The ball was popped up into foul territory in left field, but Ryan Goins tracked it all the way from short. He sprinted from his infield position and made a diving backhand grab just in front of the opponents’ bullpen at Coca-Cola Field on Tuesday night.
On Wednesday he came up with at least three big defensive plays: He made a stop in the hole and threw across his body to get the out at first; with the bases loaded and no out, he charged an infield grounder and threw home for the force; and he traveled into the outfield to take care of a swirling pop-up after center fielder Mike McCoy lost sight of the ball.
Goins has been a one-man web-gem machine the last few games. His success is all about consistency, work and patience.
Those things have paid off at the plate, too. A recent hot streak earned him a promotion to the leadoff spot Thursday. The annual School Kids’ Day game was rained out, with the Herd and Lehigh Valley IronPigs now scheduled for a doubleheader tonight at 5:30 p.m.
In his first season at Triple-A the 25-year-old has adjusted to the speed of the game and manager Marty Brown has given him the opportunity to grow into this level of baseball.
“He’s really upped his game,” Brown said. “I think we’ve all seen how he’s made improvements defensively from Game One to now. He’s worked very hard at it. I think the speed of the game, he’s finally caught up to it and you can see the development at this level. He’s sped up with it.”
It’s “just consistently working every day,” Goins said. “We have early work every day, early ground balls and stuff like that. Early in the season, I was getting kind of bad reads and stuff like that. I’m just staying more consistent with my work every day. That’s about it.”
Goins has batted primarily in the ninth spot in the lineup, 36 times to be exact. But he has a hit in nine of his last 10 games and 11 of his last 13, earning the promotion. In May his on-base percentage was .378. For the season, he is batting .306 and .300 with runners on base.
“Offensively I think he still has a lot to learn but he’s going about it the right way,” Brown said. “Today we bumped him up in the order for a reason. His on-base percentage has been good. … He’s been very patient with it. He’s obviously a prospect in our organization and on the 40-man. I hit him at the last part of the order on purpose. It was allowing him to adapt and do the things we’re talking about right now. He’s made those adjustments and rightfully has gotten up there.”
Success at the plate has come from the tried and true method of having a plan, and staying with it, when Goins steps into the batter’s box.
“Just not trying to get away from what I’ve been doing,” Goins said. “Just trying to get a good pitch to hit, get strikes, not chasing pitchers’ pitches. I think that’s been the main thing, getting better pitch selection.
“I think that part of having a plan is knowing what you want to do and not trying to stray from my plan. Sometimes it’s easy to get away from what you want to do. You kind of get the adrenaline going and you try to become somebody you’re not. I’ve got to know my game and know what I do best and play to my strengths.”
The Bisons will have Anthony Gose back for tonight’s doubleheader; the outfielder was optioned back to Buffalo by Toronto.
Gose began his season with Buffalo, hitting .225 through 40 games with a pair of home runs, 12 runs batted in and five stolen bases. His 36 runs scored is tied for fifth-most in the International League and led the IL when he was promoted on May 20.
In 13 games with the Blue Jays, he hit .304 (7 for 23) with two doubles and four runs scored.
He returns to Buffalo largely because Rajai Davis has returned from the disabled list after recovering from a strained left oblique.
“It’s always disappointing when you come out of the big leagues,” Brown said. “I think Anthony knows he’s in a place where he’s going to come down and get his work in and continue to learn how to work. I think the most important thing is that when he gets down here he goes through his routines and tries to get back into the swing of playing every day.”
Buffalo and Lehigh Valley will play two seven-inning games tonight, starting at 5:30 (Radio 1520). Brown said that lefty Ricky Romero (0-1, 11.84 ERA) is scheduled to start the first game. Romero, who is trying to regain the mechanics and form which mysteriously fell apart for the former All Star last season, showed improvement in his last outing. He went a season-best six innings on Saturday in Norfolk. He issued no walks and struck out three while getting a no-decision.
Righty Justin Germano (4-4, 6.79) is scheduled to start the nightcap. Lehigh Valley is scheduled to counter with Ethan Martin (5-2, 5.60 ERA) and B.J. Rosenberg (1-5, 5.17 ERA).
For tonight’s fridaynightbash! and Zombie Night promotion, gates will open at 5 p.m. with food and drink specials running through 6:30 p.m.
Fans with tickets to Thursday’s game can exchange them for a future game (excluding special events) at the Coca-Cola Field box office. Bisons representatives will be reaching out to area schools to assist with ticket redemption. For more information on the exchange policy, contact the Bisons at 843-4373.