Not that there wasn't some drama involved in Omaha's must-win 6-1 victory Sunday night against Round Rock.
It's just that Memphis' must-lose (for Omaha) loss at Oklahoma City was even more riveting.
Memphis led 4-0 in the bottom of the ninth. There were two outs. The next two hitters had two strikes.
And yet, Oklahoma City rallied to tie the game on a three-run homer by Jose Martinez, and then the RedHawks won it on an 11th-inning fly-ball single by Martinez.
“That was unbelievable,” said Omaha outfielder Paulo Orlando, who, like his teammates, was updated on the game's progress by an on-field announcement. “When they said that, I thought, 'Oh my gosh.' Baseball is good like that.”
So, Omaha is still alive as the season heads to its final day.
The Storm Chasers moved back into a tie with Memphis for first place in the PCL's American Conference North. Since Memphis has the tiebreaker advantage, it takes another Omaha win and another Memphis loss Monday for the Chasers to reach the PCL playoffs for the third straight season.
But there's still a chance. And certainly there's a better chance than there was in the bottom of the ninth in Oklahoma City on Sunday.
“That's why you just go out and play each game as it comes,” Omaha manager Mike Jirschele said. “And we only have control of what we're doing.”
Back in Omaha, Chris Dwyer took a shutout into the seventh inning and was backed by a three-run, inside-the-park homer by Orlando in front of 8,694 at Werner Park.
Dwyer had to pitch around a season-high seven walks, but yielded only three hits. He lost his shutout in the seventh as Greg Miclat drew a leadoff walk and scored on an Eli Whiteside double.
“That's a little frustrating, especially the ones with two outs,” Dwyer said of the walks. “I'd get a quick first out and a quick second out and then I'd walk someone. And then the leadoff walk in the seventh — it happens I guess, but it shouldn't.”
Round Rock also drew seven walks in six innings against Omaha starter Justin Marks on Saturday, in a game where Marks departed in position to get to the win.
Maybe the Express hitters just have excellent control of the strike zone?
“Not tonight,” Dwyer said, smiling. “I didn't have my fastball command, that was the main thing. I got behind and couldn't get myself into good pitchers' counts.”
Dwyer, a 25-year-old left-hander, opened the year as a former top-100 prospect who was coming off back-to-back subpar seasons. But he finished — at least for now — having earned midseason PCL All-Star honors and by putting himself back on a potential big league track after posting a 10-11 record with a 3.55 ERA that ranks sixth in the PCL.
After recording 25 quality starts — at least six innings, allowing three earned runs or less — in 75 tries in his first four professional seasons, he had 17 in 28 starts this year.
Omaha scored in each of the first three innings Sunday, including Manny Pina's second-inning homer.
With two runners on in the third, Orlando lifted a long fly ball. Round Rock left fielder Aaron Cunningham leapt at the wall and appeared to get a glove on the ball and pull it out of the stands, but in doing so the ball rolled well away from the wall and back toward the infield. The speedy Orlando scored easily, before Round Rock could even get the ball back to the infield.
“I got to second and saw the ball and I thought, 'I've got a chance to get home,' ” Orlando said. “It's been a long time since I had one (2007).”
It was the second inside-the-park homer in the three-year history of Werner Park, and was the first by a Chaser.
“I was just happy to see it bounce back towards me hard,” said Jirschele, who also coaches third base. “They had no chance after that. And I give Paulo credit because he busted it all the way around the bases before that.”
Orlando continued putting the finishing touches on his strong second half by opening the first three games of this series 5 for 11 with seven RBIs, putting his average at .270 and giving him 45 RBIs — fourth on the team.
“I've been telling myself that it's not the way you start, it's the way you finish,” Orlando said.
Same goes for Omaha.
Memphis' Monday game starts at 11 a.m., an hour before Omaha's 12:05 start.
“It makes it more exciting,” Jirschele said. “Last year when we clinched it so early, it wasn't as fun the last couple of weeks.
“This game (Monday) means a lot now. But all we have control of is us winning.”
STORM TRACKING: Individual awards were presented before the game. Members of the Omaha media voted for Anthony Seratelli as the team's hitter of the year, Dwyer as the pitcher of the year, and pitcher Yordano Ventura as the prospect of the year. Fans voted for Seratelli as the team's most popular player. The Storm Chaser front office named relief pitcher Buddy Baumann as its community service award winner. ... The Fan Appreciation Night crowd was Omaha's fourth-largest of the season.