MOOSIC, Pa. — Dave Bush knew he was scheduled to start for the Buffalo Bisons tonight but everyone with the Herd also knew the Toronto Blue Jays’ 18-inning win Saturday over Texas might cause some pitching shuffles.
That’s what happened Sunday. Scheduled starter Thad Weber went to Toronto and pitched a scoreless ninth inning in the Jays’ 6-4 loss to the Rangers. Bush, meanwhile, moved up a day and threw six brilliant shutout innings in the Bisons’ 4-1 win over the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders.
“I know they have limited options to call up and I knew one of them was Thad,” Bush said. “By the middle of our game last night after they were finished, I thought it was a possibility. You prepare for a little bit of everything. I was available and just went out and threw as long as I could.”
Bush (7-4) tied for the International League victory lead by retiring 18 of the 20 batters he faced.
He gave up a one-out single to Zolio Almonte in the first, set down 16 in a row, yielded Thomas Neal’s two-out single in the sixth and concluded his outing by fanning Almonte on a 65-mph changeup. He threw 58 of his 79 pitches for strikes, working free and easy after the Bisons’ four-run first accounted for their scoring. He struck out five.
“He did a great job, really mixed his speeds well,” said manager Marty Brown, who also praised the work of catcher Sean Ochinko. “They were on the same page from the beginning and Dave stayed ahead in the count, which was a real key.”
“They were taking a lot pitches early in the count and I was getting ahead,” Bush said. “Then I could expand the strike zone and get in a rhythm early. We scored four runs and they’re going to be more selective to try to get ahead in the count and get back in the game so that helped.”
Bush, who had made two of his previous four outings in relief due to the Bisons’ crowded rotation, has pitched mostly as a starter the last 10 years save for 14 games in relief with Texas in 2011. The Blue Jays optioned Weber back to Buffalo late Sunday afternoon after activating Darren Oliver from the disabled list, so Bush might see more bullpen duty.
“I don’t get too complicated about it,” Bush said. “I want to stay as steady as I can be ready for anything. I have to adjust my routine a little bit when I’m out of the bullpen. You just have to tone down some of your off days to make sure your arm is fresh for whatever happens.
Sunday’s game was played before a crowd of 7,154, giving the Scranton franchise back-to-back sellouts of all its fixed seats for the first time since August 2010.
With party areas and grass berm seating, the newly renovated PNC Field can accommodate close to 10,000.
The RailRiders are averaging 5,303 per opening this season - nearly 800 per opening over their 2011 figure, the previous season in their current location. And that’s before the majority of their big-number, big-promotion summer dates are held.
The teams are scheduled to continue their series tonight at 7 (Radio 1520 AM) with Buffalo’s Chad Jenkins (0-1) facing Scranton lefty and former Bison David Huff (3-1). He who went 6-4 in 16 starts for the Herd in 2008, their final year as a Cleveland affiliate.
The weather forecast for tonight is not good and there’s a decent chance the teams may have to finish the four-game series with a double-header here Tuesday night. The Bisons are off Wednesday and open a four-game set Thursday in Pawtucket. They don’t play again at Coca-Cola Field until June 17 against Gwinnett.