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One Dreary Road Trip

One Dreary Road Trip
Bisons come home reeling after stellar April

If there is any set of games the Buffalo Bisons would like to forget about, it’s the six game road trip that week that took them to Durham and Norfolk. The Bisons were swept in both cities and came back to Buffalo at the .500 mark, after such a good opening month to the year.

Consider this—the Bisons were shut out four times in the six game set, and posted only five runs.

Through those six games, the Bisons only managed 42 hits. Nine of them were doubles. 16 of those hits came in a 14 inning affair at Norfolk, where the Bisons managed to strand 17 runners, including three runners with nobody out in the top of the 9th, eventually losing on a sacrifice fly RBI in the bottom of the 14th.

Home runs? Forget about it. The Bisons have hit only seven dingers all season, and five of those have come off the bat of Chris Colabello, who was called up to Toronto on May 5.

And speaking of roster moves, there have been plenty this month after a relatively quiet month of April. The Toronto Blue Jays have been dealing with pitching meltdowns and costly nagging injuries to their lineup. Besides Colabello, pitchers Steve Delabar and Ryan Tepera were sent up to Toronto. Pitchers Andrew Albers, Scott Copeland and Chad Jenkins made the shuttle trip up to Toronto and then back to Buffalo.

Outfielder Ezequiel Carrera was promoted, and replacing him on the demotion list was Dalton Pompey. Being sent down along with Pompey were pitcher Daniel Norris, pitcher Miguel Castro and infielder Jonathan Diaz.

Adding to the roster confusion was the ever changing roster status of second baseman Stevel Tolleson. Tolleson was designated for assignment to Buffalo in late April, cleared waivers, but instead of reporting to Buffalo, he instead declared free agency. Oops. He must have re-signed, and because of his free agent declaration was able to avoid a rule requiring him to spend at least 10 days in the minors. He reported to the Bisons for their morning game in Durham last Wednesday, then played again on Thursday in Norfolk. Tolleson went one for six at the plate, and by the weekend he was back in a Toronto uniform.

The total roster shake up has to keep Bisons Manager Gary Allenson up at night. Even before last week’s trip, Allenson groused, “I just show up here in the morning and see who’s pitching for me that day,” as starter after starter was pulled from his lineup at the last minute, forcing him to cobble together a relevant pitching lineup.

Allenson did not want to dwell on the horrific road trip too much as the team returned to Coca Cola Field this past Monday. “One more run and we would have doubled our output on this last road trip,” Allenson said as Buffalo came home with the bats swinging, plating nine runs on 17 hits to break up the six game losing streak. “As a 20 year manager this is the roughest road trip I’ve been on. six games. four shutouts. Three by 1-0. We score two runs in three games and we’re 18-12. But you know what? That’s yesterday’s news. Time to move on.”

One of Toronto’s most prized pitching prospects, Daniel Norris, has faced dead arm issues in his first month in the big leagues, but has looked steady and productive in his two starts in a Bisons uniform. On the road trip, he allowed but one run, a start that was wasted as his team gave him no run support. Not this past Monday, as he departed the mound after six strong innings, only allowing two earned runs and the Bisons giving him all the offense that was needed. “It was nice, to see three runs early on. I could relax. It was a good team win,” said Norris.

Allenson is not concerned at all at the team’s lack of home run power, citing a number of players who have the potential to hit the long ball. “(Brad) Glenn’s got power, so does (Ryan) Schimpf, but you know what, I’ll take a double in the gap that will score runs or a nice single that scores somebody from second base. A lot of times it’s not the home run that does it for you, it’s the line single that scores the runner and when you add on things there. It’s all about moving the runners,” said Allenson.

One fifth of the way into the season, and the personality of the Bisons 2015 squad is looking more and more like one of dominant pitching and a solid bullpen, but on the other side of the ball very little in terms of steady offensive prowess. A huge homestand, which concludes this Sunday, might offer the tonic the team needs to get back to its winning ways.


A triple play? It happened in Pittsburgh this past Sunday, as the Pirates turned the first 4-5-4 triple play in Major League Baseball history. Second baseman Scott Walker caught a line drive, and instead of instinctively running to second to get the double play, alertly tossed the ball to third baseman Jung Ho Kang, who then relayed the ball back to second base to complete the most improbable sequence.

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