The Buffalo Bisons started their final homestand of the season with a bit of the offensive doldrums.
The Herd managed just four hits and was shut out for the 16th time of the season in a 2-0 loss to the Pawtucket Red Sox Monday night at Coca-Cola Field.
Jon Berti and Roemon Fields had back-to-back hits in the third, but that rally stalled. Michael Saunders had a two-out double in the sixth, but was stranded and a two-out single from Danny Jansen in the seventh also stalled.
Pawtucket scored a runs in the third and fourth to earn their eighth win over the Herd this season.
Facing tough pitching: Kyle Kendrick's numbers coming into the game weren't great for Pawtucket: a 3-7 record and a 6.42 ERA. But the Bisons weren't able to get to Kendrick, who gave up just three hits in six shutout innings of work. He did not issue a walk and struck out two.
"Kendrick did a good job," Bisons manager Bobby Meacham said. "He pitched a little differently than he did the last time against us. He really almost pitched backwards – mostly offspeed then would surprise us with fastballs. We hit some balls hard. Early I thought we hit some balls hard. Didn't get them to go through and then he got a little confidence and got on a roll."
Big arm: Roemon Fields showed his defensive acumen in the second. With two outs and runners on first and second, Deven Marrero singled to short center. Fields played the ball on one hop and threw the ball home. It was a perfect throw to catcher Danny Jansen who made the play at the plate. Dam Travis was out and the Bisons got out of that inning giving up no runs on three hits.
Off the wall: Former Buffalo Bison Matt Dominguez had a long single, one that went off the left field wall. It was good enough to score Dan Butler from first to give Pawtucket a 1-0 lead in the third.
It could have been worse: In the fourth Pawtucket hit three straight singles off Bisons starter Murphy Smith to load the bases with no outs. A flyout to short right kept the base loaded but a shot to deep right, in foul territory, from Dan Butler allowed a run to score. A lineout to short ended the inning and limited the damage to just one run and a 2-0 lead.
Winning series: Pawtucket came into the series with a two-game lead over the Buffalo Bisons in the International League North Divisions standings. While nothing but pride is on the line, Meacham sees this week as an opportunity.
"I look at it that way. As a player I probably wouldn't see it that way but as a manager trying to put the team in a place to win, you always think about moving ahead of the guys in front of you," Meacham said.
Murphy Smith: He's been in the bullpen, a spot starter, and now has a regular turn in the Bisons rotation. Smith took the loss in his sixth start for the Herd, giving up two runs on eight hits in five innings of work.
"He's just done a great job for us this year," Meacham said of Smith. "I've had in the past and he's done a great job splitting time between the bullpen and whenever we need a spot start he's ready for it. It shows good things happen for you when you're ready. It's not 'why am I the guy that always has to spot start?' No, he's not like that. He's always ready to pitch because he knows when he gets the ball, he has an opportunity to show us what he can do."
WCC Race: With retirement looming on Wednesday, Celery took a huge lead in the mascot race only to have Carrot, an occasional nemesis, run on to the field and scare Celery away from the finish line. Atomic took the win.
Attendance: The official paid attendance at Coca-Cola Field was 9,797. There were at least 300 dogs at the park for the Bisons second Dog Day at the Ballpark.
Roster update: The Toronto Blue Jays recalled relief pitcher Leonel Campos on Monday.
Up next: The Herd continues its final homestand of the season at 7:05 p.m. Tuesday. Righty Nick Tepesch makes his first start since returning from paternity leave. He last started for the Toronto Blue Jays on Aug. 19 against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field. He last pitched for the Bisons on Aug. 3.
Pawtucket is scheduled tos tart lefty Jalen Beeks. The Bisons have yet to announce their starter for Wednesday's game (7:05 p.m.) but lefty Brett Oberholtzer is scheduled to pitch the final game at Coca-Cola Field this year.
Roenis Elias and Justin Haley round out the PawSox scheduled rotation.