Fireworks may have been the main attraction at the Buffalo Bisons’ 20th Annual Independence Eve celebration Thursday night, but fans saw very little of that on the field.
The Herd scored just one run on four hits as they fell to the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders, 4-1, at Coca-Cola Field.
The night featured a postgame fireworks display and a Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra and Chorus performance, an annual Bison tradition for July 3 games.
The event drew a crowd of 16,505, the second-largest of the season.
Through the first three games of a five-game set against Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, the Bisons have scored just five runs.
Chris Leroux, who entered the game with a 7.94 ERA, dominated the Buffalo lineup, allowing just one hit and one unearned run.
The team has struggled particularly with runners in scoring position, where it is 0 for its last 25.
“We’re just not scoring any runs,” Bisons manager Gary Allenson said. “We’re probably fortunate to be where we’re at in the standings now and need to pick it up.
“It’s been kind of a collective slump. It’d be nice if, starting tomorrow night, we started helping the pitchers out.”
Keeping in theme with the past couple of weeks, the Bisons got another solid pitching performance.
Esmil Rogers went six innings, allowing one earned run on four hits. While he allowed just one run, he struggled at times, including a third inning that yielded two walks and a wild pitch.
He bounced back, however, getting through the fourth, fifth and sixth innings without allowing a run.
“He struggled with his command,” Allenson said. “That’s the worst command he’s had all year. But he battled through it. Around the third inning, I didn’t think he was going to get though five. But he did a good job getting through six.”
Rogers started the year in Toronto but was designated for assignment in May, sporting a 6.97 ERA in 16 appearances. Rogers would like to work his way back to the major leagues this season and knows the only way to do that is to display more consistency.
“The only way I can control it is doing my job down here,” Rogers said. “I don’t know what’s going to happen, I don’t know where I’m going to be. Baseball is so crazy. You’re here today. Tomorrow, you don’t know where you’re going to be. The only way for me to get another opportunity is to play well.”
In the top of the eighth, Buffalo reliever Mike Zagurski surrendered a double to Zoilo Almonte before walking Kyle Roller. Closer Bobby Korecky entered and immediately surrendered a two-run double to Scott Sizemore to give the RailRiders a 3-1 lead. They added an insurance run in the ninth.
Francisco Rondon (3-0) earned the win for Scranton/Wilkes Barre. Zagurski (3-1) was charged with the loss for Buffalo. Diego Moreno picked up his second save.
The series moves to Moosic, Pa. for games tonight (7:05, Radio 1520) and Saturday.
Liam Hendriks (6-1, 2.13) is expected to get the call for the Herd tonight while Scranton/Wilkes-Barre will give the ball to right-hander Bruce Billings (4-5, 5.31).
Following the two-game set in Moosic, Buffalo will travel to Rochester for five games in four days, starting with a doubleheader Sunday.