By Dave Ricci firstname.lastname@example.org
The Tonawanda News
Tonawanda News — BUFFALO — Dropping a double header and losing their hold on first place in the International League’s North Division was probably not the way the Buffalo Bisons planned on wrapping up their seven-game homestand.
That’s exactly what happened Thursday when Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, the Triple-A affiliate of the New York Yankees, took a twin spin from the Herd in front of 5,463 fans at Coca-Cola Field.
Railriders starter Brian Gordon flirted with a no-hitter in the opener that saw Scranton score a 2-1 win in nine innings, two more than the scheduled seven.
Game Two saw the Railriders get to Kyle Drabek early as they tagged the Bisons starter for five runs on 10 hits — including three home runs — in four innings en route to a 7-2 win.
Zolio Almonte (2 for 4, two runs, two RBIs) had two of the Railriders four home runs in game two, going deep in the third and seventh innings.
Railriders manager Dave Miley said the key to Almonte’s good day, and improved results as of late, was the basics of a better, more-disciplined approach at the plate.
“That’s probably the key. His approach,” Miley said. “He started out a little bit slow, but he’s getting good at-bats from both sides. That’s a plus for him and us.”
Almonte raised his batting average to .267 after the double header and now has six RBIs on the season.
The Bisons used timely hitting in Wednesday’s 8-2 win over Scranton, when they were 6 for 15 with runners in scoring position. They didn’t have that kind of consistency Thursday, as the Herd went just 1 for 11 with runners in scoring position in the opening game and 1 for 5 in the nightcap.
“Three runs in two games, that’s not going to win you too many ball games unless you get some really good pitching,” said Bisons manager Gary Allenson, who saw his team fall to 7-5 and drop to second place in the International League North Division, one game behind Pawtucket (9-5).
Kevin Nolan (2 for 3) broke up Brian Gordon’s bid for a no-hitter with a lead off single in the fifth for the Herd in the opener. Carmen Angelini’s RBI single drove in Ronnie Mustelier with the winning run in the top of the ninth. The Bisons comeback fell short when Brett Carroll struck out with two on.
Gordon struck out two, walked four and gave up one hit. Danny Burawa (2-0) picked up the win in relief.
Drabek’s, whose fastball was between 88-91 miles per hour, struck out four, issued no walks and dropped to 1-1.
Chase Whitely was very effective for SWB in his third spot start of the season. He spun a two-hit gem, where he struck out five and walked two in five scoreless innings of work.
Corbin Joseph and Jose Pirela also went deep for the Railriders in the second game.
Ricky Romero gave the Herd strong innings in game one but left with a no decision. Romero gave up one earned run on two hits and four walks. He struck out two and threw 50 of his 91 pitches for strikes.
Romero, the Blue Jays first pick (6th overall) in the 2005 First-Years Players Draft, is trying to recapture that magic that helped him his rookie season (2009) when he notched 13 victories for Toronto.
After tinkering with his delivery last season, Romero and the Blue Jays agreed the best course of action was to scrap that plan and get back to the the root of what helped Romero be one of the game’s best.
“My confidence is pretty good right now,” said Romero. “Like I said (Bisons pitching coach) Randy (St. Claire) and I have worked extremely hard this week, and it continues to be a work in progress.”
NOTES: SWB skipper Dave Miley is part of the Class of 2014 that will be inducted into the International League Hall of Fame on June 7. Former Bison great Jeff Manto is also part of this year’s class. ... The Herd now head for Pawtucket for a three-game series with the Red Sox. The Bisons and Pawtucket split their four game set when they met at the start of this homestand. ... RHP Liam Hendericks (2-0, 0.00 ERA) will face RHP Allen Webster (1-1, 3.68 ERA). They two teams will play a doubleheader Saturday before enjoying the first scheduled day off of the year Sunday.