New Orleans was held to two hits Sunday at Zephyr Field, as two-time defending Triple-A champion Omaha took the season-opening series 3-1.
The Storm Chasers’ Yohan Pino (1-0) allowed one hit in seven innings, a dribbler leading off the third by Zephyrs left fielder Brady Shoemaker that stopped midway up the line. The Zephyrs didn’t get another hit until shortstop Miguel Rojas’ one-out single to left center in the bottom of the ninth against reliever Buddy Baumann.
“(Pino) changed speeds with his fastball, his breaking pitches were all good, and he located (the ball),” Omaha manager Brian Poldberg said. “You couldn’t ask for a better outing out of spring training.”
The Storm Chasers took control with a three-run third inning vs. Andre Rienzo (0-1) in which Gabriel Noriega hit a two-run bloop single to center field. Rienzo allowed one more hit, a double in the fifth, but no runs. He gave up a walk in the second.
“Rienzo had some tough breaks,” Zephyrs manager Andy Haines said. “That soft hit was kind of in no-man’s land, and he gave up two runs, but he didn’t give in.”
Brignac called up
Infielder Reid Brignac, a native of Gonzales, was called up to the Miami Marlins after the game, along with catcher JT Relamuto, Haines confirmed.
The two are going up because infielder Donnie Kelly and catcher Jeff Mathis both have broken fingers.
Brignac batted 2-for-4 with with a sacrifice fly in Thursday’s opener. Realmuto was 5-for-13 with three runs and a stolen base in the series.
A Marlins source said the parent team also may grab a Zephyrs pitcher because Henderson Alvarez complained about a sore shoulder and will have an MRI.
Kansas City Royals right-hander Luke Hochaver, who underwent Tommy John surgery during 2014 spring training, pitched the first inning Sunday as part of his rehab assignment.
Hochaver didn’t allow a hit and struck out one.
“He’s in a rehab situation, he’s getting his pitches in, and with the rain situation, instead of bringing him in later, we wanted to make sure he got to pitch in case the rain came.”
Hochaver, who pitched during this year’s spring training, is on a 30-day rehab with Omaha. He pitched one inning on opening day vs. the Z’s. His schedule calls for him to take two days off after each one-inning outing.
Saturday’s late game
After a 2 hour, 18-minute rain delay, Omaha scored three runs in the first inning against Adam Conley on their way to a 5-1 win.
Moises Sierra hit a two-run double after consecutive one-out walks, and Chester Cuthbert brought in the third run with a sacrifice fly.
Kris Bryant and the Iowa Cubs visit Zephyr Field for a four-game series beginning Monday. Bryant, a third baseman, is the No. 1 prospect in baseball. That the Cubs sent him to Triple-A was the source of much controversy after he had an impressive spring due to the fact parent Chicago had incentive, contract-wise, not to call him up yet. He is expected to be with Iowa for two weeks. Zephyrs right-hander Robert Morey will go against Cubs right-hander Yoanner Negrin in the opener. … Sunday’s first pitch was 23 minutes later than the scheduled 1 pm start time. … Haines said he liked the Zephyrs’ aggressiveness on the base paths during the series against Omaha, but that they need to improve in that area. That will be something they’ll work on for the series against the Cubs, he said.