Manager Gary Allenson joked that it felt like it was going to snow Sunday afternoon. Temperatures in the 50s and a crisp wind off Lake Erie certainly made Coca-Cola Field a chilly venue. But perhaps finally the Buffalo Bisons’ offense is heating up.
The Bisons used eight hits with breakout plate performances from Dalton Pompey and Jio Mier to earn a 4-2 win over the Syracuse Chiefs.
Mier and Pompey had two hits each and each drove in runs for the Herd in the fourth inning. Mier’s RBI single tied the game, then Pompey belted a two-run, two-out double off the left-field wall for what proved to be the winning runs.
Pompey’s two hits ended an 0-for-13 skid at the plate.
“I was definitely seeing the ball a lot better today and I was able to fight that last at-bat and maybe had a little help from the wind and it was able to drop for a change to get those two runs in,” Pompey said.
“The last two days I wasn’t really swinging at pitches in the strike zone and today I felt like I was more locked in with pitches I wanted to hit. That’s a huge positive for me moving forward.”
It’s been a frustrating start to the season for Pompey. He missed the first five games of the season with an injury to his left toe. He then hurt his left heel during a game at Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and missed four games. He tried to return, playing two games, but the injury wasn’t healed and he missed eight more games.
“I had the ball of my foot on my left foot at first and then my heel. The guys were saying I should just cut it off. But it’s healing so I’ll be OK,” Pompey said.
“Some of the stuff is kind of unavoidable, like running to first and hitting the bag weird. That stuff I couldn’t really avoid but it is frustrating because I’m just trying to get into rhythm and trying to get some consistency. When I’m in and out of the lineup it’s hard to do that. Hopefully the injuries are behind me.”
Pompey is batting .226 with three RBIs – not exactly the numbers he’d like to put up. But then again he has only 53 plate appearances in 14 games. The long season will play out and as long as Pompey remains healthy, the nuances of his game will continue to return.
“Obviously, because he’s been out of the lineup it’s tough to get your timing back right away,” Allenson said. “I hope he can stay with us playing every day for a while now. He’s had enough days off. … Some are fortunate just to have timing all the time but you’ve just got to be patient.”
While the hitting comes around, Pompey’s defense continues to be consistent and at times impressive. In Saturday’s win he made several highlight grabs in left field.
His defensive skills he credits to his work before games. For the past few weeks, he’s followed the lead of teammate Domonic Brown, using a small glove to shag balls.
“I really credit the work that I’ve been doing in pregame batting practice and I use this mini-glove, like a training glove,” Pompey said. “If I know I can catch the ball with the little glove, which is like the size of my hand, I know I can catch it with 12¾ mitt. … Domonic Brown has one and I’ve seen him playing catch with it and running around with it so I thought I’d bring mine in. It’s helped me tremendously.”