It was an awful day for baseball.
The temperature was 44 degrees and by the first pitch a constant drizzle was over Coca-Cola Field with bursts of all-out rain. But the Buffalo Bisons were on the field. Finally. After three rainouts in four days, the Herd was ready to play through just about anything. And so was starter T.J. House.
The lefty threw a complete-game shutout as the Bisons defeated the Lehigh Valley IronPigs, 8-0, on Saturday.
"It's raining. It's wet. It's nasty. But it's part of the game," House said. "You might have to pitch in snow. You might have to pitch in rain. It might be beautiful. You just know if you execute your pitches good things happen."
House was scheduled to start for the Herd on Friday before the game was rained out. And the delays have wreaked havoc with the pitching rotation. The key for House was to switch out of game-mode and into relaxation mode.
"It's definitely a mental thing," House said. "No one wants to have their routine messed up. We're creatures of habit. We do the same thing. Every start I have a routine. And then when something like that happens you just say, 'Hey you know what? Keep your mind there but relax a little bit.' Because if you keep thinking and keep yourself in that mode it doesn't really work out too well because you'll exhaust yourself mentally. So you go hang out, watch a little ping pong get played, just relax, watch some TV. When it's ready to go, switch it back out there and perform."
House certainly gave an impressive performance Saturday, scatting seven hits over seven innings with no walks and two strikeouts. It was the first complete game shutout for the Bisons in five years. The last Herd hurler to do it was Zack Wheeler in a 1-0 win over Rochester on Aug. 26, 2012. That was also a seven-inning game.
"He was able to use both sides of the plate, I thought, very well," Bisons manager Bobby Meacham said of House. "The concentration level for him was just great. You could see it in his eyes before he went out there to warm up even. That's big when a guy can go out there ready to go, especially after not pitching and not pitching then finally getting out there in the rain and cold. He did a great job."
With two outs: One of the strengths for the Bisons this season has been hitting with two outs. They cashed in again in the first inning. With the bases loaded (thanks to back-to-back walks issued by Lehigh Valley starter Ricardo Pinto) Jason Leblebijian ripped a double up the third-base line scoring two runs. Ian Parmley followed that up with a hit, again up the third-base line, to score one more.
Back-t0-back homers: Leblebijian and Parmley went back-to-back with home runs to left in the third inning. It was the fifth homer for Leblebijian, who knocked a three-run shot over the 371 sign in left field. Parmley followed him with a line-driver homer, his first of the season. The last time that happened for the Herd was June 27, 2013 when Mauro Gomez and Luis Jimenez hit back-to-back home runs in Gwinnett.
More power: Mike Ohlman crushed his sixth home run of the season with a shot to centerfield to give the Herd an 8-0 lead. He is tied for second in the IL in homers.
Hit streak continued: Christian Lopes extended his hitting streak to six games with a single in his first at-bat.
Postponed: The Herd got one game in, but the second half of Saturday's doubleheader was postponed as steady rain moved into downtown Buffalo. The teams will try to complete the series with a doubleheader on Sunday starting at 12:35 p.m.
Bonus for fans: While the completion of Game 1 made the day official, the Bisons are offering fans with tickets for Saturday an extra game in May. Fans can exchange tickets from Saturday's game for any other Bisons home game in May. Tickets can be exchanged at the Coca-Cola Field box office at any point this month.