St. Paul Saints, The Home Stretch Begins
Image courtesy of Szer DesignIn the first series, the local nine jumped all over the Explorers thanks to a couple of great pitching performances. Kramer Sneed tossed eight shutout innings in a 2-0 win in the opener, allowing only four hits while striking out three. The second game saw Jeff Shields go seven strong with only one run crossing the plate in the team's 6-1 victory. He also added four strikeouts in the contest.
Ben Szeremeta writes about the Saints regularly at SaintsTrain.com
In the last game of the series, the Saints extra-inning woes continued as they fell to 2-4 in games that have made it to at least the 11th inning. The reason the 11th inning is the benchmark here is because that's when the International extra inning rule comes into play. The rule reads that each team begins with a player on second base starting each inning from the 11th on. The runner is the last out from the previous inning. The rest of the at-bat is then played like normal.
The reasoning behind the gimmicky rule is solid: rosters are only 22 players in the American Association and bullpens are at a premium and can be killed by a 15 inning game. I myself do not like this current rule, or at least this version of it. I believe if kept, the rule needs to be changed to a runner starting on first not second. At least this way the pitching team has a shot at a double play without having to walk an extra base runner. Either way it doesn't feel right. But I understand - if they fix it.
The results of the second half of the homestand didn't turn out the way the Saints would have liked. For the first time all season the St. Paul nine lost a series at CHS Field. After winning the first game 5-2 behind a complete game effort from starter Robert Coe (9IP, 3H, 2ER, 7K), the Saints lost the final two games, dropping the series 2-1.
My MVP for the 'stand is the Tarp Crew. I don't think most people realize how dangerous a job it really is. When the wind picks up the tarp can throw just about anyone, no matter your size, around like a rag doll. During this home stand everyone with the Saints pitched in and deserves a round of applause. From the GM to interns, all available staff, and even a few players, helped out. Well done everyone.
Also during the last homestand, two more Saints records were broken. First, Saints manager George Tsamis set his own single season win total with 63 by winning the opening game of the Explorers series. The previous best of 62 came in 2002 when he managed the New Jersey Jackals. Second, we once again set an all-time single game attendance record with 10,430 for Thursday night's series finale versus Sioux City.
An entertainment highlight from the 'stand was when all the Ushertainers on hand for Sunday's game (Nerd, Nerdette, Coach, Miss Adventure, and Chef Sharte) had an epic dance party on the field in front of the Saints dugout between innings. Each character had his or her own moment to show off, with the party culminating with everyone dancing together. Even though I've seen it a ton of times, I still think Nerd doing The Worm is the best there is.
Remember when I said Steph and I were going to pick random sections and areas of the ballpark to watch part of the game from? It was in my second Saints story on TwinsDaily this year. Of course you do, what was I thinking? Sorry to doubt my devoted readers. Anyways…
This homestand we picked the seats directly behind home plate for the last couple of innings of Wednesday's day game. The ballpark emptied out pretty quick after a couple short misty rains and seats were aplenty for those of us that remained. I don't believe I have even ever sat in the equivalent of these at any professional game before. Wow, what a view! Especially at CHS Field where the seats are at field level.
After the six straight in St. Paul, the Saints hit the road for three games in Wichita against the Wingnuts. Then they traveled to Kansas City for a four game set with the T-Bones. The road trip was a success as the Saints were able to set up their rotation for the playoffs and also win four of the seven games in the process. Heading into Monday's off day the team now has a 68-25 record, second only to the Sioux City Explorers 69-23 mark.
Also on the trip, the Saints became the second team in American Association history to have four pitchers with ten or more wins in a season. Robert Coe joined Dustin Crenshaw, Kramer Sneed and Jeff Shields with double digit victories on the year.
The next and final regular season homestand begins today, Tuesday, Sept 1st, when the Gary Southshore Railcats come to town for four games. Three more versus the New Jersey Jackals follow to finish out the schedule.
As the regular season comes to a close we look forward to one of the best nights of the year, Fan Appreciation Night. The Saints always go all out with giveaways, contests, a post-game monster food truck rally, and a fireworks super show. I have a feeling Sunday is going to be a fun day.