It's still too early for the Buffalo Bisons to start labeling nights like Tuesday heartbreaking -- it's just 13 games into the season and they're only one game under .500 -- but this one was painful.
The Bisons led, 2-1, going into the top of the ninth inning. But after Garrett Jones singled to left, Mike Ryan greeted Buffalo reliever Chad Zerbe with a go-ahead two-run shot over the left-field fence to give the Rochester Red Wings a 3-2 victory in front of slightly more than 1,000 fans (5,890 tickets were sold) in Dunn Tire Park.
No, it's not time for the Bisons to reach for the panic button just yet, but even manager Marty Brown admitted, "We've had our scuffles." And for some reason they seem to crop up whenever Kyle Denney is on the mound.
The Herd's Warren Spahn Award winner a year ago following a 10-win season, Denney is seeking his first victory after three starts despite allowing just five runs. But the Bisons have scored only six runs in that span. While Tuesday's loss fell squarely on the shoulders of the bullpen, insurance runs are always helpful.
"This team will come around and score some runs, hopefully when the weather warms up," catcher Dusty Wathan said. "All the guys in this locker room have been through things like this before, so time will tell a lot of things. . . . If you can get out of April with the cold weather (at) .500 you've done a good job."
Denney made it easy for himself from the beginning. He went seven complete innings and allowed one run on seven hits with two strikeouts and no walks.
"He put together a real quality game," Brown said. "I think he made adjustments with Dusty and he got into a rhythm, and you could see that rhythm about the fourth inning. He pitched quick and wasn't overthinking, he just kind of put the ball where he wanted to. When he can command his fastball and use his change-up effectively, he's pretty tough."
The Red Wings scored their only run off Denney in the second inning when Ryan doubled to left to score Jones. Denney retired the last seven batters he faced before being lifted for Zerbe. He isn't concerned about the Herd's struggles at the plate.
"It reminds me a lot of last year," said Denney, who has a 2.65 ERA. "At first we started really slow scoring runs but that's the way baseball works. With the amount of talent that we have on this team it's just a matter of time for me. A lot of these guys have a lot of big league time and they know how to hit so I'm not worried about that."
The Herd scored two runs in the sixth, chasing Rochester starter Jimmy Anderson. With two outs and Andy Abad on second, Jake Thrower reached on an error by third baseman Glenn Williams and Abad scored. Then Wathan singled to center to score Thrower for a 2-1 lead.
Last year the Herd was 55-0 when leading after the seventh inning at home. On Tuesday, though, it was a different story.
Catcher Ryan Garko was a late scratch Tuesday. He suffered a wrist injury on Monday when a foul tip hit his left hand during the Bisons' 5-4 victory in Pawtucket. There was some stiffness and soreness in the wrist Monday, and Garko is expected to undergo X-rays today. Brown said he will be re-evaluated then.