Does excellent pitching trump terrific hitting?
Friday night it did, as Ryan Verdugo and Nate Adcock turned in solid starts, three relievers combined for three scoreless innings, and Omaha’s 15 th-ranked offense edged Albuquerque’s league-best offense for a pair of 3-2 wins and a sweep of a doubleheader before 2,762 (paid) at Werner Park.
“Two real good starts,” Omaha manager Mike Jirschele said. “Verdugo could have given us six (innings) easily, but we wanted to cut him back so he could come back and start (Tuesday).
“Adcock pitched much better as the game went along. He probably could have gone out there and finished it, but that’s what we’ve got (Michael) Mariot out there for at times.”
Verdugo pitched four perfect innings, but gave up a single and a two-run homer to Nate Buss in the fifth inning and had to settle for a no decision. He didn’t walk a batter and struck out five in a 58-pitch performance.
The Storm Chasers went ahead in the sixth on Xavier Nady’s RBI double, making a winner of Donnie Joseph (1-0). Blaine Boyer pitched the seventh for the save.
Speedy Dee Gordon singled and scored in both the first and third innings to stake Albuquerque to a 2-0 lead in the second game, but Adcock retired the final 11 batters he faced. Adcock (2-0) walked one and struck out four while allowing four hits during his 80-pitch outing.
“I felt great out of the windup, but out of the stretch I was kind of yanking some pitches every now and then,” Adcock said. “But I made an adjustment later on in the game.”
Omaha rallied with a two-run double by Max Ramirez in the bottom of the third, then moved ahead as Brett Hayes rolled a fifth-inning, bases-loaded RBI single through the left side of the Albuquerque defense.
Adcock, a right-hander, trimmed his ERA to 2.40 after allowing three runs – two earned – in his six innings. After struggling in his initial start of the season, Verdugo has given up two earned runs in nine innings over his last two starts to get his ERA down to 6.00.
The left-hander will pitch on three days rest Monday in Nashville, and because of that was on a 60-pitch limit Friday.
Those two, along with Will Smith (1-1, 2.81 ERA), Chris Dwyer (2-1, 3.00) and Brian Sanches (1-0, 3.38) have given Omaha one of the Pacific Coast League’s best starting rotations.
The Chasers entered Friday ranked second in the league with a 3.41 team ERA and were tied for second with 129 strikeouts.
Albuquerque was leading the league with a .304 team batting average and was averaging 6.3 runs per game. The Isotopes are averaging just 3.3 runs while going 2-5 against Omaha pitching – with seven runs coming in one game.
Omaha moved back into first place in the PCL’s American Conference North by a half-game over Memphis, which lost Friday at New Orleans.
The Chasers swept a home doubleheader for the first time in 20 opportunities dating to August, 2007. They had posted their first doubleheader sweep of any kind since 2008 when taking two from the Isotopes in Albuquerque by identical 6-3 scores last week.
Omaha was hitting just .223 before Friday and is still at just .232 after collecting 15 hits over the two games.
But the timing of the hits was good.
Anthony Seratelli’s two-run homer, his second of the season, gave Omaha a third-inning lead in the opener.
David Lough had three hits and scored twice in the second game.
Ramirez snapped an 0-for-19 slump with his RBI double in the third inning of the nightcap.
“Max and Nady both – I don’t want to say they’re struggling, but the conditions have been terrible,” Jirschele said. “It’s been so cold this whole homestand.”
STORM TRACKING: Omaha heads to Nashville for a four-game series starting Saturday. Sanches faces Nashville’s Mike Fiers in a matchup of right-handers in the 6:35 p.m. series opener. … Reliever Anthony Ortega was reinstated from the disabled list and released by Kansas City. Ortega hadn’t appeared in a game this season. … By the end of the second game, the temperature was 36 degrees, with a wind chill of 30.
STORM TRACKING: Omaha heads to Nashville for a four-game series starting Saturday. Omaha right-hander Brian Sanches (1-0, 3.38 ERA) faces righty Mike Fiers in the 6:35 p.m. series opener. ... Reliever Anthony Ortega was reinstated from the disabled list and released by Kansas City. Ortega hadn’t appeared in a game this season. ... By the end of the second game, the temperature was 36 degrees with a wind chill of 30.
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