As the song says, we’ve spent the last four years meeting and greeting the New York Mets. All 246 of them who have worn a Buffalo Bisons uniform since the Amazins rolled into town in 2009.
Tuesday night, it was farewell and adieu time for another season at Coca-Cola Field – and almost certainly for a forgettable era of Buffalo baseball. And there was a good dose of don’t let the door hit you in the you-know-where on the way out of town.
In their home finale on Fan Appreciation Night, the Bisons jumped to a 2-0 lead, then gave up 10 unanswered runs as they dropped a listless 10-4 decision to the Rochester Red Wings.
The Bisons drew a solid crowd of 14,697 for the finale, which put the total count for the season at an all-time low of 515,898. The average of 7,370 is seventh in the 14-team International League but down just 414 a game from last year. It’s a drop of nearly 900 from 2010, the Mets’ only winning season here. A more telling sign is that the figure has dropped nearly 1,500 a game from 2008, the final year the Cleveland Indians were the parent.
Last-place baseball doesn’t engender much enthusiasm. The Bisons awoke on Memorial Day 31-22. They’re 33-53 since, with a 64-75 mark that has them headed to a sixth-place finish in the International League North for the second time in the Mets’ four years.
The fans hooted their way through the final two innings as the Buffalo bullpen completely imploded to allow six runs. Five came in the ninth off C.J. Nitkowski and Jeff Stevens, both of whom were charged with errors in the frame. The groans pretty much indicated the Toronto Blue Jays can’t get into town fast enough as a new parent.
“You always want to finish the year strong in front of your hometown crowd,” said designated hitter Valentino Pascucci, clearly the most popular Mets-era Bison in Buffalo with his 55 home runs and All-Star Derby championship. “You want to win your last game. They came out and packed the place tonight to see us off. It was a great atmosphere the whole game and the last couple innings just got away from us. The fans have been great to us all year.”
The relief corps gave up eight runs in total after Collin McHugh pitched 4? strong innings on his one-start trip from the Mets.
“Not to be able to extend him and have to go to the bullpen early made it a little bit tougher for us today,” said manager Wally Backman. “But it’s disappointing with the bullpen.”
The Bisons dropped three straight and finished the final homestand with a 2-6 record. That leaves them 32-39 for the year downtown (one home win was recorded in Syracuse), and just 138-149 at home with the Mets.
Rochester catcher Rene Rivera – the catcher of the patently brutal 56-87 outfit the Mets sent here in their '09 debut season – took McHugh deep to left-center for a solo homer in the fifth to pull the Red Wings into a 2-2 tie, then cracked a long RBI double to right-center in the eighth off Garrett Olson to push the visitors into a 5-2 lead.
Buffalo took a 2-0 lead in the second as Matt Tuiasosopo cranked a two-run homer onto the tent in right-center. McHugh, who threw seven shutout innings in his big-league debut Thursday against Colorado, got touched for a run in the fourth and Rivera’s homer got the visitors even. Justin Hampson (4-3) took the loss when he gave up Clete Thomas’ RBI single in the sixth.
The game, and presumably the Mets era, ended on Zach Lutz’s grounder to third that left Pascucci on deck.
“I wanted to see if maybe I could get into one in one last at-bat before my time was over here with the Bisons,” said Pascucci, 33. “The fans have been good to us even when we were struggling. I wish we could have gotten that win tonight for them to see us off.”