Series preview: St. Paul Saints at Joplin Blasters
Joe Becker Stadium, the site of the series.(Photo: American Association)

Series preview: St. Paul Saints at Joplin Blasters

The Saints are coming off a 4-1 win over the Kansas City T-Bones, while the Blasters are coming off a 7-6 loss to the Gary Southshore Railcats

Stevie Larson

The St. Paul Saints are set to embark on what will be their longest road trip of the season, as they will be on the road for two weeks before they can return home to CHS Field. Their first stop is in Missouri to take on the Joplin Blasters.

About the Saints

The Saints are sitting at the top of the American Association's North division with an 8-3 record. They opened the season with a sweep of the Gary Southshore Railcats, followed by taking two of three from the Sioux Falls Canaries before most recently winning two games over the Kansas City T-Bones.

Offensive leaders

The Saints are led on offense by Tony Thomas, who sports a .391 average along with a 10 game hit streak. He is tied for the team lead in home runs and runs batted in, with Nate Hanson having three and thirteen, respectively. 

Pitching leaders

Mark Hamburger is the top Saints pitcher, as he now has a 3-0 record with a 1.90 ERA. He also has 17 strikeouts to lead the team. Thankfully for the Blasters, he pitched on Sunday, so they won't have to deal with him this series. 

They will have to deal with Robert Coe, who is scheduled to pitch on Monday night. Coe enters the series with a 2-0 record, and a 2.91 ERA. He is followed in the rotation by Jeff Shields, who brings a 1-1 record into the series. John Straka will round out the series, taking the mound with a 2-0 record.

About the Blasters

The Blasters enter the series with a 4-6 record, which puts them two games behind in the South division standings. They are on a four-game losing streak, as the Railcats just swept them. They will look to get some quality wins against one of the best teams in the league this week.

Offensive leaders

The Blasters enter the series with two players batting over .400. The leader is Geraldo Valentin, who carries a .425 batting average, along with three doubles into the series. Not far behind him is Zack Burling, who has a ,412 batting average with six runs batted in. In addition, they have numerous players who are batting in the high .300 range.

Pitching leaders

Relief pitcher Josue Monatez is the top pitcher for the Blasters, as he has a 1-1 record with 10 strikeouts. In his most recent outing, which came Sunday he lasted just 1 2/3 innings, giving up four runs on four hits to the Railcats. 

Rookie Matt Parrish also has 10 strikeouts, and is also a relief pitcher. His most recent outing was on Friday when he pitched 3.2 innings, giving up seven runs to the Railcats. 

Looking ahead

After this series, the Saints will immediately head to Laredo, Texas to face the defending champion the Lemurs. The Blasters will remain home to host the Texas Airhogs. These two teams will play again from July 4 to July 7 when Joplin makes a visit to St. Paul.