The Winnipeg Goldeyes went into Midway Stadium in St. Paul on Monday night and scored early and often. Evidently, the Fish love playing on the road this season.
Lefty Canadian starter Mark Hardy pitched the first complete game for a Goldeye this season and won his fourth game of the year, as the Fish blasted the St. Paul Saints 11-3 in the Minnesota capital on Monday night.
Amos Ramon, Leonard Davis and Nate Samson each drove in a pair of runs as the Fish put it away with five spot in the seventh.
With the win, the Goldeyes improved to 17-13, won their second straight game, remained in first place in the American Association's North Division and improved to 11-7 away from Shaw Park.
"Mark took advantage of a team that was aggressive at the plate," Goldeyes pitching coach Jamie Vermilyea told Paul Edmonds on the TSN 1290 post-game show. "He was getting his sinkerball over the plate and they just kept beating it into the ground. Mark had 77 pitches through seven innings and when you have a sinkerball pitcher going and he hasn't thrown that many pitches, we thought pretty seriously in the seventh about having him pitch a complete game. There was no need to take him out.
"And besides, we have a reliever starting tomorrow, Aaron Correa, and we're only going to ask three or four innings out of him. It's going to be a bullpen game tomorrow so having Mark go nine was good for us."
The Goldeyes No. 2 hitter Amos Ramon hit a solo homer in the top of the first, his fourth of the year, and that started the barrage.
With the score tied 1-1 in the top of the third, Samson singled, Tyler Graham singled and both moved up 90 feet on a wild pitch. After Ramos popped out, Josh Mazzola was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Then Samson came home on a wild pitch and Graham scored on a ground out by Casey Haerther and the Goldeyes led 3-1.
The Goldeyes made it 4-1 in the fourth as Fehlandt Lentini doubled and came home on a single by Samson. They added another in the top of the fifth as Haerther singled and eventually came home on a single by Luis Alen and they made it 6-2 in the sixth when Graham scored from third on a single by Haerther.
But the Fish blew the game wide open in the seventh, as Alen singled, Nick Liles singled, Samson singled to drive home Alen, Graham walked and Ramon walked to score Liles. Mazzola then walked, scoring Samson and Davis singled to score Graham and Ramon. Suddenly it was 11-2 and the Goldeyes had all but wrapped up the opening game of this three-game set at Midway.
Hardy (4-1) got the win, while St. Paul starter Cole Nelson (2-2) suffered the loss. The Atlanta Braves had purchased Nelson's contract in the afternoon.
The Goldeyes pounded out 14 hits. Graham and Haerther each had two hits, while Alen and Samson had three.
The two teams go at it again tonight in Game 2 of the three-game series at 7:05 p.m. in St. Paul, Minn. Reliever Aaron Correa will get the spot start for Winnipeg. The game can be heard live on TSN 1290 with Paul Edmonds calling the play-by-play.