This series much like the last had a couple of roster changes for the Saints. First, after Friday's game outfielder Jose Hernandez was traded to the Fargo Redhawks for the reversionary rights to catcher/outfielder Alex Burg, and two players to be named later. Second, outfielder Willie Cabrera left the team after Friday's game to return home and focus on his upcoming year of college.
The Saints and Railcats began their three game series on Friday, August 23rd at Midway. The series would conclude a string of twenty strait games played by the Saints without a day off, their longest consecutive game stretch of the season. The first game would see the Saints offense come back to life after three shutouts in a row, but the outcome of this game, and the series would not go the Saints way. They were swept by the Railcats and officially eliminated from playoff contention after Sunday's loss.
Friday's series opener started off slowly for the Saints. They were down 5-0 in the fourth before finally getting on the board (ending their scoreless inning streak at thirty innings, not a typo, thirty innings without scoring a run), scoring two runs in the bottom of the inning. The Saints then continued to roll, scoring three in the fifth to tie the game at five, and taking the lead 6-5 on a Willie Cabrera solo home run in the seventh. Unfortunately the Saints bullpen was not able to hold in the eighth and ninth as the Railcats scored seven total runs in the two innings. The Saints lost the game by a score of 12-6. The promotion for the night was, "Comic Book Night". The first 2000 fans in the gate received a free pack of comic books thanks to Mind's Eye Comics in Eagan. The Saints also auctioned off special autographed jerseys with a Superman style Saints logo on front. During the game there was almost every super hero and villain from the comics you could think of wandering the stadium. Two of the best being Brian Kelly as Superman, and Mudonna as Wonder Woman. The highlight of the in between inning contests was a super hero vs villain tug of war. After the game concluded the Saints welcomed the Long Haul Bombers, a touring group of players with the Softball Stadium Power Tour who compete in a home run derby at pro and minor league stadiums across the country. Wow could these guys crush a softball! Even with loaded custom bats it was impressive to see someone hit a softball between 400-500 feet. There were quite a few bombs that may have cleared the train tracks behind the left field wall. My MVP for the game is Willie Cabrera (2-4, 2R, 2RBI, HR)
The second game between the Saints and Railcats saw two Saints records fall during the night, even in a losing effort. Pitcher Mark Hamburger set the Saints records for strikeouts and innings pitched in a season. Hamburger has 115 strikeouts and 140 innings pitched. The previous records were set at 111 strikeouts (Jake Whitney, 2002) and 139.1 innings pitched (Robert Coe, 2012). With one start left on the year (Saturday night at Midway) Hamburger will extend the records even further and almost ensure himself a place in the Saints record books for many years to come. Too bad for Hamburger the Saints offense was once again blanked in the game, being held to four hits during their fourth shutout in five games. The Saints lost the game 6-0. The promotion for the night was, "Professional Scouts Baseball Hall of Fame Night" presented by Killebrew Root Beer. Prior to the game the Saints inducted long time scout for the Detroit Tigers, and Cleveland Indians John Mirabelli. Mirabelli also held the role of Assistant General Manager, and currently is the Senior Director of Scouting for the Indians. Congratulations John! My MVP for the game is Mark Hamburger (6IP, 2ER, 6K's, 2 Saints records set).
The series finally was played on a scorching Sunday afternoon in St. Paul. The Saints jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the first, but saw their lead evaporate in the hot sun by the fifth inning. The Railcats scored one in the fourth to tie the game, then took the lead with three in the fifth, and added one more in the sixth to lead 6-1. The Saints closed the gap with two runs of their own in the sixth, but would not score again after that, losing the game 6-3. The loss, as mentioned above, officially eliminated the Saints from the playoff chase. The promotion for the game was, "How hard could it be? I saw it on Pinterest. DIY Day". The highlight of the day for me was when my wife, Stephanie, was chosen to participate in a craft contest on the field. Contestants were given a picture of a real Pinterest item and had to recreate it using materials provided by the Saints. Stephanie won the contest by recreating a horse with pink and white puff balls. Another fun part of the day was when The Coach and Annie Ballerini had super soakers (which I brought from home for them, oh yeah I'm taking credit because it was awesome!) running around the stadium soaking anyone who wanted to get wet to try to beat the heat. At one point Coach and Annie had a water fight with each other on the concourse, and Annie even decided to go after Stadium Correspondent, Brian Kelly, when he told her that was enough. She completely soaked him from his head to his waist. Great fun! After the game was finished, as with all Sunday games, the entire Saints team and coaches headed back out to the field to sign autographs for all fans in attendance. For the first time this year we made our way down to the field with a ball to have it signed. Even after a loss, and in the 100 heat, the players and coaches signed everything given to them with a smile and a thanks for coming to the game. I would like to say thank you to the Saints players and coaches for taking the time to do this for their fans! My MVP for the game is Adam Frost (1-4. 2R, 2RBI, BB, SB, HR).
Special thanks to the Candy Lady crew for including us in their family tailgating party before and after Sunday's game. They had almost forty family members and friends at the game, taking up almost all of the first six rows of section A. Awesome time!
The Saints last home series of the year begins Saturday August 31st against the Sioux City Explorers. Remember at 6pm on Saturday night Manager George Tsamis will be in the parking lot at the 10th Inning Stretch again to answer questions and talk to fans. Follow @midwaytailgater or search #10thinningstretch for details. Please stop by and say hi if you're in the lot early. Also, Sunday's game is fan appreciation night and promises to be loads of fun. I hope to see you all there!