After a slow start, the newly christened Omaha Storm Chasers are battering their Pacific Coast League foes.
Third baseman Mike Moustakas went deep twice, first baseman Eric Hosmer collected four hits and left-hander Danny Duffy tossed six one-hit frames Thursday night as Omaha ripped visiting Iowa, 6-0, for its ninth consecutive win.
"Some of us have been playing together so long [in the Royals system] that it wasn't a matter of coming together as a team," Moustakas said of the Chasers' surge. "We just had to play better and I'm proud of the way we're playing now."
Moustakas, MLB.com's No. 7 prospect, hit 36 longballs last season but entered play Thursday with just two in 18 games this spring. That changed in the third inning with a two-out three-run shot that gave the Storm Chasers all the offense they needed.
After Hosmer (the No. 8 prospect) led off the fifth with his second longball of the season, Moustakas followed with his fourth.
The lefty-hitting pair did their damage against Cubs southpaw J.R. Mathes. While Hosmer (who is batting .408 overall) is hitting everything in sight, Moustakas entered the game just 3-for-20 against left-handers this season.
"I don't really think about who's on the mound -- lefty, righty, whatever," he said. "I just look for good pitches and try to hit them. Fortunately, I've been hitting them a little better lately."
Hosmer, who singled in the first and third, added an run-scoring double in the eighth to finish the night 4-for-5 with a pair of RBIs. Moustakas was 2-for-5 with four runs driven in.
Meanwhile, Duffy was shutting down the I-Cubs offense. He retired the first 11 hitters he faced, gave up a two-out single in the fourth to Brad Snyder, then set down seven more before his night ended. The left-hander threw 79 pitches -- 48 for strikes -- fanned a season-high eight and faced one over the minimum through six innings. He did not walk a batter, and the one single he allowed just glanced off the glove of the diving Omaha second baseman, Johnny Giavotella.
The 22-year-old Duffy (1-0) lowered his ERA to 0.90 in 20 innings over his four starts. He has 24 strikeouts, four walks and has not allowed a run in his last 15 frames.
Moustakas, who has played with Duffy for parts of four seasons, has been especially impressed with his performance this year.
"Duffy's always thrown well, but he looks incredible this year," he said. "He's locating well and throwing harder than I remember seeing. He's a big part of the winning streak we're on."
The Cubs fared little better against the Storm Chasers' relievers. Snyder singled again in the seventh and left-fielder Lou Montanez legged out an infield hit in the ninth as Iowa was held to just three baserunners.
Mathes (1-1) took the loss after giving up six runs on 10 hits -- three of them homers -- over four innings. He struck out one and did not walk a batter.