Drillers season ends with 3-1 loss to Springfield
BY KARY BOOHER World Correspondent
Monday, September 10, 2012
9/10/12 at 4:32 AM
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. - Tulsa Drillers third baseman Nolan Arenado could only shake his head.
A season that began with so much promise ended Sunday afternoon against an opposing pitcher who only recently reached Double-A baseball.
Right-hander Boone Whiting fired seven strong innings, allowing only one run and only Corey Dickerson's double, and received just enough run support as the Springfield Cardinals beat Tulsa 3-1 in the fifth and deciding game of a Texas League division series.
Colorado Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, playing his fourth game of the best-of-five series, finished 1-for-4 but was hitless in three at-bats against Whiting, called up from the low Class A Midwest League on Aug. 28.
"It was a tough game. But you have to give a lot of credit to that pitcher. He pitched real well. His change-up was working real well," Arenado said. "You've just got to give a lot of credit to that team and that organization."
Tulsa was seeking its first trip to the Texas League championship series since 2002. The Drillers won the North Division's first half title in mid-June, but soon lost left-handed starter Edwar Cabrera and shortstop Josh Rutledge to big-league call-ups.
The Cardinals, who won the division's second half title, bounced back from a 4-1 loss on Saturday night. They won on a day when left fielder Chris Swauger doubled twice, scored twice and then broke his right collar bone in robbing big-leaguer Troy Tulowitzki of a sure two-out double in the sixth.
The loss went to Tulsa right-hander Dan Houston (0-1) as Springfield scored a pair of runs in the second inning and tacked on another in the fourth.
Houston, who pitched only four innings, had not fared well this season against the Cardinals, who in the regular season reached him for 48 hits in 36 innings. He had allowed 25 runs, 24 earned in that stretch.
Jaime Romak and Swauger hit back-to-back doubles in the second, and Xavier Scruggs delivered run-scoring sacrifice flyouts in the second and fourth innings.
Swauger's fourth-inning double and Greg Garcia's ensuing single set up Scruggs' second RBI. It was 3-1 at that point.
"When you play a team 40 times in a season, and you see the same starting pitching over and over, they've probably got a good scouting report as we do on their guy," catcher Lars Davis said. "Houston didn't pitch bad at all. It just seemed that the ball happened to drop for them and didn't for us."
Whiting permitted two walks, the first to Chris Pettit in the third, and Dickerson later doubled to drive him in.
Dickerson's hit came two batters after Tim Torres hustled and reached first base safely when the Cardinals tried to complete a first-to-shortstop-to-first double play.
"He mixed his pitches up well. When I hit that double, he just kept throwing the same sequence to our lefties, going high on his fastball. I just sat on the fastball," Dickerson said.
But Whiting retired 13 of the next 14 batters.
Swauger robbed Tulowitzki in the sixth. Thanks to a wind preventing the ball from clearing the fence, Swauger flagged it down by running 25 to 30 yards. He then tumbled over just as the ball disappeared into his glove.
Swauger believes he broke his collarbone on the play.
Eric Fornataro worked a hitless eighth, and Keith Butler worked around Tulowitzki's two-out single in the ninth for his third save of the series.
Springfield advances to the Texas League pennant series against the Frisco RoughRiders. Games 1 and 2 are Tuesday night and Wednesday night in Springfield.
Tulsa was 75-64 in the regular season and was among several Rockies farm clubs to reach the postseason.
"It's definitely encouraging through the whole Rockies farm system. Almost every team made the playoffs," Dickerson said. "It shows improvement throughout the organization. It was a successful year, both for me and for the team."
Original Print Headline: Drillers' hopes end in division series loss