It was a mostly forgettable Father's Day game for the generous Winnipeg Goldeyes, who gifted the St. Paul Saints a 7-6 victory with some sloppy play on the mound and in the field.
The Goldeyes certainly weren't at their Sunday best as they committed two more errors, adding to the four they'd made in the first two games of the weekend series. Winnipeg dropped Friday's opener 8-5, then squeaked out a 3-2 win on Saturday night.
"We beat ourselves defensively again. We're just struggling to defend the field with any consistency. You play good teams like that, you're going to lose games more than you win games," manager Rick Forney said in the clubhouse following the loss. "It's just a lack of concentration. We play very young sometimes."
Winnipeg (17-12) now sits two games back of St. Paul (19-10) for first place in the Central Division.
Pitcher Edwin Carl entered Sunday's game with five straight quality starts under his belt this season, a 2-0 record and a sparkling 2.78 ERA which put him among the league leaders. But he had no answer for the Saints on this day as he lasted just five innings in which he gave up six runs (five earned) off nine hits, plus walked two batters and threw a wild pitch.
St. Paul came flying out of the gates, scoring three runs off five hits before the Goldeyes even had a chance to get to the plate. Winnipeg responded immediately with a power surge of their own, as Shawn Pleffner and David Rohm both hit run-scoring singles in the bottom of the inning.
But the Saints would strike again in the third, scoring three more times to extend their lead to 6-2. St. Paul pitcher Jason Creasy seemed to be on cruise control, retiring 10 straight batters heading into the fifth inning. Then he hit a wall.
David Bergin continued to haunt his old team, hitting as bases-loaded double that brought the Goldeyes within two. Bergin, traded to Winnipeg in the off-season, had three home runs and seven RBIs over the three-game series against the Saints.
"I'm just now starting to feel comfortable at the plate," said Bergin, who now has eight homers and 22 runs driven in through the first 29 games of the season. "I'm super excited to be the hitter I need to be and bring as many runs to the plate as I can for my team."
Reggie Abercrombie then promptly tied it up, ripping his own double which scored a pair. It appeared the Goldeyes had all the momentum.
But St. Paul quickly took the lead back in the sixth inning -- this time for good -- as Goldeyes reliever Mitchell Lambson loaded the bases with nobody out thanks to a single, double and hit batter. He then gave up a sacrifice fly which scored the game-winning run.
St. Paul's offensive outburst came after they were mostly held in check on Saturday night by Goldeyes pitcher Zach Nuding. The veteran hurler didn't give up his first hit until the top of the seventh inning. Shortstop Andrew Sohn was the offensive hero in that game, going 4-for-4 at the plate with a home run, double and two singles with his parents having come in from Michigan to watch him play this weekend. Sohn added another hit in Sunday's game.
"It was good having them out here, glad I could play well," said Sohn, who echoed his skipper's call for better defensive play. Sohn had one of the errors Sunday while playing shortstop as a routine grounder went right through his legs. He's now made seven errors this season.
"Definitely, myself included, we need to shore up the defence a little bit because the pitching staff is doing well. We need to play well behind them, get those quick innings and get the bats going," he said.
The Goldeyes now hit the road for three games in Lincoln, and then will go to Minnesota for four games against the Saints later in the week. They return to action at Shaw Park on June 27.
BARKING NEWS: It was an impressive sight on Saturday night at Shaw Park, but the Goldeyes came up a bit short in their bid to set a Guinness World Record for most dogs to attend a live sporting event. Winnipeg needed 1,123 to beat the mark set previously by the Chicago White Sox. They ended up with 852 canines in the crowd, which is more than double last year's number.
ARM ACTIVATED: The Goldeyes have added relief pitcher Daniel Minor. He was placed on the 30-day inactive list to begin the season as Winnipeg had no room for him. But a flurry of changes and releases in their bullpen opened up a spot. The Goldeyes now have 21 players on their roster, including three rookies. They could go up to either 22 or 23, as long as they carry four or five rookies. Minor was previously in the Houston Astros organization for four seasons -- playing as high as Double-A -- then sat out last year after being released from affiliated ball. Minor made his debut on Sunday, striking out the first three batters he faced.