The rally came as it usually does for the Buffalo Bisons this season. But Wednesday night it came too late. The Herd scored four runs in the ninth inning but the offense came around too late in a 7-5 loss to the Syracuse Chiefs at Coca-Cola Field
The loss snaps a two-game win streak for the Herd as Buffalo slipped to 20-17 overall.
The rally: Buffalo trailed, 7-1, going into their final at-bats. With one out, Roemon Fields had a single and Jonathan Diaz drew a walk. Both scored when Ian Parmley's shot went off the top of the left field wall to cut the lead to 7-3. A sacrifice fly to left from Dwight Smith Jr. scored Parmley and a high shot from Jarrod Saltalamacchia which fell in behind second base plated another run, bringing the Herd within two, 7-5. Jason Leblebijian struck out to end the game.
"We just kept putting together good at-bats," Parmley said. "Guys were grinding out the whole day and the last inning we just figured string a couple knocks together and we've got a chance. I mean with this club, we're never out of it. This club, we're never going to give up."
The hits keep on coming: Fields extended his hit streak to 11 with an RBI double in the second. His double scored Shane Opitz, who had a lead-off double, and put the Herd up, 1-0. With a one-out single in the ninth Fields had his fifth multi-hit game in his last seven games.
Trouble in the fifth: Bisons starter T.J. House already didn't have his sharpest stuff. While he had given up just one hit through four innings, he had issued five walks. It unraveled for him the fifth when he loaded the bases with one out (back-to-back hits and an intentional walk). He used an off-speed pitch to get a strikeout, but gave up a grand slam to Jhonatan Solano to left field putting Syracuse up, 4-1. It was the first grand slam in his 12-year career (according to MiLB.com).
— MiLB.com (@MiLB) May 17, 2017
First loss at home: It was the first loss at Coca-Cola Field for House, who came into the game not allowing a run over 17 1/3 innings in downtown Buffalo. On Wednesday he gave up four runs over five innings.
"I think he had a rough time settling down," Bisons manager Bobby Meacham said. "It seemed he looked a little hyped up, too amped up and had a hard time getting his fastball, especially in to the righties. It's just one of those days. It wasn't his best one obviously."
Extending the lead: Syracuse tacked on a run in the eighth, then got a two-run home run to left from Clint Robinson in the ninth. The homer came off Bisons reliever Wil Browning.
Stranding runners: The Herd squandered scoring opportunities in the early innings, going 2 for 7 with runners in scoring position and stranding five through the first four innings. They left runners on third in the first, second and sixth.
"I thought we had plenty of opportunities to really get it going and we didn't," Meacham said. "I was disappointed that we didn't catch in like we should have."
Welcome to the Herd: Saltalamacchia made his first appearance with the Bisons Wednesday as the designated hitter. He had a crisp single in the first inning but then struck out in his next three at-bats before getting a double in the ninth. The veteran catcher played in 10 games for the Toronto Blue Jays this season before being designated for assignment on April 28 and released on May 3. He re-signed a minor-league deal with the Jays and was assigned to Buffalo on Tuesday.
More MLB rehabbers: Pawtucket comes to Buffalo on Friday to open a three-game series with two Major Leaguers set for rehab assignments. David Price is the scheduled starter for the PawSox while the Boston Herald reported that third baseman Pablo Sandoval will join Pawtucket on Friday as well.
Counting the stands: The official paid attendance was 5,049. It certainly was one of the better turnouts of the early season with the 80-degree temperature when the first pitch was tossed at 6:05 p.m.
Up next: The Bisons and Chiefs finish their series at 6:05 p.m. Thursday. Righty Luis Santos (1-2, 5.50) is scheduled to start for the Herd against Syracuse righty Greg Ross (1-2, 7.71).