By Mike Meiler firstname.lastname@example.org
The Tonawanda News
Tonawanda News — BUFFALO — Missed opportunities were the story Thursday at Coca-Cola Field as the Buffalo Bisons dropped the last of a four-game series to the Norfolk Tides, 7-3.
After falling behind 6-0, the Bisons (20-12, first place International League North) saw multiple chances to rally go by faster than the afternoon rain clouds. The Herd finished just 2 for 15 with runners in scoring position and left 12 on base.
The Tides (23-11, first place IL South) scored four runs in the third off Buffalo starter Miguel Batista (1-1). The 42-year-old induced a pop out to start the inning, but gave up an 0-2 home run to Niuman Romero for the game’s first run.
Batista then got Jason Pridie to ground out, but gave up an 0-1 homer to Jonathan Schoop, a single to Russ Canzler, a double to Danny Valencia and a two-run single to Travis Ishikawa to fall into a 4-0 hole.
The Norfolk bats stayed hot in the fourth. Luis Exposito led off with a double, and Romero followed with a soft grounder to Batista, who attempted to get Exposito out headed to third. The throw wasn’t in time, and Romero reached on a fielder’s choice.
“The second time through the order, (Batista) elevated some balls, and they’re not a team you can get by with those kind of mistakes,” Buffalo manager Marty Brown said.
Pridie followed with a single to score Exposito, and after Schoop struck out and Canzler walked, Valencia hit a ground ball to Buffalo shortstop Mike McCoy. McCoy tossed the ball to Jim Negrych for the force at second, but Valencia beat Negrych’s throw to first, scoring Romero. Batista was relieved by Buddy Carlyle, who ended the inning by striking out Ishikawa.
The Bisons finally got to Norfolk starter Zach Britton in the bottom of the inning. Moises Sierra led off with an infield single, but was out at second when Luis Jimenez hit into a 3-6 fielder’s choice. Andy LaRoche and Ryan Langerhans walked to load the bases, and Eugenio Velez singled to left to knock in Jimenez and LaRoche. Mike McCoy flied out and Mike Nickeas grounded out with two men on to end the inning.
Buffalo got one more in the fifth. Anthony Gose led off with a walk, and Negrych doubled to put runners on second and third. Sierra struck out, and Jimenez singled to right to knock in Gose and end Britton’s outing. Chris Jones came on and struck out LaRoche and Langerhans to earn a well-deserved win (1-0).
The Tides added the final run in the seventh. Ishikawa hit a one-out double, L.J. Hoes walked and Trayvon Robinson hit an infield single to pitcher Alex Hinshaw, who sailed his throw, scoring Ishikawa.
The Bisons put two baserunners on in both the seventh and ninth, but failed to come through with a run-scoring hit.
“Britton had good stuff, but we got him into some trouble,” Brown said. “He was somebody we hadn’t seen before, and their bullpen came in and did a really good job.”
Batista saw his ERA balloon to 6.38 on the season. Negrych (2 for 5, double) and Jimenez (1 for 3, two walks) continued their impressive hitting, staying first and third in the IL in batting average at .427 and .365, respectively. Jimenez added two RBIs to his league-leading total of 32, seven more than second place.
The Herd will hit the road for two four-game series, kicking off at Louisville (17-17, third place IL West) at 6:35 p.m. today.