Four Storm Chasers pitchers combined to shut down Cubs batters and first baseman Whit Merrifield collected three hits, while first baseman Tony Cruz’s hit by pitch with the bases loaded in the seventh proved to be the difference in Omaha’s 1-0 victory over Iowa on Tuesday afternoon at Werner Park.
The Royals southpaw fired the first 3.1 shutout frames as part of his Major League Rehab Assignment, throwing 63 pitches, including 45 strikes. Luke Farrell (3.2 IP, 4 H, 4 BB, SO), Malcom Culver (1.0 IP, 2 H) and Kevin McCarthy (1.0 IP, SO) combined for the final 5.2 innings of work to keep Iowa’s bats quiet.
Farrell earned the victory to improve to 5-3 on the year, while Culver received his first hold and McCarthy notched his fourth save. Cubs reliever Felix Pena (2.0 IP, 2 H, R, ER, 2 BB, 4 SO) suffered the defeat to fall to 2-4 in support of starter Trevor Cahill (4.0 IP, 2 H, 2 BB, 6 SO) in his Major League Rehab appearance with Iowa.
The two teams were kept off the board until the seventh, when Omaha plated the lone tally of the contest. RF Orlando Calixte led off the frame with a double and then advanced to third on Merrifield’s infield single, his third knock of the game. Rey Fuentes was then intentionally walked to load the bases before Cruz eventually stood in with two outs and was hit by a pitch on a 1-0 count to put the Storm Chasers ahead.
Merrifield (3-4, 2B, SB) led Omaha with his game-high three hits, while Iowa CF John Andreoli (2-5) and LF Kristopher Negron (2-4) each tallied multi-hit efforts as well. The two teams combined to strand 25 batters, and record just one hit in 19 at bats with runners in scoring position.
The Storm Chasers are set to hit the road for a four-game road series against the Memphis Redbirds beginning on Wednesday night, with first pitch set for 6:35 p.m. CT. LHP John Lannan (6-7, 4.70) is slated to toe the rubber for Omaha, with Memphis anticipated to give the nod to RHP Mike Mayers (3-4, 3.47).