BUFFALO, N.Y. (From Bisons.com)- Time has almost run out for the Buffalo Bisons.
With five games to play in the season, their bid for the playoffs took a step back Wednesday in a 5-2 loss to the Rochester Red Wings before 9,262 at Coca-Cola Field. The Herd now sits 4 ½ games behind the International League's only wild-card spot, held by Norfolk, which won Wednesday.
Going 0 for 6 with runners in scoring position and the only two runs coming on solo home runs, the reason for Buffalo's loss was simple for manager Marty Brown to see.
"Opportunities," Brown said. "When you have opportunities to move runners to third and you don't get it done, we've battled this all season. It's just execution and we didn't do it (Wednesday). ... We can't just rely on home runs to score. It's going to be a battle to the finish but those are the differences between winning and losing."
The Red Wings opened up the scoring in rather peculiar fashion.
With two outs in the first, Eduardo Escobar hit a high fly ball to deep center, sending Blake Gailen back. He appeared to make an on-run-run basket catch just in front of wall, but the ball bounced out of his glove after momentarily having possession. Unaware of the fallen ball laying on the warning track, Gailen began his trot to the dugout, giving Escobar plenty of time to come all the way around and score on a double and error on Gailen.
Ryan Langerhans, to no avail, came over from right field to attempt to get the ball in, as Gailen was too far out of position to make a play by the time he realized his glove was empty.
"I don't know if I've ever seen that happen in all the years I've been at it," Brown said.
The quirky run was redeemed in the second inning on Brad Glenn's solo home run to right field on the initial pitch of the second frame.
Rochester took a 3-1 lead with runs in the third and fourth but Luis Jimenez's first home run since going long June 29 at Toledo, a solo shot to right-center, closed the gap. The homerless drought spanned 20 games, 18 of them coming after Jimenez spent July 5-25 on the disabled list with tendonitis in his left knee.
Jimenez, owner of 17 home runs, has been used sparingly since his return from the DL due to some lingering issues with the knee injury. But on Wednesday, he looked much like the player he was in April and May, when he spent a good amount of time as the IL's RBI leader, despite not being 100 percent.
"He's still experiencing some pain," Brown said. "I don't like to push guys if they don't want to play, I don't try to push them forward. It's just one of those things we sparingly put him out there and hopefully he can run into something like he did (Wednesday)."
In the sixth inning, the 6-foot 3-inch Jimenez made a bid for his second homer of the night. He drove a 1-1 pitch deep the other way to left, but it died at the warning track for a long out.
Down 4-2 in the seventh inning, Buffalo had a prime opportunity to tie it up. The bases were loaded and Glenn, who finished 2 for 4, was at the plate with two outs. He swung at the first pitch, made solid contact, but just got under it a little bit for a fly out to left.
Thad Weber, on the mound for his 14th start for the Herd, hurled a quality start for the fifth time in six starts. The right-hander allowed three runs, two earned, on eight hits and a walk while tying a season-high with eight strikeouts over six innings.
Luis Perez, on MLB injury rehab assignment after Tommy John surgery in July, 2012, made his Bisons' debut and tossed 1 2/3 innings. The 28-year-old, who had a 3.42 earned run average in 35 games with the Toronto Blue Jays last season, entered in the eighth, surrendering a run and three hits on 29 pitches in the outing.
Thursday, the teams will meet again in the Bisons' finale at Coca-Cola Field, where they are 34-37 this season. First pitch is set for 6:05 p.m. The focus will then shift to a two-game series in Rochester, which starts Friday and concludes Saturday.
BISONS NOTES: It was announced on Tuesday that Mauro Gomez, who doubled in the game, was announced to the IL's Postseason All-Star Team as the designated hitter. He leads the Herd with 29 homers and 70 RBIs and is the first Bison to make the team since 2007 (Ben Francisco)...Weber tossed 96 pitches in his start, 63 went for strikes.