If teams could only bottle up and market the concentration and spirit that triggers an athlete to perform well for his new team. It is an unstoppable force. Just ask anyone who watched Jason Tyner play in the Buffalo Bisons' 5-4 loss to Toledo on Wednesday.
Tyner, who signed with the parent Cleveland Indians on Tuesday, started in center for the Herd and went 2 for 4 with two RBIs in his first game since being released by Richmond. But in the end, it came down to one big swing for the Mud Hens, who defeated the Bisons in front of 7,282 in Dunn Tire Park.
Brant Ust's three-run homer in the sixth gave Toledo a 5-3 lead that stood for the remainder of the night. Tyner's RBI single in the bottom of the inning scored Brent Abernathy, but the Herd couldn't capitalize on a night when the Mud Hens committed four errors.
Despite dropping back-to-back games with Toledo, Buffalo remains in first place in the International League's North Division by two games over Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, which lost to Durham on Wednesday and has lost its last three. The Bisons (57-47) play a matinee against the Mud Hens (58-48) at 1:05 today at Dunn Tire Park (Radio 1520 AM).
"Three-run homers are tough to fight back from," said Bisons manager Marty Brown, whose team suffered a similar fate Tuesday night when Rich Gomez's two-run blast in the sixth proved to be the difference in the Bisons' 2-1 loss. "It's tough to overcome that, but we gave it a pretty good shot."
Now Tyner is here to help. He has a career .257 average and 47 stolen bases in 245 games with the New York Mets, who drafted him in the first round in 1998, and Tampa Bay. The 27-year-old was hitting .288 with one homer, 16 RBIs and 18 stolen bases when he was released by Richmond on Sunday. He simply got caught up in the numbers game.
"We just had too many players," said Tyner, who asked for his release. "We had 13 or 14 players who should be playing every day and it's pretty tough to get everyone at-bats."
Following his release, Tyner went home to Beaumont, Texas, to be with his wife, Annie, who is 8 1/2 months pregnant, but he was only there for two days before the Bisons called and urged him to report immediately.
"The situation usually takes a week, sometimes two weeks for anything to unfold," he said. "Two days turnaround was great. It was pretty much like the All-Star break and you don't lose much time. If you sit out for a week or two weeks, it's tough to get going. I played with a bunch of these guys before and Buffalo seems like a really nice place to play. It was an easy decision."
More than likely, Tyner will receive the at-bats he's seeking. On Tuesday, when asked if Tyner was going to be in the lineup on Wednesday, Brown leaned back in his chair, grinned and said, "(Heck), yeah."
It will be difficult to keep Tyner out of the lineup. The week of June 21-27 he was named the IL's batter of the week after hitting .591 with a pair of doubles and five stolen bases in five games. He started in center field on Wednesday and plated Brandon Phillips on a sacrifice fly in his first at-bat. Tyner singled in his next at-bat in the third inning, and walked in the fourth before the RBI single in the sixth. He grounded out to second in the eighth.
"He's going to give us a spark," Brown said. "He's going to give us a new dimension and give us some more speed. He's going to make some things happen."