Bisons manager Jeff Datz called it more "sink" on the sinker and more "tilt" on the slider. Whatever you call it, Jason Rakers had it Wednesday.
The 25-year-old Buffalo right-hander, who now has a 6-6 record, went the nine-inning distance for the first time this season in the Herd's second straight 10-1 romp over the Ottawa Lynx at North AmeriCare Park.
The Bisons have been getting quality starts from Rakers all season, but in between some of them have been some shaky outings. Now, though, consistency seems to be coming and Rakers credits pitching coach Bud Black for helping.
"My mechanics were really screwed up for a while there," he said. "Now I'm really just driving the ball through the zone and throwing to the mitt. I've been working with Bud and he's been helping me tremendously."
The problem, Rakers said, was "spinning off and leaving his pitches up." It's a problem that didn't show when he was warming up but a habit he fell into when he was in games.
A more familiar term for it is falling off toward first base on the follow-through.
On Wednesday, Rakers' mechanics were working. The result according to Datz was more "sink" and "tilt." Also more ground balls.
"I had 13 ground-ball outs. That's the key for me," said Rakers.
It was the ninth time in 18 starts that Rakers had pitched into the seventh inning or beyond for the Bisons. In those games he never has given up more than three earned runs. His ERA for those starts is a low 1.78, but his record is only 3-2.
"It's been a weird year for me," Rakers said. "When I pitch well we don't seem to get a lot of runs and when I get a lot of runs to work with I don't pitch well."
That was not the case Wednesday. Rakers didn't allow a hit until Jose Vidro doubled to lead off the Ottawa fourth. Vidro moved to third on a long fly and scored on a sacrifice fly by Fernando Seguinol to spoil Rakers' shutout bid. The Lynx had only two hits the rest of the way, a single by Trace Coquilette in the seventh and a two-out double by Vidro in the eighth. Rakers ended it by getting Coquilette to ground into a double play after Seguinol reached on a one-out error in the ninth.
Rakers is excited about the Herd's battle for the North Division pennant and a playoff berth. "There's a great chemistry on this team," he said. "All the guys want to do is win. That's all they talk about."
For the second game in a row, a change in the official scoring dramatically affected the final boxscore. Buffalo scored four runs in the fifth inning Wednesday. At first only one was ruled as earned. That's because a drive to straightaway center by Jacob Cruz of the Herd was at first called an error by DaRond Stovall, who got turned the wrong way and seemed to misplay the catch. Later it was ruled a two-base hit. At the same time a grounder by Jeff Manto past third in the same inning was ruled an error after first being called a hit.
In the first game of Tuesday night's doubleheader between the teams, a grounder through Bisons shortstop Jolbert Cabrera was ruled a hit at first, then changed to an error.
It was Hunter's Hope Day at North AmeriCare Park and several items of baseball memorabilia were raffled off. Former Bills quarterback Jim Kelly signed autographs and appeared on the field to throw some passes to fans who made a contribution to the Hunter's Hope Fund for the opportunity to be on the receiving end.