The Drillers Dig The Long Ball
The Tulsa Drillers may have the words of Hall of Fame manager Leo Durocher a bit misconstrued. Durocher is famous for claiming that the key to baseball is "pitching, defense and the three-run homer." In their series finale with the Springfield Cardinals on Wednesday, the Drillers pitched a shutout and were flawless in the field, but hit three solo home runs rather than one three-run long ball en route to a win over the Redbirds.Pitchers Dan Houston, Kenny Roberts and Cole White were phenomenal, together limiting Springfield to just four hits in the game. Meanwhile, Dallas Tarleton, Jayson Langfels and Delta Cleary Jr. all hit solo home runs as the Drillers claimed the series with a 4-0 shutout victory at ONEOK Field.The shutout, which was the club's eighth of the season, improves Tulsa's record to 18-22 on the second half and 52-56 overall.Houston was outstanding through the first five innings to notch his third win of the season. The Boston College product, who led Tulsa in wins a year ago, surrendered just two hits to the Cardinals, while striking out five and issuing no walks.Newcomer Kenny Roberts followed Houston's nice outing with one of his own, allowing just one hit over the next three innings to pickup his first hold since joining the Drillers on Sunday.Tarleton displayed some serious power in the third to give the Drillers a 1-0 lead. The catcher clobbered a solo home run to deep center field to leadoff the inning and, although it was Tarleton's first long ball, the blast was one of the longest at ONEOK Field this season. The towering drive carried onto the roof of the elevated playground located just to the right of the batter's eye in center field some 430 feet away.Langfels knocked a solo shot of his own an inning later to double Tulsa's advantage. The third baseman now has nine homers on the year, eight of which have come with no runners on base. Tyler Kuhn drew a walk ahead of Langfels, but was picked off first base two pitches prior to the home run.Cleary Jr. needed 280 at-bats to hit his first home run in a Drillers uniform, which came in Sunday's win over the visiting Arkansas Travelers. The center fielder needed just 12 more AB's to go yard for a second time as his sixth inning line drive to left had just enough air under it to clear the wall and give the Drillers a three-run lead.Tulsa tacked on its fourth and final run in the bottom of the seventh thanks to a couple of sloppy defensive plays by the Cardinals. With one out in the inning, Joey Wong lined a single into center field. He then advanced all the way to third when reliever Zach Russell's pickoff attempt sailed past first baseman Xavier Scruggs and down the right field line. After Tim Smalling grounded out, Tarleton hit a sharp groundball to first that Scruggs couldn't corral, allowing Wong to trot home from third with the game's final run.Wong finished the night 2-3 with a run scored, bring his batting average for the month of July up to .393. The versatile infielder has raised his season average 51 points to .264 since June 30.Even though it wasn't a save situation, Cole White came on and tidied things up in the ninth inning. The right-hander worked around a walk and a hit to bring the game to a close.The Drillers hit the road Thursday as they head to Springdale to take on the Northwest Arkansas Naturals. The pitching matchup will feature Tulsa's Tim Gustafson (6-7, 4.39 ERA) and Jason Adam (5-10, 5.94 ERA) of Northwest Arkansas. First pitch is scheduled for 7:00PM at Arvest Ballpark.