Deck McGuire spent parts of the past four seasons – including two full years – in Double A, making 69 starts for New Hampshire. Now, the former first-round pick of the Toronto Blue Jays is making the most of his long-awaited Triple-A debut.
In his third start since being promoted to Buffalo, McGuire went seven innings, allowing one run on just three hits, as the Bisons beat Toledo, 5-2. McGuire also tied a Bisons’ season high with 10 strikeouts Thursday as the Herd snapped a four-game losing streak in front of a School Kids Day crowd of 15,361.
“I just tried to pound the strike zone,” said McGuire, who earned his second win for the Bisons and lowered his ERA to 2.29. “I tried to keep the ball down in the zone to keep attacking the hitters.”
After putting up ERAs of 5.88 and 4.86 in New Hampshire in 2012 and 2013, respectively, McGuire posted a 2.98 ERA in 10 starts this season to earn a promotion to Buffalo.
“He’s made leaps and bounds from last year,” Bisons manager Gary Allenson said. “He’s down in the zone, he’s mixing it up, he’s not predictable and he keeps hitters off-balance.”
Ryan Tepera relieved McGuire and pitched 1∏ innings of one-run ball. Bobby Korecky got the final out and earned his sixth save. Allenson admitted McGuire, who threw 94 pitches, could have gone deeper into the game.
“He probably could have gone for one more,” Allenson said. “I just figured that with the 10:30 a.m. game, he did his job.”
Toledo infielder Mike Hessman remained tied with Bisons great Ollie Carnegie for the all-time International League home-run record with 258. Hessman failed to get a hit in three at-bats against McGuire. He struck out swinging twice and popped out. The ex-Bison, who started at third base, sat out the last three games after having non-cancerous growths removed from his nose and forehead. McGuire was fully aware of Hessman’s quest to own the record outright.
“It was a cool opportunity, the guy’s a legend,” McGuire said. “You try not to look at the guy in the box. You just go out there and stick with your scouting report. ... We kept the ball in on him and tried to throw a lot of strikes.”
The Bisons scored four runs in the first inning, matching their total from the previous two games combined. Matt Tuiasosopo hit a two-run double with the bases loaded, and Ryan Goins singled to drive in two more runs.
“It’s nice, it’s really nice to put up a four-spot early,” Allenson said. “The first hit by Tuiasosopo was a big one and then Goins following up with a two-run, two-strike single gives us some breathing room.”
The Bisons will look to come away with a series split when they take on the Mud Hens at 7:05 tonight. Sean Nolin (2-2, 2.70 ERA) is scheduled to start for Buffalo while Mike Belfiore (2-2, 2.70 ERA) is scheduled to go for Toledo.