The Buffalo Bisons have had one of the most potent offenses in the International League this season.
Until, well, the last two games.
The Bisons had a late-inning comeback fall short Wednesday night, dropping a 5-3 decision to the Lehigh Valley IronPigs at Coca-Cola Field.
It wasn’t until the seventh inning when Mauro Gomez homered that the Herd got on the board in this series. Lehigh Valley kept them scoreless for 15 innings before Gomez had a solo shot to lead off the seventh.
The Herd had no answer for Lehigh Valley starter Zach Minor, who gave up one run on three hits in seven innings of work. And as the IronPigs built a 5-0 lead, the Bisons couldn’t find the rhythm to swing their way out of the hole.
“Miner is a veteran pitcher and he seemed to be able to command all his pitches tonight, keep us off balance and again it didn’t seem like we were taking a lot of good swings off of him,” said Doug Davis, acting manager for the Herd on Wednesday. “I thought we battled our way back into it late there and had a couple opportunities and at least gave ourselves a chance.”
It has taken the Bisons some time to warm up their bats in this homestand.
The Herd came into Wednesday’s game with the third most runs scored in the International League with 305, behind league-leading Durham (339) and Pawtucket (309). And it’s not as if Lehigh Valley has an ace pitching staff. Their team earned run average is second-worst in the IL at 5.13, ahead of only – you guessed it – the Bisons.
But the IronPigs held the Bisons scoreless for 15 innings, winning the series opener, 4-0, on Tuesday then building a 5-0 lead on Wednesday.
Lehigh Valley took a 2-0 lead on a two-run home run from Michael Martinez.
The Bisons had a chance to answer in the bottom of the third after back-to-back two-out singles from Ryan Goins and Mike McCoy but Jim Negrych grounded out to end the inning.
The IronPigs continued to add to their lead, building a 5-0 advantage after five innings.
The Herd got on the board when Gomez blasted a leadoff homer to left-center field.
The rally continued in the eighth when Ryan Langerhans and McCoy drew walks. A one-out single from Negrych scored Langerhans and a sacrifice to center scored McCoy to cut the lead to 5-3.
But the rally was wholly unsatisfying for Negrych as the Bisons look to get out of their offensive funk. In the last two games, the Herd has stranded 15 base runners.
“We all have to come up better with guys in scoring position, myself included,” said Negrych who went 1 for 4 and is now batting .356. “I had a chance early in the game to get us going in the third inning and I chased a bad pitch, rolled something over and we’ve got to start it all over again. A lot of us, especially myself, need to be better with guys in scoring position.”
Chad Jenkins took the loss, giving up five runs on six hits in five innings. Reliever Dustin McGowan made his first back-to-back appearance since 2006, pitching the seventh inning. He gave up two hits with one strikeout.
“I thought it went very well,” Davis said. “He came in throwing strikes.”
Marty Brown returns to manage the Herd today after serving a three-game suspension after being ejected from Sunday’s game in Norfolk. … Wednesday’s paid attendance was 4,996. … The series continues today with the unusual 10:35 a.m. start for the traditional School Kids’ Day (TWC, Radio 1520 AM). … The struggling Ricky Romero (0-1, 11.84) is scheduled to make his sixth start with the Herd.