In a game of miscues and missed opportunities, each mistake was magnified as the Buffalo Bisons watched their playoff hopes slip further away.
The Herd lost their third straight game Wednesday night, dropping a 5-2 decision to the Rochester Red Wings. It was the penultimate regular season game at Coca-Cola Field and the crowd of 9,262 probably won’t be coming back for playoff baseball. The Bisons fell 4ø games behind Norfolk in the race for the lone wild-card spot in the International League with five games to go.
The problems started in the top of the first inning with two outs. Eduardo Escobar knocked a shot to deep center and Blake Gailen tried to make a basket catch. He thought he made it and jogged away, leaving the ball on the warning track.
Left fielder Ryan Langerhans eventually picked up the ball, but Escobar rounded the bases. The official scorer ruled Escobar had doubled and scored on a two-base error by Gailen.
“I don’t know that I’ve seen a game quite like that,” Bisons manager Marty Brown said. “It started in the first when Gailen goes back and thinks he catches the ball. I don’t know that I’ve ever seen that happen in the years I’ve been at it. I’ve never seen a guy actually think he caught the ball and didn’t catch it. And the guy ended up scoring. It was unbelievable.”
The Herd tied the game on the first swing of the second on a home run by Brad Glenn.
Rochester scored single runs in the third and fourth, but the Bisons drew within 3-2 on Luis Jimenez’s solo shot to center in the fourth.
The Herd went 0 for 6 with runners in scoring position and left eight runners on base.
“We’ve battled this all season, giving guys a decent plan,” Brown said. “It’s just execution. We didn’t do it again today. We could have had a lead in that game and we never get it. We did hit a couple home runs to stay close, but we can’t just rely on home runs to score. It’s going to be a battle to the finish, but that’s going to be the difference between winning and losing.”
Trailing 4-2, the Bisons had a fantastic chance to change the momentum in the bottom of the seventh.
Mike McCoy singled and Gailen doubled. Slugger Mauro Gomez walked to load the bases. But Glenn popped up the first pitch to left to end the inning.
“He just tried to do too much with it,” Brown said. “We just needed a base hit. We didn’t need him to go deep again. But he’s a young player coming up here and I appreciate that he’s sitting on a pitch and he devoted himself 100 percent to it, but if you pop it up, obviously you’re trying to do too much.”
Luis Perez joined the Bisons on a rehab assignment and entered in the eighth. The 28-year old lefty had Tommy John surgery in July 2012. He pitched 1∏ innings, giving up a run on three hits and a walk.
The home finale is tonight (6:05 p.m., TWC, Radio 1520 AM) with Fan Appreciation night. There will be giveaways every half inning followed by the largest fireworks show of the season.
Lefty Sean Nolin (1-1, 1.50) is scheduled to start for the Herd against right-hander Cole De Vries (3-4, 8.16).