Other than kids running the bases with Casey after the game, the base paths at Rosenblatt Stadium were mostly unused Sunday afternoon. The Omaha Royals and Salt Lake Bees only managed two hits apiece, with the Royals being able to eek out a 2-1 victory in front of 3,376 fans on a warm day that had a “hitter’s wind” blowing out towards left field at better than 20 miles per hour.
Royals starter Jorge Campillo retired all nine Bees he faced in the contest. The 31-year old right-hander, who was making just his third appearance and first start after beginning the year in Kansas City’s extended spring training, left after throwing 31 pitches including 22 strikes. Campillo is coming back from a 2009 campaign when he was limited to seven relief appearances between the big leagues and minors due to tendinitis in his right shoulder.
Fellow Mexican right-hander Federico Castaneda relieved Campillo to begin the fourth and set down the first six batters he faced. But, Bees catcher Ryan Budde spoiled the perfect game by leading off the sixth with a home run to left, giving Salt Lake a 1-0 lead.
Bees starter Will Smith carried a one-hit shutout into the bottom of the seventh and got ahead of the Royals leadoff batter Alex Gordon no balls, two strikes, before walking him. Cleanup batter Kila Ka’aihue showed bunt at various times during the next at-bat, including on a Smith’s 3-2 pitch that missed for ball four. Jordan Parraz followed with a bunt back towards the mound and Smith elected to throw to third, but it was too late to force Gordon, loading the bases with no outs. Scott Thorman’s groundout to first base tied the game at 1-1.
Francisco Rodriguez came on in relief and Salt Lake pulled the infield in with Royals at second and third and one out. Kurt Mertins rifled his first pitch past shortstop Hainley Statia and into center, scoring Ka’aihue with the deciding run. Jordan Parraz also tried to score on the play, but was beaten to the plate by Peter Bourjos’ throw. Parraz bowled over Budde, but the Bees catcher hung on for the final out.
Castaneda (2-0) worked five innings to get the win, retiring the last five batters he faced. Greg Holland set down the first two batters in the ninth before walking Terry Evans on four pitches to put the tying run on base. But, Holland induced Nate Sutton to ground out to short, earning his second save. Smith (0-2), a 20-year old southpaw, was the hard-luck loser, allowing two runs on just one hit over six-and-a-third innings.
Omaha (20-21) earned a split of the four-game series with Salt Lake (21-21), which lost for just the third time in the past nine games.
The Royals host Colorado Springs in the opener of a four-game series Monday at 6:35 p.m. The pitching matchup has Sky Sox lefty Kurt Birkins (0-2, 13.85) vs. Royals righty Anthony Lerew (2-2, 3.40).