For the first time this season, the Omaha Royals have won three straight games at home. A large share of the credit for Tuesday’s 2-1 victory over Colorado Springs goes to starter Philip Humber and reliever Blaine Hardy.
Humber (3-3) pitched eight innings of one-run ball, blanking the Sky Sox over the first seven frames, before yielding a run in the eighth. Former Royal Travis Metcalf led off the eighth with a double off the track in center, was bunted to third and scored on an RBI groundout to cut the Royals’ lead to 2-1. Humber then retired Matt Miller – who went 0-for-4 after entering the contest hitting .304 – on a grounder up the middle fielded slickly by shortstop Irving Falu for his seventh assist of the game.
Humber, a 27-year old right-hander, wound up allowing six hits, but no walks, striking out three and throwing 71 of his 98 pitches for strikes.
Hardy, a 23-year old lefty who joined the Royals Tuesday from Double-A Northwest Arkansas, came on in the ninth for his Triple-A debut in his third professional season. After a couple of deep fly balls, he struck out Chris Nelson swinging to earn the save. With the Naturals, Hardy was 1-0 with a 0.69 ERA and four saves in 12 games.
The Royals scored their two runs in the second inning off Sky Sox lefty Brandon Durden (0-3). Kila Ka’aihue and Jordan Parraz began the inning with back-to-back singles. Kurt Mertins made a picture perfect sacrifice bunt to advance the runners. Jai Miller followed with a sharp grounder past Metcalf at third to score Ka’aihue. Marc Maddox then lifted a sacrifice fly to left to plate Parraz with Omaha’s second run.
Omaha (22-21) improved to 4-2 on the home stand, while Colorado Springs (20-24) dropped to 0-6 on its current road trip.
Game three of the series is Wednesday at 6:35 p.m. The pitching matchup has Sky Sox righty Chaz Roe (1-6, 6.56) vs. Royals right-hander Luis Mendoza (2-2, 3.06).