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Balls, Bats and Bases: St. Paul Saints Style

John Clinger



Twins Video

Saints To Open Season’s Last Series at CHS Field Tuesday

2023 Season: Game 139-144 Recaps – Game Dates September 12-17, 2023


(Out of the triple-A International League playoffs with a 37-32 record in the season’s second half (80-63 overall), the Saints begin a 6-game home stand to close out the year Tuesday (tomorrow) at 6:37 p.m. against the Toledo MudHens. Game times: 6:37 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday; 12:07 p.m. Sunday.)

Cubs 1, Saints 0
Sunday, Sept. 17

An errant throw to 1st base on a double play attempt in the 2nd innings plated the only run as the Saints dropped their fifth game in a row, 1-0, to the host Iowa Cubs yesterday (Sunday).

The loss spoiled an otherwise great outing by Saints starter Festa and relievers Headrick, Boyle and Sands. They yielded only 3 hits (all in the 2nd inning) and 3 walks while striking out 9 Cubs.

Cubs 7, Saints 5
Saturday, Sept. 16

Triple-A baseball has a pretty screwy playoffs format this season, with only two International League teams that will play for the right to meet a California League team for the title in the highest class under the major leagues. The Saints, with the third-best record among all 20 IL teams, are out of the playoffs hunt after losing to the Iowa Cubs, 7-5, last night (Saturday) in Des Moines.

The Saints played the type of game that will usually get you beat. They committed three errors and managed just one extra-base hit among six safeties. Saints starter Murphy gave up 7 hits including a double, triple and home run.

Recent double-A promote Festa (1-0, 2.79) will take the mound at 1:08 p.m. as the Saints try to end a 4-game losing streak.

Cubs 7, Saints 6
Friday, Sept. 15

Trevor Larnach, the Twins’ top draft pick in 2018 whose MLB career was interrupted in 2022 by an injury, is having quite a season with the triple-A Saints. He ranks 6th in the International League in OPS at 1.155 and 10th in batting at .366.

His 3-run homer, 15th for the season, in the 9th inning last night (Friday) pulled the Saints within one run, but the Iowa Cubs held on for a 7-6 win. It was the Saints’ 6th straight loss. Although they are out of the IL playoffs chase, they can still win the Western Division over the final 8 games of the season.

Two Twins players began injury rehab assignments. Brock Stewart pitched one scoreless inning and utility player Nick Gordon went hitless in three at-bats.

Two games remain in Des Moines before the Saints close out the season with a 6-game home series against the Toledo Mudhens starting Tuesday, Sept. 19.

The Cubs 9, Saints 3
Thursday, Sept. 14

The Saints dropped their third in a row to the Iowa I-Cubs, 9-3, yesterday (Thursday) in Des Moines to fall 6 games out of the lone remaining triple-A International League playoffs spot with only 9 games left to go in the regular season.

Randy Dobnak, the former Twins starter, broke Ronny Henriquez’s record of 106 strikeouts in a season since the Saints became affiliated with the Twins in 2021. He has 109 now. Also for the Saints, Camargo smashed his 19th home run of the season and Lee lashed a pair of doubles.

Cubs 4, Saints 3
Wednesday, Sept. 13

Saints hurler Simeon Woods Richardson, who was benched from one start in June and since then had compiled a 2.97 earned run average, was sharp again yesterday (Wednesday), but his teammates could muster only three runs, and St. Paul fell to the I-Cubs in Des Moines, 4-3.

Without going 10-0, or close to that, for the rest of the season, the Saints have little chance of a playoff spot in the triple-A International League. They trail three teams by 1 to 5 games.

Woods Richardson worked the first 5 innings and gave up just one run, walking 3 batters and striking out 5. Two-way player Bechtold, who is trying to establish himself as a pitcher, entered the game in relief in the 6th with a 2-1 lead and gave up 3 earned runs while facing only 6 batters. The Saints came up short after that, scoring 1 additional run and just missing 2 more on a line drive to the warning track that the centerfielder tracked down to prevent St. Paul from retaking the lead.

St. Paul took a 1st-inning lead for the seventh consecutive game as Helman doubled, stole 3rd base and scored on a wild pitch. Helman leads the team in batting average at .304 and has been hot in the leadoff spot during those seven quick starts.

Iowa tied the game in the 3rd, but St. Paul retook the lead, 2-1, as Pérez belted his 10th home run of the season for only the third time in his 16-year professional career. After falling behind, 4-2, in Iowa’s 3-run 6th, the Saints got a solo home run from Severino in the 7th -- his 10th as a Saint and 34th overall this year, which co-leads all of the minor leagues.

Saints 4, Cubs 1
Tuesday, Sept. 12

The Saints got to Iowa’s starting pitcher for three quick runs, then relied on their own hurlers to secure a 4-1 win over the Cubs in the opener of a 6-game series in Des Moine, IA last night (Tuesday).

St. Paul is still four games out of the triple-A International League playoffs with 11 games to go in the regular season. (If anybody knows the mathematical chances, or oddsmakers’ offerings, of the Saints securing the final spot, please shoot me an email at johnclinger@gmail.com.)

Martin put the Saints up 1-0 in the 1st inning by slashing a double that scored Larnach. Severino hit his 33rd home run in the minor leagues this season to open the 2nd. Camargo followed with a triple and came home on a single by Helman to give St. Paul a 3-0 cushion halfway through the 3rd.

With the Saints pitching “by committee” again because some of their starters are now with the Twins, McMahon worked the first two innings. A key moment in the game came when one of the Cubs’ best hitters was charged with a pitch violation, resulting in an automatic third strike, for not “re-engaging” the pitcher with 8 seconds left in the pitching cycle after the timeout he had called. The International League is experimenting with this rule as well as the Automatic Ball-Strike (ABS) system, and they could be coming to the major leagues as early as next season.

The two teams traded a run apiece in the bottom of the 3rd and top of the 4th. The Saint’s run came when Camargo reached 1st base on a throwing error, stole 2nd, and scored on another single by Helman.

The Saints’ relief committee of Schulfer (W, 6-3), Brice, Henriquez and Sands (S, 3) shut down the Cubs in the final 5-1/3 innings with no runs, 2 walks and 9 strikeouts.

How to Hear and See the Saints

All games on KFAN Plus (96.7 FM), I-Heart app, MiLB.TV, Bally app (Apple only); home games on local television public programming (consult your TV listings); Saturday and Sunday home games televised on WUCW (The CW Network).


Go to gzrnetwork.com to receive my blog after every Saints game.



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