If the St. Paul Saints’ goal on Saturday night at CHS Field was to present their manager with the ultimate birthday gift, they came up a bit short. But the effort was primo.
While their run total didn’t match Toby Gardenhire’s 39 years, a 21-4 mashing of the Omaha Storm Chasers on Fan Appreciation Night gave a lot of people reason to celebrate.
“I’ll take 21 runs,” said Gardenhire, who joined family and friends in the stands after the game to enjoy a cold beverage. With the fans on the field to enjoy the food trucks that were brought in and to enjoy the fireworks that would follow, it indeed was a party-like atmosphere.
The Saints batted around twice, hit four home runs, and eight players producing at least one run batted in.
The 21 runs are a season high for the Saints, topping the 19 they scored against Columbus on July 13. It came just three days after they scored 17 in a win over the Storm Chasers.
Saints left fielder B.J. Boyd, who hit in the leadoff spot, is used to those football-like scores. He is back in the game after stepping away after the 2018 season to pursue football. COVID-19 ended his football plans after a season at a junior college.
The Twins signed him in May, and he hit .319 in Double-A before being promoted to the Saints on Aug. 23.
Boyd had three hits and scored five runs, He took over the leadoff spot for Jose Miranda, the Saints’ best hitter, who got the night off.
“I told Miranda after the game, ‘We don’t need you,’ ’’ Gardenhire said.
Boyd entered the game hitting .150 for the Saints, with six hits in 40 at-bats.
“He was swinging the bat really well in Double-A” Gardenhire said. “He hit seven home runs in the last week he was there. I was hoping he would get going a little bit, and tonight was a good night for him.”
The Saints scored a run in the first inning without getting the ball out of the infield. That changed in the second, when they scored seven runs to take an 8-0 lead.
J.T. Riddle hit a two-run home run, Jimmy Kerrigan hit a three-run homer, and Sherman Johnson added a solo shot.
The Storm Chasers cut the Saints’ lead in half with four runs in the third. But the Saints responded with three more runs in the bottom of the inning.
The first two scored on a passed ball, with Tomas Tells scoring from second base when the ball got away on the play at the plate. Mark Contreras then hit a long home run to right-center to give the Saints an 11-4 lead.
They added six more in the fourth and four more in the sixth.