Once again, the Buffalo Bisons couldn’t overcome a big early deficit.
The visiting Syracuse Chiefs scored four runs in the first inning at Coca-Cola Field on Monday and went on to cruise by the Bisons, 8-1, in a game that was delayed 90 minutes because of rain. While the four runs scored by Syracuse weren’t nearly as daunting as Rochester’s 10 runs scored over the first two innings in Sunday’s 14-5 loss to the Red Wings, the Bisons couldn’t recover.
The Herd won three of four against Rochester to open the season and received solid pitching in games two and three against the Red Wings, who scored four runs. Then there was Sunday’s humbling defeat and now Monday, when the Herd not only turned in another poor performance on the mound but couldn’t find any offensive rhythm against Syracuse starter Danny Rosenbaum, who like the Herd’s Casey Lawrence made his Triple-A debut.
In five innings, Rosenbaum limited the Herd to four hits with two walks. He notched a pair of strikeouts before turning the game over to reliever Ryan Tatusko. He allowed just two runners into scoring position.
“He mixed it up and has a nice little cutter and slider and he mixed speeds on his fastballs, too,” Bisons third baseman Mike McCoy said. “He was sinking it and adding four seamers. It looked like he knew how to pitch.”
Rosenbaum’s past outings in his debuts were an indicator for a short evening. In his debut starts at each of his last three levels, in Hagerstown, Potomac and Harrisburg, Rosenbaum allowed a combined two earned runs in 16 innings.
Buffalo finally produced a run in the seventh when Eugenio Velez scored on a McCoy grounder to short. The Bisons staged a threat in the sixth by loading the bases with two outs against Tatusko, but he struck out Mike Nickeas with an off-speed pitch. The Herd was 4-for-15 with runners in scoring position and left 12 stranded.
“We’re not going to be able to do it every night I guess and we have to go up there and compete and battle,” said McCoy, who went 2-for-5 on Monday. “When it happens, it happens and sometimes you’re up against a pitcher who is doing his thing and silences the bats a little.”
But the Bisons welcomed another big bat in 2012 International League MVP Mauro Gomez, who was claimed off waivers by the parent Toronto Blue Jays on Monday.
Gomez hit .310 with 34 doubles, 24 home runs and 74 RBIs in 100 games with the Pawtucket Red Sox last season. He led the league in slugging percentage (.589) and finished in the Top five in average (second), home runs (tied for third), doubles, (t-third) and RBIs (fifth).
“I’ve heard nothing but good things, positive things about his play and his demeanor in the club house, he’s a good teammate,” Bisons manager Marty Brown said. “I’m looking forward to meeting him. If he’s here and he can put a bat in his hands he’ll play (today).”
Gomez was designated for assignment March 31 to make room for Jackie Bradley, Jr. on the Red Sox 40-man roster and Boston was reportedly trying to work a trade for the 28-year-old.
Meanwhile, Lawrence’s introduction to Triple A was not nearly as memorable and he didn’t receive any help from the Bisons’ defense in a four-run first inning for Syracuse. Lawrence yielded 10 hits and five earned runs in just four innings. The Chiefs finished the game with 16.
Lawrence allowed an infield single to Jeff Kobernus with one out, then Will Rhymes followed with a single. Lawrence tried a pick-off attempt at second but the ball skipped off the glove of shortstop Ryan Goins and the runners advanced on Goins error. Lawrence agitated matters by walking Corey Brown to load the bases.
Micah Ownings dropped a single just inside the right field line to drive in Kobernus, then Lawrence fanned Zach Walters for the second out. But Mike Constanzo compounded the damage by lacing a shot into the alley in left-center and left fielder Ryan Langerhans misplayed the ball and three runs scored. Lawrence got Jhonathan Solano to ground out to short to end the inning.
“You have to handle the ball in this league and we didn’t handle the one ball and allowed their two-hole hitter to beat that ball out then the pickoff throw advanced the runners,” Brown said. “You can’t give extra outs to any club in this league.”
The second inning almost became as destructive as the first but Lawrence pitched his way out of the jam. He tried to get a pitch up and in on Jimmy Van Ostrand and the Syracuse first baseman hit a sharp liner down the third base line for a single. Eury Perez’s hard ground ball was just out of the reach of Goins and Syracuse had runners on first and second. Kobernus dropped a bunt down the first-base line but Lawrence got him at first. Rhymes hit a liner toward first baseman Andy LaRoche, who made a good throw home but Van Ostrand just beat the tag and Syracuse led, 5-0.
Rhymes stole second and Brown walked a second time to load the bases again but Goins snagged Owings broken-bat liner and Lawrence reached back to fire a fastball by Walters for a strikeout. After a clean third inning, Lawrence allowed another run in the fourth when Kobernus led off the inning with a triple and was driven home on a single by Rhymes for a 6-0 lead.