The Buffalo Bisons excellent August took a stumble this weekend with a pair of losses to the Gwinnett Braves at Coca-Cola Field.
After managing one hit in Saturday’s 1-0 loss, the Herd was held to just one run on three hits in a 7-1 loss on Sunday afternoon.
It was only the second time this month the Bisons have lost back-to-back games as the Herd has put up a 12-7 record in August.
Lack of offense: Bisons manager Bobby Meacham pointed to a combination of good pitching from Gwinnett and a sporadic plate approach from Buffalo's hitters. That was the case Sunday against Gwinnett starter Manny Barreda who gave up one run on three hits in seven innings.
Barreda "did a real good job of using his changeup," Meacham said. "We didn’t really stay on one or another. We kinda jumped back between his fastball and changeup and got caught guessing a few times. I think that cost us. But he was really good. His changeup was down in the zone most of the day and it made it tough on our guys.
"The bottom line is it’s the same formula – when we stay aggressive and stay on the fastball, we have a chance to compete and be good hitters. If we don’t, if we start guessing, because we’re bad guessers, we won’t hit. That’s typical of all baseball, any hitter really."
Trouble in the second: With one out, Bisons starting pitcher Luis Santos had a pitch slip and hit Gwinnett left fielder Dustin Peterson in the side of the head. Peterson walked off the field, taken out of the game to undergo a concussion protocol.
That put a runner on base. Then an error by right fielder Michael Saunders, who botched a fly ball catch, put runners at the corners. Sean Kazmar Jr., who took Peterson's place on base, easily scored on a single by David Freitas. A two-out single by Ronald Acuna gave the Braves a 2-0 lead.
Dinger: Carlos Franco hit a three-run homer to right field in the third as the Braves extended their lead to 5-0. Rio Ruiz drew a lead-off walk and former Bison Matt Tuiasosopo singled to left before Franco's home run.
First hit: The Bisons finally got a hit, in the fourth inning. With two outs, Dwight Smith Jr. blasted a shot on the right field line. He dug for three and beat the tag for his first triple of the season. It broke a 12 2/3 inning hitless streak for the Herd. Smith Jr. was stranded on third when Rowdy Tellez flew out to center.
On the board: The Bisons got some offense going in the fifth and it all started with two outs. Jon Berti doubled then stole third. Alex Monsalve drew a walk. Berti then scored on a single up the middle by Roemon Fields.
Roster moves: Right-handed pitcher Justin Shafer was promoted from Double-A New Hampshire. The 24-year-old made his Triple-A debut in relief on Sunday, giving up one run on three hits in two innings. He struck out two and walked one, throwing 46 pitches, 27 for strikes.
Attendance: There were 10,438 at Coca-Cola Field for the final Sunday afternoon game of the season.
Up next: The Bisons begin a seven-game road trip on Monday when they travel to Rhode Island for a four games with the Pawtucket Red Sox. The Herd then plays three games in Rochester.
Final homestand: The last four games at Coca-Cola Field are from Aug. 28-31. All games are at 7:05 p.m. against Pawtucket. The game on Aug. 30 will celebrate the 30th anniversary of Coca-Cola Field and include the final scheduled race participation of Celery in the beloved WCC Race. The final home game, Aug. 31, is Fan Appreciation Night.