After asking the bullpen to throw 8 innings in relief on Saturday night, the Drillers were counting on a solid outing from Nick Schmidt on Sunday afternoon at ONEOK Field. Schmidt certainly did not disappoint as he logged his longest outing of the season while shutting down the Arkansas Travelers for 8 innings.
"It was real big to give the bullpen a rest today" said Schmidt. "They were pretty worn out after throwing a lot of pitches last night with the De La Rosa rehab start and it was good to help them out."
Tulsa staked Schmidt to an early lead when Kiel Roling belted his fifth homerun of the season in the bottom of the second inning. The round-tripper just cleared the fence down the right field line next to the visitor's bullpen.
The Drillers struck again in the bottom of the third when Jose Gonzalez led off with a single to left. Mike Mitchell advanced Gonzalez to third with a double in the right field gap. After a pop out by Josh Rutledge, Gonzalez was thrown out at the plate while trying to score on a ball that got passed catcher Jose Jimenez. Mitchell moved to third on the play and was later knocked in thanks to a 2-out RBI single by Jimmy Cesario.
The Driller lead was extended with a run put on the board in both the fifth and sixth innings. Nolan Arenado doubled home a run in the fifth and Gonzalez accounted for the other RBI with a single in the sixth.
The 4-0 lead looked as if it would be more than enough to secure a victory as Schmidt cruised through the first six innings of play. The only base runner he allowed was on a throwing error made by Schmidt himself. "My fastball command was a little off at times, but I was able to get back on them throwing some changeups, and of course the guys in the field were making some great plays."
Arkansas was able to break up the no-hit bid and the shutout when they rattled off three straight hits to start the seventh inning. A double and a pair of singles put the first run up on the board for the Travelers. Schmidt was able to buckle down and get out of the inning with no further damage thanks to Gonzalez's throw to catch Roberto Lopez trying to steal third.
Josh Sullivan replaced Schmidt to begin the ninth inning. It turned out to be an exciting one as the Travs were able to put the tying runs in scoring position. The wild inning was eerily similar to last night's game as it consisted of a wild pitch, an error by Arenado, an infield single and a hit batsman. Sullivan ensured that the comeback would be unsuccessful when he enticed a bases-loaded groundout to end the game with a final score of 4-2. Sullivan ties Coty Woods with 7 saves on the season.
With the win, the Drillers improved their record at home this season to 15 wins and 3 losses. Schmidt improves to 2-1 on the season and lowered his ERA to 3.73. His final pitching line was 8 innings, 3 hits, 1 earned run, 0 walks and 5 strikeouts. Schmidt has only walked 5 batters in 41 innings of work this season.
Tulsa will start a four game series on Monday afternoon against the Northwest Arkansas Naturals. The start time is 4:05PM and will feature starters Joe Gardner (1-1, 5.93 ERA) for Tulsa and Elisaul Pimentel (0-1, 10.43 ERA) for the Naturals.
Notes: The Drillers wore white uniforms with pink trim to celebrate Mother's Day...Josh Rutledge went hitless to end his hitting streak at 10 games... NW Arkansas comes to town trailing only the Drillers in the Texas League North Standings.