After clinching the Pacific Coast League (PCL) American North division on Saturday, August 18, the Omaha Storm Chasers (77-54) are in a bit of a funk -- dropping two of their last three games to the Nashville Sounds and being outscored 16-1 in their last two games.
The team has looked flat, but Omaha manager Mike Jirschele says it has more to do with Nashville pitching than anything else. In Nashville's 9-1 win on Monday, August 20, starting pitcher Claudio Vargas tossed eight shutout innings against the Chasers. And in Nashville's 7-0 win on Tuesday, August 21, a combination of four pitchers shutout the Chasers.
"They've thrown some good pitchers out there," Jirschele told me and another reporter after the 7-0 loss on Tuesday. "They've got some good arms and they bring some good arms out of the bullpen."
Omaha starter Chris Dwyer gave up six earned runs in 4.2 IP against Nashville on Tuesday night and he is 1-2 with a 7.66 ERA in four starts this month.
"He was behind," Jirschele said. "He left balls up in the zone. He just wasn't sharp at all. And when he did come in, they hit it because he left it up."
Jirschele says he is not concerned about Dwyer though, who has made eight starts (3-4, 7.19 ERA) for Omaha since moving up from the Double-A Northwest Arkansas Naturals.
"He's fine," Jirschele said. "He's had some great outings here this year. His last two have been shaky but before that I was real happy with the way he's been throwing."
"They [the Royals] want him playing some third base just so he's able to go over there if we need him sometime," Jirschele said.
Myers looks uncomfortable at third so far, committing two errors in five games. Minda Haas, someone who shoots fantastic photos of the team and blogs about the team, pointed out that Myers looks into the dugout between pitches to see where he should be positioned. She is right. Myers did it throughout the game last night.
"It's going to take him some time," Jirschele said. "He's never played the hot corner. You know, that ball today was scalded at him and he did what he was supposed to do -- get in front of it -- and he took it off the wrist. It's just one of those things where he just needs to get out there and play it day in and day out and get a feel for it.
"He's learning. He came in on that bunt and he should have let it go because it was going to go foul."
Jirschle is referring to a bunt Nashville second baseman Eric Farris dropped down in the fourth inning. Myers fielded the ball cleanly, but committed a throwing error on the play.
"The first thing he said when he came in was, 'We need to work on that tomorrow,'" Jirschele said. "We worked on some slow rollers with him already, but tomorrow we'll bring him out and get him to where he's comfortable with those plays."
The Chasers have 13 regular season games remaining before the playoffs start. They begin a five-game series against the New Orleans Zephyrs at home tonight. The Zephyrs are currently four games out of first place in the PCL American South.
Jirschele expects Omaha to be ready, even though his team has already clinched a spot in the postseason.
"We're not playing any different than we have all year," Jirschele said. "We're going out to win every game and play it the way it is supposed to be."
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