Saints’ Louie Varland falls back to earth in second start

It took only one batter on Friday night at CHS Field to know that Louie Varland’s second start with the hometown Saints was going to be different than his first.

After taking a no-hitter into the sixth inning last Friday in his Triple-A debut, Varland gave up a bloop single to the leadoff hitter. It was the start of a back-down-to-earth night for the North St. Paul grad, who allowed three runs — two that were earned — in 5 2/3 innings of work in the Saints’ 5-3 comeback win over Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

Different does not mean ineffective, however. Varland struck out seven without allowing a walk, with only a couple of the seven hits he gave up coming on solid contact.

Varland was not available immediately after the game, probably enjoying the postgame fireworks with his numerous supporters on hand, just as he did last week. But Saints pitching coach Virgil Vasquez said he was impressed with Varland’s performance.

“I saw a pitcher with good tempo attacking the zone,” Vasquez said. “Being aggressive with all of his pitches, trusting his stuff. He made adjustments the second and third time through the lineup. He was really present throughout the game and used the weapons he has developed.”

Varland’s stuff was just as good as it was last Friday, Vasquez said. The one difference would be that he didn’t have quite the adrenaline rush he had in his debut.

“I was talking to one of the other players about how he went 5 1/3 innings without giving up a hit and then you get two broken-bat hits in the first two innings,” Vasquez said. “It’s just part of baseball. But nothing phased him. That’s one of his strengths, that he just keeps attacking. He keeps believing in himself.”

Vasquez is among many who have been around Varland who come away impressed by his work ethic.

“He just works so hard and studies so much,” Vasquez said. “He’s put a lot of work in the last couple of years. Especially this year with the pitching coaches in Wichita. They worked together to develop a big slider.

“That’s a new pitch for him. I’m really excited about now and for his future.”


Aaron Sanchez had his scheduled start this weekend scratched, with the move tied to Twins starter Tyler Mahle being sidelined due to right shoulder fatigue. Both Devin Smeltzer and Sanchez have started for the Twins this season, so both are candidates to be called up. … Chris Williams, called up from Double-A Wichita on Aug. 11, hit his third home run in four games. Williams had 18 home runs for Wichita before being called up. … Three of Varland’s strikeouts came against former Saints and Twins catcher Ben Rortvedt.

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