Sioux Falls, SD-- The Laredo Lemurs overcame another fantastic performance from Canaries pitcher Joe Bircher with a stellar start of their own in a 1-0 victory at the Birdcage Thursday night. Laredo starting pitcher Jeremy Strawn struck out eight Canary batters in seven shutout innings to outshine Bircher (3-6), who held the Lemurs to an earned run and a mere four hits while whiffing three in seven strong innings. The loss is the Birds (21-38) fifth in a row and wraps up a rough homestand that saw Sioux Falls go 1-5.
“There’s no head-hanging,” said manager Steve Shirley. “We’re expecting to win the game, right up until the ball rolled to their shortstop there.”
Bircher’s night got off to an ominous start in the opening inning, with the hurler facing a bases-loaded one-out situation against a team that had the Canaries number from the start of the series. However, a timely double play turned by his defense set the tone for the rest of his night, as he’d give up one more hit over the next six innings. Bircher’s Lemur counterpart Strawn would be just as resilient on the mound, keeping Sioux Falls off the scoreboard until he left the game after the seventh inning.
“At some point, when you get guys in scoring position something has to happen,” said Shirley.
Unfortunately, the final hit Bircher allowed would end up being the game-winner, with the Lemurs snagging a 1-0 lead in the top of the seventh on a solo home run by first baseman John Alonso. The run snapped an impressive streak of 13.1 shutout innings for Bircher that started when he went seven deep in a 4-0 win over the Grand Prairie AirHogs last Friday night. Sioux Falls tried to keep Bircher out of the loss column by getting men on 1st and 2nd in the bottom of the ninth, but Laredo closer Chad Povich worked out of the jam to seal the sweep.
“You don’t sit in the dugout and think about your record,” said Shirley. “You’re thinking about this game, and what you can do in order to win this game.”
The Canaries will now hit the road to start a seven-game road trip, beginning with series against the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks that opens tomorrow at 7:02 pm. They’ll return to the Birdcage on July 25, when they open a three-game series versus the Sioux City Explorers. There will be Friday night fireworks presented by Sioux Falls Specialty Hospital, Orthopedic Institute and All-Star Fireworks. The Canaries will also be celebrating the 75th anniversary of the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Courtesy: Sioux Falls Canaries Tony Cola