Ryan Verdugo gave up just one hit over six innings and combined with two relievers on a four-hitter, as Omaha blanked Sacramento, 2-0, Monday night in the opener of a four-game set at Raley Field. The Storm Chasers improved to 34-30 overall and 16-16 on the road but remained one-half game behind front-running Oklahoma City and Iowa in the American Conference North Division.
The Storm Chasers manufactured their first run when Paulo Orlando opened the game with a double to extend his road hitting streak to 32 games, advanced to third base on a Christian Colon sacrifice bunt and came plateward on a Johnny Giavotella ground out. The visitors added a run in similar fashion in the fourth when Justin Maxwell led off with a double, moved to third on a ground out and scampered home on a Brett Eibner sacrifice fly to finish the scoring. Sacramento starter Dan Straily lasted eight innings during which he gave up those two runs on four hits while walking one and striking out seven but wound up taking the loss. Former Omaha hurler Philip Humber tossed a scoreless ninth for the River Cats, who lost for only the ninth time in their 33 home games.
Verdugo retired 18 of the 20 batters he faced, issuing a walk to Nate Frieman in the second inning and yielding a base hit to Daric Barton in the fourth, and did not allow either runner to advance past first base. The southpaw struck out six, including the side in order on 10 pitches in the first, and was followed by Casey Coleman, who permitted a one-out single in a scoreless seventh. Spencer Patton worked around a lead-off double and a two-out walk in the eighth by fanning Andy Parrino to end the threat and then maneuvered around another hit and a walk in the ninth to earn his 13th save of the season. Sacramento entered the contest with the second best team batting average in the league and had scored the second most runs of any team in the PCL behind only Las Vegas.
The series continues Tuesday night with Omaha right-hander Aaron Brooks taking the mound against Sacramento righty Josh Lindblom.