Record-setting RailCats rally again
By Michael Osipoff email@example.com or 713-2485 June 23, 2013 10:12PM
Gary, 6/23/13--Christian Vitters (left) and Chase Tucker, get high fives as they enter the dugout after both scored on a Mike Massaro hit in the 4th. | Vincent D. Johnson~for Sun-Times Media
Updated: July 25, 2013 6:45AM
GARY — This one wasn’t as head-scratchingly unbelievable.
The deficit was smaller, the circumstances less farfetched.
But the RailCats’ 8-7 win against Saint Paul on Sunday at the Steel Yard wasn’t exactly routine, either.
Cristian Guerrero’s two-run single in the ninth inning capped their second two-out rally in three days against Saints closer Matt Meyer, after Friday’s comeback from three runs down in the ninth set up their win in the 10th.
Fittingly, Mike Massaro scored Sunday’s game-winning run after singling, with Adam Klein ahead of him scoring the tying run after walking; Massaro became the franchise’s career leader in both runs and hits, and Klein became the franchise’s career leader in walks.
The RailCats (20-15) have won a season-best four straight games, matching their high-water mark above .500 (they also were 10-5). They had not swept a four-game series since June 27 to 30 at Lincoln during the 2011 season.
“This might be an even better feeling than the other night,” Massaro said. “Maybe we can finally get rolling and get some momentum in the series against Kansas City and Winnipeg.
“That’s just our M.O. We’re not going to give up until the final out’s made. We’re going to grind it out and try to win games.”
And the RailCats were able to snatch a win to give the records added meaning.
With two outs in the ninth, Klein drew a walk, his third of the game and 235th with the team, passing former second baseman Eric McNamee (2005 to ’09). Massaro followed with a single to left, his third hit of the game and 549th with the team, passing former shortstop Jay Pecci (2005 to ’10). After a wild pitch, Guerrero — who became the franchise’s career leader in RBI earlier this month in a game at Fargo-Moorhead — sent a 2-1 slider up the middle for the walk-off win, touching off an on-field celebration.
“They probably were going to be careful with Cristian, and the book has always been let him get himself out,” RailCats manager Greg Tagert said. “But the thing that doesn’t surprise me and I know well about him, the way he gets himself out early in a game, is not the same hitter he is in those situations. He’s very good, and knows what he’s doing in those late-inning situations.”
Guerrero drove in four runs in the game, including an RBI single in the first and an RBI double in the second. He remained in the game after painfully fouling a ball off his foot in the fourth, coming through against Meyer, who had been 16-of-16 (9-of-9 in 2010, 7-of-7 this season) in save opportunities with the Saints (17-19) until Friday.
“Just go out there and get a good pitch,” Guerrero said.
“We’re fighters. Everything’s going through, and we go from there.”
Massaro’s run in the ninth was his 296th with the RailCats; his first-inning run set the record, also passing Pecci. His two-run single in the fourth had tied the hits record, after he had doubled in the first.
“It’s awesome,” Massaro, who joined the RailCats in 2009, said of the records. “It’s special any time you can accomplish something like that, with all the great players that have played in this organization, like Jay Pecci. I had the honor of playing with him, and he’s a perfect guy to learn from, a true professional. He showed me the way when I first got here. So I thank him.”
The RailCats had led 4-1 through two innings and 6-3 through four, before the Saints grabbed a 7-6 lead on Jose Hernandez’s two-out, two-run single in the eighth.
But, again, the RailCats found a way to pull out a win.
“Two outs in the ninth a couple times in a series is not going to happen against a guy like Meyer, but when you have guys like Klein and Massaro … Once Klein got on, it gave that club a little bit of life,” Tagert said.
Notes: Alain Quijano’s complete game from Saturday even improved overnight: A scoring change reduced his earned runs to one (from two) among the three he allowed. … Klein and Massaro had gone a combined 0-for-7 on Saturday. It was the third time this season they both had gone hitless in a game, and the first time the RailCats won; it was the team’s first such win since a 1-0 decision against Winnipeg on Aug. 23 of last season. … Billy Spottiswood (0-0, 3.18 ERA) is scheduled to start for the RailCats on Monday night in their series opener against Kansas City.