Chris Dwyer put together one of the best pitching performances of his career — he was named the game’s most valuable player — to help the Omaha Storm Chasers win the Triple A National Championship.
And that wasn’t even the best thing that happened to him Tuesday.
After the game, Omaha manager Mike Jirschele told the 25-year-old left-hander that he’d earned his first-ever call-up to the major leagues by Kansas City.
“It’s got to be the highlight of his career to this point, to have a game like that to win a championship ... and then I told him he was going to the big leagues,” Jirschele said.
Dwyer, a fourth-round draft pick from Clemson in 2009, won a career-high 10 games for Omaha while ranking among the PCL leaders in wins, ERA (3.55), innings pitched (159 2⁄3) and opponent batting average (.234). He had a career-high 17 quality starts — counting Tuesday’s effort, he doubled his previous best of nine.
He retired 21 of the 22 batters he faced Tuesday, including the first 20 in a row before Tim Beckham rolled a single between first and second base with two outs in the seventh inning.
“It was an unbelievable team win, and I couldn’t have done it without everybody behind me,” Dwyer said in a televised interview. “It was a great team win.”
And to think, after essentially a 15-day layoff, pitchers aren’t supposed to be sharp.
“That’s why it was so outstanding,” Jirschele said.
Dwyer had a clutch win on Sept. 1, on the next-to-last day of the season. He was scheduled to start Game 4 of the first-round playoff series against Oklahoma City, but Omaha swept the RedHawks in three.
So he started Game 1 of the PCL championship series against Salt Lake on Sept. 9, but pitched just two innings before the game was suspended because of rain.
He was both sharp and strong Tuesday.
“I was just getting ahead of hitters and throwing all my pitches for strikes,” Dwyer said in the televised interview.
Falu, too, gets the call
Veteran utility infielder Irving Falu, who reached the majors for the first time in 2012 and got a one-day call-up (and didn’t play) this season, is also heading for Kansas City after being promoted after the game.
Falu, second on Omaha’s all-time hits list (631) and among the top 10 in nearly every offensive category, had the worst of his five full seasons in Omaha, hitting .256 with a 648 OPS.
But he bounced back to hit .379 in eight playoff games.
Best in the minors
Omaha’s win over Durham in Tuesday’s Triple A National Championship is the franchise’s second claim on being best team in the minor leagues.
The Omaha Royals won the Triple-A Classic in 1990, beating Rochester four games to one in a best-of-7 series. However, that playoff format matched the winners of the American Association (Omaha’s since-disbanded league) and the International League and didn’t include the PCL champion.
Omaha played in the Triple A National Championship Game two seasons ago after winning the PCL title, but lost to Columbus 8-3. That game, between the champions of the two remaining Class AAA leagues, was played in Albuquerque.
Paulo Orlando’s season started slow, but he showed Tuesday the skills that made him one of Omaha’s key players in 2013.
The center fielder made two terrific running catches — a sliding catch in left center in the fifth inning and a running catch to deep right center in the sixth — to preserve Dwyer’s no-hit bid.
He also singled during Omaha’s sixth-inning rally, moving Manny Pina into scoring position. Pina scored what turned out to be the winning run on Falu’s RBI single.
“Paulo played great out there in the outfield and got another hit,” Jirschele said. “He had an outstanding season.”