GAME 1 – 5:30 pm
NY - It looked like a turning point for Ricky Romero. He had retired eleven batters in a row and looked like he was going to go the distance in the seven inning shortened game. And then the sixth inning happened.
Romero allowed five runners to reach base, gave up four hits, three runs, and surrendered a walk as he turned a 2-0 lead into a 3-2 deficit all before he could record two outs. Luckily for him, his offense had his back and came up with two runs in the bottom of the sixth to take game one of the double header against Lehigh Valley 4-3 Friday night at Coca-Cola Field.
Bisons first baseman Luis Jimenez tied the game at three on a first pitch leadoff homerun to center-field in the sixth.
Jimenez crushed the first pitch he saw over the centerfield wall for his 13th homerun of the season.
Mike McCoy put the Bisons ahead for good in the sixth as he scored Moises Sierra on an RBI single to center-field with one out.
Romero, who has struggled mightily since being optioned to just recently had his contract out-righted to the Bisons by the Blue Jays. He came into the game with an 11.84 ERA for Buffalo and left the game Friday with it at 10.22.
He seemed to be finding his groove in the middle innings as he retired eleven straight batters between the third inning and into the sixth before getting tagged for three runs.
“I felt good,” said Romero. ”In the sixth inning, they put the ball in play, that’s what happened. I think some base hits that kind of went their way there in that inning but like I said, it’s baseball and I think these little things that are happening right now, I think they’ll turn around.”
Romero threw 88 pitches and 52 for strikes in the game. This start came after comments made by the left hander about forgetting mechanics and starting over. ”It’s my career. It’s time that I just start being myself again,” he told reporters this week.
There’s no doubt that it was his best start for Buffalo this season but it’s the second and third times around the order that continues to give Romero trouble. Romero did get trough the third, fourth, and fifth inning throwing less than ten pitches each inning and retiring the hitters in order each time.
“It’s a good feeling when you know you’re getting up and down really quick,” said Romero. ”You get out of the dugout, you come back in quick and it’s always a good feeling when you’re able to do that. When you’re doing that it’s because you’re throwing strikes.”
There was a lot of encouraging things to take out of the start for Romero, including his improved command and control during the second time around the order.
“It was his strongest outing thus far,” said Bisons Manager Marty Brown on Romero’s start. ”He pitched really well. If you think about that last inning – well placed balls on good pitches… He pitched very well. I was very pleased with what I saw.”
Jim Negrych, who played third base for The Herd in the game, drove in Sierra for the first run on his 18th double of the year in the fourth inning.
Anthony Gose, who recently was sent down from the Blue Jays this week also hit an RBI double in the fifth to make the score 2-0.
The win ended a two game skid for the Bisons as they improved to 32-27 on the season.
GAME 2 – 7:55 pm
NY - There was no comeback in game two of the Bisons’ Friday night doubleheader as their bats never came out of the dugout.
The Bisons managed just three hits and were shut down by Lehigh starting pitcher Greg Smith as the Ironpigs were able to split the doubleheader and take three of four from the Bisons on the road winning 4-0 before a firework display on a “Friday Night Bash” at Coca-Cola Field.
Smith was able to throw 5.1 innings, striking out two batters, allowing just four Bisons to reach base.
The majority of the offense came in the top half of the seventh when Lehigh Valley tagged Bisons starter Justin Germano for three runs. Steven Lerud drove in a run with a single to center field. Leandro Castro then singled in two runs to add insurance to the lead.
Germano was able to pitch well for the majority of the game until the fifth came around. He put the Bisons in a position to take the lead several times but the bats wouldn’t wake up.
The Ironpigs were able to take three of four games from the Bisons on the short home-stint for The Herd. Buffalo will have a quick turnaround as they take on Scranton Wilkes-Barre at 7:05 pm Saturday night.
Ricky Romero feature photo courtesy of www.milb.com