WINNIPEG, MB – The Winnipeg Goldeyes (26-25) lost 8-4 to the Sioux City Explorers at Shaw Park on Tuesday night.
Explorers’ (24-26) designated hitter Brendan Slattery hit a two-out, two-run home run to right field in the top of the second inning to give Sioux City the early lead. It was Slattery’s first professional home run. Sioux City made the lead stand up through the remainder of the night.
“The bullpen did a good job,” said Goldeyes’ manager Rick Forney. “Reggie and Romanski are pretty hot, and they’re swinging the bats well. Not a bad day, just, unfortunately, we didn’t get the kind of start we needed from Mikey. He struggled with his command and wasn’t ahead in the count enough, and wasn’t able to make enough quality pitches to give himself a chance to succeed. We banged into three double plays in the first half of the ballgame today at a time when Sioux City had some offence going.”
Winnipeg got one of the runs back in the bottom of the second. With two outs and no one on base, Reggie Abercrombie, Jacob Rogers, and Casio Grider hit consecutive singles to cut Sioux City’s lead in half.
The Explorers rallied for three runs in the top of the fourth. Tommy Mendonca drew a leadoff walk. Two batters later, Mendonca stole second base on a missed hit-and-run attempt and advanced to third when Matt Koch singled to left-centre. Slattery, Jake Kuebler, and Derrick Robinson followed with RBI singles to make it 5-2 Explorers.
In the bottom of the fourth, Abercrombie drove a solo home run to left with one out. It was Abercrombie’s seventh home run of the year, giving him 86 all-time in the American Association. Abercrombie is now one home run shy of tying John Allen’s all-time American Association record.
“Well, I’m sure he’s going to get there (to the home run record),” said Forney. “There’s enough games left in the season, and he’s hot right now. The biggest thing for him is to make people throw him strikes. If he’s expanding the zone on himself, then he’s going to get himself out. Reggie’s a strong guy, and not many people can beat him in the strike zone, so if he’s patient and he makes people throw strikes to him, I’m pretty sure he’ll get there.”
The Explorers tacked on two more runs in the top of the fifth on an RBI double from Mendonca and an RBI groundout from Ralph Henriquez.
Josh Romanski smoked a two-run homer to deep right in the bottom of the sixth to pull the Goldeyes within three runs at 7-4.
“He’s (Romanski) having good at bats right now,” said Forney. “He’s looking for pitches in certain zones, and if it’s not what he likes, he’s taking it. But right now, when he’s getting a pitch he likes, he’s able to get the barrel to it, and you get the barrel to it enough times, you’re going to get some good results.”
Nate Samson reached on an infield single in the top of the eighth to push across Sioux City’s eighth and final run.
“You don’t want to think too much about today,” said Forney. “You’ve got to move on. Whether you lose by a run, or lose by four or five runs, you still lose. We’ve just got to make some quality pitches and stay ahead in the count. They’ve got a dangerous bullpen. When they get through six innings with a lead, they’re tough. We kind of put ourselves in a bad situation. We gave ourselves a chance there in the ninth, but unfortunately, we weren’t able to sustain that rally. They’ve got a good team, a lot of personnel back from last year, and they know how to play winning baseball.”
Mikey O’Brien (5-4) took the loss for the Goldeyes, allowing seven earned runs on nine hits in four-plus innings. O’Brien walked four and struck out one.
Kyle Anderson pitched two and one-third innings of scoreless long relief. Cameron McVey worked a perfect top of the ninth for Winnipeg.
Sioux City starter Graham Johnson (4-2) earned the win, allowing four earned runs on nine hits over six innings. Johnson walked none and struck out three.
Abercrombie finished the game with three hits.
Game two of the series is Wednesday night at 7:05 p.m. Kevin McGovern (2-1, 4.29) faces right-hander Ryan Zimmerman (2-7, 6.34).
Tickets for all Goldeyes’ home games are on sale now by calling 1-855-GOLDEYE, visiting www.goldeyes.com, or stopping by any Ticketmaster location, including the box office at Shaw Park. For information on season tickets, 10-Game Mini Packs, or group outings, call the Goldeyes’ office at (204) 982-2273.