A tough-luck stretch for Eddie Butler continued Tuesday afternoon in Springfield. Prior to his outing against the Cardinals, the Drillers pitcher had allowed more than three runs in only one of his six starts this season, yet he had recorded only one victory. The one exception came last week when he breezed through the first three innings Arkansas before being struck on the left wrist by a liner. He eventually surrendered five runs in a six-inning loss to the Travs.
Tuesday in southwest Missouri, Butler surrendered only five hits in seven innings, but two of the hits were solo home runs. The result was a 2-1 loss to the Redbirds.
It marked the third time this season that Butler has been beaten with a 2-1 score line. His season record fell to 1-4 with the loss despite logging a 3.45 ERA and holding opponents to a .244 batting average.
It was a familiar face that first got to Butler in Tuesday's game, as former Drillers outfielder Rafael Ortega served as an early nemesis to his ex-teammates. With one out in the bottom of the first inning, Ortega belted his second home run of the season to give the Cardinals a 1-0 lead.
With one out in the fourth, Cody Stanley doubled the Redbirds lead with his first homer of the year. It was one of three hits in the game for the catcher.
Springfield starting pitcher Kyle Hald made sure the pair of runs held up as he was brilliant in seven innings of work. The lefthander surrendered only three hits and one walk while striking out seven.
St. Louis reliever Jason Motte, recovering from Tommy John surgery, made his second appearance of the series, taking over for Hald to begin the eighth inning. After striking out the side in his one-inning outing on Sunday, Motte worked another 1-2-3 inning, but unlike on Sunday, Tulsa did put the ball in play. Jose Rivera hit the right-hander's first pitch to the fence in left field, but Mike O'Neill hauled it in for an out. Cristhian Adames and Taylor Featherston each grounded out to close Motte's six-pitch inning.
The Drillers lone run came in the ninth inning off closer Dean Kiekhefer. Delta Cleary Jr. led off with a base hit and scored on a two-out single from pinch-hitter Harold Riggins to cut the Springfield lead to 2-1. Representing the potential go-ahead run, Jared Simon, who had two hits in the game and seven in the series, was called out on strikes to end the contest.
Each team had only five hits in the pitcher's duel that took only 2 hours and 7 minutes to complete, the fastest game of the season for Tulsa.
The Drillers will enjoy an off day on Wednesday before beginning a four-game series in Arkansas Thursday evening. Dan Winkler (4-1, 1.22 ERA) will pitch the opener in North Little Rock for the Drillers, while former Tulsa Union hurler Drew Rucinski (2-2, 3.71 ERA) will take the mound for the Travelers. It is a pitching rematch from a game last Friday at ONEOK Field in which Tulsa claimed a 4-2 win. Starting time at Dickey Stephens Park on Thursday is scheduled for 7:10PM.