It was simply another outstanding outing from Liam Hendriks.
The Triple-A All Star gave up a triple in the first inning. That was pretty much his only mistake as he shut down the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs after that.
The Buffalo Bisons offense picked him up in the first and the Herd went on for a 5-2 win over the IronPigs in front of 8,360 at Coca-Cola Field Saturday night.
Freddy Galvis hit a one-out triple in the first inning and scored on a groundout by Maikel Franco. Hendriks allowed just four hits over the next six innings.
The Bisons right-hander finished seven innings, giving up the one run on five hits with eight strikeouts and no walks.
The win moved Hendriks to 8-1 on the season. It was the ninth time in 16 starts that he did not issue a walk while it was the fifth time he struck out eight or more batters.
“I’ve seen it a few times,” manager Gary Allenson said. “He does it enough where you kind of expect some perfection out of him which, nobody’s perfect, but he does a great job when he does get in trouble or gives up a run he minimizes the damage.”
Helping Hendriks was an impressive defense behind him. Kevin Nolan made a leaping play at short, throwing across his body and across the field to get the runner. Darin Mastroianni made a spectacular catch in right, crashing into the outfield wall in mid-flight. And second baseman Ryan Schimpf made a nasty play in the eighth to keep Lehigh Valley off the board.
The defense has been solid for the Bisons all year as the club leads the International League in field percentage (.984) with just 62 errors on the season.
“Tonight was a pretty special night defensively for us,” Mastroianni said. “We made four or five big plays. …. We’ve been like that all year We’ve had guys come and go but we’ve been pretty good all year. You start making one good plays and everyone wants to make good plays. Everyone wants to see themselves on the jumbotron after a big play.”
There were plenty of Big Board moments by the Bisons defense and that in turn gave Hendriks an opportunity to attack hitters. It’s one of the reasons his walk total is so low – he’s not afraid to throw strikes because he’s confident in the guys in the field.
“I’ve picked up the pace a lot, attack more and as soon as you get ahead it kinda puts them on their back foot a little bit,” Hendriks said. “And I mean with the defense we’ve got behind me, I’m not afraid of throwing strikes. They’re going to catch everything out there. It’s a tribute to them as well. … Our defense is something I think we pride ourselves on. There have been almost no complaints from any of the pitchers which is unheard of.”
After falling behind, 1-0, in the first inning, the Bisons offense got back to business. The Herd cranked out four runs on four hits sending all nine batters to the plate.
Mastroianni led off with a single then stole second. He scored on a double by Adron Chambers, who then took third on a passed ball and scored on a ground out by Kevin Pillar.
With two outs, Lehigh Valley starter David Buchanan walked A.J. Jimenez. A screaming double of the rightfield wall by Ryan Schimpf scored Jimenez and a single by Brett Wallace made it 4-1.
The scoring shut down until the seventh when the Bisons added an insurance run. Mastroianni singled and Chambers walked to lead off the inning. Mastroianni scored on a Kevin Pillar single for a 5-1 lead.
For the last 23 games, Chambers has been on the disabled list with a left groin strain. Activated and back in the lineup Saturday night, he looked like he was ready to make up for lost time, doubling in his first two at bats
The 27-year-old reached base in 13 of the 15 games with the Bisons before the injury. Chambers joined the Herd on June 13 after the Toronto Blue Jays acquired him in a trade with the Houston Astros.
Franco had another two-RBI night for Lehigh Valley, driving in the run in the first and then smashing a home run to left center field off Bison’s reliever Steve Delabara.
IronPigs’ starter David Buchanan lasted just three innings, throwing 77 pitches in those innings. He gave up four runs on seven hits with two walks and four strikeouts.
Buchanan took the loss in his second start since returning to Triple A. He had his contract selected on May 24 and started seven games for the Philadelphia Phillies, going 5-5 with a 4.40 ERA.