Luis Jimenez likes the big swings, and he certainly seems to be comfortable swinging for the fences at Coca-Cola Field.
Jimenez drove a shot to right field and his solo home run proved to be the difference for the Buffalo Bisons as the Herd came back to defeat the Rochester Red Wings, 3-2, on Friday afternoon in front of an announced crowd of 4,984.
It was the second home run in as many games for Jimenez to start the season.
With the score tied, 2-2, and one out in the eighth, Jimenez drove the first pitch he saw from Rochester reliever Anthony Slama over the right-field fence.
“It was a fastball, sneaky,” said Jimenez, who was the designated hitter Friday after playing first base on Thursday. “I got a very good scouting report from Adam Loewen. He faced him before and he said the fastball was going to be sneaky so I tried to be ready for it and hammer it.”
Hammer the ball. That’s what Jimenez can do.
Last year, he was with the Seattle Mariners organization and was an All-Star with Triple-A Tacoma where he belted out 20 home runs and drove in 81. At the home run derby in Buffalo last year, he blasted 11 shots out of the park.
Marty Brown saw his share of Jimenez home runs go against his club while he managed Las Vegas the past two seasons. The Herd manager used another former Bison slugger, Russell Branyan, to describe the power of the 30-year old Venezuelan.
“You better make a pitch. You better not make a mistake,” Brown said. “He’s got the most raw power of anybody but Russell Branyan that I’ve seen. ... [Jimenez has] got a good presence in the clubhouse. He’s a great guy. He’s on a mission to try and help us win and prove himself to try and move forward to the big-league level.”
Branyan, who made his name in Cleveland and played in Buffalo in 1999, 2000 and 2004, had 194 home runs in 14 years in the Major Leagues and 222 homers over 14 seasons in the minors.
But Jimenez, who is listed at 6-foot-3 and 280 pounds, is focused on making a name for himself.
“The big goal is to go to the big leagues,” he said of his expectations for this year.
He made his Major League debut in 2012 playing seven games with Seattle after 1,056 minor league games.
“I will try to help the team over there but you’ve got to perform here and do all you can do and try to be consistent,” he said.
The Herd took a 1-0 lead on Jimenez’s RBI ground out, which scored Anthony Gose from third.
Rochester built its 2-1 lead on a pair of home runs. Brian Dinkelman blasted a solo shot to right in the third to tie the game while Oswaldo Arcia had a solo shot in the fifth.
In the sixth, Gose led off with a single and Moises Sierra laid down a sacrifice bunt that was misplayed by reliever Michael O’Connor. The error on the pitcher put runners on first and second with no outs. A fielder’s choice by Jimenez put runners on the corners with one out. The only run the Herd plated, however, was when O’Connor was called for a balk, sending Gose home and tying the game 2-2.
Gose finished the game 2 for 4 with two runs scored. In his first two game with the Herd, the prospect is 5 for 8 with five runs scored.
The Herd’s bullpen was solid with Alex Hinshaw picking up the win, pitching ∏ of the eighth inning. Neil Wagner struck out two in the ninth to pick up the save.
Starter Ramon Ortiz gave up both home runs and had seven strikeouts, but also hit three batters in the first two innings and gave up a pair of walks. Slama took the loss for Rochester.
The series moves to Frontier Field this weekend as Rochester hosts its home Opening Day at 1:05 p.m. today. Righty Claudio Vargas is scheduled to start for the Herd against Red Wings righty Shairon Martis.
Three men who were injured in the Christmas Eve shooting in West Webster will throw out the ceremonial first pitch. West Webster firefighters Ted Scardino and Joseph Hofstetter and Greece police officer Jon Ritter were injured when responding to the call that killed fire fighters Mike Chiappernini and Tomasz Kaczowka.
Tickets are available for the game at the Frontier Field box office, online at redwingsbaseball.com or by phone at (585) 423-9464.