The 4,735 fans that came to ONEOK Field Tuesday night almost witnessed Tulsa Drillers starting pitcher Edwar Cabrera accomplish one of the rarest feats in baseball. In the end, they did not get to see a perfect game from Cabrera, but they did get to see the best pitching performance in the history ONEOK Field as Tulsa defeated Corpus Christi 4-0.
The lefthander flirted with perfection, retiring the first 24 Corpus Christi batters of the game. Cabrera lost his perfect game and his no-hitter when Chris Wallace lined the first pitch of the ninth inning back up the middle. Tulsa second baseman Angelys Nina made a valiant attempt to preserve the gem, making a diving, backhanded stop behind second base, but Wallace just beat his throw to first for the infield hit.
The pitch was the 102nd of the night for Cabrera and also his last. He gave way to Coty Woods and departed to a standing ovation.
Woods quickly ended the game with a ground out, a strikeout and another ground out.
Pitcher Edwar Cabrera reacts after losing his perfect game in the top of the ninth inning Tuesday night at ONEOK Field. (Rich Crimi) Cabrera, one of the top pitching prospects in the Colorado Rockies system, was dominating. Using mixture of fastballs and change ups, and an occasional curveball, he kept the Hooks off balance throughout the game.
“This was the best game of my career,” said Cabrera. “I was never thinking of the perfect game, only of keeping my fastball away and mixing in my change up and breaking ball,” said Cabrera.
In working his eight perfect innings, he retired eight hitters on strikeouts and eight more on ground outs.
Cabrera was attempting to become the first pitcher in Drillers history to throw a perfect game. He would have also been the first Drillers hurler to throw 9-inning, complete game no-hitter.
Despite the disappointment of missing the perfect game, Tulsa did run its winning streak to five straight games and finished its first homestand of the season with a 5-1 record. The Drillers are now 9-3 on the year for their best start to a season since going 10-3 to open the 1996 campaign.
For four innings Tuesday, Corpus Christi starter Ross Seaton kep the Drillers off the scoreboard, but Lars Davis broke the shutout in the bottom of the fifth. Angelys Nina drew a leadoff walk and Davis followed with a towering home run that landed on the grass hill beyond the bullpens in right field. It was the catcher’s first homer of the year and gave the Drillers a 2-0 lead.
Kiel Roling added to the margin with another solo homer in the sixth. His opposite field drive was his second of the season.
Josh Rutledge made it 4-0 with a run-scoring single in the seventh.
The Drillers will enjoy an off day on Wednesday before beginning a four-game set in Springfield Thursday evening. On the mound, the opener will feature Dan Houston (1-1, 5.25 ) for Tulsa against Trevor Rosenthal (0-2, 7.27 ) of Springfield. Starting time at Hammons Field is scheduled for 7:08PM.
The Drillers will return to ONEOK Field on Monday, April 23 when they will begin an 8-game homestand that will include a pair of 4-game series with Arkansas and Springfield.