Once the ball is in the glove of Ramon Oritz, you’d better be prepared. Because the pitch is coming. Quickly.
That’s how the 40-year-old has always pitched. And the majority of the time it works to his advantage.
Ortiz worked quickly on Sunday afternoon, picking up his second win of the season for the Buffalo Bisons in an 8-2 decision over the Louisville Bats at Coca-Cola Field.
He became the first Bison to throw more than 100 pitches as 69 of his 104 went for strikes. He gave up two runs – on a pair of solo home runs – and seven hits in eight innings of a game that lasted two hours and 34 minutes.
“I feel so good. I say thank God for the opportunity,” said Ortiz, who has pitched 12 years in the major leagues, including winning Game Three of the 2002 World Series with the Los Angeles Angels.
“The keys for the game today, we throw a lot of strikes in the zone both ways, down and away and down and inside. … I like so much working quickly because you don’t have too much time for the hitter thinking. That’s how I’ve pitched my whole career.”
In Sunday’s game he gave up a solo home run to Felix Perez in the fourth, and Mike Hessman drilled a shot across the street in left field in the sixth.
The only time Ortiz found himself in a jam was the second, giving up two singles and a walk to load the bases with no outs. But after a fly ball to short center field, the Bisons turned a 5-4-3 double play to end the inning.
“That’s Ramon, though. He’s going to go through an inning where he’s going to get into some trouble and he finds a way to pitch his way out of it,” Bisons manager Marty Brown said. “He left one out over the plate to Mr. Hessman, who delivered it a long way. It’s still rolling around Buffalo some place. But if Ramon gives up solo shots, so be it.
“Normally we play good defense behind Ramon because [he works quickly]. Some of the other pitchers could learn from that because their tempo sometimes has a little bit to be desired. Ramon did a good job today.”
Mickey Storey closed it pitching the ninth. For the record, the last nine-inning complete game by a Bison came on Sept. 6, 2010, when Josh Stinson pitched a three-hitter.
Moises Sierra had the day off Sunday after he got hit in the hand in his first at-bat on Saturday. Though replays clearly show he was hit square on the hand in the first inning, home plate umpire Dave Soucy called it a foul and strike two. Sierra spiked his helmet and was ejected from the game.
Brown said that Sierra’s hand was sore but that he would be in today’s lineup.
The hot hitting continued for Jim Negrych, who moved from leadoff to third in the lineup for Sunday’s game. Negrych went 2 for 4 and drove in two runs.
One came in the first inning on a sacrifice fly to center field. The Bisons scored two runs in that first inning on sacrifices, slightly improving the situational hitting that has been the weakness in the team’s offense this season.
“I think it’s just an awareness thing,” Brown said. “These guys have the ability to do it. It’s just a matter of getting them to understand they need a plan, a better plan. Their plan, I think, is just a grip-and-rip it kind of deal. You have to understand what a pitcher is trying to do and figure out how to offset that and I think today was a little bit better.”
The Bisons made several roster moves involving their pitching staff. Justin Germano was activated after being assigned outright to the Bisons by the Toronto Blue Jays on Saturday. Buddy Carlyle was activated off the disabled list.
Claudio Vargas was placed on the temporary inactive list while Clint Everts went on the disabled list.
The Herd will continue the homestand tonight, opening a four-game series with Norfolk at 7:05 p.m. (Radio 1520 AM). Dave Bush (3-1, 1.61) is scheduled to start for Buffalo against Steve Johnson (0-1, 5.06).