ST. PAUL, MN (July 8, 2012) – A harmless intentional walk turned into a disastrous moment for the St. Paul Saints as they let another lead after seven innings disappear losing 3-2 to the Sioux City Explorers on Sunday afternoon at Midway Stadium in front of 4,838.
With the score tied at two in the ninth inning Wally Backman Jr. led off with a double off of lefty Kyle Carr. Chris Odegaard came out of the bullpen to try and keep the game tied. Tyler Goodro laid down a sacrifice bunt moving Backman Jr. to third. With the infield in and one out Odegaard struck out Mike Murphy for the second out. With Brandon Newton coming to the plate and hitting .320 this season, the Saints elected to intentionally walk him to face Yusuke Inoguchi who was 1-17 against the Saints this season. The very first wide pitch by Odegaard went to the backstop. Catcher Benji Johnson raced after it as Backman Jr. tried to score. With Odegaard hustling to cover the plate, Johnson’s throw went wide and Backman Jr. scored the eventual winning run. It’s the second consecutive game and third time in the last five games the Saints have lost a game when leading after seven.
The Saints carried a 2-1 lead into the eighth, but the Explorers tied it when Newton walked and was sacrificed to second by Inoguchi. Pinch hitter Peter Barrows’ grounder up the middle was snagged on a diving backhanded play by Jon Townsend who threw out Barrows as Newton went to third. Saints starter Alberto Rolon left the game with an apparent injury on the play. That brought in the lefty Carr to face the lefty Kris Sanchez, who was hitting .143 against left handers. On the first pitch he drilled one off the base of the wall in center for an RBI double tying the game at two.
The Saints had a golden opportunity to take the lead in the bottom of the inning on a miscue by the Explorers. Alex Garabedian led off with a tapper to the right of the mound that Eddie Delacruz picked up and threw down the right field line allowing Garabedian to take third. With the infield drawn in the Saints sent the top of the order up. Adam Frost grounded out to short which held Garabedian at third. Jake Krause pinch ran for Garabedian and Jose Hernandez hit a grounder to second. Krause broke for the plate, but was thrown out and the Saints failed to take the lead.
Saints starter Rolon was incredible all game long. He went 7.2 innings allowing two runs (one earned) on four hits while walking one and striking out three. It was Rolon’s longest outing of the season and the third consecutive quality start for the Saints.
The Saints took a 1-0 lead in the fourth when Jim Rapoport reached on an infield single extending his streak of reaching base safely to 28 straight games. Ole Sheldon doubled him home giving him 207 in his Saints career, six shy of breaking Brent Krause’s (2007-11) franchise record of 212.
The Explorers tied the game in the fifth when Mike Murphy singed to short with one out. He advanced to third when Newton reached on an error by Frost at short. Inoguchi’s sac fly tied the game at one.
Frost atoned for the error in the bottom of the sixth when he clubbed a solo homer to left-center, his third of the season, to give the Saints a 2-1 lead.
The same two teams meet in game three of the four game series Monday evening at 7:05 p.m. The Saints are TBA and the Explorers send RHP Nick Schumacher (4-2, 5.29) to the mound. It is When in Minnesota Do As the Spanish do…It’s the Running of the Pigs: Rubio Fever. The first 1,500 fans receive a blue neckerchief.