Football season is only barely getting underway, but that didn’t stop the Double-A Tulsa Drillers from putting up multiple touchdowns on the Northwest Arkansas Naturals on Thursday.
Despite a lot of early action, the game was even at six runs apiece through four innings. From that point on, the Naturals were outscored 17-1, allowing seven runs in the fifth and 10 runs in the seventh and eighth combined.
Pages began his night 0-for-2 but turned up the heat along with his Drillers teammates from there. He led off the fifth with a double down the left-field line and nearly had another in the same frame, as he smacked a fly ball off the wall but was nabbed by a strong throw from Naturals left fielder Tyler Gentry.
After a single in the seventh and 20 runs already having crossed the plate, Pages tripled to deep right-center in the eighth to bring in two more. The next batter, Justin Yurchak, singled in Pages for Tulsa’s 23rd and final tally of the night.
Only two other full season Minor League teams have reached at least 23 runs in a game this season. One of them, the Single-A Rancho Cucamonga Quakes, is also a Los Angeles affiliate. They posted 24 runs against the Lake Elsinore Storm on June 22.
Pages’ four-hit effort was his first of the season and third of his career. In fact, he had yet to even record three hits in a game this year, in what has been a rollercoaster of a tour through the Double-A level for the 21-year-old.
After hitting 31 home runs for the High-A Great Lakes Loons in 2021, it was notable that Pages had hit just five home runs in 44 games through the end of May this season. Since the start of June, while his batting average has taken a dip, his power has certainly returned. In just four more games over that span, Pages has hit 13 longballs.
But Thursday’s performance was more about putting the ball in play and finding the gaps in the defense, rather than pure strength. If he’s able to balance both aspects of his offensive approach, Pages might be in line for a late season promotion to Triple-A, though there certainly is no rush to push a player of his age already in the upper levels of the Minors.
Perhaps the rest of his season also involves some experience at new positions. In the ninth inning of Thursday's blowout, Tulsa moved Pages to third base, notable because he had played all 327 of his prior career games in the outfield or as the designated hitter.