Dwight Smith Jr. went 0 for 4 Saturday but had the at-bat of the game in the Buffalo Bisons’ 5-0 victory over the Columbus Clippers.
The Bisons broke the game open with four runs in the sixth inning thanks to disciplined hitting by the 24-year-old right fielder.
With two out and the bases loaded, Smith fell behind in the count, 0-2. He laid off three breaking balls close to the strike zone before drawing a walk that give the Bisons an insurance run.
Bisons second baseman Jake Elmore followed with an infield single down the third-base line on a 3-2 count to bring home two more runs.
“He continues every day – and we talk about it all the time - to just never give up an at-bat, go pitch to pitch,” said Bisons manager Bobby Meacham. “He’s a tough out, man. He’s one of the toughest outs in the league right now.”
Smith, in his first season at Triple-A, is batting .320 with a .380 on-base percentage.
Records: Buffalo (10-4) stands first in the International League’s North Division. The Herd has won five of its last seven. Columbus (7-9) lost its fourth straight.
Strikeout staff: Buffalo pitchers combined for 14 strikeouts. Starter T.J. House had eight. He was relieved by Jeff Beliveau, who had three of 1 2-3 inings. John Silson pitched the last two innings and struck out three. . . . Mike Clevinger (2-1) took the loss, allowing one run in 4 2-3 innings.
Good fortune: The Bisons scored in the second inning thanks to a dubious decision by left-fielder Richie Shaffer. Christian Lopes hit a bases-loaded liner to shallow left, but Shaffer threw to second base instead of going to home plate. The throw was high and Luke Maile scored from third base, one of numerous alert plays on the base paths by the Herd.
"We got aggressive base-running," Meacham said. "We scored from shallow left field because he tagged perfectly."
K machine: Clippers first baseman Nellie Rodriguez struck out four times in four at-bats and now has 26 strikeouts in 51 at-bats on the year. The 22-year-old, in his first Triple-A season, is batting .080.
Roster updates: Herd infielder Gregorio Petit tweaked a leg muscle Friday and sat out. His status is day to day. . . . Blue Jays starting pitchers Aaron Sanchez (blister on his finger) and J.A. Happ (elbow) are dinged up. That prompted starts by Herd call-ups Mat Latos and Casey Lawrence the past two days. . . . Jays infielder Ty Kelly was designated for assignment to Buffalo on Friday. But Toronto worked a trade of him to Philadelphia for cash on Saturday.
In the house: Paid attendance was 5,068.
Up next: The Bisons and Clippers finish their series at 1:05 p.m. Sunday, Lefty Brett Oberholtzer (0-0, 1.00) pitches for Buffalo against lefty Ryan Merritt (2-1, 3.63).