The Buffalo Bisons have just one more game to play before the league’s three-day All-Star break. Based on the team’s recent performance, that’s a good thing.
The Herd dropped its third consecutive game against Durham Saturday, 7-2, in front of 8,562 at Coca-Cola Field. The loss marked the eighth in 11 games for Buffalo.
Buffalo manager Gary Allenson views the upcoming break as a chance for his team to take its mind off the recent struggles.
“It’s three days off,” Allenson said. “Forget what’s been going on here.”
The struggles came early on Saturday as starting pitcher P.J. Walters (2-1, 5.13) threw 10 consecutive balls to start the game.
When he finally did put one over the plate, Vince Belnome crushed it to give Durham a 3-0 lead before an out had even been recorded.
Walters surrendered two more runs in the second inning and didn’t make it out of the fifth. He was charged with seven runs over 4∑ innings.
“I think we saw this yesterday too,” Allenson said in reference to Friday’s loss to Durham. “We just got down a little bit too much too early.”
Prior to the game, Toronto called up outfielder Anthony Gose to replace the injured Nolan Reimold. This came just a day after the Blue Jays promoted Bisons slugger and International League All-Star Dan Johnson. Additionally, catcher A.J. Jimenez was out of the lineup as he was travelling to Minnesota for the All Star Futures game.
Attempting to replace so many people can make an early three-run deficit seem insurmountable, according to Allenson.
“The way we’ve been hitting lately, it seems like we’re down three or four more runs than we really are,” Allenson said. “It’s just not happening right now. That’s three straight games with two runs.
“Everybody else has to pick it up a little bit. We were running on full throttle last week in Rochester. The roster’s changed a little bit, so we’ve got to make some adjustments.
After falling behind early, the Bisons offense had plenty of opportunities to close the gap but failed to do so. In the fourth inning with one on and no out, Mike McDade hit a deep fly ball to left center, only to watch center fielder Mikie Mahtook make a remarkable over-the-shoulder catch.
In the sixth inning, Ryan Schimpf worked a lead-off walk only to get caught in a double play.
“We had some opportunities, but we’re just not clicking right now,” Allenson said. “But, tomorrow’s a new day.”
Durham starter Matt Andriese, who earned his 10th win of the season Saturday, wasn’t dominant by any stretch but pitched well enough to maintain the lead his offense spotted him.
The Bisons will take the field again this afternoon (1:05, Radio 1520 AM) to try to avoid a sweep at the hands of Durham. Esmil Rogers (2-2, 2.95) will get the nod for Buffalo. Righty Alex Colome (4-2, 3.86) is expected to go for Durham.
Following the All-Star break, the Bisons will hit the road for a four-game set in Pawtucket.
That series will be followed by a two-game visit to Lehigh Valley.
The Herd won’t return to Coca-Cola Field until July 23 when it opens up a two-game set against Syracuse.