The seventh inning proved to be fatal for Portland, as shoddy defense by the Beavers coupled with Tim Stauffer’s fading effectiveness led to two unearned runs for the Royals.
With such stellar pitching from both sides, the early innings of the game breezed by on the hot summer night at PGE Park. Given Stauffer’s perfect performance, the only fleeting moments of action came when Lumsden issued walks to put runners aboard in each of the first three innings.
The face of the game started to change in the bottom of the fifth inning when the Beavers started to hit. Catcher Luke Carlin broke up Lumsden’s no-hitter by shooting a single up the middle with one out. Following a walk to Josh Howard, Carlin came into score on Vincent Sinisi’s single to right field, giving Portland a 1-0 lead. On the same play, Howard was caught between third base and home to end the inning.
The Beavers would continue to hit Omaha pitching the rest of the night, tallying seven hits total, but were unable to manufacture another run.
Stauffer’s effectiveness against Omaha is especially admirable given the offensive potency of the Royal’s lineup. Five batters in Omaha’s starting lineup had batting averages over .300 and all were hitting over .250. Coming into Saturday night’s game, shortstop Mike Aviles shared the league lead in hits (70), Craig Brazell’s on-base plus slugging was 1.087, and Joey Gathright had an on-base percentage of .441. Through the first six innings, Stauffer completely neutralized Omaha’s offensive threat.
“His fastball had real good late life... He used the fastball effectively and then pitched off of it with the other pitches,” pitching coach Gary Lance said. “He had 13 three-pitches-or-less outs which is very, very good.”
With Stauffer’s perfect game still intact, Omaha left fielder Justin Huber attempted to lay down a bunt single to lead off the sixth inning. The bunt attempt rolled foul. This was a highly questionable play in terms of sportsmanship.
“As a pitching coach, I don’t really like it. If a guy gets a base hit to break up a gem like that, you want it to be a really sharp hit ball,” Lance said. “I’m not criticizing anybody, but as a pitching coach I would rather the guy swing the bat.”
In the seventh inning, Stauffer’s quest for a perfect game or no-hitter came to an end. Stauffer opened the inning by walking lead off batter Joey Gathright. Two outs later, Gathright would score to tie the game 1-1 on Craig Brazell’s single to left field. Errors by Craig Stansberry and Josh Howard on the next two plays would allow two unearned runs to score for the Royals, giving them a 3-1 lead.
Getting through seven innings made Stauffer’s outing Saturday night his longest of the year. He had pitched five innings in each of his four previous starts. When the seventh inning rolled around, Stauffer had tired and lost some edge.
“Going deeper into the game is a draining effect. He hadn’t been that deep and when you sit down, get up, and warm up that takes a toll as well. So you have that, along with pitch count,” Lance said.
Aaron Rakers came on to relieve Stauffer in the eighth inning. Rakers allowed one hit through two innings of work.
- Ray Chang has hit .500 (12-for-24) over his last six games
- Brett Dowdy is still out of commission with soreness on the left side of his lower back
- Sinisi extended his hitting streak to nine games Saturday night