Sunday is traditionally Kids’ Day at Coca-Cola Field. Shawn Hill took that promotion to a new level.
The 33-year-old was making his first start for the Bisons in Buffalo and pitched a quality game.
He did it in front of his two-day old daughter.
Hill’s wife, Ashley, gave birth to the couple’s second daughter on Friday. The family, including two-day-old Peyton, watched the game from a suite.
“They were released from the hospital this morning and they had a suite up top,” Hill said. “Thankfully the Bisons were able to set something up for them so they were inside to keep them nice and warm.”
Hill did something in return for the Bisons - giving them solid starting pitching. He gave up one run on just four hits in seven innings. He struck out two.
Hill signed as a free agent with the Toronto Blue Jays on March 24 and started the season with Double-A New Hampshire.
The former big league pitcher, who had stints with Montreal/Washington and the Blue Jays, was promoted to the Bisons on May 7. He made two starts on the road, going 0-1 while giving up 10 runs in 12 innings.
This outing was decidedly better.
“If he’s going to pitch like that after he has a kid, he might as well have one every five days,” manager Gary Allenson quipped. “He was super there. It was his best start since he’s been here. He kept the ball down a lot better and mixed it up. I think he was overthrowing a little bit the first couple times out. He stayed in a nice groove there.”
Hill, who has encountered various arm injuries throughout his professional career, saw improvement in his rhythm and the movement he had on the ball. It was a step in the right direction.
“I’m still trying to play catch-up from signing late in the spring,” Hill said. “I was a little more in control today but I’m still nowhere near where I want to be just in terms of feel. I got into a better rhythm today than I have in my previous starts. It’s something to work from.
“Movement is starting to come. For me being a sinker-baller, not overthrowing. You overthrow you start yanking, lose your movement, command, all that kind of stuff. It all goes together.
“When I don’t overthrow, everything is obviously a lot better. You start seeing the movement. You start to pick your release point. All that kind of stuff. It’s just consistency and repetition that I need at this point.”
Marcus Stroman is coming back to the Herd.
The righthanded pitcher was optioned back to Buffalo by the Toronto Blue Jays late Sunday afternoon.
Stroman was fantastic in five starts with the Herd, going 2-2 with a 1.69 ERA. The Blue Jays selected his contract on May 3 and put him in the bullpen.
The 23-year old struggled a bit with the change from starter to reliever. He was 1-0 with a 12.79 ERA in five relief outings.
Stroman made his Major League debut on May 4 in Pittsburgh and earned his first big league win on May 6 against the Pirates, giving up one hit with a stikeout in 1∑ innings of work.
With the Herd he allowed just 22 hits and struck out 36 in 26∏ innings. In his last start with Buffalo (April 29 against Louisville), Stroman struck out 10 in a hitless six innings of work .
The next two games at Coca-Cola Field have 1:05 p.m. start times.
Today’s rare Monday afternoon start is in conjunction with the Canadian holiday, Victoria Day, and the Bisons ran some cross border promotions.
Tuesday’s game concludes the series and gives both teams some extra time before Wednesday’s league-wide off day.
Munenori Kawasaki extended his hit streak to nine games. … Lehigh Valley starter David Buchanan was pulled after the first inning, giving up four runs on five hits while throwing 45 pitches. … Chad Jenkins (1-1, 2.55) is scheduled to start for the Herd today, sliding into Sean Nolin’s spot in the rotation after Nolin was moved to the disabled list with a left groin strain. The Bisons will face IronPigs lefty Greg Smith (4-0, 3.12).