No one seemed to know that Cesar Valdez had 10 strike outs including a string of six in a row. Not his catcher. Not his manager. Not even really Valdez.
The 32-year-old righthanded pitcher was locked in, focused on the next pitch. It's why he was able to shake off a two-run home run in the first inning, settling in and lead the Buffalo Bisons to a 4-2 win over the Lehigh Valley IronPigs at Coca-Cola Field Thursday night.
"I'm just trying to make good pitches," Valdez said after pitching seven innings giving up two runs on four hits with two walks against the 10 strikeouts. "I had good movement today with my changeup and my sinker. I don’t' think about that. I just throw the ball and try to make good pitches."
"He's always got that craftiness about him," catcher Raffy Lopez said. "He has an unbelievable changup, kind of a Houdini act with his changeup. He located his fastball well, he threw a couple sliders when he needed to and did a really good job mixing speeds, keeping them honest.
"Sometimes you just get locked in and you go with what's working," Lopez said. "He just did a great job. He has his game plan. He sticks to it and he's going to get beat his way not adjusting to someone else's way."
Valdez stuck with the game plan in the first inning, when he gave up three hits including a two-run home run. From there, he gave up only one more hit to a Lehigh Valley team that has knocked the Herd around pretty good this season.
"He followed the script," manager Bobby Meacham said. "Even after the home run he kept challenging the hitters. … It always looks impressive when guys don't doubt themselves. The last two starters we had went out there and didn't doubt their stuff. They went out and just competed and tried to see who was better."
Valdez just missed on being part of Bisons history. He struck out six straight batters, from the fourth to the fifth, but in the sixth he walked Brock Stassi on a 3-2 pitch that missed just low.
The modern era record for consecutive strikeouts is seven, set by Jason Bere on May 17, 2003 against Indianapolis.
The 10 strikeouts are the most by a Bisons pitcher since Drew Hutchison struck out 10 against Lehigh Valley on June 18, 2016.
Two in a row: After losing 10 straight to the IronPigs, the Bisons picked up their second straight win against the IL North Division leaders.
The biggest part of the park: Jorge Alfaro hit a two-run home run to straightaway center, the longest part of the park, off Cesar Valdez to give Lehigh Valley a 2-0 lead in the first.
Answering a long ball with a long ball: Bisons shortstop Gregorio Petit hit his first homer of the season, a three-run shot to the left-field screen. The infielder has logged big-league time with Oakland, Houston, the New York Yankees and the L.A. Angels.
All the RBIs: Petit knocked in the Herd's fourth run in the fifth when his sacrifice to left scored Shane Opitz from third.
Hall of Fame: Former Buffalo Bisons Jason Jacome and Mark Ryal were announced as this year's inductees to the Buffalo Baseball Hall of Fame. Formal induction ceremonies are scheduled before Bisons' June 30th game against the Syracuse Chiefs.
Jacome pitched in the 1997 and 1998 seasons with the Bisons, going 17-3 with a 3.24 ERA in 31 starts. A 1998 International League All Star, the lefty owns a Bisons modern era record .850 winning percentage.
Ryal played two seasons with the Bisons, first in 1985 and again in 1990. In 215 games in a Buffalo uniform, the outfielder hit .299 with 55 doubles and 22 home runs while driving in 115 runs. In 1990, he won the team's only American Association batting title, leading the league with a .334 average that still ranks as the third-best single-season mark in the team's modern era.
Attendance: The announced paid attendance was 5,596.
Up next: The Bisons open up a three-day, four-game series with the New York Yankees affiliate, the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Rail Riders at 7:05 p.m. Friday. Righty Luis Santos is scheduled to start for the Bisons against righty Domingo Acevedo. The teams will play a doubleheader on Saturday, starting at 5:35, and complete the series at 1:05 p.m. Sunday.