Tulsa starter Deck McGuire was on top his game Thursday as he retired 10 straight Arkansas Traveler hitters to begin the ballgame while tying the Drillers 2015 strikeout mark. Despite the strong performance, McGuire was the tough luck loser as his teammates could not solve the Travelers pitchers as they were defeated in Little Rock 2-1.
As the Drillers begin a stretch of games that will see them play 17 of the next 18 games on the road, they hope that every starter turns in a performance like McGuire gave them Thursday night. Following a 30 minute rain delay to start the game, the former first round draft pick dealt, tying the Drillers' season-high mark for strikeouts with 10 punch outs, tying the standard set by Julio Urias twice during the last month.
McGuire went seven innings and gave up just 4 hits while only walking 2 Travelers. His only letdown came in the bottom of the fourth when Arkansas was able to scratch two runs across the plate. On a night where the pitching was dominant for both sides, that would prove to be enough.
Arkansas starter Albert Suarez continued to befuddle the Drillers as he fed them a steady diet of changeups during his seven inning stint on the mound. In 3 starts against the Drillers, spanning 20 innings on the young season, Suarez has only allowed a total of 3 earned runs. En route to picking up his third win of the year, Suarez recorded 6 strikeouts while scattering 5 hits.
Luis Mateo, coming off a series against the Springfield Cardinals where he batted .500, was one of the few Tulsa hitters who seemed able to consistently solve the big Traveler right-hander. Mateo went 2-4 on the night, including his 2nd homer of the year which gave his squad a temporary 1-0 advantage in the third inning.
Although six different Tulsa hitters recorded hits on the night, it did not translate into runners crossing the plate.
The Travelers only scoring took place in the fourth as they made the most of their limited opportunities. After McGuire struck out Sherman Johnson to retire his 10th straight hitter, he ran into trouble. Two batters later and the Travelers had tied the game at 1-1 after back-to-back doubles from Drew Maggi and Cal Towey. McGuire walked Brian Hernandez and then saw Wade Hinkle knock a run-scoring single to right field that scored Towey to give Arkansas a 2-1 lead. Yadir Drake alertly threw out Hernandez trying to advance to third to stymie the rally, but the damage had already been done.
The Drillers best chance to tie the game or even take the lead came in the top of the eighth after reliever Danny Reynolds had entered the game replacing Suarez. Travis Witherspoon spanked a one-out double down the left field line and then moved to third on a Brandon Dixon infield single one batter later. With two outs, Dixon then stole second putting the tying and potential winning runs on 2nd and 3rd. But Reynolds buckled down, striking out Drake to snuff out the comeback attempt.
Trevor Gott came on for the ninth for Arkansas and retired the Drillers 1-2-3 to preserve the win and earn his 8th save of the year.
Tulsa will look to even the score against the Travs Friday night as it sends Jeremy Kehrt (2-3 4.06 ERA) to the mound. He will be opposed by Arkansas starter Tyler DeLoach (2-2, 2.88 ERA) who will be making his first start since returning from the bereavement list. First pitch is set for 7:10PM and can be heard live on AM 1430 The Buzz.