The Bisons were on the road for eight days, arriving back in Buffalo around noon on Wednesday.
They would be home for just 20 hours before getting on a bus for a five-hour drive to Moosic, Pa., for a two-game series with Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
Wednesday, the Herd looked very much like a team that was road weary and tired. They were sloppy in the field, committed three errors and could not generate much offense.
It added up to a disappointing 11-1 loss to Rochester in front of 17,208 spectators at Coca-Cola Field.
The Herd hasn’t fared well on this traditional holiday game. It was the 19th time the Bisons have hosted the Independence Eve Celebration at Coca-Cola Field and the team is just 6-13 in those games, 1-8 against Rochester on the July 3 game.
“It looked like we were dragging. … I think everybody goes through it this time of year,” manager Marty Brown said. “Around the Fourth of July you try to give each team the opportunity for a home game where fans can celebrate. Obviously we’re not going to celebrate very much as a team. … Hopefully we can regroup on this road trip, come home and play with a little more intensity and enthusiasm.”
“The eight-day road trip was kind of long … but there’s no excuses from the guys,” said outfielder Kevin Pillar. “We knew what we had to do. We knew the schedule coming in but we’d be lying if we said it’s not tough. I don’t know if that had a direct impact on the game.”
The energy level wasn’t up to the usual Bisons’ standard and the Herd fell behind early, as Deibinson Romero drilled a 3-1 pitch over the wall in left field to lead off the second inning and give Rochester a 1-0 lead.
The Red Wings went up 2-0 in the third on a sacrifice to center from Jeff Clement with one out and the bases loaded. Center fielder Anthony Gose didn’t even try to make a play at the plate when James Beresford tagged from third.
Pillar got the Herd on the board in the fourth with a leadoff home run to left field to cut Rochester’s lead to 2-1 but a two-run double down the right field line from Clement extended the Red Wings’ lead to 4-1.
Rochester added two runs again in the sixth, two in the seventh, a solo home run by Chris Colabello in the eighth and a two-run homer by Brian Dinkelman in the ninth. In all, the Red Wings tagged the Bisons’ pitching staff for 15 hits, including four doubles, one triple and three home runs.
Starter Claudio Vargas (5-6) took the loss, giving up four runs on six hits in 4∏ innings with three walks and three strikeouts.
Offensively, the Herd managed just five hits. Two of those went to Jim Negrych, who was named an International League All-Star earlier in the day, and two to Pillar. It was Pillar’s fifth multi-hit outing in 13 games with the Bisons. He’s on a 10-game hitting streak and batting .382.
Pillar began the season with Double-A New Hampshire, where he hit .313 with five home runs and 20 RBIs in 71 games. And his confidence and comfort level at the plate have been consistent.
The Herd takes a quick jaunt to Moosic, Pa., for two games against Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
Tonight’s game (7:05 p.m., Radio 1520 AM) features a scheduled start for Buffalo left-hander Ricky Romero (0-2, 6.89 ERA) against Brett Marshall (3-6, 6.24).