Sunday afternoon's game got off to a bright start for the Drillers as starter Dustin Richardson began the game by tossing two scoreless innings on a sun-splashed ONEOK Field. But the Springfield Cardinals took advantage of an early exit from Richardson as they scored three runs in the sixth off the Drillers bullpen to take game two of the four game series by the final score of 3-2.
Coming off his last start where Richardson threw 5 no-hit innings, it looked as though the lefty was set to have a similar outing. But that was not to be.
Richardson left the game after the second inning with an apparent injury forcing Razor Shines to go to his bullpen early. Shines called in a second former big-leaguer on his Tulsa roster in southpaw Ryan Dennick who came in and delivered two shutout innings before handing the ball off to Jorge De Leon.
De Leon did his part, tossing a scoreless inning of his own to send the game to the bottom of the fifth with the score tied at zero.
Tulsa newcomer Jarek Cunningham broke the scoreless deadlock in the fifth as he launched his first homer with the Drillers since being promoted from Single-A Rancho Cucamonga, giving Tulsa a 1-0 edge. Cunningham spent the first month of the 2015 season with Rancho Cucamonga, batting .313 with a homer and 21 RBI before being called up prior to Friday's game.
Springfield answered right back in the following inning against Drillers reliever Mike Thomas. After retiring the first two batters of the inning, Thomas could not close out the inning. Thomas proceeded to issue 2 walks around consecutive singles before being sent to the showers with the score tied at 1-1.
Shines called in Jacob Rhame to try to put out the fire but Anthony Garcia had other ideas. The Springfield outfielder took Rhame's first pitch for a called strike before knocking a double into left, scoring Jonathan Rodriguez and Mike Ohlman to give the Cardinals a 3-1 advantage.
Brandon Dixon responded in the Drillers half of the sixth as he struck a solo shot to left off Springfield starter Andrew Morales to shrink the Tulsa deficit to just one run. The blast was Dixon's 3rd homer of the year.
Rhame stayed in the game and set the Cardinals down in order in the seventh before giving way to Matt West who followed suit over the eighth and ninth innings, keeping the score 3-2.
After Cardinals reliever Justin Wright walked Lars Anderson to begin the bottom of the ninth, it looked as though the Drillers might mount a comeback. But Springfield brought on Heath Wyatt who promptly got Yadir Drake to ground into a double play before retiring Cunningham on a pop out to first in foul territory to end the Drillers hopes. It was Wyatt's first save of the season.
Thomas took the loss for Tulsa as all three runs were charged to him in 0.2 of an inning.
Morales picked up his second win of the year as he went six innings while allowing just the two solo shots.
The Drillers and Cardinals will take each other on in game three Monday morning with first pitch scheduled for 11:05 a.m. Chris Anderson (3-3, 5.34) will look to get Tulsa back on track as he takes on Nick Petree (0-3, 5.59) for Springfield.