Tulsa Drillers starting pitcher Devin Smeltzer's previous start did not go well. He had allowed ten earned runs over just 3.1 innings last Sunday. But in front of a sell-out crowd at ONEOK Field on Friday night, the southpaw dominated the Arkansas Travelers for six innings and led the Drillers to a 5-3 victory.
The Drillers were the first to get on the board in the game. Luke Raley led the bottom of the first off with a walk, and then Connor Joe crushed a ball to left field that looked like it was going to leave the ballpark. The ball found a gap in the padding, so Joe had to settle for a ground-rule double. Zach Reks then provided an RBI groundout to plate Raley for the first run of the game.
The only trouble that Smeltzer had came in the top of the third. After giving up a double, Chris Mariscal lined a homer over the short fence in right field to give the Travs a brief 2-1 lead.
In the bottom half of the third, Raley led the inning off with a triple, followed by D.J. Peters getting hit by a pitch and Joe drawing a walk. With the bases loaded, Reks stepped in and provided a clutch single to bring home two runs. Keibert Ruiz then grounded into a double play which plated the fourth Drillers run of the night.
The Travs cut the deficit to one in the top of the seventh. Andrew Istler replaced Smeltzer, and allowed two singles and a walk to load the bases. Chuck Taylor hit a sacrifice fly that made it 4-3, but this would be all that Arkansas would manage from the threat.
Tulsa added an insurance run in the bottom of the eighth when former Philadelphia Phillies outfielder Tyler Goeddel launched his first home run of the season. This would be all the Drillers needed as Corey Copping set the Travs down in order to end the game and to seal the 5-3 victory.
WHAT YOU MISSED
*In the top of the sixth, the Drillers made two stellar defensive plays. Joey Curletta led the inning off with what looked to be a double to left field. But Goeddel cut the ball off and made a perfect throw to second to record an out. The next batter Dario Pizzano hit a soft fly ball to no-man's land in right field, but Raley made a nice dive to prevent a hit.
*Friday was Smeltzer's second quality start of the season. His first came on May 2 at home against Arkansas when he pitched six innings and gave up only two runs.
*Raley extended his hitting streak to nine games after his triple.
*Despite allowing the first two men to reach in the top of the eighth, Copping retired the next six Travs to earn his first save of the season.
The Drillers will face off against the Travelers in game two on Saturday night at ONEOK Field. The probable starting pitchers are:
ARK Anthony Misiewicz (1-2, 3.86 ERA)
TUL Tyler Pill (0-0, 0.00 ERA)
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.