It took Mauro Gomez a mere two swings to supply the Buffalo Bisons with all the offense they needed.
Gomez hit a pair of homers to offset a chilly night at the plate for the team overall while entertaining the sellout crowd of 18,025 at Coca-Cola Field with a thrilling 6-3 victory over the Durham Bulls on Star Wars Night.
Gomez broke a 3-all tie in the eighth inning with a three-run shot to left-center off loser Will Inman (0-2) after tying the game in the sixth with a two-run blast against Western New York native Steve Geltz. Gomes nearly was robbed of that homer by center fielder Brandon Guyer.
“I felt good, I tried to get a good pitch and I did,” Gomez said. “I hit the ball very well and I helped the team win.”
It was the fourth multi-homer game for Gomez, who leads the International League with 21.
“He’s always in the middle of the order and a guy that pitchers in this league are scared of and rightfully so,” Bisons manager Marty Brown said. “He’s got power to all fields and when he’s hot, he’s hot.”
Neither home run was majestic, but there was some drama on Gomez’s first in the sixth inning. Gomez hit a shot to the wall in center as Guyer went to retrieve it. Guyer leaped and Coca-Cola Field grew silent after Guyer landed on the warning track. Guyer glanced in his glove saw that nothing was there and the stadium waited a beat before celebrating Gomez’s two-run homer that tied the game at 3.
“He also made a good play, but thank God to give me that home run and we tied the game,” Gomez said. “To be honest I thought it was going to be an easy fly out. Maybe the wind helped me but I’ll take it. Home run.”
The runs proved to be crucial for the Bisons who were limited to four hits. The Bisons couldn’t touch starter Cory Wade, who got the nod on a bullpen day for the Bulls.
Wade sat down the first 11 Bisons he faced in 3∏ innings while striking out two and walking Gomez, the last man he faced. Only two balls, one by Mike Nickeas to center and another to left by Anthony Gose, left the infield. Adam Liberatore came on and ended the fourth with a strikeout.
Geltz, the University at Buffalo’s career leader in saves, came in for Liberatore in the sixth after Jose Reyes, who went 2 for 4 in the game, reached on an infield hit then stole second to move in scoring position. Reyes scored on a single by Kevin Pillar. Then Gomez tied it with one swing.
“We just had to battle and scrap to get a couple of runners on for Gomez,” Brown said. “He kind of was our offense.”
The Bulls had runners on the corners in the third inning as the Bisons were seeking to trade a run for a double play.
Tim Beckham hit a hard shot to Jim Negrych, who back-handed the ball cleanly. He opted to fire home but his throw was high and bounced off the glove of catcher Nickeas as a run scored. Guyer later scored on a double play and Durham led, 2-0.
Durham remained quiet until the sixth, and for the remainder of the night, when Chris Gimenez turned on an inside fastball by Chad Jenkins and parked into left field for his first home run of the season and a 3-0 Durham lead.
Reyes, down from Toronto on a rehab assignment, said there could be a decision as early as Monday on whether he returns to the Blue Jays. He said he will likely DH today after playing shortstop on Saturday.
“If I get on base again I’m going to put pressure on my ankle to try and steal because that’s going to be my game when I go back up to the big leagues,” he said. “I don’t like to DH because I don’t want to be in the dugout for several innings. I like to be loose, but that’s the plan that they have.”