NORFOLK, V.A. (From Bisons.com)- Justin Germano flashed the skills that made him the Buffalo Bisons' Opening Day starter in April, leading a strong bounce-back effort by the team Sunday afternoon.
Germano made sure the Norfolk Tides didn't build off any momentum that may have been gained from Trayvon Robinson's ninth-inning walk-off home run on Saturday. He allowed two runs on five hits and struck out a season-high eight in the Herd's 7-4 win at Harbor Park to gain a 2-1 advantage in the four-game series.
Coming in winless in his last five starts dating back to a win at Lehigh Valley April 22, Germano got the win to improve to 4-4. He kept hitters off-balance with a good mix of fastballs and breaking balls, and threw 61 of his 95 pitches for strikes.
Germano may have looked different than normal standing on the mound but that mattered little given his performance. In fact, every player looked different. Both sides paid tribute to the Negro Leagues, donning uniforms of different teams in the former leagues, with the trademark old-school baggy style to them.
Manager Marty Brown was not able to wear his loose throwback in the dugout for long, however.
In the Tides' second, Xavier Avery hit a one-out chopper to Jim Negrych at second base. With Robinson going from first to second on the play, he ran in right front of Negrych when he was about to field the ball, causing it to skip past him. Avery reached first and Robinson ended up on third before scoring later in the inning on a Jason Pridie groundout to give Norfolk its last lead at 2-1.
The play got Brown out of the dugout and onto the field to argue that runner interference should have been called on Robinson. Shortly after, he got the signal from the umpire Kelvin Bultron that he was ejected.
The Tides struck first, as Pridie and Yamaico Navarro initiated the offense with back-to-back singles to begin the Norfolk first. After they got moved up on a groundout, Russ Canzler bounced one to third base. Andy LaRoche fielded it but his throw home was slightly to the right of Josh Thole, and Pridie touched the base right before the tag to give the Tides the 1-0 lead.
Luis Jimenez wasted no time getting the run back for Germano. He led off the second and sent a 1-1 offering the other way over the left-field wall, to tie him for the team lead with 12 homers.
Buffalo broke the game open with a five-run third frame. They loaded the bases with the first three batters, a double by Ryan Goins followed by a Eugenio Velez free pass and a bunt-single by Jim Negrych. Moises Sierra was then hit by a pitch to bring the game to a tie at 2.
Jimenez and Thole then had productive at-bats, hitting sacrifice flies to score Velez and Negrych, respectively. LaRoche capped off the inning with a two-run homer to left, extending the lead to 6-2.
That proved to be starter Jair Jurrjens' last pitch. He was visited on the mound by a few members of the coaching staff after the home run and left with an apparent injury.
The big inning was more than enough support for Germano, as he settled in after the second. No runs scored during his last four innings of work, surrendering two hits in the process.
Thole added his second RBI of the game in the fifth with a grounder that found its way between first and second and into right field to score Negrych. Jimenez and LaRoche also finished the game with a pair of RBIs while Velez, batting leadoff, had a team-high three hits.
After Buddy Carlyle relieved Germano with a scoreless inning, Dustin McGowan continued his MLB rehab. It was his sixth appearance for the Herd, allowing two runs on as many hits and striking out two in the eighth inning. The runs scored on a Buck Britton double, closing the gap to 7-4.
Aside from a walk, John Stilson pitched a spotless ninth to earn his first Triple-A save. In eight innings with Buffalo, Stilson owns a 1.13 ERA and has allowed just three hits while punching out eight.
The Bisons will look to close out their eight-game road trip on a high note when the teams finish off their four-game series Monday at 12:05 p.m.
BISONS NOTES: The Herd is 2-5 on its current road trip...After hitting five home runs in his last seven games, Mauro Gomez had the day off. He is tied with Jimenez for the team lead in home runs...With his double in the third, Goins extended his hitting streak to seven games, a season-high...Sierra saw his six-game hitting streak come to an end after an 0-for-4 day...Not only did Jimenez extend his International League leading RBI total to 50, he also scored to give him 38 runs, also tops in the IL. Jimenez has driven in at least one run in seven of the last nine games.