The Buffalo Bisons have spent most of the first 30 games pounding baseballs all over Coca-Cola Field and the rest of the parks in the International League. They did some more of that in Tuesday’s 6-4 win over the Norfolk Tides, but it was the fleet feet of leadoff man Anthony Gose that created as much lightning as the bats.
Gose electrified the crowd of 5,179 with a daring straight steal of home to open the scoring in the bottom of the first. In the seventh, he sprinted all the way home from first base on Jim Negrych’s two-out, two-run single that snapped a 4-4 tie.
Gose reached in the first on catcher’s interference and went first-to-third on Negrych’s perfect hit-and-run single through a vacated hole at short. But the inning seemed dead when Moises Sierra’s bullet was speared by first baseman Travis Ishikawa and Negrych was doubled off.
Up came IL RBI leader and cleanup man Luis Jimenez, a left-handed batter. As soon as Norfolk starter Jake Arrieta started working out of the windup, Gose sensed an opening and peeked at manager Marty Brown in the third base coach’s box.
“He looked at me, and I just nodded and told him to go ahead and he took off,” Brown said. “Instincts on the bases. Sometimes he runs wild like he did tonight but things work out well for him. He’s a very exciting player.”
Gose was basically two-thirds of the way down the line before Arrieta even noticed him coming. Jimenez backed out and Gose slid across the plate head-first to easily beat the throw home.
“I looked back at Marty and he gave me the OK and I took a chance,” Gose said. “You look now and it’s not a very smart play on my part taking the bat out of a guy’s hand like that, when he’s probably the hottest hitter in baseball right now. It worked out and it was great but it’s not something I’d do too many more times.”
It was the fourth stolen base of the season for Gose, the 22-year-old center fielder who is the top Toronto prospect in Buffalo.
Brown also recalled that Gose has done this before. During a spring training game against the Boston Red Sox on March 29, 2012, he drew a leadoff walk in the eighth inning and proceded to steal second, third and home to give the Blue Jays a 3-2 victory.
Gose was smiling after the game when talking about the play but was also reflective about it as well.
“If I’m out, or if I get hurt, I’m going to be basically be like a donkey,” Gose said. “It worked out, kind of got us going a bit and that’s a great part. But the other side of it is that if I’m out, it looks terrible and kind of selfish on my part.”
Jimenez added a two-run homer in the fourth to give Buffalo a 3-2 lead but the game was won in the seventh when Negrych completed a 3-for-4 night with his single to deep center, as Gose steamed all the way around. Negrych is batting an IL-best .427.
“I want to make them make the plays,” Gose said. “You want them to have to make throws, make good plays. … We’re trying to create, make things happen and put pressure on teams.”
Jimenez, meanwhile, improved to .381 with his 2-for-4 night. His home run was his team-high seventh and the two RBIs pushed his IL-leading total to 31.
The teams meet again tonight at 7 (TWC 13, Radio 1520 AM) as Claudio Vargas will start for the Herd. Former top Atlanta prospect Jair Jurrjens goes for Norfolk. Each starter is 3-1.
The Bisons announced Tuesday that fans that purchase the BPO 4-pack for the July 3 Independence Eve extravaganza will receive four free tickets for Fan Appreciation Night Aug. 29 against Rochester.
The BPO pack includes four tickets to the July 3rd game, four Sahlen’s hot dogs, four Coca-Cola soft drinks and 25 percent off at the Bisons gift shops that night for only $104.