Major leaguers Troy Tulowitzki and Jason Giambi concluded their four-game, injury rehabilitation assignments with the Tulsa Drillers Monday night, and both must have left ONEOK Field feeling good about their chances to soon return to the Colorado Rockies lineup. Tulowitzki and Giambi each collected two hits and helped the Drillers to a 7-3 comeback win over Northwest Arkansas. The victory came in Tulsa's final home game of the 2012 regular season and completed a three-game sweep of the Naturals.
The Drillers were able to erase an early 3-0 deficit with one of their biggest innings of the year. The comeback came from a two-out, six-run rally in the bottom of the sixth inning.
Tulowitzki and Giambi will now return to Denver to determine the next steps in their rehabilitation efforts. It is expected that both will spend time with Triple A Colorado Springs before rejoining the Rockies.
Northwest Arkansas took its early lead by scoring in three of the first four innings. In the top of the first, Tulsa starter Brandon Hynick retired the game's first two batters before Paulo Orlando rolled a soft grounder just inside the first base bag for a double. Manny Pina dropped a single into right field that brought Orlando home with the game's first run.
The Naturals added an unearned run in the second inning. Alex McClure reached on an error by shortstop Warren Schaeffer and scored on a double from Ryan Jenkins.
They made it a three-run lead in the top of the fourth when McClure tripled home Mario Lisson who had walked.
Northwest Arkansas starting pitcher Mike Montgomery blanked the Drillers on only one hit through the first three innings before Tulowitzki, who was serving as designated hitter in the game, impressively started Tulsa's comeback in the bottom of the fourth. He lined a pitch from Montgomery that quickly carried over the left field wall before striking the fence above the terrace section. The solo homer cut the Naturals' lead to 3-1.
In the big sixth inning, Montgomery seemed on his way to an easy inning when he retired Nolan Arenado and Tulowitzki, but things then unraveled for the lefthander. Giambi lined a single into left field, and Angelys Nina hit a drive to the warning track in right field that caromed off the glove of Orlando. The result was a long single that left runners at first and third. After Mike Zuanich walked to load the bases, Chris Pettit lined an opposite field drive that bounced over the fence in right-center field for a ground-rule double. Giambi and Nina both scored on the hit to tie the score at 3-3.
Catcher Lars Davis then put the Drillers in front with long home run down the right field line that landed on the stadium concourse. The three-run blast was the seventh homer of the season for Davis and gave Tulsa a 6-3 lead.
Following the clout from Davis, Montgomery's next pitch was behind Schaeffer and struck the shortstop in the back. After stealing second base, Schaeffer got a measure of revenge by coming home with the sixth run of the inning on a base hit by Corey Dickerson.
The Tulsa bullpen kept the lead in place. Mike Marbry relieved Hynick to open the seventh inning and worked two scoreless frames. Mike Solbach came on in the ninth and set the Naturals down in order to complete the victory.
Hynick matched a season high with seven strikeouts in his six innings of work. The win improved his Double A record to 6-3.
A paid crowd of 5,223 was on hand for the regular season finale. It brought Tulsa's attendance total to 372,624, the second highest figure in Tulsa professional baseball history.
The Drillers will conclude the regular season with a seven-game road trip to Springfield and Northwest Arkansas. The trip will begin Tuesday night with the first of four games against the Cardinals at Hammons Field. The pitching matchup for the opener will feature Dan Houston (8-10, 3.57 ERA) for Tulsa against Scott McGregor (5-2, 6.50 ERA) of the Redbirds. First pitch on Tuesday is scheduled for 7:08PM.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.