In his first start since July 27, 2013, Ryan Arrowood didn't want to get too far away from the bullpen routine that has made him successful this season. As a result, the right-hander looked right in his comfort zone on his 24th birthday.
Taking the spot of No. 12 Rockies prospect Tyler Anderson in the rotation, Arrowood pitched five no-hit innings, striking out four while walking one batter, as Double-A Tulsa blanked Springfield, 5-0, at Hammons Field.
"I just took it as another day, honestly," Arrowood said. "Even just warming up from the beginning, I did my normal reliever throwing a couple hours before the game, stretching then, and I came out a little time before the game and got my bullpen in. I treated it just like every other day, didn't try to change a thing. I have my routine down, so I didn't want to change that up any."
Taylor Featherston gave him the lead with a solo home run in the top of the first inning, and the Tulsa righty worked efficiently with it. Arrowood retired the first 11 batters he faced before issuing a two-out walk to Breyvic Valera in the fourth. The Union Mills, North Carolina native then set down the final four Cardinals he saw.
"It was an awesome night," he said. "I was mixing up pitches really well, going in and out and keeping the hitters off balance. It allowed me to keep my pitch count down like I needed to and go deeper into the game.
"I might have mixed up a couple offspeed pitches a little earlier than I usually would have coming out of the 'pen. I didn't try to change too much. I still attacked hitters with my fastball and changeup, trying to keep them off balance with that and mixing in a slider and curve now and then."
Arrowood threw 43 of his 68 pitches for strikes, and when combined with his last two relief outings, the Appalachian State product has allowed just one hit without a run over his last 10 innings, striking out seven and walking three. Arrowood, who worked five frames for the first time since a six-inning start for Class A Asheville on June 30, 2013, feels he's ensconced in his best stretch of the year.
"I would definitely say 100 percent," he said. "My arm is feeling pretty well this late in the season. I found a groove with my delivery and rhythm, and every pitch is coming out good for me."
With a doubleheader slated for Saturday vs. Springfield, Arrowood could get another start before heading back to the bullpen upon Anderson's anticipated return for the Texas League playoffs.
"If I get another start, great. If not, I'll be happy either way," he said.
Chris O'Dowd doubled home two runs in the fifth to give Arrowood some breathing room.
After his departure, the Cardinals got into the hit column. Travis Tartamella, the first man to face Drillers reliever Shane Broyles, singled to right field. Over 2 2/3 innings, Broyles allowed all three of Springfield's hits.
Cardinals starter Kurt Heyer (4-11) was charged with five runs -- four earned -- on nine hits while striking out six and walking one over 6 2/3 innings.