SYRACUSE – Raffy Lopez is introducing himself to the Buffalo Bisons in a big way.
Monday night at NBT Bank Stadium, in his second game with the Bisons, the team’s new catcher, hit home runs in his first two at-bats, driving in five runs in the 9-3 victory over the Syracuse Chiefs in the opener of a three-game series.
Lopez got his opportunity because catcher Mike Ohlman was recalled by Toronto after the Blue Jays’ regular catcher Russell Martin went on the disabled list with a shoulder problem.
To make room for Ohlman on the 40-man roster, the Jays designated pitcher Casey Lawrence for assignment. Problem was the right-hander was scheduled to be Buffalo’s starter in Monday’s game.
Change of plans: With Lawrence unavailable, Bisons manager Bobby Meacham had to call on Murphy Smith for a spot start. He went four innings. Leonel Campos pitched the fourth and fifth and picked up the win. Chad Girodo pitched four innings for his fourth save.
Raffy Strikes: Lopez homered to right-center in the second inning after Jason Leblebijian had reached with a one-out single. That erased a 1-0 Chiefs lead.
Raffy Strikes again: Lopez connected on a three-run blast in the fourth after singles by Rowdy Tellez and Leblebijian to start the inning. Lopez started the season with Double-A New Hampshire before he was promoted to the Bisons. He had a bit of big league experience - seven games with the Cubs in 2014 and eight with the Reds last season.
Padding the lead: The Herd added two more runs in the fifth when Jake Elmore singled and Dwight Smith Jr. doubled to start things. Elmore scored on an infield out and Smith came home on a single by Leblebijian.
Jason goes 4 for 4: Leblebijian had a perfect game at the plate with four hits, two RBIs and two runs scored. He raised his batting average to .354. He came into the game tied for seventh in the International League in batting with a .320 average.
Up next: Right-hander Jarrett Grube (2-2, 4.68) is scheduled to start for the Bisons at 1:05 p.m. today against right-hander Austin Voth (1-3,, 5.63). The Herd is undecided on the starter for the series finale Wednesday at 10:35 a.m.