The Buffalo Bisons are happy to be out of Pawtucket's tiny McCoy Stadium where they were buried under an avalanche of eight extra-base hits Wednesday night in losing the second of a three-game series, 8-4, to the Red Sox.
However, the Herd, which hung onto its 1 1/2 -game lead over Nashville in the American Association East standing, now faces the unenviable task this evening of playing powerful Rochester in the opener of a three-game Triple-A Alliance series at Pilot Field.
The Red Wings will be making their only Pilot Field appearance of the season with a 7 1/2 -game lead in the International League East.
The Herd will send right-hander Randy Kramer (1-0) against Rochester's Curt Schilling (3-3) in the opener this evening (7:05, WGR).
While Bisons manager Terry Collins probably doesn't relish facing the Red Wings right after losing a tough series to Pawtucket, he was quick to praise the Red Sox who have won seven of their last 10 games.
"They're a young team and they showed they're capable of coming back. They have a couple youngsters in their lineup with limited pro experience who look great. Outfielder Phil Plantier (who hit his 16th home run) and shortstop Tim Naehring (who made several sparking defensive plays) were outstanding," said Collins.
"It's not an easy adjustment moving up to Triple A. But they've shown they have some ability. In this game you've got to be patient," he added.
Both teams were under considerable personnel turmoil, as both parent clubs made moves. Pawtucket made Johnny Pesky's managerial debut a winning one as the former Boston Red Sox shortstop was named interim replacement for the fired Ed Nottle.
The Bisons suffered a more serious loss. First baseman Orlando Merced was called up by Pittsburgh, which sent in exchange outfielder John Cangelosi. Called up from Double-A Harrisburg was shortstop Carlos Garcia, who got one hit in four at-bats in his Triple-A debut.
Collins was unhappy with his relief pitching, but remarked that starter Hugh Kemp managed to pitch quite well in the middle innings after a shaky start. Jeff Stone and Naehring hit back-to-back doubles in the first, then in the third, Plantier homered and Stone singled in John Flaherty who doubled, for a 3-1 Red Sox lead.
Ed Yacopino, who had three hits, had an RBI single in the first, and after Moises Alou and Dann Bilardello homered in successive innings, Yacopino ignited the Herd's go-ahead mini-rally in the seventh with a single. He was erased on a force out, but Jeff Richardson, who singled, scored on Scott Cooper's throwing error.
Stone's homer greeted reliever Roger Mason who started the seventh, then doubles by Julius McDougal and Mo Vaughn gave the Red Sox a 5-4 lead. Jeff Neely was summoned to pitch the eighth, and after another Stone single and two walks, former Bison Rick Lancellotti cleared the bases with his first hit of the series, his 11th double, making it 8-4.
Frank "Fremo" Vallone, legendary Bisons host and "Good Will Ambassador" since 1983, has resigned to accept a job with the Mullen & Gunn Liquor Company. Vallone will remain as a special events consultant to the general manager and will continue to be active with the Booster Club and the Diamond Club.