Irving Falu hasn’t been quite himself so far this season, taking a batting average into Sunday’s game that was about 60 points below his normal rate.
But, batting ninth in the order, the Omaha Storm Chasers veteran scored both runs after getting on base and being driven in by David Lough singles — including the game-winner in the bottom of the 10th for a 2-1 victory against Memphis.
Falu delivered his second triple of the game to lead off the 10th in front of 3,081 at Werner Park, then scored when the red-hot Lough got his second hit of the game.
“I guess I was smart and put Falu in the right part of the order,” said Omaha manager Mike Jirschele, laughing.
Falu, who has hit in several spots in the order, was batting leadoff two games earlier. In the series opener with Memphis, Falu hit eighth.
His three-hit game lifted his average 23 points to .250. A 12-for-29 streak has bumped his average up 75 points, from .175.
“I saw him take good swings today,” Jirschele said. “He’s been coming around the ball a lot. Today he let the ball travel and squared up two balls (for triples) against the wind. That’s the only way you can get it over their heads on a day like today.”
Like his seventh-inning triple, Falu’s 10th-inning three-bagger sailed past Memphis center fielder Oscar Tavares.
“I tried to square my bat up, and I got it,” Falu said.
That set up Lough, who extended his hitting streak to 14 games with an RBI single in the third inning — after Falu had singled and stolen second base.
In the 10th, Lough lined a ball to right center off Eric Fornataro (0-2) that would have been a double had it not been the game-ender.
“Irving did the hard part,” Lough said, referring to the triple. “I just wanted to see it, get a good pitch and drive it out into the outfield somewhere. I ended up hitting it a little better than I needed, but it got the job done.”
Lough raised his average to .364. He’s hitting .408 since opening the season 0 for 12.
Yet, with two bases open, three right-handed hitters coming up and a right-handed pitcher on the mound, the Redbirds pitched to the left-handed hitting Lough rather than walking him.
“I guess they could have, but I’m glad they didn’t,” Lough said.
Memphis tied the game in the eighth, as Taveras drew a one-out walk from Francisley Bueno, and then scored as Brock Peterson hit reliever Louis Coleman’s first pitch deep to right center for an RBI double.
Previously, Chris Dwyer and Michael Wacha staged a strong pitching prospect showdown for the game’s first six innings.
Dwyer, 25, continuing to bounce back after two difficult seasons, took a no-hitter into the fifth (after a postgame scoring change), and went 613 shutout innings, allowing two hits and walking four while striking out six.
The Storm Chasers left-hander had been ninth in the league with the 2.56 ERA he took into the game, and he trimmed that to 2.13.
The former top-100 prospect has posted a career-high five consecutive quality starts.
“He’s gotten his velocity back and he’s pitching with confidence,” Jirschele said. “His command is better. He’s just going right at guys.”
Wacha, 21, considered a top-100 prospect by both Baseball America and mlb.com, gave up one run on five hits in 523 innings, while walking two and striking out four.
The 19th overall pick in last June’s draft out of Texas A&M, Wacha (3-1) cut his third-best ERA slightly, from 1.86 to 1.82.
“He’s going to be a good one,” Jirschele said. “He doesn’t look like a 21-year-old kid in Triple A. He’s got mound presence and he’s got good stuff.”
Omaha (16-12) inched back ahead of Memphis (15-13) for first place in the PCL’s American Conference North.
“The last couple of years, we’ve shown that we don’t want to come out of first place,” Lough said. “We want to put up numbers, but we want to win at the same time and help the team as much as possible. I think it makes a statement.”
Ex-Chaser Odorizzi combines on gem
Former Omaha pitcher Jake Odorizzi threw the first seven innings of a combined no-hitter Sunday for Class AAA Durham.
Odorizzi (3-0, 2.65 ERA) walked four and struck out three while throwing 95 pitches. Three relievers finished off the no-hitter, though Pawtucket scored a run in the bottom of the ninth in Durham’s 2-1 win.
The right-hander was part of the deal in which Kansas City sent minor league player of the year Wil Myers as well as Mike Montgomery— all former Storm Chasers — in part of a four-player package to Tampa Bay last December.
Odorizzi went 15-5 with a 3.03 ERA last year, including 11-3 with a 2.93 ERA in Omaha — he was just a few innings short of qualifying for the Pacific Coast League ERA title.
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