Take it from Omaha’s hottest hitter — it’s all about the confidence.
Humberto Arteaga, who recorded his fifth consecutive multi-hit game Friday in an 11-1 rout of Round Rock, has it. So do his Storm Chasers, who have won four straight for the first time all season.
“The hitting is always contagious,” Arteaga said. “This is the team that we’ve got, and we know what we can do. The stuff was not going our way in the first month of the season. We’re picking it up right now.”
Arteaga has 13 hits in 19 at-bats since Omaha returned to Werner Park earlier this week. He’s raised his batting average from .236 at first pitch Monday to .304 after Friday’s three-hit effort.
“I got my confidence back,” he said. “I’ve got my timing back. I feel really good at the plate right now.”
The last of Arteaga’s three hits Friday was a two-run double during a six-run sixth inning that was highlighted by a 411-foot two-run home run by Frank Schwindel off rehabbing big leaguer Tim Lincecum. The two-time Cy Young Award winner threw 17 pitches in relief.
Omaha has scored four or more runs in an inning five times during its winning streak. In three of those wins, it posted hit totals of 15, 17 and 17. Every player in the order had at least one hit in all three.
“That’s strange for everybody to get a hit in the lineup more than once,” Chasers manager Brian Poldberg said. “The guys are putting the pressure on them. They’ve got a little swagger right now and they’re feeling good. But we’ve got to keep that going because, every night, a good pitcher could come up and take that away.
“We can’t take anything for granted at this point.”
Cam Gallagher upped his batting average to a season-high .341 with a three-hit night. Six players had two hits or more. And four guys, including Arteaga, drove in two runs apiece.
Before the sixth inning, it was a tight game. Omaha held a 2-1 advantage going into the fifth, then extended its lead thanks to a pair of bunts. Cleanup hitter Ryan O’Hearn put down the first sacrifice after Adalberto Mondesi and Schwindel got on in front of him. Paulo Orlando later squeezed Schwindel home.
The small-ball approach made it a three-run game. Then Schwindel broke it open when he crushed an off-speed pitch from Lincecum well beyond the wall in left-center field to extend Omaha’s lead to six.
It was a nine-run game by the time the inning ended after seven Chasers reached base.
“When it’s going good, it’s going good. And right now, it’s going good. Different guys are chipping in,” Poldberg said. “We’ve got to use everybody, keep everybody in the mix and depend on everybody.”
Omaha starter Trevor Oaks faced the minimum through his first three innings, thanks to a pair of double plays. After giving up a run in the fourth, he settled down to retire 10 of the final 12 batters he faced to improve to 3-3 on the season.
Poldberg said Oaks, who posted his sixth quality start in his last eight outings, wasn’t as sharp with his fastball but felt his breaking ball got him out of trouble. Oaks scattered six hits over seven innings.
“Each outing you’re going to have different stuff working,” Poldberg said. “A good pitcher can get through it with what he has that night.”