Buffalo scratched and clawed to try and get back into the game, but they failed to come up in the clutch far too often as they eventually fell to the Pawtucket Red Sox 9-6 Saturday at Coca-Cola Field.
The loss was Buffalo’s 5th in their last 6 outings.
Right from the first pitch, Buffalo’s pitching was not very could, and it continued a trend of poor pitching that has hurt this team on their current three game losing streak.
“We had eight walks today, [and] five of those walks scored. You’ve got to be able to pound the strike zone,” said Skipper Wally Backman.
Garret Olson got the loss today, pitching 4 1/3 innings and giving up four runs on three hits. He also walked five batters. However, Olson wasn’t the only pitcher to have a poor performance.
Justin Hampson gave up five hits, three runs, and walked three batters in just two innings. The outings didn’t impress Backman whatsoever.
“Guys look a little tentative out there, pitching out of the zone,” he said. “They look tentative. It’s something that’s got to be corrected one way or another.”
Buffalo fell down 1-0 in the opening inning, but came back with a two-run second to get the 2-1 lead. It was the only they would lead the rest of the way out.
A big fifth inning was what helped the Sox pull away from the Bisons.
The Sox had loaded the bases and only one out, and Backman pulled Olson and replaced him with Jeff Stevens. It was then that the turning point of the game took place.
With two-outs and the bases loaded, Lars Anderson hit a routine ground ball to Zach Lutz at first, but the ball went right through Lutz’s legs allowing two runs to score. In the very next at-bat, Will Middlebrooks took a Jeff Stevens pitch deep to left field for a three-run home run to give the “Paw Sox” a 6-2 lead.
“When [Jeff] Stevens came in he really did his job. We walked the guy to put the double-play back in order, and he strikes the next guy out. The ball’s hit to Lutz or else we win the game,” said Backman. “You’ve got to have pitching and defense together, and that’s not what we’ve been able to put together so far.”
The only real bright spot of the game was the play of Bobby Scales.
Scales went 4-5, and came within a triple of hitting for the first regular season home cycle in Bisons history.
“He’s a great player to have on your team,” Backman said. “He knows what it takes to be a winner. He’s a winner.”
“It feels good,” said Scales about continuing to have the hot bat. “The bigger issue is having a good process. If you have a good process, a good approach. I’m a believer that if you do those things good results will come. Fortunately right now I feel good and I’m just trying to keep it rolling.”
Scales said that although most wouldn’t believe him, he didn’t have any thought about being a triple away from a cycle during his final at-bat in the ninth inning.
“Honestly I wasn’t thinking about it. I was just trying to have another good approach and hopefully get a good result.”
Buffalo would have two excellent opportunities to come back in both the fifth and sixth innings, but poor hitting cost the Bisons a chance at catching the Red Sox as they were only able to muster two runs in the two innings.
Pawtucket would pad their lead in the seventh with a three-run effort to make the score 9-4 through seven in a half.
Buffalo pulled within three with a two-run seventh, but with two men on and one out Matt Tuiasosopo hit into the team’s third double-play of the game. It was the third straight inning that ended with a Bisons double-play that halted a comeback bid.
In the eighth and ninth, the Pawtucket pitching shut down the Bisons to hold on for the three-run win.
Buffalo finishes up their series with the Red Sox tomorrow at 1:05 at Coca-Cola Field.