ROCHESTER – And then there was one.
One game. That’s the tragic number for the Buffalo Bisons.
One more loss from the Herd or one more win from the Pawtucket Red Sox and Buffalo misses the playoffs for the ninth straight year.
The Bisons slipped to 2½ games back in the International League wild-card race after they dropped a 3-2 decision to the Rochester Red Wings on Friday night and the PawSox edged Syracuse, 2-1.
“Being the math major that I am, we are still alive by the slimmest of margins,” Buffalo manager Gary Allenson said. “We’re two wins away from 20 wins in August? That’s really good. That’s making a run right there. The only problem is everyone else in our division there made a similar run. It would be nice if one or two cooled off. If you were to say with three games left in August, 2½ out with 18 wins, I’d take it.”
Friday’s outcome was a difficult loss for the Herd to take.
The Bisons took a 1-0 lead in the first as a sacrifice fly to center field from Cole Gillespie scored Dalton Pompey.
“It seems like lately the guys in front of me have been doing a great job setting the tone early, getting guys on third with less than two outs so it makes my job a little easier to get the guy in,” Gillespie said. “I’ve been able to get some sac flys to get us on the board early. Unfortunately we weren’t able to get a few more in there.”
But Buffalo starter Sean Nolin ran into trouble in the third, giving up a two-run home run to Eric Farris.
The Bisons tied the game, 2-2, when a two-out single from A.J. Jimenez scored Gillespie, but then Nolin threw a pair of wild pitches that allowed Chris Colabello to move to third and then score what proved to be the winning run.
“I just told him, he pitched the best game he’s pitched all season,” Allenson said of Nolin, who gave up three runs on six hits with seven strikeouts. “He made a mistake there early for the two-run home run but he had some fire and he was not going to give in. … But you know what? We’ve come back a number of times. It was 3-2 and just couldn’t get it across.”
The biggest opportunity for the Bisons came in the eighth when Anthony Gose was on third and Gillespie on first with two outs. Matt Hague was up to bat, battled to a 2-2 count and then took a called third strike.
Hague threw his helmet and was ejected and Allenson was tossed shortly after.
“We had some guys in scoring position late and Hague had a hell of an at-bat to foul some pitches off,” Allenson said. “It’s frustrating when you take a pitch, a fastball that you know is not a strike because it hasn’t been called all night and they’re switching sides. Not that he would have gotten a hit there, but we’ll never know. Tough luck.”
The Bisons will get another big name on Major League Rehabilitation as pitcher Brandon Morrow is scheduled to join the Herd in Rochester tonight (7:05 p.m., TWC, Radio 1520 AM).
Morrow, who has been out since May 2 with a torn tendon sheath in his right index finger, threw one inning for Dunedin on Wednesday. Saturday’s scheduled relief outing fuels the thought that Morrow may be moved to the Blue Jays bullpen.
“You look at the stuff and that might be an ideal role for him,” Blue Jays manager John Gibbons told the media Friday in Toronto. “He gets banged up each year, maybe that’s a route to go. He’s got overpowering stuff, good fastball and great slider. Maybe you can maximize him that way. Who knows?”
Brad Mills (1-1, 3.91) is scheduled to start for the Herd while Rochester will counter with Alex Meyer (7-6, 3.41).