The Winnipeg Goldeyes dropped both ends of a doubleheader to the rival St. Paul Saints -- 5-2 and 4-0 -- on Wednesday night at Shaw Park.
Through two seven-inning games and five hours of baseball, the Fish (36-22) offence was stalled by an impressive performance on the mound from the Saints (32-25) and capped off with a complete game shutout from St. Paul starter Jeff Shields in Game 2.
The Saints, winners of four straight and eight of their last 10, moved to within 3/12 games of the North Division-leading Goldeyes.
Winnipeg, meanwhile, lost its third straight and eighth in its last 10 games.
The Fish could only manage 10 hits in two games.
Game 1 saw the Fish struggle on defence early. In the second inning, Tyler Kuhn mishandled a ground ball to allow a runner on first base. On the next play, starter Nick Hernandez bobbled and dropped a short pop-up while on the run, but back-to-back groundouts would get the Fish out of the early jam.
Eager to put those mistakes in the past, Donnie Webb led off the top of the second with a single to right field and immediately stole second base. The next batter, Reggie Abercrombie, would bring him home with a double, and moments later, advanced to third base on balk from the Saints pitcher. Two batters later, Kuhn cracked a sacrifice fly to bring in Abercrombie and put the Fish up 2-0.
That would be it for the Fish offence in Game 1. With score 2-1 in the fifth inning, a struggling Hernandez gave up a leadoff walk to the Jared McDonald, a runner who would tie the game, because the next batter slugged a double over the head of centre-fielder Abercrombie.
Hernandez's night would come to an end in the sixth inning after giving up back-to-back singles. With Hernandez out, Saints catcher Jake Taylor launched a three-run home run to seal the 5-2 win for the Saints. The Fish were only able to combine for five hits in the game.
Winnipeg's scoring woes continued in Game 2.
Red-hot McDonald started things off for his St. Paul with a single to left field in the third inning. McDonald managed to steal second -- one of three stolen bases for the Saints in the game -- and later advance to third after a wild pitch by Gabe Aguilar. The Saints would take advantage of the error and slap another single to left field to take a 1-0 lead.
In the fourth, the Saints added another run and then two more in the sixth to send a frustrated crowd home early.
On the mound
Rookie pitcher Nick Hernandez might have had his most disappointing performance of the season. The 6-4 lefty -- one of the strikeout leaders in the American Association -- had trouble finding the strike zone through six inning of work. Hernandez tallied only two Ks while walking three batters, lowering his record to 5-2.
In Game 2, the Fish turned to their bullpen, which included Aguilar and Taylor Sewitt, a combination that saw the Fish toss the first no-hitter in franchise history earlier this season. Aguilar pitched 3 1/3 innings while Sewitt hurled 1 2/3 innings.
The Goldeyes meet the Saints again today at noon for the final game of the series.