Shaky start sinks Saints as Indianapolis rolls

The cool breeze and sunny skies made for a beautiful day at CHS Field on Sunday. And then the game started.

Saints starter Chandler Shepherd gave up hits to the first seven hitters he faced, including a pair of three-run home runs, as the Saints quickly fell behind the Indianapolis Indians. 6-0.

They never had a chance after that, falling 12-5 for a split of the six-game series.

Shepherd could be seen shaking his head on numerous occasions as one Indians hitter after another reached base.

“He gave up a lot of barrels early, and he couldn’t figure it out,” Saints manager Toby Gardenhire said. “They were hitting the ball hard; they were on it.”

In all, the Indians hit three home runs and collected 18 hits.

As a sign of perhaps better days ahead, three players made their Saints debuts.

Center fielder Gilberto Celestino, sent down by the Twins on Saturday, got the Saints’ first hit, a solo home run in the third. He added a single and went 2 for 4.

Relief pitcher Edgar Garcia, picked up on waivers from Cincinnati last Friday, pitched the seventh and retired the Indians in order in the seventh, striking out two.

Reliever Ryan Mason, called up from Double-A Wichita, did not fare as well in the ninth. He allowed two runs on four hits, including a home run.

The 22-year-old Celestino began the season with Wichita and made his major-league debut with the Twins on June 2.

Celestino appeared in 23 games with the Twins, batting .136 with two home runs.

He was called up due to the injury to Byron Buxton. The Twins have a number of corner outfielders in their system but are a little thin on outfielders who can play solid defense in center.

“He was up there out of necessity,” Gardenhire said. “We’re going to try to get him a little more ready, so he can go up and stay next time. Getting him back here and playing on an everyday basis is going to be good.

“That’s important for him in his development. But he’s a good player, you can see that he has some tools.”

Celestino can say now that the jump from Double-A to the majors was too big of a step for him.

“To be honest, it was a little hard for me, especially at the beginning,” the native of the Dominican Republic said through his interpreter, Saints pitching coach Cibney Bello. “Especially the mental aspect of the game. But I’m getting more used to it now, and continuing to work on the mental part of the game.”

The Twins’ hope is that sending him to Triple-A will lead to a boost in confidence at the plate.

“That’s the plan,” Celestino said. “I want to use this opportunity to work on the adjustments I need to stay with the team.”

Celestino was in the leadoff spot on Sunday, and he plans to use his speed whenever possible.

“That’s my game,” Celestino said. “When I get to first base I always try to take the biggest lead I can and try to get the pitcher distracted. Hopefully, he will make a mistake and the next hitter can take advantage.”

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