Five runs in one inning, no other runs at all.
That was the story of the Buffalo Bisons’ offense Sunday in another feast-or-famine performance that resulted in an 8-5 loss to Syracuse in Coca-Cola Field.
The Bisons had just four hits in the game, none in the final 4∏ innings. They got all five of their runs in the third inning, the final three on Dan Johnson’s three-run homer into the party deck in right field.
The Bisons have scored 14 runs in the three games against the Chiefs but remain stuck in drought mode. They’ve scored in just seven of their last 44 innings and have dropped seven of their last nine games.
Buffalo entered Sunday tied for 12th in the 14-team International League with 220 runs on the season and tied for 10th in batting average at .253. Still, the Bisons are staying afloat with some selective at-bats.
They entered Sunday third in the league in drawing walks (219) and fourth in on-base percentage (.340) and played true to form by drawing seven free passes. But they didn’t do much with them, producing just four at-bats the entire game with runners in scoring position.
Recent Double-A call-up Kenny Wilson, who was just 1 for 12 in his first five games, reached base three times with a single and two walks out of the No. 8 hole. No. 9 hitter Jonathan Diaz walked three times. But the pair was only driven home twice.
“Sometimes that little flare that falls in really helps you relax,” said manager Gary Allenson. “But we got Kenny Wilson swinging the bat much more aggressive and to get the three-run home run there was obviously big. It gave us some breathing room but we just couldn’t quite hold on.”
Former Bisons manager Marty Brown, the franchise’s modern-era victory leader, has been at the park during the series as a scout for the Washington Nationals. The Nats are Syracuse’s parent.
Brown, who managed the Bisons from 2003-05 and again last year, left the Blue Jays organization in December.
He signed with Washington to do some minor-league and Pacific Rim scouting. Brown, remember, managed five years in Japan after his first stint in Buffalo.
Sunday was the 50th birthday celebration of Bisons super fan Mark Aichinger, the visually impaired but robust rooter who sits behind home plate virtually every day and is well known to the paying customers – and to visiting teams often subject to his boisterous wails.
The team’s 1997 Joe Byron Fan of the Year and a longtime season-ticket holder, Aichinger sat in a suite on the third-base side that his family rented to mark the occasion. He helped the grounds crew go through its pregame duties, got big applause when he threw a ceremonial first pitch, and stood on the field between Allenson and hitting coach Richie Hebner during the national anthems.
The series with Syracuse concludes tonight at 7 (TWC, Radio 1520 AM) as Buffalo’s Kyle Drabek (4-4) faces Aaron Laffey (5-3). The Syracuse left-hander went 15-5 with the Bisons in 2007-08, the final two years of the Cleveland affiliation, and has pitched 153 games for five teams in the big leagues.