These Buffalo Bisons never take losing lightly. But the clubhouse was exceedingly quiet following Saturday night's 5-3 loss to the Iowa Cubs before 19,073 at Pilot Field.
After all, this really wasn't a game won by the opposition. This was a game in which the Bisons beat themselves by playing atypically shoddy defense. And the wound always stings a little more whenever it's self-inflicted.
"We just didn't play good defense," said manager Marc Bombard. "You hate to have it happen at home, but sometimes you have games like that."
The Herd tied its season high by committing four errors, and the I-Cubs converted them into four unearned runs. Third baseman Kevin Young, starter Paul Miller, catcher Tom Prince and second baseman John Wehner were the responsible parties.
Iowa came into Buffalo having lost three straight and eight of its last 10. It departs having captured two wins in the three-game series.
The Herd's homestand continues at 7 tonight with the opener of a three-game series against the Omaha Royals. The Herd's Jim Tracy (4-2, 4.65 ERA) is scheduled to oppose Josias Manzanillo (2-4, 4.66).
"We'll come out tomorrow and try to eliminate the mistakes," Wehner said. "We have to come out and play good fundamental baseball."
Indeed, it's time to get back to basics.
Errors by Young and Miller enabled Iowa to score twice in the first inning. Both players bobbled rather routine ground balls.
Young's error on a grounder by Alex Arias put runners on first and second. Iowa loaded the bases when Miller (0-2) erred on a Jeff Schulz comebacker. Miller induced Tony Chance to ground into a double play, but George Pedre drove in the two runs with a looping single to center.
Iowa extended its lead to 3-0 when Elvin Paulino tripled and scored in the second inning. The Bisons crept within 3-2 before their fielding faltered again in the fifth.
There were no outs and runners on first and second when Prince fielded Pedre's sacrifice attempt. The ball was spinning toward the line and probably would have rolled foul. Prince seized it anyway, hoping to get the force at third.
"That's what I was thinking," Prince said.
But once Prince grasped the ball, the force at third seemed a long shot. So he wheeled and fired toward first. It went wide of Brian Dorsett and cost the Herd a run.
Buffalo's fourth error, this one by Wehner, accounted for the second run of the inning. Wehner was in a tough spot. The bases were loaded with one away and Fernando Ramsey, a world-class sprinter from Panama, was at the plate. It would be a chore to turn an inning-ending double play.
Ramsey sent a ground ball toward second base. Wehner prepared to field it, touch the bag and make the throw to first. He never came up with the ball as another run scored.
"I think I had plenty of time," Wehner said. "I just tried to go to the bag before I caught it. It went off the end of my glove and under it. If I take my time, I'm two steps from the bag."
The Bisons stirred the crowd in the eighth. Eddie Zambrano, the team RBI leader, backed Chance to the wall in left field with one out and two aboard. A walk to pinch hitter Al Martin then loaded the bases for Will Pennyfeather.
Pennyfeather's average is on the way up from the low .200s. He extended his hitting streak to eight games with a third-inning single. Now he had a chance to improve on his 11 RBIs.
An eager hitter, Pennyfeather went to the first pitch thrown by reliever Heath Slocomb. Pennyfeather grounded to second for the inning's final out and his disappointment was evident as he took to the field.
"He threw me a pitch in my wheelhouse and I topped it," Pennyfeather said. "I was upset I didn't get the job done with a pitch I could handle."
Who could fault him? After all, the Bisons had trouble getting a handle all night long.
"We were fortunate to be in the game, to tell you the truth," Bombard said. "We were fortunate to be that close. We didn't deserve to win it."