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Old 09-13-2019, 05:34 AM   #21
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Walkers news: 2024 River Walkers prospectus

Walkers news: 2024 St. Louis River Walkers prospectus
The postseason drought reached four seasons for the St. Louis River Walkers, following a second straight 86-76 campaign which left them in third place in the National League South Division.Des Moines (97-65) continued its dominance of the division taking the title for the third straight season and for the fourth time in the last five. The Harvesters, however, failed to defend their World Series title falling to American League champion Cincinnati in five games.
The Walkers finished 11 games behind the Harvesters.
From an offensive standpoint, the Walkers showed improvement over a disappointing 2022 season.
They ranked fourth in the National League in batting average (.252), second in home runs (225) and runs scored (726) and third in on-base percentage (.252).
But the pitching seemed to take a step back.
Particularly starter Kyle Hendricks, who followed up a 21-6 season by going 6-9 before being traded in late June to Milwaukee.
Overall, the St. Louis staff ranked third in ERA across the board – overall (3.77), starters (3.74) and bullpen (3.55).
Falling double digits behind Des Moines in the standings provided the opportunity to trade some struggling veterans and allow some younger players get some time on the field.
Hendricks, closer Tommy Kahnle, third baseman Nicky Delmonico, shortstop Andrelton Simmons and relievers Bobby Poyner and Reyes Moronta were all dealt for the trade deadline.
And while the returns received didn’t necessarily play in the majors, some of them should give a boost to a lowly-regarded minor league system.
In the offseason, center fielder Byron Buxton, who has struggled mightily since signing with the Walkers before the 2022 season, was traded to the Twin Cities Snow Cats for left-handed reliever Nick Lodolo.
The lineup should be much the same as it was post trade deadline anchored by right fielder Andrew Benintendi, first baseman Rhys Hoskins and second baseman Bo Bichette.
Left fielder Michael Toglia also will be heavily counted upon after finishing second in the National League Rookie of the Year voting and earning a Silver Slugger. Toglia, however, will miss at least the first three weeks after suffering a broken bone in his hand during spring training.
Until Toglia returns, Edmond Americaan and Larry Ernesto will split time in center and right field and look for former NL batting champ Alek Thomas, who St. Louis acquired in a trade with Green Bay on March 30, to quickly work his way into the outfield mix.
On the right side of the infield, Jean Carmona will be back for his second full season as the primary shortstop while Rory Gonzalez, who took over at third following the trade of Nicky Delmonico, will look to buiid on the strong 58 games he played in his first season.
Behind the plate will be J.T. Thomas after he spent the 2023 season as understudy to J.T. Realmuto.
Realmuto remains with the team will be backup Thomas this season.
The rotation once again will feature a strong top three in Aaron Nola (12-7, 3.22 ERA), Alex Faedo (15-9, 3.94) and Argenis Batista (12-10, 2.93).
Brendan Spagnuolo (9-10, 3.96) should also join the rotation at some point but could miss up to three months with a hamstring injury.
He’ll be replaced by Jimmy Lambert (4-2, 4.94), who got the bulk of the starts in 2023 following the trade of Hendricks.
A newcomer to the rotation will be free-agent signing Steve Brault, who comes over from Cleveland following an 8-8 season where he sported a 3.81 ERA. He also will give the Walkers a second left-hander in the starting five.
With relief pitching becoming ever-more important in the game, the Walkers went out and added the best closer in baseball with the signing of Edwin Diaz.
Diaz comes in after a season with Cleveland where he saved an MBL-high 37 games while going 5-3 with a 2.88 ERA in 62 games.
He’ll anchor a bullpen which also will feature one of the game’s best left-handers in Jake Brentz. The 29-year old worked in 66 games for the Walkers going 8-4 with eight saves and a 2.26 ERA.
Other players expected to play big roles in relief are left-handers Brad Hand and Lodolo and rightys John Curtis, Thad Ward and the long time stud reliever Kenley Jansen.
So far, the prognosticators like what they’ve seen from the Walkers having forecasted them to finish with 94 wins and claim the division title.
But it will not be easy, as Des Moines should also be capable of winning 90-plus games and don’t expect Springfield and Kansas City also have the potential to put themselves into the mix.

SP Kyle Hendricks, 34, R-R, 6-9, 4.51 ERA w/St. Louis and 7-14, 4.40 overall, traded to Milwaukee on July 30
After a 21-6 campaign in 2022, Hendricks was no where near the same pitcher for the River Walkers in 2023. So with the team fading fast at the end of July, and free agency looming in Hendricks’ future, the Walkers dealt him to Milwaukee for minor league pitchers Ernesto Rios and Jackson Smeltz. Rios and Smeltz will both start in AAA this season, but both have the potential to be in the majors by season’s end.
CF – Byron Buxton, 30, R-R, .219 BA, 11 HRs, 40 RBIs, 5 SBs in 90 games, traded to Twin Cities in offseason
Following a disappointing 2022 season after earning a big free-agent contract, Buxton managed to be worse in 2023. He missed a big chunk of the season with a fractured finger, but struggled upon his return. Could not be trusted to bat against right-handed pitcher. Also lauded for his base stealing ability, Buxton rarely ran when asked and was thrown out on three of his eight attempts. Traded to the Snow Cats for left-handed reliever Nick Lodolo.
3B – Nicky Delmonico, 31, L-R, .220, 16 HRs, 54 RBIs with STL .220, 18 HRs, 64 RBIs overall after July 31 trade with Cleveland – remains a free agent
Delmonico was leading the Walkers in home runs and RBIs at the time of his trade, but his batting average was at its lowest point in his career. With free agency looming, and a cadre of strong third-base candidates in the minors St. Louis dealt him along with Tommy Kahnle to Cleveland for right-handed reliever Brad Brann. Brann will begin the season at AAA Memphis.

RP – Tommy Kahnle, 34, R-R, 1-0, 15 Svs., 0.83 ERA , 21 Gs in St. Louis; 3-0, 17 Svs., 1.65 ERA, 53 Gs overall after trade to Cleveland on July 31. Free-agent signing with Fort Wayne
There were few closers in the game dealing like Kahnle when the River Walkers dealt him to Cleveland on July 31. However, with the Walkers pretty much out of the race, free-agency on the horizon for Kahnle along with his age, the decision was made to send him packing. He was packaged to Cleveland for Brann.

SS – Andrelton Simmons, 34, R-R, .188 BA, 3 HRs, 7 RBIs in 45 games for St. Louis, .257 BA, 5 HRs, 19 RBIs in 72 games overall after June 15 trade to Cincinnati; Signed to minor league deal with Columbus
Although he is still an elite defensive shortstop, the Walkers traded Simmons looking to free-up the position full-time for Jean Carmona. Simmons helped Cincinnati claim the World Series title. The Walkers received outfielder George Valera and right-handed reliever Wilmer Jimenez in the trade
RP – Bobby Poyner, 31, L-L, 3-3, 1 Sv., 5.40 ERA in 40 Gs for St. Louis; 5-3, 1 Sv., 4.95 ERA, 71 G overall after June 15 trade to Cincinnati
Going through a rough campaign for St. Louis, the Walkers decided Poyner needed a fresh start – he ranked among the league leaders in home runs allowed by relief pitchers – so they gave it too him. Poyner earned himself a World Series ring with the Skyline.

RP – Reyes Moronta, 31, R-R, 1-2, 5.06 ERA, 0 Svs., 39 Gs for St. Louis; 5-3, 9 Svs., 4.72 ERA 68 Gs overall after trade to Cincinnati
Like Poyner, Moronta was having a rough season for the River Walkers when the decision was made to trade him to Cincinnati. The trade worked out well for the Skyline, who saw him earn nine saves in the second half and three more in the postseason
RP – Bill Warson, 27, R-R, 1-4, 1 Sv., 5.64 ERA, 48 Gs; Traded to Green Bay in offseason for OF Alek Thomas
A former first-round pick, Warson has never found his niche in the majors. And with him on the outside looking in terms of making the opening day roster, along with being out of options, the decision was made to trade him along with minor league outfielder Steve Ruland to Green Bay for Alek Thomas. A need that primarily sprung the injury which will keep Michael Toglia out of the first few weeks of the season.
OF – Steve Ruland, 26, R-R, .389 BA, 1 HR, 4 RBIs, 11 Gs in St. Louis; .246 BA, 20 HRs, 64 RBIs in 103 Gs at Memphis
While Ruland is an outfielder who has plenty of upside, the River Walkers seem to have plenty of others who boast just a little more.
SP5 – Steven Brault, L-L, 31, 8-8, 3.71 ERA, 31 Gs, 174.2 IP, 124 Ks, 1.27 WHIP w/Cleveland– Free-agent signing
The River Walkers were looking to add a No. 4 or 5 starter and were hoping it would be a left-hander. They decided Brault fit the bill. An extreme ground ball pitcher, he should benefit from St. Louis good infield defense. He also is a Silver Slugger winner at the plate. Agreed to one-year deal worth $8.5 million.
CL – Edwin Diaz, 30, R-R, 5-3, 37 Svs., 2.88 ERA, 62 Gs, 56.1 IP, 81 Ks, 1.05 WHIP – w/Cleveland – Free-agent signing
Perhaps the best closer in the MBL, the River Walkers inked Diaz to a three-year deal worth $24 million. His job will be to make sure, if St. Louis enters the ninth inning with a lead. Victory is almost always assured.
OF – Alek Thomas, 25, L-L, .311, 3 HRs, 34 RBIs, 6 SBs, 122 Gs – Acquired in trade with Green Bay
With starting left fielder Michael Toglia out to begin the season with a broken bone in his hand, the River Walkers acquired Thomas just before opening day. Thomas won the NL Batting title in 2021 and owns a .319 career batting mark. He also is a plus-defender at all three positions and brings speed to the bases. He will probably start to begin the season and see how things are playing out once Toglia returns.
IF – Javier Baez, 31, R-R, .224, 11 HRs, 35 RBIs, 100 Gs w/Milwaukee – Free agent signing
Back with the River Walkers for his second go-around, he spent part of the 2022 season in St. Louis, Baez will be asked to play a reserve role due to his ability as a solid defender at second, third and shortstop. Along with his ability to provide the occasional long ball. He says he wants to start, but if he stirs the pot he is only here on a minor league contract.
RHP – Kenley Jansen, 36, R-R, 6-2, 2 Svs., 3.72 ERA, 87 Gs, 87.0 IP, 88 Ks, 1.39 ERA – free agent signed from Green Bay
For a long time, Jansen has been one of the best relievers in the game. And while he may no longer be closer material he still seems capable of recording big outs. A year ago, Green Bay asked him to pitch in 87 games. Maybe reducing that workload might improve his effectiveness.
Starting pitchers
SP1 – Aaron Nola, 31, R-R, 12-7, 3.22 ERA, 31 Gs, 192.2 IP, 143 Ks, 1.16 WHIP
Although, he got knocked around more than in the past Nola still easily ranks among the top 10 pitchers in the game. And the bigger the stage, it seems the better he pitchers. He will not make the opening day start due to a flu bug but will once again sit in the No. 1 spot in the rotation. A free-agent at the end of the season, right now he is demanding big money. We’ll see how that plays out as the season progresses.
SP2 – Alex Faedo, 28, R-R, 15-9, 3.94 ERA, 33 Gs, 185.0 IP, 188 Ks, 1.19 WHIP
Faedo continues to emerge as one the top starting pitchers in the league. He consistently gives six innings and rarely pitches himself out of a game. With Nola ailing, he will get the opening day start.
SP3 – Argenis Batista, 23, L-L, 12-10, 2.93 ERA, 32 Gs, 184.1 IP, 154 Ks, 1.12 WHIP
Batista has to rank as one of the top young pitchers in the game, and him being a left-hander is just a bonus. Doesn’t allow many baserunners and like Nola and Faedo consistently pitches deep into games.
SP4 – Jimmy Lambert, 29, 4-2, 4.94 ERA, 11 Gs, 58.1 IP, 37 Ks, 1.42 WHIP
With Brendan Spagnuolo likely out until June with a hamstring injury, Lambert will get first shot at filling his spot in the rotation. (Lambert is holding down the No. 4 spot, so the lefties Bautista and Brault do not pitch consecutive games). He was hit or miss in the final two months of the 2023, but has had success in the minors going 10-4 at Memphis before his callup.
Relief pitchers
RHP – John Curtiss, 30, R-R, 2-1, 3 Svs., 2.50 ERA, 71 Gs, 75.2 IP, 124 Ks, 1.22 WHIP
Curtiss enjoyed his best season in the majors in 2023 for the River Walkers which should earn him a shot to be the team’s primary right-handed (eighth-inning) relievers in 2024.

RHP – Thad Ward, 27, R-R, 3-3, 3.71 ERA, 59 Gs, 68 IP, 68 Ks, 1.34 WHIP
Ward earned a shot in the bullpen after a solid 2023 campaign. His best attribute is the ability to work multiple innings, making him valuable in games the starters need to make an early exit.
RHP – Phil Maton, 31, R-R, 1-4, 2 Svs., 2.96 ERA, 65 Gs, 51.2 IP, 61 Ks, 1.37 WHIP
A mainstay in the St. Louis bullpen since 2019, Maton began to show some cracks in the waning days of the 2023 season. But his numbers were still solid and it is hoped in a little less of a high-leverage role the veteran can still be a big-time contributor.
LHP – Jake Brentz, 29, L-L, 8-4, 8 Svs., 2.26 ERA, 68 Gs, 71.2 IPs, 103 Ks, 0.88 WHIP
There may not be a left-handed reliever in the league better than Brentz, and he’d be a candidate to close for many teams. But the off-season goal of the Walkers front office was to build an elite bullpen and with Diaz available. The decision to combine him with Brentz, hopefully will give the team a one-two punch few teams can match. When left handers are up in the ninth inning, look for Brentz to get the ball.
LHP – Brad Hand, 34, L-L, 3-3, 0 Svs., 2.29 ERA, 72 Gs, 66.2 IPs, 75 Ks, 1.20 ERA
Back for his third season with the Walkers, Hand continues to provide solid relief from the left-hand side. The team may want to scale back on the number of right-handed batters he faces, but the veteran continues to dominate those who swing from the left side.


St – Jared Thomas, 23, L-R, .198 BA, 5 HRs, 21 RBIs, 77 Gs
One of the highest-regarded catching prospects in the game, Thomas will get the chance to start this season after spending 2023 as the understudy to J.T. Realmuto. He didn’t hit much but hopefully with more exposure his bat will improve. Showed solid defensive skills in the games he played.
Res – J.T. Realmuto, 33, R-R, .229, BA, 5 HRs, 28 RBIs, 113 Gs
After spending last season as a starter, Realmuto agreed to come back to the River Walkers to backup Thomas. He isn’t much to look at the plate anymore, but still provides solid defense and handles the pitchers well.
1B – Rhys Hoskins, 31, R-R, .255, 38 HRs, 92 RBIs, 153 Gs
While his average remained under .260, Hoskins power numbers returned after a down 2022 campaign. He’s still one of the better first baseman in the league. But may have to consider batting him lower in the lineup against right-handed pitching.
2B – Bo Bichette, 26, R-R, .270, 20 HRs, 43 RBIs, 12 SBs, 131 Gs
While he failed to replicate his Silver Slugger campaign of 2022, Bichette did put forth a respectable campaign thanks to a strong final few weeks of the season. Injuries forced him to start just 126 games, the fewest since 2020.
SS – Jean Carmona, 24, R-R, .249, 12 HRs, 26 RBIs, 131 Gs
Theprimary starter to begin the season and full-time after Andrelton Simmons was traded, Carmona had a solid first full-season in the big leagues. His offense improved as the season progressed and defensively it looks like there is a gold glove to be won in his future.
3B – Romy Gonzalez, 27, R-R, .278 BA, 10 HRs, 38 RBIs, 58 Gs
The scouts don’t seem to like him but when he was given the opportunity to be the starter following the trade of Nicky Delmonico, Gonzalez delivered pretty well with 10 homers and 38 RBIs in 58 games. He’ll get the nod at third base to begin the season. If it doesn’t work out, there are other options in Memphis.
UT – Christian Arroyo, 28, R-R, .261 BA, 5 HRs, 22 RBIs, 102 Gs
A mainstay as a utility man for the Walkers, Arroyo might be starting for many teams – and some scout says he should be manning third base in St. Louis – he is just too valuable due to his ability to play second, third and shortstop.
RF/LF – Andrew Benintendi, 29, L-L, .302 BA, 30 HRs, 74 RBIs, 15 SBs, 138 Gs
While he didn’t perform at his MVP level of 2019, Benintendi upped his game in 2023 enough to earn a National League silver slugger. He’s still a force in the middle of the order, but has started to struggle against tough left-handed pitchers. If he plays well, the Walkers tend to play well.
CF/LF – Edmond Americaan, 27, L-L, .271 BA, 11 HRs, 51 RBIs, 19 SBs, 148 Gs
With Byron Buxton offering very little of value outside of defense, Americaan spent more time in center field for the Walkers than anyone else. When starting, he provided a decent on-base percentage in the lead-off role (.341). He also a plus-defender in center and left field. What his role will become once Michael Toglia returns from injury is yet to be determined.
CF – Larry Ernesto, 23, S-R, .240 BA, 11 HRs, 33 RBIs, 7 SBs, 74 Gs
A young player with a high upside, Ernesto will start the season in the majors and probably get some starts in center field. Like Americaan, what is role becomes once Toglia returns will depend on how he performs.
Injured players
SP – Brendan Spagnuolo, 28, R-R, 9-10, 2.96 ERA, 29 Gs, 166.0 IP, 122 Ks, 1.42 WHIP
The 28-year-old will likely be out until sometime in June with a hamstring strain. The team’s No. 5 starter in 2023, Spagnuolo did a decent job – and actually got better as the season progressed – keeping the team in ballgames.
OF – Michael Toglia, 25, R-R, .289 BA, 35 HRs, 89 RBIs, 137 Gs
After earning a starting outfielder’s job in spring training, Toglia ran with it all the way to earning the Silver Slugger in right field and finishing second in the NL Rookie of the Year voting. He will miss the first two weeks with a fractured single, with a rehab stint in Memphis probably on top of that, but when he returns the 25-year-old should be a force in the middle of the River Walkers batting order.

Players to watch
C – Michael Amditis, 26 R-R, .269 BA, 0 HR, 1 RBI in St. Louis;,277 BA, 20 HRs, 63 RBIs in Memphis
Competed with Jared Thomas for the starting catcher’s job in spring training but struggled at the plate. If Thomas should not get the job done or become injured, he may get another shot in the majors.
3B – Tanner Kohlhepp, 24 R-R, .230 Bam 1 HR, 4 RBIs in St. Louis; .264 BA, 23 HRs, 69 RBIs in Springfield
Got a lot of playing time in the spring training and played well, but lack of experience in AAA and how well Gonzalez played in the majors forced the decision to have him start the season at Memphis. If Gonzalez struggles, his call up could come very soon.
OF – George Valera, 23, L-L, .235 BA, 0 HRs, 0 RBIS in St. Louis; .444 BA, 4 HRs, 28 RBIs in 32 games at MemphisAcquired in the trade which sent Andrelton Simmons and others to Cincinnati, Valera hit no matter where he played in the minors in 2023 and had an impressive spring training while getting some chances with the big club.

OF – Dahlandy Johnson, 24, L-R, .319, 5 HRs, 16 RBIs in St. Louis; .316 BA, 15 HRs, 52 RBI at Memphis
Came down to him and Larry Ernesto for the final outfield spot. Ernesto earned it based on his ability to play center field, Johnson has hit well at all levels. In 2023, he had 20 homers and 68 RBIs in 101 games In the majors and in AAA.
SP – Ernesto Rios, 24, L-L 2-1, 3.94, 3 Gs, St. Louis; 1-0, 3.50, 7 Gs, Memphis
Acquired in the trade which sent Kyle Hendricks to Milwaukee, Rios performed well in three late-season starts with the River Walkers.
SP – Jackson Smeltz, 25, L-L, 1-1, 3.00 ERA, 2 Gs on St. Louis; 10-10 at multiple levels of minors
Also acquired in the Hendricks trade, Smeltz pitched well in a pair of September starts for the River Walkers.
RP – Brad Brann, 26, R-R, 0-0, 2.25 ERA, 7 Gs in St. Louis; 2-0, 8 Svs., 1.76 ERA in 14 games in Memphis
Acquired from Cleveland, Brann almost made the team out of spring training and seems to have the makeup to be a closer or at least high-end reliever.
RP – Wilmer Jimenez, 25, L-L, 1-1, 7.84, 29 G for St. Louis
Acquired from Cincinnati, Jimenez did not show much in his 29 games with the River Walkers in 2023. He will be given a chance to find his game at Memphis and be a fill in from the left side should issues arise in the majors.
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Old Yesterday, 03:05 AM   #22
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Walkers news: April 1 -- St. Louis at Kansas City, postponed by weather

The season-opening game between the St. Louis River Walkers and Kansas City Pit Masters at Kansas City Municipal Stadium (1969) has been postponed by rain.
The game will be made up as part of a doubleheader on April 2.
(In real life, this would not happen as most teams without domes in potential bad weather areas play their season opener with a built in day off in case weather wipes out opening day).

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Old Yesterday, 03:41 AM   #23
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Walkers news: April 2 -- St. Louis 4, Kansas City 3, Game 1

Record: 1-0, 1st, 0.5 GA Des Moines and Kansas City
Kansas City jumped on St. Louis starting pitcher Alex Faedo for three early runs, but the River Walkers scored four times in the top of the fifth inning and rode it to a 4-3 win in their season opener and first game of a doubleheader at Kansas City Municipal Stadium (1969).
The Pit Masters scored twice in the first and once in the third to go up 3-0.
Having gone without a hit in the first three innings, the Walkers busted loose against Kansas City starter Trevor Oaks in the fifth.
St. Louis put its first four batters on base -- Larry Ernesto walked, Jean Carmona doubled, Jared Thomas singled, scoring Ernesto, and Faedo also singled, scoring Carmona to make it 3-2.
Bo Bichette tied it with a one-out double.
A sacrifice fly from Andrew Benintendi scored Faedo making it 4-3, St. Louis.
After his rough first inning, Faedo settled down to work six innings, allowing the three runs on nine hits. He struck out six and walked one.
The Walkers bullpen was shut down over the final three innings.
Jake Brentz tossed a scoreless seventh inning.
John Curitss got the first two outs of the eighth before Nick Lodolo came on to record the third out.
Making his first appearance as a Walker, Edwin Diaz sent Kansas City down in order in the ninth for his first save.
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Walkers news: April 2 -- St. Louis 7, Kansas City 2, Game 2

Record: 2-0, 1st, 1 GA four teams
Down 1-0, St. Louis scored three times in the top of the second inning and rolled to a 7-2 win in Game 2 of a season-opening doubleheader at Kansas City Municipal Stadium (1969).
The River Walkers put five straight batters on base after the lead-off hitter was retired by Pit Masters starting pitcher Kyle Wright.

Christian Arroyo tied it with an RBI single. The next batter, J.T. Realmuto, then put St. Louis up 2-1 with another single.
A walk to pitcher Argenis Batista loaded the bases.
Alek Thomas took advantage with a sacrifice fly, making it 3-1.
Their lead at 3-2, St. Louis broke it open with four runs in the top of the sixth.
Bo Bichette plated the first run with a single off reliever Todd Peterson.
The next two came on an Andrew Benintendi double.
The Walkers added an insurance run in the eighth after Larry Ernesto led off with a single off Andrew Ryan and scored on a Realmuto double.
Batista worked six innings for the Walkers, allowing two runs on five hits. He struck out eight and walked one.
Thad Ward worked the next two innings and got the first out of the ninth.
Brad Hand took care of the final two batters, striking them both out, to earn a save.
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Walkers news: April 3 -- Kansas City 3, St. Louis 0

Record: 2-1, 1st (Tied/w. Des Moines), 0.5 GA Springfield and Quad City
Max Fried tossed 6.1 shutout innings and he got help from three relievers as the Kansas City pitching staff combined on a three-hitter in a 4-0 win over St. Louis at Kansas City Municipal Stadium (1969).
All three River Walkers hits were singles from lead-off hitter Alek Thomas.
In his 6.1 innings, Fried allowed two of those hits. He struck out four and walked none.

Austin Hansen (1.2 IP) and Giovanny Gallegos (0.1) combined to get the game into the ninth inning.
Zach Burdi recorded the final two outs for his first save.
The Pit Masters went up 2-0 in the bottom of the second inning.
St. Louis starter Jimmy Lambert hurt himself with a pair of walks to open the inning.
He later allowed a run-scoring sacrifice flies to Mookie Betts and Fried.
The Kansas City lead grew to 4-0 in the fifth, Tyler Wade hitting his first homer of the season, a two-run blast off Lambert.
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