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Rochester’s Darnell keeps Bisons guessing to earn shutout

When Andy Burns recalls his time at the University at Kentucky with Logan Darnell, he remembers a pitcher who threw primarily fastballs and sliders.

That’s not the case anymore.

In the last two years with the Rochester Red Wings, Darnell has added elements to his game – ones that have kept Burns and the Buffalo Bisons off kilter.

Darnell pitched a complete-game shutout for Rochester as the Red Wings earned a 4-0 win over the Bisons at Coca-Cola Field Thursday afternoon.

“He’s evolved and gotten better so you’ve got to tip your hat to him,” said Burns who went 0 for 4 and left two runners on base.

Darnell gave up four hits and four walks with no strikeouts, throwing 105 pitches in the win, his second this season against the Herd. In fact, in his first two starts of the season, Darnell was 0-2 with a 6.17 earned run average, giving up eight runs on 13 hits in 11 ∏ innings against Lehigh Valley.

In his last two starts against Buffalo, he is 2-0 with a 0.60 ERA giving up just one run on eight hits in 15 innings of work.

“Hopefully by the next time we play these guys he’ll be in Minnesota,” Bisons’ manager Gary Allenson said. “He pitched well. He kept us off balance just like he did the last time. He was better this time because we got the one run the last time.

“If somebody throws not the speed you want and you can’t wait back and some guys have seen him for seven at-bats, if you can’t stay back and you’re chasing stuff and you’re out in front then you have to make a physical adjustment. Move up in the batter’s box. Make him pitch differently than the way he’s pitching. We hit some balls hard. Not enough. It seems like the ones we did hit hard were right at somebody. Live and learn with that.”

The shutout, the third suffered by the Herd this year, was a mixed bag of offensive woes. There were hard-hit balls right at players for bad-luck outs combined with failed execution at the plate.

Burns faced that in the first inning, following Alexi Casilla who led off with a double. But Burns popped up to the first baseman in foul territory.

The Bisons went 0 for 6 with runners in scoring position as Darnell was aided by two double plays and 13 groundouts.

“He throws anything in any count,” Burns said of Darnell. “You expect something to be coming and most of the time it wasn’t. That’s going to happen and hopefully next time we’re right more times than we’re wrong. That wasn’t the case today.”

Not helping the Herd’s offensive cause was the absence of Dalton Pompey. The Bisons’ lead-off hitter was scheduled to start in centerfield but was removed from the lineup late.

“He’s got a bruised heel,” Allenson said. “He did it in Scranton and missed four games then came back but it’s still bothering him. Just made a lineup change and hopefully it’s better,” Friday.

On Friday, the Herd opens a three-game series in Allentown, Pa. against the Lehigh Valley IronPigs. The game will be an interesting pitching matchup as Drew Hutchison makes his first start for the Bisons since returning from a spot-start stint with the Toronto Blue Jays. Lehigh Valley is scheduled to start former No. 1 overall pick Mark Appel.