven shutout innings in leading his team to a 5-0 victory over the Sioux Falls Canaries. That moved the Saints to 9.5 games ahead in the North Division of the American Association.
Straka was nothing short of brilliant on this night, especially through the first four frames. He retired the side in order in the first two innings before allowing lone singles in the third and fourth. In the fifth, the Canaries mounted their first threat of the game, when Cameron Monger reached on an error and Michael Pair singled with one out. However, Straka struck out Ethan Chapman before getting Blake Schmit to ground out.
While the Saints starter was dominating the Canaries’ bats, his own offense staked him to a lead right away. In the bottom of the first, Tanner Vavra singled with one out and Angelo Songco followed with a single of his own. Next up was Alonzo Harris, who seems to have found a in the No. 4 spot in the order in Manager George Tsamis’ offense. Harris worked the count to 2-2 before fouling off two pitches to stay alive. The next pitch was a ball to make the count full. He then turned on the next pitch, blasting it for a three-run homer, his team leading 12th of the year. The Saints were not done, however. Tony Thomas and Nate Hanson followed with back-to-back singles to put two on with one out. Willie Argo then fouled off two pitches before delivering a single that scored Thomas to make it 4-0.
In the bottom of the second, St. Paul would add another run for their starter. Songco and Harris delivered back-to-back singles with two outs, and Thomas followed with a walk to load the bases. Hanson then drew a walk to drive home Songco to make it 5-0.
That was plenty enough support for Straka (7-2) on this night. The right-hander’s night was done after 7-innnings. He threw 104-pitches, allowing 5-hits and zero walks, while striking out 6. Benji Waite and Cody Wheeler each threw a scoreless innings to finish out the shutout.
Harris continues to heat up as the temperature has risen. He finished the day 2-5 with a run and 3-RBI. In the last five-weeks he has raised his average nearly 70-points and has become an even bigger catalyst for the Saints’ offense.
Songco and Vavra also finished 2-5. Songco scored two-runs. Hanson was 2-3 with a walk and an RBI.
Game 2 of this three-game series is Wednesday night. Robert Coe (6-1, 3.92) gets the start for the St. Paul Saints. He will be opposed by Shawn Blackwell (5-3, 6.63). Game time is 7:05.
By Robert Pannier