It took him 20 near-flawless innings, but Eddie Butler finally notched his first Double-A win with the Tulsa Drillers on Thursday night. The prospect pitched yet another gem, holding the Arkansas Travelers to just one hit over five innings, and finally received some run support as the Drillers secured an 8-0 shutout at ONEOK Field.
The shutout, Tulsa's 10th of the season, snapped the club's six-game losing streak and improved its second-half record to 28-31. The Drillers now sit two games back in the North Division standings with 11 games to play in the regular season.
Butler, the No. 3 prospect in the Colorado Rockies organization according to MLB.com, recorded his first victory in dominating fashion, finishing with three strikeouts and one walk.
The right-hander had been denied a win in his first three Double-A outings despite exiting each game with the Drillers holding a lead. In those three outings, the Radford University product allowed just one run on six hits, while striking out 15.
Butler's performance Thursday lowered his Texas League ERA to a 0.45. He is holding league hitters to a .106 batting average.
Butler exited after reaching the five-inning limit that has been placed on him by the Rockies. Dan Houston came on and was equally as effective over the next three frames, permitting three hits and striking out three.
Juan Gonzalez struck out two in a perfect ninth to finish off the shutout.
Two Arkansas errors on the same play in the third led to Tulsa scoring the first run of the game. After Juan Crousset doubled with one out in the inning, Delta Cleary Jr. bounced a ball towards second baseman Taylor Lindsey, who proceeded to botch the play. When the ball bounded away from the second baseman and into shallow right field, manager Kevin Riggs waved Crousset towards home. Lindsey recovered the ball quickly and threw a strike to the plate, but on Crousset's hard slide, catcher Carlos Ramirez was unable to hold onto the ball, giving the Drillers the lead.
After moving to second on Lindsey's throw home, Cleary Jr. advanced to third on a wild pitch, ball four to Tim Smalling. He then scored a batter later on an RBI single by Angelys Nina to give the Drillers a 2-0 lead.
Tulsa played small ball in the fourth inning to provide Butler with another insurance run. Joey Wong led off with a double into the right-center field gap and went to third on a sacrifice bunt by Jayson Langfels. Crousset followed with a sacrifice fly to deep center field, easily plating Wong form third.
The Drillers doubled their lead with three more runs in the fifth. Smalling led off with a single. A batter later, Nina hit a ground-rule double into right-center field to put runners on second and third with one out. Tyler Kuhn delivered one run on a sacrifice fly to deep left field before Tom Murphy connected for his second career Double-A homer run. The two-run shot into the left field terrace was his 21st of the season counting the 19 he hit at Class-A Asheville.
Tulsa tacked on two more in the eighth to bring the final to 8-0. With two outs, Crousset lined an RBI single into center field. Cleary Jr. then followed and dropped an RBI single into shallow right field to plate Langfels with the game's final run.
Smalling, Nina, Murphy and Crousset each finished with two hits as the Drillers followed Wednesday's 15-hit performance with 11 hits.
The Drillers will host the Travelers for the final time this season as the two teams return to ONEOK Field for the finale of their four-game series. Tulsa's Tim Gustafson (6-10, 5.36 ERA) will square against prospect Michael Roth (4-3, 4.43 ERA) of Arkansas. Roth has also spent time in the majors with the Angels this season. First pitch is set for 7:05PM.