Until Class A Bowling Green came to town, Peoria had not allowed a run in two postseason contests at Dozer Park. The Hot Rods not only ended that streak in the second inning of Wednesday's Finals opener, but Tobias Myers helped flip the script and put the Chiefs on the other end of a shutout.
The 23rd-ranked Rays prospect yielded three hits and three walks with four strikeouts over five innings as the Hot Rods blanked the Chiefs, 4-0, in Game 1 of the best-of-5 Midwest League Championship Series. He also lasted five frames in his previous playoff start, surrendering a run on two hits in the quarterfinals against Lansing.
Video: Myers fans four in Bowling Green gem
"Everything felt good from when I woke up this morning, good pregame bullpen," Myers said. "I trust my stuff every game, but I guess you can say today was a different feeling. My team got me some early runs, so I knew I just needed to keep putting up zeros."
The 2016 sixth-round pick was brought into the organization in the deal that sent shortstop Tim Beckham to Baltimore at last year's deadline. Myers sported a 10-6 record with a 3.71 ERA and 101 strikeouts over 23 appearances, spanning 119 frames in his first full season. His four free passes were the most he's issued since June 3 against West Michigan.
Gameday box score
"I think that's what killed me tonight, honestly, was the pitch count. Just getting ahead so much and then falling behind," he said. "Just trying to be too perfect instead of just trusting my stuff and letting them hit it."
The 20-year-old right-hander benefited from one clean inning and stranded a runner in scoring position twice. The Chiefs' most significant threat came in the first frame as Yariel Gonzalez singled to left field with one out and Luken Baker followed with a walk, but Myers induced consecutive groundouts to end the inning. He walked Baker again to lead off the sixth, ending his evening with 56 strikes in 92 pitches.
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"I just really was attacking with the fastball," Myers said. "Throughout the game I was just mixing speeds and just throwing strikes."
Tyler Day walked the first batter he faced in relief, but forced a double play and set down the side in order in the seventh. Matt Seelinger allowed a pair of hits and a walk while fanning two in the eighth before getting Nick Dunn to bounce out to second and strand the bases loaded. The 23-year-old right-hander posted a 1-2-3 ninth to preserve the shutout.
"That definitely brought out some energy in the dugout," Myers said of Seelinger's eighth-inning stand. "Even up, 4-0, one hit could have cut the lead in half. ... It was a good feeling, especially to win Game 1 on the road."
Video: Hair belts two-run homer for Bowling Green
Bowling Green was limited to five hits but Trey Hair provided the offense with a three-RBI performance. The 23-year-old designated hitter plated a run on a sacrifice fly to center in the second and blasted a two-run shot to right-center in the fourth, his first of the playoffs. Moises Gomez also skied a long ball int he fourth, his second of the postseason.
"Both of those guys have been swinging the bat really well," Myers said. "It definitely brought a lot of energy to the dugout. ... Especially when you're trying to go deep in the game and trying to put up zeros. When your team puts up four runs in four innings, it's a lot easier I would say."
The best-of-5 series will remain in Peoria for Game 2 with first pitch scheduled for 6:30 p.m. ET on Thursday. Both teams entered the Finals with a perfect postseason record after sweeping through their respective first two rounds of the playoffs.