By Jake Meikel
A bat-cracking statement and solid pitching by the Winnipeg Goldeyes stunned the St. Paul Saints 15-1 on Saturday night after losing in comeback fashion the night before.
In large part to the solid pitching by Kevin McGovern of the Goldeyes, the visiting team gave up just eight hits the entire game.
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First baseman Brady Shoemaker went 0-4 on the night, which is rare considering his .342 batting average on the season.
“It’s baseball and it’s tough some nights,” Shoemaker said. “You just gotta show up tomorrow and hopefully have a better day.”
Shoemaker’s struggles only followed suit with the rest of the Saints’ batting order. McGovern’s variety of pitches mixed with the heat that came with each one of them wasn’t ideal for St. Paul.
The pitching for the Saints was shaky from the very start as Dustin Crenshaw got the starting nod on the mound. The third-year player for the team gave up two homers in the first inning. Crenshaw lasted three innings before newcomer Ryan Smith, signed just one day ago, entered the game.
At almost 30 years of age and not slowing down anytime soon, the right hander Smith gave up no hits in the two innings he was able to give to the team before a couple other pitchers from the staff got their time.
Smith has now entered a clubhouse that has by far the highest average attendance rate in the American Association. He felt the support system the minute he set foot on St. Paul grounds.
“It just feels like it’s homey. Everyone treats us like family and that’s what we want as a player. Again, I haven’t been here as much, but what I’ve been told and what I’ve seen just makes it feel like home to me,” Smith said.
His welcome did not include a press conference or a billboard that says “Welcome Ryan,” but in a community where just across the bridge is home to one of the best teams in Major League Baseball right now, the St. Paul Saint’s fans always spread their love to newcomers on the team.
Since he has now almost entered what many believe is a drop-off age for an athlete, Smith understands what it means to stay in the best possible condition. His acquaintance with his new training was helping him perform some new shoulder exercises to extend his playing career.
“This is just something new,” Smith said. “Just trying to stay healthy. I’m almost 30. I feel like I’m 12. I’m just trying to stay healthy and play the rest of the season.”