He took a big lead off third. With one out, he was ready to pounce.
And as soon as Kenny Wilson hit the ball back to the mound, A.J. Jimenez was barreling toward home plate.
He beat the tag, sliding across the plate with his finger tips, to give the Buffalo Bisons a 5-4 win in 10 innings over the Toledo Mud Hens at Coca-Cola Field on Friday night.
“I was on third base. Skipper told me I was going on contact,” Jimenez said. “I just was waiting for the contact to happen. As soon as he swung, I was going. I got a good jump. Saw the ball on the ground and he didn’t tag me at all.”
It was the second straight win for the Herd, which has been in a collective offense slump.
Slowly they’re breaking out. Jimenez is an example. He entered the game hitting .219 since joining the Herd on May 26 from Double-A New Hampshire.
He drove in his first runs of the year for the Herd in the fifth when his double scored two runs to tie the game, 4-4.
“Honestly I don’t worry about numbers,” Jimenez said. “I think I’m doing a pretty good job at the plate hitting. I think I’m just having a bad moment so far ,but I know things are going to come around.”
“He’s starting to come around with the bat,” manager Gary Allenson said. “I kinda felt that, too. He wasn’t getting many hits, but he had been hitting the ball on the barrel.”
The winning run was set up with a solid offensive sequence from the Herd. Jimenez and Matt Tuiasosopo had back-to-back singles and a perfect bunt from Andy LaRoche moved the runners up a base.
With one out, Wilson’s hit went to the left of reliever Chad Smith. He snared it and threw home, but Jimenez beat out the throw and the Bisons poured out of the dugout to celebrate.
“It was about time we had one of those,” Allenson said.
Sean Nolin threw his first game since coming off the disabled list with a left groin strain. He missed 20 games with the injury and was on 50-pitch count. He threw 51 in 3∑ innings, giving up one run on two hits with two walks and two strikeouts.
Syracuse comes into town for a two-game series as the Herd closes out the homestand this weekend.
The annual Star Wars Night is tonight (6:05 p.m.) and the game is sold out. Fans who are picking up tickets at Will Call are urged to arrive early to avoid long lines before the game. The Will Call window opens at noon.
Kyle Drabek (4-5, 4.37 ERA) is scheduled to start for the Herd against lefty Aaron Laffey (6-3, 2.72).
For Sunday’s homestand finale, lefty Liam Hendriks (5-0, 1.91) is the probable for the Bisons against right-hander Taylor Hill (8-1, 1.57).
Earlier on Friday, the Bisons placed starting pitcher Ricky Romero on the disabled list with a strained right calf. Romero suffered the injury in his last start on June 1. In his ninth start of the season for the Herd he left after three innings, giving up one run on four hits with three walks and two strikeouts.
Romero is 0-3 with a 5.50 ERA. Over 37∏ innings pitched, he has struck out 28 while having issued 42 walks.