The way the first two innings were shaping up, Sean Nolin was not long for this particular outing.
While he kept Louisville off the scoreboard, he gave up three walks – all with two outs – and threw 47 pitches.
But he regrouped, attacked the strike zone and pitched into the seventh inning to pick up his second win of the season as the Buffalo Bisons defeated the Bats, 6-2.
After the first two innings, Nolin issued just one more walk and had three strikeouts. In all, he gave up one hit and no runs in 6∑ innings.
“The walks were definitely not something I was trying to do, of course,” Nolin said. “I just tried to attack the zone and throw as many strikes as possible. …. I tried to split the plate in halves instead of trying to nitpick corners. That was the biggest thing.”
“He lost his command,” manager Gary Allenson said of the early walks. “He ended up getting out of it, and he was a little tough on himself after the inning was over with, but other than that he did a real good job.
“He started throwing more strikes. That helps. He got the ball down. He pitched it instead of throwing it. At times when it’s in hitter’s count and he wants to get back in the count with a fastball, he has tendency to overthrow it. He did a pretty good job of getting the ball down in the zone and mixing his pitches.”
Nolin has not given up a run in his last 12∑ innings. His last outing was a no-decision at Pawtucket where he struck out seven with just one walk and three hits in six innings of scoreless work.
Kevin Pillar extended his hitting streak to nine games on Saturday with an RBI double in the fourth inning. Pillar started the season 4-for-42 (.105) but has found his groove with five doubles and five runs scored since April 17.
“He’s staying back and letting the ball get in the zone a little bit,” Allenson said. “He has a tendency to get a little too aggressive when he’s ahead in the count, there. … He’s maybe not trying to do too much with the ball.”
Anthony Gose made a spectacular diving catch in the sixth inning in center field, one of those defensive gems that is replayed again and again.
He laid himself out in similar fashion later in the eighth inning. This time he just missed the ball and injured his hand on the play. Athletic trainer Voon Chong and Allenson went out to look at the injury but Gose stayed in the game.
“He jammed his thumb. … He seemed like he was fine, but it’s the kind of thing where tomorrow it might be a little more sore than it is right now,” Allenson said. “We would mark that down as day-to-day, but he’s a probable. He doesn’t like to not play. He’s a pain in the butt when he doesn’t play, so I’m guessing he’ll be in the lineup tomorrow.”
The roster shuffle continued before Saturday’s game.
Right-hand pitcher Gregory Infante and infielder Ryan Schimpf were promoted to the Bisons from Double-A New Hampshire.
Infielder Kevin Nolan was transferred to New Hampshire.
On Friday night, the Blue Jays made bullpen moves, optioning Neil Wagner to the Bisons and recalling Chad Jenkins.
Infante has five saves with a 3.38 earned run average in eight relief appearances for New Hampshire. He has allowed just one hit in his last five games. Last season he split time between Triple-A Albuquerque and Double-A Chattanooga in the Dodgers organization.
Schimpf hit .322 with eight doubles and four home runs, driving in 10 runs over 17 games for the Fisher Cats. He ranks second in the Eastern League with 12 extra-base hits. He was a fifth-round draft pick of the Blue Jays in 2009.
Wagner started the season with the Herd, picking up two saves in two scoreless appearances. He was recalled to Toronto on April 9 and posted a 3.12 ERA in nine outings.
Erik Kratz hit his first home run of the year, smacking the ball over the left field fence in the sixth inning. …. Saturday’s paid attendance was 4,923. … The homestand continues at 1:05 today (Radio 1520) with lefty Ricky Romero (0-0, 4.80 ERA) scheduled to start for the Herd against righty Chien-Ming Wang (1-3, 6.16 ERA).