O’Brien Leads Goldeyes to Split with Texas, Grider Traded

WINNIPEG, MB – Thanks to starter Mikey O’Brien, the Winnipeg Goldeyes escaped with a series split against the Texas AirHogs.

Playing in front of a crowd of 3,553 at Shaw Park on Friday night, O’Brien pitched seven complete innings of shutout baseball as he led the Fish to a 3-0 victory over visiting Texas.

With the win, the Goldeyes improved to 16-10 on the season, a game back of the St. Paul Saints in the race for first in the American Association’s North Division. As well, the Goldeyes finished with a split in their four-game series with the AirHogs.

The Goldeyes also made a trade after the game. Winnipeg shipped struggling second baseman Casio Grider to Texas in exchange for a player to be named later. Grider was in his third season with Winnipeg and played a key role in the Goldeyes 2016 American Association championship. However, he had struggled at the plate and was 12-for-85 (.141 average) after the Goldeyes first 26 games this season. With a quarter of the season over, Winnipeg manager Rock Forney wanted to give Grider a fresh start in the South Division. Earlier in the day, the Goldeyes released right-handed relief pitcher Josh Laxer.

“It was a good game tonight,” Forney told the CJNU post-game show.  “It was a well-pitched game by both teams. Their (starting) pitcher made one mistake to Reggie and hung a breaking ball. He put a good swing on it, and got us the two-run home run. Mikey was in control for seven innings today and just did a fantastic job. He was able to command down and away to right-handed hitters. His cutter was really good today and stayed off the barrel.”

The key to the Goldeyes came in the bottom of the third. After Josh Romanski walked, Abercrombie crushed a two-out, two-run homer deep to left-centre and the Goldeyes had all the runs they’d need.

The Fish added an insurance run in the fourth when Wes Darvill led off with a single and eventually scored on an errant throw.

Mitchell Lambson pitched a scoreless eighth in relief of O’Brien and then closer Ryan Chaffee pitched a scoreless ninth – with two strikeouts — to earn his eighth save of the year.

“Every day is a new story,” added Forney. “It doesn’t matter what happens the day before. We seem to struggle in the opening of series, but one of the great qualities our team has is that fight.”

O’Brien (3-2, 4.77 ERA) had his best outing of the season and got the win. Starter Tyler Bremer (1-3, 4.36 ERA) suffered the loss for Texas, a team that is now 6-20 on the season.

Goldeyes third-baseman Andrew Sohn had an eight-game hitting streak come to an end. Winnipeg had only six hits and no Goldeyes player had more than one. Still Darvill and Shawn Pleffner each had a hit. Darvill is now hitting .376 while Pleffner is hitting a scorching .380.

The Goldeyes will open a three-game series against the first-place St. Paul Saints at 7:05 p.m. at Shaw Park on Friday night. Goldeyes ace Kevin McGovern (4-0, 3.28) will get the start for Winnipeg while right-hander Dustin Crenshaw (0-1, 10.50) will toe the rubber for the Saints.

Scott Taylor, MyToba Sports

Photo by Dan LeMoal

Editor of the popular Game On Hockey Magazine and The Point After Football Magazine, editor of Canadian Meat Business Magazine, sports editor of Grassroots News, TV play-by-play voice of the Winnipeg Goldeyes and author of the bestselling book: The Winnipeg Jets: A Celebration of Professional Hockey in Winnipeg. He likes virgin pina coladas, long walks on the beach, puppies and thoroughbred race horses that run according to form.
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