Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

So far, so very, very good for Fish

Enter tonight's home opener with best start ever at 5-0

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FARGO, N.D. -- Wow.

The Winnipeg Goldeyes will take to the field for their home opener at Canwest Park tonight against the Kansas City T-Bones having done something no team in franchise history has done before -- opened the season at 5-0.

The Fish completed a rare series sweep in Fargo -- and an even more rare sweep of an entire road trip -- with a 6-4 victory over the RedHawks at Newman Outdoor Field Thursday afternoon.

It was an ugly affair that saw Fargo beat themselves with four errors and the Goldeyes turn a 5-0 romp into a 5-4 nailbiter heading into the eighth inning.

But they don't give points for style in the Northern League and, when coupled with the dominant outings the Fish had in previous wins over Fargo and in Kansas City last weekend, it was a buoyant club that boarded a bus for Winnipeg Thursday.

"We played great," said shortstop Wes Long. "It couldn't have gone any better for us. And being on the road, it gave us a chance to get used to each other.

"Definitely the momentum from a good start to a season can carry over through the whole year. A big start can be huge."

Long would know. He won a Frontier League title in 2007 with Windy City in a season that saw his squad open the year winning 18 of their first 20 games.

The Goldeyes have a long way to go to put together that kind of start, but Fish manager Rick Forney -- who spent the winter putting together this club -- was feeling very satisfied after a week of watching it all come together.

"We definitely didn't expect to go 5-0 on this road trip. It was a tough trip playing in some tough places," Forney said. "We're just playing baseball the right way right now. Defence has been fantastic for five straight days. The pitching has been good -- guys have been making pitches to get out of jams. And we're getting timely hits and putting up some crooked numbers during the game offensively."

The Goldeyes return home for their home opener tonight off a trip that saw them cripple their opposition with the big innings, recording eight-run and seven-run innings in Kansas City and two four-run innings in Fargo, including one in the fourth inning Thursday that gave the Fish all the runs they'd need.

The Goldeyes have gotten quality starts from every member of their four-man rotation, although Thursday's starter Daniel Haigwood -- who was also the Opening Day starter -- has been erratic at times.

The bullpen has given up just five runs in 20 innings of work and closer Matt Davis has been excellent, recording two saves and giving up no runs in three appearances.

Offensively, the club has gotten production from the top to bottom of the order, with some of the best production coming from catcher Dustin Richardson, who was hitting .625 before finally coming back to earth with an 0-for-4 on Thursday.

And defensively, the Fish team has put up just two errors in five games.

Put it all together and veteran third baseman Brent Metheny says his only concern now is that his team still be playing this way come the playoffs in September.

"You want to be playing your best ball at the end -- not at the start of the season," Metheny says. "But we started off poorly each of the last two years I was here and getting off to a 5-0 start right now could be the difference between finishing in first place and finishing in third place."

paul.wiecek@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 22, 2009 C2

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