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St. Paul Saints, Staying in the Hunt

With the playoff chase in full swing and the last full month of the regular season underway, the Saints are looking to get back to their winning ways and to close the gap between themselves and a playoff berth. First up was a showdown with the second-place team in the North, the Fargo-Moorhead Redhawks. Following that there was a series versus the wild card-contending Gary SouthShore Railcats.
Image courtesy of courtesy of Szer Design
Fargo-Moorhead Redhawks (Aug 3rd-6th)
The Saints' first two games back at CHS Field unfortunately continued the woes the team has been having for a little more than a month. A 6-2 loss in the opener and a 6-5 follow-up had everyone wondering when the team would snap out of their funk. Well, they snapped out of it in games three and four and showed us what we knew they had all along, a fight and a hunger for staying in the race.

Saying the Saints bats came alive in the third game would be an understatement. The 12-2 romp of Fargo included a season team high 19 hits, with eight of the nine starters getting at least one, eight of nine scoring at least one run and seven of nine recording at least one RBI. Tim Colwell led the charge with a two-RBI triple in the team’s biggest inning, a seven-run fourth. Nate Hansen extended his hitting streak to 16 games, going 2-4 in the contest.

In the fourth game, Saints pitcher Mark Hamburger took the mound and took over once again. Hamburger tossed his league-leading sixth complete game, holding the Redhawks to just two runs on eight hits in the 6-2 victory. Tim Colwell once again came up big for the offense, going 3-4 and driving in three runs. In a hard-fought series, the Saints split the four games with the Redhawks, putting them 3.5 games out of first and 1.5 behind Fargo for second in the division.

Gary SouthShore Railcats (Aug 7th-9th)
Next up was a trip to Gary, IN for a visit to U.S. Steel Park and three games versus the Railcats. Like the last series and most of the remaining schedule, these games also had playoff implications: Gary sat a half-game ahead of the Saints in the wild card hunt.

The opener was a tightly contested, well-pitched game that could have gone either way. With the score tied at one in the bottom of the ninth, the Railcats hit what looked to be the game-winning sacrifice fly. But after an appeal at third by the Saints, the apparent game-winning runner was ruled out for leaving the bag too early and the play turned into a double play. Then, in the twelfth inning, the Saints offense came through, putting their second run on the board. Kes Carter scored from third on an infield single by Breland Almadova giving the Saints a 2-1 lead that they held for the win.

Both teams' pitching staffs dominated most of the game, striking out 18 combined batters while allowing only 15 total hits. Saints reliever Jason Hoppe got his second start of season and went 6.1 strong innings, giving up just one run on four scattered hits.

The Saints followed that win up with a 6-4 win on Tuesday, but things don’t look as rosy on Wednesday. They trail 8-3 as this is being published. Below are the North Division and Wildcard playoff races as of August 9th, and don’t forget to check saintsbaseball.com for up-to-date complete league wide standings.

Playoff Picture
North Division
44-31 Winnipeg Goldeyes
41-32 Fargo Moorhead Redhawks – 2.5 games back
41-33 St. Paul Saints – 3 games back

42-31 Kansas City T-Bones
41-32 Fargo-Moorhead Redhawks 1 game back
41-33 St. Paul Saints 1.5 games back
40-35 Gary SouthShore Railcats 3 games back

Looking Ahead
The Saints return home to CHS Field today, Thursday, August 10th, for a four-game series against the Sioux Falls Canaries. The visitors have fallen to 10.5 games out of first in the division, but they always play the Saints tough and will be another hard test in the chase for the playoffs.

Promotions for the home stand include, St. Patty’s Day in August (Aug 10th), Earbud giveaway and Friday Night Fireworks (Aug 11th), Foam Baseball Mitt giveaway (Aug 13th).

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Aug 10 2017 06:23 AM
It has been a tough season with injuries so a playoff berth would be rewarding.

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