Is it appropriate to say “welcome home” to the Buffalo Bisons when the road has been kinder than the friendly confines of Coca-Cola Field?
“Well let’s not delve too deep into that,” manager Gary Allenson said Friday afternoon before his Bisons took on the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs in downtown Buffalo. “We’re playing .500. There’s nothing wrong with that.”
The Herd slipped below that .500 mark at home after a 3-1 loss to the Iron Pigs dropped them to 21-22 at home. It was their fifth straight loss at home and the Herd has been outscored, 21-6, in that span. This while the club has gone 9-1 in its last 10 road games for the second best road mark in the International League -- 28-18.
The reason? Well, as the popular cliché goes, that’s just baseball. Some things you can’t explain.
“It’s kinda just one of those things right now,” said Bisons outfielder Darrell Ceciliani, who has hit safely in 11 of his last 14 games. “I feel like earlier in the year we were better at home and now it’s a bit of the opposite. It’s just been the way it is.”
Actually, the Bisons struggled in April at home, going 2-5 at Coca-Cola Field and 8-8 on the road. But May and June were strong at home (19-13) and it was home three wins over Louisville in June which kick started the Herd’s nine-game winning streak – which promptly ended when they returned home to face Yankee affiliate Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
Ah, Scranton. The team has been the Herd’s nemesis the last two weeks, taking four of the five head-to-head matchups.
“It’s a good division,” Ceciliani said. “We won nine a row and I don’t even know if we gained a game in the division. We were still two games back and in fourth place. It’s just good competition here. Everyone kind of beats up on each other. You know you can’t control that. We just go out. If win ball games, that’s all we can control. We can’t control what other teams do. If they win, they win. Just try to win ball games and see where it goes from there.”
There are plenty of things in baseball you can’t avoid and divisional matchups are one. And the Bisons are in a doozey of an International League North where five of the six teams have a winning record. In fact the top four teams in the IL North have better records than any team in the IL South or West.
“I don’t want to diss any divisions there, but when you look at our division, what are we 52 games over .500?” Allenson said.
The Herd entered Friday’s game 49-39 overall, five games back of Scranton and 25-28 against the IL North.
“Obviously this division is playing very well and Scranton’s a tough ball club. Every one of the games in our division has been tough. It’s fairly evenly matched and you’ve got to look a little deeper into how many guys have we lost. … I don’t think we’ve been as stable as some of the other clubs. We’ve had some injuries. Everyone has injuries. … So we’ve had to do a little patchwork. Fortunately we’re in it.”