There were losses all around Friday for the Buffalo Bisons.
Their day started with a 4 a.m. wake-up call in Indianapolis for the flight home to Buffalo and ended with a 5-4 defeat to the Syracuse Chiefs before 8,029 in Coca-Cola Field.
The game was a struggle as it produced the Herd’s third four-game losing streak in May. Things were rough in the transactions column, too.
Top Blue Jays prospect Marcus Stroman was scheduled to start but he was a scratch, as he was held out at the behest of the parent Toronto Blue Jays and replaced by Esmil Rogers.
Late Friday night, the Jays announced Stroman will make his first big-league start in Toronto’s matinee against the Kansas City Royals today in Rogers Centre.
Stroman is 2-4 with a 3.03 earned-run average in seven starts for Buffalo, with 45 strikeouts and nine walks in 35∏ innings.
“I hope he’s locked in, working down in the zone and throwing his secondary pitches for strikes when he’s behind in the count and going after hitters,” said Herd manager Gary Allenson. “That’s important to not nibble too much. At times he had a tendency to nibble a little bit. … When you’ve got a guy in the hole, put him away.”
Stroman, who flew home Thursday from Indy so he was here for his scheduled start and didn’t have to endure the early wake-up, came to the ballpark and did some long-tossing about two hours before the game before leaving.
“Starting is ultimately what I want to do but whatever they need me to do because it’s the big leagues,” Stroman said, prior learning his fate. “I’m 100 percent ready to go for them.”
The Bisons’ bullpen also took a major hit as standout late-inning specialist Bobby Korecky had his contract purchased by the Blue Jays.
Korecky, 34, was 3-1 with five saves and an 0.29 ERA – allowing just one run in 31 innings and striking out 32 while developing a nasty split-finger pitch.
“That’s pretty good,” deadpanned Allenson. “It looks like it’s hitable but apparently it’s not. You don’t see a lot of good swings off him.”
Korecky pitched a hitless ninth for the Blue Jays in their 6-1 loss for Kansas City but the Blue Jays then designated him for assignment to make room for Stroman.
Because of the way he’s pitched for the Bisons, you’d think someone might claim Korecky on waivers before he could return to the Herd.
“That’s a good point,” Allenson said glumly. “He’s worked really hard.”
Rob Rasmussen has returned to the Bisons from the Blue Jays and the Blue Jays signed lefty Mike Zagurski, 31, and added him to the Buffalo bullpen. Zagurski began the season with Columbus and went 2-0 with a 2.76 ERA in 16 appearances.
The Bisons have dropped six of their last seven, collecting just 17 runs in those games. They got three runs in the seventh Friday, two on Darin Mastroianni’s looping double to right, and left two runners on in the ninth.
Rogers, who was designated for assignment by the Jays on May 23, tossed hitless ball with five strikeouts over the first three innings. But he couldn’t escape the fourth as the Chiefs piled up all five of their runs.
“The command wasn’t really there in the first inning,” Allenson said. “ The next two innings he was really good. It was almost like he was playing catch with an above-average fastball and a slider that was almost unhitable. It was a nice rhythm he was in.”
Former Bison Mike Hessman slugged a solo home run for Toledo in the fourth inning Friday night against Charlotte and it was his 258th career homer in the International League – tying the league record set by 1930s Bisons legend Ollie Carnegie.
The Mud Hens come to Buffalo to open a four-game series Tuesday night.
The series with Syracuse continues today at 1 (Radio 1520 AM) as Buffalo’s Deck McGuire (1-0) makes his home debut.