There’s an old saying in baseball that you’re guaranteed to win one-third of your games and lose one-third every season. It’s what you do with the other third that determines your fate.
That’s the outlook for the Buffalo Bisons, who hit the All-Star break exactly at .500 after Sunday’s game against Durham was rained out in Coca-Cola Field.
The Bisons have won 48, lost 48 and will need to win plenty of the 47 games they have left (a May game vs. Gwinnett was rained out and will not be made up) to claim their first International League playoff berth since 2005. They’re five games behind Rochester in the wild-card race.
A rash of injuries in Toronto has already created 165 roster moves for the Bisons. But manager Gary Allenson is far from waving any white flags to the constant roster upheaval in Triple-A baseball.
“The parent club certainly has something to do it with but now it’s time to reflect on your experiences too,” Allenson said after Sunday’s postponement. “I know I had a club in Ottawa in 2003 when I was with the Orioles where I had my best players for just the first two months and then disappeared because they went to the big leagues.
“We floundered around .500 and were in fifth place in the wild-card and then won 21 games in August and got to the playoffs. … We got hot with guys that were supposedly not the best players. So I’ve seen it before. We’re not going to win a lot of games here scoring two runs a game and that’s what needs to come around.”
The Bisons are 13th in the 14-team IL in runs (386) but have stayed in striking distance because of their pitching, especially the bullpen, and defense.
The Bisons are seventh in ERA (3.71), a figure that would be their best since 2006. In July, their bullpen ERA is 1.90 but the starters have struggled mightily at 5.47. Buffalo is also on pace to have fewer than 100 errors in a season for the first time in its modern era.
“We’ve played great defense the whole season, which has really helped us win games,” Allenson said. “But you can’t defense the walk and we’ve had too many of those things lately.”
The offense has been anemic of late. The Herd lost all three games to Durham, scoring just two runs in each. Buffalo has, in fact, scored two or fewer runs in eight of its previous 13 games and is batting just .247 in July.
A potentially crippling blow came Friday when cleanup man Dan Johnson was called up to Toronto after Blue Jays designated hitter Adam Lind went on the disabled list.
The Bisons have Kevin Pillar and Brad Glenn back in their lineup from Toronto and the Blue Jays’ addition of 35-year-old Mexican league slugger Cory Aldridge looks good so far, as he’s batting .370 with two homers in nine games.
Allenson said he will be able to reset his pitching rotation beginning with Thursday’s game at Pawtucket and could have Sean Nolin back from injury soon.
“Just to get a breather and recharge your battery is great,” Allenson said. “I want them to come back pumped up about playing baseball and starting anew.”
Sunday’s game was postponed as buckets of rain hit downtown and inundated the field in the hour before the scheduled first pitch. By 90 minutes after the postponement, the skies were bright and the field was mostly dry but more rain was forecast.
The scheduling was also made difficult by flight reservations players had made to go home for the All-Star break, and the fact that Durham had a 6 p.m. flight home. The decision was thus made to postpone the game, and it will have to be made up when the teams play in Durham Aug. 7-10.
Tickets can be exchanged for a comparable ticket to any future game. All exchanges must take place at the ballpark box office.
The Pawtucket game is the opener of a four-game series and a six-game road trip. The Bisons are not home again until opening a 10-game homestand July 23 against Syracuse.