The Bisons were looking for solace at Coca-Cola Field. The downtown Buffalo ballpark has truly been a homefield advantage for the Herd this season. So after a woeful 1-6 roadtrip, the Bisons were ready for the clichéd home cooking.
It never really came.
For the first time this season, the Herd lost a homestand going just 2-5, including being swept by the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders. The Bisons are now just 3-11 over their last three series.
Where do the Bisons go from here?
"I think we can continue to work hard and continue to believe that we're better than we've shown this week," Bisons manager Bobby Meacham said. "We can go out and start fresh. Every day is new. If I keep these guys believing in themselves and knowing that every day is new, then they'll keep working and the best things are going to come out of it. They're going to get better. We're all going to get better as a team and we're always going to be competitive."
Here are five takeaways from the Herd's disappointing homestand:
1. Breakthrough against Lehigh Valley: It looked as if the Herd had set themselves up for another solid homestand after taking two of three games from the International League-leading IronPigs. Lehigh Valley had won 10 straight games in the head-to-head matchup, including the homestand opener. But Buffalo rebounded with two wins, a 4-0 shutout paced by a solid start from T.J. House for a 4-2 win.
2. Trouble with the bats: The Bisons could not carry over their success against the IronPigs to their series with Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. The offense particularly had a difficult time. In the four losses to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, the team totaled just three runs. Not a good sign especially when your club is 5-24 when scoring three or fewer runs.
"The only thing you look for is for guys to work hard and be prepared," Meacham said. "It felt like we were going to have a good series against (Scranton) but it didn't turn out that way. I've been in this game long enough to know you're so close to being great and so close to being terrible. That's why every day is so important. Just keep coming back the next day with a fresh idea, a fresh way of looking at things and that's what we'll do tomorrow."
3. Losing streak: Bisons were swept for the first time at home this season. The last time the Herd was swept at Coca-Cola Field, it was also at the hands of Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, which won a three-game series in the final homestand of 2016 (Aug. 30-Sept. 1).
The Bisons are now 24-14 at home and just 10-20 on the road.
"Hopefully we can get back on the road and maybe halfway through the season we'll switch it around and start playing good on the road," Meacham said.
4. Aggressive base running isn't always your friend: Bisons continued to be aggressive on the bases, but it didn't work out well this homestand, particularly against Scranton. On Sunday, down two runs with two outs in sixth, the Herd got two base runners thanks to an error on Scranton shortstop Tyler Wade which allowed Jake Elmore to get on base, and a walk to Gregorio Petit. With Mike Ohlman batting, Elmore was throw out trying to steal third, killing the rally which was the only true opportunity on offense for the Herd the entire game.
Still, Meacham was happy with the aggressiveness.
"I'm proud of the way that happened. I'm glad we go for it," Meacham said. "That's what we talked about earlier in the season. If you see a window that you think you can get through, we need something to get us going. We need guys in scoring position. He went for it. That's all you can ask. Just don’t hesitate. I was proud of the fact that he went after it. They got him, but barely.
5. Rainy season: The Bisons game on Sunday incurred two rain delays. Meanwhile, June is a month for catch-up baseball for the Herd after a number of early-season games were postponed for inclement weather. Saturday's doubleheader with Scranton was a make-up game from April 7. When the Herd returns to Coca-Cola Field on Monday, June 26, they will play a doubleheader with Rochester, making up a game postponed on May 4.