The Omaha Storm Chasers (64-59) had 71 hits in their previous five games, but were held to only four hits in an 8-1 loss to the Salt Lake Bees (51-73) in the series opener. With an Iowa Cubs loss to Las Vegas in Des Moines tonight, the Chasers remain 1.0 game back in the division race.
Omaha scored the first run of the game as Whit Merrifield came around to score after a leadoff double but Salt Lake starter Wade LeBlanc held the Chasers to three baserunners in his final six innings of a seven-inning win, including only one hit in his final 13 batters faced. The Bees came in to the game with the worst ERA in the Pacific Coast League, but Omaha’s 3-through-7 hitters went a combined 0-for-16 on the night.
Liam Hendriks allowed five runs, all with two outs, in six innings of work to suffer his first loss as a Storm Chaser. The right-hander walked three batters on the night, the first time in 19 Triple-A starts this season he has walked more than one batter and his first free passes in 38.2 innings dating back to July 9 while he was with Buffalo. After he allowed just two runs in seven innings with 12 strikeouts in his Omaha debut, Hendriks has given up ten runs in his last 13.0 innings with just ten strikeouts.
Merrifield accounted for half of the Chasers hits on the night, and leads the PCL since he joined the league on June 7 with 89 hits in 58 games. Omaha has now lost four straight homestand openers, and have been outscored 32-7 in those four games. The Chasers now have a losing record at Werner Park in 2014 at 29-30.
The Chasers will look to bounce back as they send out RHP Aaron Brooks (8-3, 4.42 ERA), the team leader in wins, in the second game of the series. He will face off with RHP Jarrett Grube (7-8, 5.57 ERA), who tossed a complete game shutout against Omaha in Game 3 of last year’s PCL Championship, with first pitch on 1180 Zone 2 The Deuce and MiLB.TV scheduled for 7:05 p.m.