If the Buffalo Bisons are going to wrap up a win in their vital final home series of the season against the Pawtucket Red Sox after taking the first two games, they’re going to have to do it against two of the top pitching prospects in Boston organization.
Going against 6-foot-7 right-hander Anthony Ranaudo, the International League leader in wins and earned-run average on Sunday, was one thing. Now, the Bisons will face two other highly-rated young hurlers in the last two games of the regular season between the teams, starting with tonight’s 7:05 game (Radio 1520 AM) at Coca-Cola Field.
In Game Three tonight, the Bisons will go against former University of Connecticut right-hander Matt Barnes (7-8, 3.89), who struck out 10 in pitching seven hitless innings for Pawtucket against Columbus earlier this month. He was Boston’s first-round draft pick in 2011.
In the Herd’s home finale on Tuesday night, they will get a look at another towering prospect, 6-6 Henry Owens (1-1, 3.51). The California native, also a first-round selection in 2011, will be making his fifth Triple-A start. He’s struck out 27 in 25.2 innings since his promotion from Double-A Portland where he was 14-4 with a 2.60 ERA.
Barnes and Owens have never faced the Bisons.
The game got off to a rough start for the Bisons. Shortstop Ryan Goins, Buffalo’s second batter, was hit on the right elbow by a Ranaudo pitch. Plate umpire Brad Myers immediately gave a warning to both teams. Goins took his base but was not able to continue in the field when Buffalo went out to start the second. Jonathan Diaz took his place at short.
“Day to day,” said Bisons manager Gary Allenson of Goins’ status. “The nerve got pinched and there was numbness.”
Bisons third baseman Matt Hague made three sparking plays in just the first three innings. In the second he made a diving stop then got the force play at second on Dan Butler’s hard shot. In the third, he raced in to field Derrik Gibson’s bunt attempt and threw him out at first.
Then, Hague made a lunging, over-the-shoulder catch of a looping foul ball behind third by Jackie Bradley Jr.
However, Hague was charged with a throwing error on Dan Butler’s chopper down the line in the 10th inning. No damage resulted.
On the Pawtucket side, the fielding standout was catcher Butler. He gunned down Anthony Gose on a steal attempt with runners on first and third with one out in the third.
In the sixth, with runners at first and second and two out, he picked off Brett Wallace when Pawtucket first baseman Travis Shaw sneaked behind the Bisons baserunner and tagged him out.
Butler also was on base five times with three hits and scored twice.
Bryce Brentz, who drove in four of the Pawtucket runs on Sunday with a two-run homer and a bases-loaded single, came into the game with a .236 batting average. However, the former NCAA batting champion from Middle Tennessee State is a dangerous clutch hitter. He is now batting .306 (19 for 62) with runners in scoring position with 33 RBIs. He came into the game with a .311 batting average against left-handers but only .203 against righties.