Tulsa Drillers starting pitcher Tyler Matzek has been one of the Texas League's best over the past two months. Since May 25, the left-hander had gone to the mound ten times, posting a 5-1 record to go along with an impressive 2.07 ERA. On Wednesday night, Matzek turned in yet another gem.
The All-Star limited Springfield to just four hits through the first 6 2/3 innings before turning it over to his bullpen, who held the Cardinals hitless over the final 2 1/3 to complete a 3-0 shutout victory on the road at Hammons Field.
With the win, Tulsa avoided a series sweep in Springfield as it finished its seven-game road trip 3-4.
The shutout was the club's seventh of the season.
Matzek recorded a season-high, eight strikeouts in the win, bettering his record to 7-6 on the year, while lowering his ERA to 3.02.
Kiel Roling's two-out double in the third gave Tulsa its first lead of the series. With Cristhian Adames and Kyle Parker aboard, the first baseman drove a pitch off the wall in left-center field to give Tulsa a 2-0 advantage. It looked as if Roling had hit his 22nd home run of the year when the ball left his bat, but, on a windy night in Springfield, had to settle for a two-run double when the drive fell just short.
The Drillers added an insurance run in the top of the seventh. Tim Smalling led off the inning with a single to left field and Delta Cleary Jr. followed with a bunt single. After Matzek sacrificed both into scoring position with a bunt and Jaron Shepherd grounded out, Cardinals starter Jonathan Cornelius plunked Adames to load the bases.
Right-hander Jose Almarante came on in relief of Cornelius to face Kyle Parker, but on a 1-1 count, hit the Drillers' right fielder with a 95MPH fastball to bring Smalling home from third to make it 3-0.
Reliever Joe Gardner, who gave up a game-tying home run to Springfield center fielder James Ramsey in Monday night's 3-2 loss, took over for Matzek with two outs in the seventh and recorded four straight outs. The right-hander also got even more redemption in the appearance by striking out Monday's culprit Ramsey in the eighth.
Closer Cole White, who allowed three runs in a non-save situation Tuesday, also exhibited a short memory, working around a leadoff walk in the ninth to record his 11th save of the year.
Tulsa improves to 48-53 overall on the season and 14-19 in the second half with the victory.
The Drillers return home Thursday to begin a seven-game homestand with the Arkansas Travelers. For the third time this season, Tulsa's Chad Bettis (3-4, 4.18 ERA) will take the mound against former Driller Brandon Hynick (9-3, 2.68 ERA) of Arkansas. Bettis defeated Hynick back on April 24, while neither got a decision in last Saturday's contest in North Little Rock. First pitch is set for 7:05PM at ONEOK Field.