LOUISVILLE, KY (July 4, 2022) - For the first time in their Triple-A franchise history, the St. Paul Saints played a Monday game. They traveled the third furthest of any team in the International League, getting into town roughly six hours before game time. It showed over the first 6.2
LOUISVILLE, KY (July 4, 2022) - For the first time in their Triple-A franchise history, the St. Paul Saints played a Monday game. They traveled the third furthest of any team in the International League, getting into town roughly six hours before game time. It showed over the first 6.2 innings as they failed to collect a hit. That all changed with one swing of the bat as the Saints came from behind to defeat the Louisville Bats 4-1 on Monday night at Louisville Slugger Field. The win gets the Saints back to .500, 39-39, for the first time since June 23.
Dereck Rodríguez got the late start for the Saints after Josh Winder was scratched and added to the Minnesota Twins taxi squad. Rodríguez was solid going 4.0 innings allowing just a solo homer to Colin Moran to lead off the second, his second of the season, to make it 1-0. Rodríguez allowed three hits and fanned two in keeping the Saints in the game.
The Saints, meanwhile, couldn’t do anything against lefty Justin Nicolino. He retired the first four hitters of the game before walking Curtis Terry with one out in the second. That was the last base runner until there were two outs in the seventh as Nicolino retired 16 in a row. That’s when Caleb Hamilton broke up both the no-hitter and shutout in one fell swoop with a 423-foot solo homer just inside the left field pole, his eighth of the season, tying the game at one. Nicolino went 7.0 innings allowing one run on two hits while walking one and striking out three.
The Saints grabbed the lead in the eighth and it started with a bloop single to left from John Andreoli. Elliot Soto worked a walk after falling behind in the count 0-2. On a strikeout of Braden Bishop, Andreoli and Soto pulled off a double steal as catcher Chris Okey threw down to third, but the ball hit the bag and went into shallow left as Andreoli scored and Soto took second giving the Saints a 2-1 lead. With two outs, Spencer Steer walked putting runners at the corners. A wild pitch scored Soto and moved Steer to second increasing the lead to 3-1. The Saints took a 4-1 lead on an RBI single by Michael Helman.
The Saints bullpen was masterful as five relievers all tossed 1.0 shutout inning. Tyler Viza, Drew Strotman, Evan Sisk, Austin Schulfer, and Yennier Cano each allowed one hit, but only two runners reached as far as second over the final five innings.
The Saints have Tuesday off and are back in action for game two of the six-game series against the Louisville Bats on Wednesday at Louisville Slugger Field at 6:05 p.m. (CT). The Saints send RHP Cole Sands (1-4, 4.68) to the mound against Bats Major League rehabber, RHP Justin Dunn (0-0, 0.00). The game can be seen on MiLB.TV and heard on KFAN Plus. 96.7 FM.