A new era of Buffalo Bisons baseball couldn't have gone much better.
In their first game as the Triple-A affiliate of the Toronto Blue Jays, the Herd had 17 hits in a 12-7 win against the Rochester Red Wings. Every Buffalo starter managed at least a hit in front of 15,852, the largest Opening Day crowd at the downtown ballpark since 2004.
"It was nice," second baseman and Buffalo-native Jim Negrych said. "The crowd was great, the atmosphere was fantastic. To go out and do what we did as a team out there was a good way to start the season."
The productive day offensively was a byproduct of the team's patience at the plate.
"I was real pleased with how the guys went about getting good pitches to hit," manager Marty Brown said. "That's one of the things we really stress in spring training - try to get good pitches and not sell yourself out."
Centerfielder Anthony Gose paced the Bisons' offense from the start, stretching a single into a double in the bottom of the first. Luis Jimenez scored him two batters later to tie the score at one.
"One thing you can't teach in this game is speed and he has plenty of it," Negrych said of Gose, who had three hits and an RBI. "... The momentum just shifted right to us as soon as (Gose) did that. And he's going to do that all year."
The offense continued from there, with the Herd scoring the next six runs and putting together three-run innings in both the second and eighth. Jimenez, who finished with three RBIs, registered the Herd's first home run of the year, a two-run shot to deep right.
Ryan Langerhans also drove in three runs with a three-run triple in the eighth.
"Hitting's contagious," said Negrych, who finished 3-for-5 with an RBI. "We put some good swings on them early and got going, and everybody started doing their own things. And then also the field starts to open up a little bit, you get some runners on base, there's some bigger holes."
Eugenio Velez and Ryan Goins each had a stolen base, and the overall aggressive offensive nature was effective on Opening Day. Though it may not directly lead to every win this year, Brown was pleased with the chances his team took on the base paths Thursday.
"They have the mentality of taking what the defense gives them and taking what the pitcher gives them," said Brown, who was ejected for arguing a call in the eighth inning. "We have a good mix of speed and power.
"... We're going to have games where we know we're going to make mistakes and it's not going to pan out. "But I love the fact that they're aggressive, they want to push the envelope."
Justin Germano got the start and the win for the Bisons. He tossed 5 2/3 innings, giving up 10 hits, five earned runs and striking out three.