The road warrior of the Winnipeg Goldeyes pitching staff was back at it again Wednesday night.
Winnipeg starter Matt Rusch led the Goldeyes to a 7-0 win over the St. Paul Saints at Midway Stadium.
Thanks to the Wichita Wingnuts beat the Gary SouthShore RailCats, Winnipeg picked up a game in the American Association's wild card race and now trail Gary by 2 ½ games.
Combined with Tuesday night's 7-0 win, it's the fourth time in franchise history the Goldeyes have posted back-to-back shutouts and first time since 2003.
Rusch, who improved to 5-0 on the road and lowered his ERA to 2.38 away from Shaw Park with the win, gave up just three hits in the game for his second career complete-game shutout. In fact, St. Paul never had a runner in scoring position in the contest. He fanned nine, which is a season-high for him.
“Every game right now is big and he knows that,” Goldeyes pitching coach Jamie Vermilyea said of his starter. “He built off Salamida's start last night. He was getting strike one and throwing his fastball down in the zone.”
Winnipeg broke the game open early with a five-run second inning. Ryan Scoma and Ray Sadler each walked to lead off the inning. Scoma score on a Josh Mazzola single, while Casey Haerther singled in Sadler. Mazzola then scored on a Luis Alen fielder's choice. A double from Kevin Moesquit chased St. Paul starter Dylan Thomas from the game. Alen would then score on a Tyler Graham sac fly and Fehlandt Lentini singled to score Moesquit. In total, Winnipeg sent all nine batters to the plate and scored the five runs on four hits.
“We got on the board early and kept that lead. It allows our starter to get a groove,” Vermilyea said. “Our hitters did a great job. We weren't swinging at balls and were making them throw strikes.”
An inning later, Haerther singled in Mazzola to increase Winnipeg's lead to 6-0.
The Goldeyes finished the scoring in the fourth inning when Graham, who singled before stealing second and third base, came in to score on a Yurendell de Caster chopper to short.
“You have to put the pressure on the other team and make them make plays,” Vermilyea said of Winnipeg's active base runners. “None of St. Paul's pitchers were quick getting the ball to home plate.”
Offensively, Haerther paced Winnipeg with three hits in the game and also had two RBI. As a team, the Goldeyes had five stolen bases.
Thomas suffered the loss, dropping to 1-6 on the season.
Winnipeg will try for the series win in the four-game set Thursday night. Jason Jarvis will take the ball for Winnipeg against St. Paul's Anthony Claggett. Game time is 7 p.m.