GRAND PRAIRIE, TX (July 11, 2013) – Less than seven miles separate the Ballpark in Arlington from QuickTrip Park. For Mark Hamburger, pitching for the Texas Rangers just two seasons ago, he had the lively Major League arm on Thursday night throwing a complete game, six-hit gem with 11 strikeouts as the St. Paul Saints defeated the Grand Prairie AirHogs 2-0.
Hamburger ran into trouble in the third when Ryan Kiniry hit a sinking fly ball to center and Jose Hernandez appeared to stumble while going after ball. After regaining his balance Hernandez dove, but the ball got by him and rolled to the wall for a triple. Hamburger walked his only batter of the night, Ryan Kiniry to put runners at the corners with nobody out. He got Ryan Pineda to pop out and then induced Brandon Pinckney to hit a ground ball to short which Adam Frost fielded, touched second and threw to first for the double play.
In the fourth inning Hamburger gave up a leadoff single to Brian Myrow followed by a single to Andres Rodriguez that put runners at first and second with nobody out. He once again got a double play off the bat of Juan Richardson. Hamburger got Kenny Held to ground out to end the inning.
While Hamburger didn’t give up a run through the first four innings, he only had one strike out at the time. In the fifth, however, he strung together five straight innings with two strikeouts. He retired nine straight from the fourth inning until the first out of the seventh. After giving up back-to-back one out singles to Richardson and Held in the seventh, he struck out Angel Flores and got Gibbs to fly out to right to end the inning.
In the ninth Hamburger hit the leadoff hitter Myrow. He then struck out Rodriguez. After giving up a pinch hit single to Yasutsugu Nishimoto to put runners at first and second, Hamburger struck out Held looking and got Flores to hit a grounder to Joey Becker at third, which he picked up and touched third to end the game.
It’s the second time this season Hamburger has struck out 11 and the second complete game shutout of the season for the Saints. Cole Nelson had the other one on June 12 vs. Fargo-Moorhead. Hamburger threw 112 pitches, 81 for strikes.
The Saints got Hamburger all the run support he would need in the sixth. Brad Boyer doubled with two outs and Willie Cabrera singled to left. Boyer raced around third and slid to the foul side to avoid the tag and give the Saints a 1-0 lead.
In the seventh Ole Sheldon led off with a solo homer to left-center, his third of the season. AirHogs starter Derek Blacksher was impressive going 8.1 innings allowing two runs on seven hits while striking out five, but was the hard luck loser.
The same two teams meet Friday night in game two of the four game series at QuickTrip Park at 7:05 p.m. The Saints are TBA and the AirHogs will send RHP Josh Strawn (6-2, 2.84) to the mound.