A look back at the Drillers' most successful season in years
BY BARRY LEWIS World Sports Writer
Sunday, September 16, 2012
9/16/12 at 6:07 AM
1: In the opener April 5, Josh Rutledge became the first Tulsa player in 36 years to lead off the season with a homer. Nolan Arenado, the Drillers' most heralded prospect, went 4-for-5 with three RBIs and Edwar Cabrera pitched six strong innings in a 7-2 victory over defending Texas League champion San Antonio.
2: Mike Zuanich's three-run walkoff homer in the ninth inning gave the Drillers a 3-2 victory over Springfield on April 30. That capped the best April in team history at 18-6, and it also was the most games the Drillers were over .500 during the season.
3: On June 16, the Drillers clinched the North Division first-half title with a 3-1 victory at Arkansas. Josh Rutledge opened the game with a homer, Edwar Cabrera pitched eight dominant innings and Coty Woods pitched a perfect ninth for the save.
4: The Drillers ended the regular season with a 7-4 victory at Northwest Arkansas on Sept. 3 to tie a team record with a ninth straight win.
1: The Drillers led their playoff opener 6-0 after four innings against Springfield and knocked top St. Louis pitching prospect Carlos Martinez out of the game. Tulsa's bullpen was solid all year, but all-star relievers Josh Sullivan and Coty Woods failed on this occasion as Springfield rallied for an 8-6 win. Springfield's Chris Swauger became the first player in ONEOK Field's three-year history to hit three homers in a game and socked the winner in the 10th inning. Springfield won the best-of-five North finals, 3 games to 2.
2: A 4-3 loss to Springfield on June 9 knocked the Drillers out of first place for the only time in the first half.
3: On Aug. 18, Midland scored four in the eighth for a 5-1 win that dropped the Drillers to .500 for the first time since April 6.
On July 14-15, the Drillers defeated Arkansas 7-2 in 17 innings. Lars Davis snapped the deadlock with a two-run double. Joe Gardner pitched six shutout innings in relief to pick up the win in a game that ended at 12:50 a.m. in North Little Rock.
Original Print Headline: Quite a ride
The Drillers are still looking for their first solo nine-inning no-hitter after coming close twice this year. On April 17, Edwar Cabrera was perfect for eight innings before giving up Chris Wallace's infield hit to lead off the ninth at ONEOK Field. Coty Woods then retired the next three batters to close out Tulsa's 4-0 victory over Corpus Christi.
On Aug. 30, Josh Outman was one strike away from a no-hitter when Springfield's Oscar Taveras lined his 114th pitch for an RBI single. Mike Marbry then retired the next batter to finish Tulsa's 9-1 win at Springfield.
The Drillers' first-half title hopes were in jeopardy going into a four-game series with Northwest Arkansas on June 10 at ONEOK Field. Tulsa had gone 12-20 since April and fell out of first place for the first time behind Northwest Arkansas. The Naturals, who had been 7-1 against Tulsa, took a 2-0 lead, but the Drillers came back and tied the game on Ben Paulsen's RBI single in the eighth. Kiel Roling then hit a sharp grounder that eluded shortstop Rey Navarro for a two-run error that lifted Tulsa to a 4-1 victory. That started an eight-game winning streak that carried Tulsa to the title and its first playoff berth since 2007, while Northwest Arkansas went on to have one of the worst second-half records in modern TL history.
A Night of Stars
For the first time since 1999, the Drillers hosted the Texas League All-Star Game on June 28. Springfield's Oscar Taveras stole the show as he went 3-for-4 with a two-run homer to earn MVP honors in the North's 3-1 win. It also was a big night for Drillers players as Nolan Arenado opened the scoring with an RBI double, Dan Houston started with two shutout innings, Nick Schmidt picked up the win with a shutout inning, and Coty Woods got the save before a sellout crowd of 8,047.
Graduated to the Majors
1. Josh Rutledge: The shortstop was the sparkplug for the first-half title. He finished third in the TL with a .306 batting average and was at or near the top in several other categories when he was called up by Colorado on July 13. Rutledge also has been a spark for the Rockies and despite a recent slump is batting .304 with seven homers and 28 RBIs after 53 games for the Rockies.
2. Will Harris: A long shot to make the team in spring training, he went 2-1 with a 2.62 ERA in 31 games, and after a month at Triple-A Colorado Springs, was called up by the Rockies in August.
3. Edwar Cabrera: The TL's best pitcher in the first half with an 8-4 record and 2.94 ERA, he made two starts with the Rockies but spent most of the second half at Colorado Springs.
4. Drew Pomeranz: The lefty made one start for the Drillers on the season-opening trip, but then was called up by the Rockies, where he has been a disappointing 1-8 with a 4.80 ERA.
Back to the minors
1. Josh Outman: Became the first pitcher in 40 years to start a game in St. Louis and Tulsa in the same week. Sent down to Tulsa after seven starts with the Rockies, he struggled for a while, but was great down the stretch and pitched seven shutout innings to win a playoff game. Returned to Rockies as a reliever.
2. Tyler Chatwood: Between stints with the Rockies, where he is 4-4 with a 5.32 ERA, he went 1-1 with a 3.00 ERA in four starts for Tulsa.
BIG LEAGUERS IN TULSA
The Drillers welcomed Troy Tulowitzki, Jason Giambi, Jorge De La Rosa, Jhoulys Chacin and Jonathan Herrera to Tulsa on rehab assignments. Veteran major league relievers Tyler Johnson and Royce Ring spent time in Tulsa's bullpen.
Edwar Cabrera was the Texas League's best pitcher in the first half. He made two starts with the Rockies but spent most of the second half at Colorado Springs. MICHAEL WYKE/Tulsa World
Shortstop Josh Rutledge finished third in the Texas League with a .306 batting average. He was called up by Colorado on July 13, where he has been a spark for the Rockies. MIKE SIMONS/Tulsa World
The Drillers’ Nolan Arenado reaches out to make contact during the
Texas League All-Star Game at ONEOK Field. CORY YOUNG/Tulsa World
Troy Tulowitzki made a rehab appearance
in Tulsa late in the season.
CORY YOUNG/Tulsa World