Drillers Walk Off In Tenth Inning
TULSA, Oklahoma - The Tulsa Drillers played their next-to-last game of the regular season Sunday night in downtown Tulsa, hosting the Springfield Cardinals, and the evening had a major league feel to it. A record 18th sellout of the season filled ONEOK Field, with several hundred fans decked out in red, there to see injured St. Louis Cardinals hurlers Michael Wacha and Jason Motte make rehab appearances.
Neither big league pitcher factored in the decision as the Drillers failed to hold a ninth-inning lead for the second straight day. Appropriately enough, in a game that featured eight total errors, the outcome was decided on a final miscue when Delta Cleary Jr. came home on a throwing error in the bottom of the tenth to give the Drillers a 4-3 walk-off victory.
Tulsa carried a 3-2 lead into the ninth inning, but the Cardinals tied the game with an unearned run of their own.
It remained tied until thetenth when Cleary Jr. led off with a double just inside the first base bag. Cristhian Adames laid down a bunt that third baseman Patrick Wisdom fielded. His throw to first was in the dirt and rolled down the line, allowing Cleary Jr. to cross home with the winning run.
In his first outing since June 17, Wacha showed no sign of problems from the stress reaction that has kept him sidelined. He completed the first two innings and worked to the first two hitters in the third, throwing a total of 34 pitches, 24 for strikes.
Wacha used 18 pitches to work a 1-2-3 first inning. Tulsa's Ryan Casteel opened the second with a chopper over the pitcher's head that resulted in an infield single, the only hit off the right-hander. Casteel was quickly erased on a double play grounder, and Trevor Story flied to deep centerfield to end the inning.
In the third, Brian Humphries reached on an error before a walk to Chris O'Dowd ended Wacha's night. On his next-to-last pitch to O'Dowd, the Redbirds' hurler topped out at 97 m.p.h. on the ONEOK Field radar gun.
Sam Gaviglio, who is normally a starter, took over and ended the inning with a ground out and a fly out double play as Humphries was thrown out at the plate after tagging from third.
Tulsa starter Jayson Aquino kept Springfield scoreless through the first three innings, but he suffered from control issues in the fourth. After a leadoff single by Jonathan Rodriguez, Aquino walked three batters to force in the game's first run. Another run came home on an infield ground out by Travis Tartamella that put the Cards in front 2-0.
The Drillers got one of the runs back in the bottom of the fourth. With two outs, Casteel drew a walk from Gaviglio. Tyler Massey followed with a liner into left center that was just out of the reach of a diving attempt from centerfielder Matt Williams. The ball rolled to the warning track, allowing Casteel to score and Massey to race to third with his fifth triple of the season.
Tulsa took the lead with two runs in the seventh. Massey led off with a base hit against Gaviglio and moved to second on a ground out, before Humphries went down on strikes for the second out. With the outfield playing shallow, O'Dowd lofted a fly ball over the head of left fielder David Popkins that bounced into the Budweiser Terrace for a ground-rule double, plating Massey with the tying run. Jayson Langfels brought O'Dowd home with a ground ball single to centerfield.
Wacha's final line was 2 innings pitched, 1 hit allowed, 0 runs allowed, 1 walk and 1 strikeout.
Wacha was pleased with the scoreless outing. "It was nice to get back out there in a game and come out feeling good," he said. "I'm really happy with it. I was able to throw first-pitch strikes even though I kind of tailed off on the last guy and ended up walking him, but all the pitches felt good and were coming out good."
Despite hitting 97 m.p.h., Wacha said he was not watching the readings. "I don't really care about velocity right now. I'm just trying to get command of all my pitches."
He is now scheduled to return to St. Louis and is unsure of the next step on his comeback.
Motte was impressive in his relief outing, working a 1-2-3 ninth inning. He threw 12 pitches, 7 for strikes, in getting a pair of ground outs and a fly out as he recovers from a back sprain.
Tulsa reliever Ken Roberts pitched a scoreless top of the tenth to pick up his ninth win of the year, giving him the second most victories on the staff.
Tulsa will play its final game of the 2014 regular season at 1:05 p.m. Monday afternoon at ONEOK Field. Richard Castillo will pitch the finale for the Drillers, while the Cardinals have not announced a starter.