Saints Slip Up Against Lemurs, Lose 9-3ST. PAUL, MN July 23, 2016
Through the first third of the ballgame, the St. Paul Saints were in control on Saturday night against the Laredo Lemurs. Dan Johnson, the former Major League outfielder turned knuckleball pitcher, didn’t allow a hit in the first three frames, and the Saints were leading 2-0 going to the fourth. After that the Lemurs bats came to life and the Saints defense seemed to disappear as Laredo exploded for nine runs en-route to a 9-3 win in front of 8,160 fans at CHS Field. With the loss the Saints fall to 41-20 and have a 7.5 game lead in the North Division.
In the second the Saints took the lead courtesy of the long ball. Angelo Songco led off the frame with a walk and left fielder Trever Adams launched his first home run of the season into Saints bullpen, giving St. Paul an early 2-0 lead.
Johnson had good command of both the knuckleball and his fastball in the first three innings. The only base runners reached when Aaron Gretz couldn’t handle strike three to Ty Morrison and when Drew Martinez reached on an error by shortstop Tony Thomas. Those misplays were signs of things to come in the middle third of the ball game.
Leandro Castro reached to start the fourth inning with a single, the first Lemur hit of the ball game. With two outs, Cesar Valera walked before J.D. Pulfer hit an RBI single to left, cutting the lead to just a run at 2-1. Jesus Posso then ripped a two-run single to left, giving the Lemurs a 3-2 lead.
Johnson didn’t get any help from his defense in the fifth inning. With two out, Castro walked and was driven in on a single to left by Denis Phipps. Left fielder Adams had an opportunity to make it a close play at the plate, but threw to second base instead of hitting his cut off man Tony Thomas. Phipps advanced to second on the throw from second to home, and the Lemurs opened a 4-2 lead. Zane Chavez then singled to right and Phipps came in to score when right fielder Breland Almadova, who leads the league in outfield assists, elected to throw the ball to the cutoff man instead of attempting a throw home, making it 5-2. Johnson was lifted after 5.0 innings, giving up five runs off six hits while walking two and striking out four.
Working in relief, Gene Escat couldn’t keep the Lemurs off the board in the sixth, giving up three runs off just one hit and an error. That error came with runners on second and third and allowed two runs to score. Gretz had a ball slip through his legs, allowing Alvaro Rondon to come in and score. When Gretz tried to flip the ball to Escat at home plate, it was out of the reach of the right hander and Drew Martinez raced around from third to score, making it 8-2 Laredo.
Catcher Jesus Posso added another run in the seventh when he hit a two-out homer to left, his sixth of the season, extending the lead to 9-2.
A chance at a rally started in the ninth when Songco led off with a home run to right field, his 12th of the season, to make it 9-3. Adams singled, Nate Hanson walked and Tony Caldwell singled to load the bases with no one out. However, Gretz hit a slow comebacker that turned into a 1-2-3 double play, and Tanner Vavra grounded out to end the game.
The same two teams meet for the series finale on Sunday at 5:05 p.m. The Saints send RHP Robert Coe (7-2, 3.84) to the mound against RHP Barret Loux (3-1, 1.62). Coe can tie Charlie Ruud’s franchise mark of 40 career wins with a victory. It will be Mini-bat giveaway presented by the Minnesota Corn Growers Association and kids run the bases after the game on Family Sunday. The game can be seen on the Saints Cable Network, cable access channels in the Twin Cities, and heard on Club 1220 KLBB.