1Well, they can thank Hernandez for the win. The pitcher, now 9-2 with a 3.58 ERA, handcuffed the Saints. Through the first eight innings, he allowed only three hits and two runs. And when the St. Paul squad needed momentum the most, trailing in the seventh and eighth innings, Hernandez locked them out: Three up, three down. He struck out four in those two frames and didn't let any Saints find their way to first base.
Indeed, of the whole Saints roster, only outfielder Willie Cabrera had his number. Of the five hits Hernandez allowed, Cabrera had three of 'em. Oddly, all three were home runs -- accounting for all the Saints' scores. "It's kind of upsetting," Hernandez said of that duel, but added a self-effacing grin. "At the same point, I got him once, and at least I offered the other pitchers who are going to pitch the rest of this series a chance to see what not to do to him, I guess."
Cabrera's final shot, a big two-run homer in the ninth, prompted Fish manager Rick Forney to retire Hernandez for the night, three outs short of a complete game. So close, yet so far -- especially since Hernandez's last outing was a seven-inning complete game in Sioux City. "I was feeling good enough to continue it here, but that's baseball sometimes," he said. "Just hand it over to the bullpen and let them close out the game."
Hernandez' final line was five hits, four runs, five strikeouts and not a single walk. Brendan Lafferty came out of the bullpen to earn the save.
óó AT THE PLATE
Third baseman Jake Blackwood had himself a night, going 3-for-4 with an RBI and a couple of runs scored. None were more thrilling than the fifth inning, when he blasted a solo shot right out of Shaw Park... just a minute after outfielder Ryan Pineda had slammed a solo homer of his own. Catcher Luis Alen's sixth-inning RBI single would stand up as the winner.
óó UP NEXT
The Fish (49-32) will look to keep on top of the division rival Saints (44-35) tonight at 7 p.m.
-- Melissa Martin