Counting last year's six-game playoff sweep, the Winnipeg Goldeyes have now won eight straight.
Saturday night in Grand Prairie, Tex., the Goldeyes got a great start from Canadian Mark Hardy, two hits and a homer from Casey Haerther, and another terrific effort from the bullpen, as the Goldeyes won their second straight game to start the 2013 American Association season with a 5-0 shutout of the Grand Prairie AirHogs.
This was an almost perfect performance.
The Goldeyes picked up a run in the first on a dropped third strike, two more runs in the fourth on RBIs by Tim Smith and Nate Samson, a run in the sixth on Haerther's homer and a run in the ninth on an RBI by Ryan Scoma.
While the Goldeyes put up five runs, Hardy pitched six shutout innings to start the game. He allowed only one hit and struck out seven.
Meanwhile, for the second straight night, the bullpen was superb. Chris Allen pitched a scoreless seventh, Chris Kissock struck out the side in the eighth and with a man on first, Aaron Correa came on and shut down the AirHogs in the ninth. In total, four Goldeyes pitchers allowed only two hits and struck out 13 AirHogs.
Goldeyes first-year pitching coach Jamie Vermilyea had every right to be proud.
“Once again the guys are coming out throwing strikes and making the opposition put the ball in play,” Vermilyea said on the TSN 1290 post-game show. “They have a great defence behind them. Just come out, throw strikes and you'll be rewarded.
“Mark Hardy was great from the get-go. He was throwing the fastball over for strikes and was getting the breaking ball across the plate. He gave us six strong innings. That was a quality start.” Hardy (1-0) got the win for Winnipeg. There was no save. The Goldeyes scored five runs on eight hits and made no errors.
“Chris Allen came out throwing gas and gave us a great inning and then Chris Kissock threw 13 pitches and only missed the plate twice,” said Vermilyea. “Correa was great in the ninth. We had a five-run lead so we had a chance to give the closer (Patrick Keating) a rest and we were able to use Aaron. He did a great job with two strikeouts and then got the final batter to ground out. It was a nice effort.”
Grand Prairie starter Josh Strawn (0-1), who allowed four runs on four hits over six complete innings, suffered the loss for Grand Prairie.
The Goldeyes and AirHogs go at it again Sunday night in Grand Prairie. The game can be heard live with Paul Edmonds on TSN 1290 beginning with the pre-game show at 5:30 p.m. (Note time change from 11 a.m.)