Written By Jason Pattyson-
The Naturals Have The Pieces For Sustained Success, But Can The Bullpen Start To Close?
Written by: Jason Pattyson
When a losing streak prolongs, like in the previous Driller game story, the negative can be dwelled on from the outside, i.e., fans and media. Inside the clubhouse, though, the Naturals feel they are close but can’t get over the hump. The 8-game losing streak is the third worst in club history, two games short of the 10-game losing streak in 2014.
The Drillers made the trip to Tulsa one to forget. The Naturals forced extra innings in the first three games, but the Drillers’ historic week saw them take control of the final three games in the sweep. That was the first 6-game sweep for Tulsa since July of 1998 at El Paso.
Tulsa had an unforgettable May with a 16-2 record and was the wrong place, wrong time for the Naturals. Tyler Tolbert saw his 13-game hitting streak snap Thursday night, and during that span, he hit .316, collected 18 hits, drove in 5 runs, and scored eight times.
The offense was there in the first half of the series, with six runs and 15 hits, but the bullpen gave up the winning run in the last inning four times in the series. The Naturals managed to push four runs across the dish and ten hits in the final three games.
The Corpus Christi Hooks arrive at the right time, they come in on Tuesdays 21-24 of the season, and the Naturals need something to go their way. They are three games back of Midland Rockhounds for first in the South and nine games back of Tulsa in the Texas League overall standings.
The Hooks outfield boasts two of the top 3 outfield prospects in the Astros farm system Drew Gilbert and Colin Barber. Corpus Christi comes to Springdale sporting a .249 batting average, 7th in the Texas League. The pitching staff has a 4.48 ERA, but they have been able to get batters out at the plate striking out 414 in 2023. They sport an opponent batting average of .244, whereas the Naturals are batting .238, so the battle will be at the plate.
The Naturals are dead last in the North standings and 12 games out of first place, and have the worst record in the league. They are 4-17 against teams over .500 and 6-18 on the road. So this is a welcomed sight for the team and staff. They have the fourth-best team ERA in the league at 4.33 and have surrendered the fifth most home runs at 41.
There is something about Wednesdays with this team; they are 0-7 on the year. The pitching of late has kept the team in it to the late innings, but the bullpen still needs to find a winning formula. So, it will be a situation to watch if the staff can close out for the Naturals. They have an ERA of 3.71, and opponents bat a mere .206. The opportunities are there, and the bullpen needs a couple of breaks to go their way for this to turn around.
Game one of this six-game series is set for Tuesday, and the first pitch is 7:05. The homestand is highlighted by Star Wars night in combination with Firework Friday, Faith and Family night Saturday night with a concert by Leanna Crawford before the game. All games can be streamed in the Bally Sports app, MILB.tv, and MLB.tv.