6/18/12

Pawtucket Sweeps Buffalo

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With two outs in the bottom of the 1st, Matt Den Dekker ripped a hard line drive to right field that dropped for a base hit. But when Pawtucket right fielder Cody Ross misplayed the ball - allowing it to roll into the right fielder corner - Den Dekker wanted more.
So the Buffalo center fielder took off, heading for second and then third. Sensing the rare inside-the-park home run, Den Dekker raced for home.


But it was not meant to be. A perfect relay from right field allowed Pawtucket catcher Mike Rivera to tag Den Dekker at the plate, and the inning was over.
"I saw it get by him, and I just kept running," Den Dekker said. "I got a little tired there rounding third, and they made a good relay...They made two good throws and got me out."
Den Dekker's effort served as a microcosm for the Bisons' fate this series against the PawSox. Although good plays were frequently made, the Herd couldn't sustain enough positives to outplay division-leading Pawtucket.
Sunday was the final game of the four-game set, and the end result was no different from the first three. The Bisons fell 6-1 to the PawSox, drifting eight games behind in the divisional race heading into an 8-game road trip to Norfolk and Durham.
"It's going to happen for any team," Den Dekker said. "You've just got to try to bounce back. We've got a good opportunity here coming up for us, and we're going to try and make the best of it."
Inefficient starting pitching doomed the Herd this weekend, and the case was no different Sunday. Garrett Olson got the start for Buffalo, and a 39-pitch first inning was a sign of things to come. Although Olson escaped a bases-loaded jam in the first, he would not have the same good fortune in later innings.
After Pawtucket drew first blood with a run in the 2nd, the PawSox broke the game open with a three-run 3rd. Mauro Gomez led off with a single to center field, and a walk put two men on base with one out.
With a nice RBI chance, Che-Hsuan Lin ripped a double to center field that scored Gomez. Next up, Mike Rivera knocked another ball into center field for a single that scored two more. Just like that, the PawSox had a 4-0 lead, and the Bisons were in rally mode.
After Tony Thomas followed with a single, Bisons manager Wally Backman pulled Olson from the game. The left-hander lasted only 2.1 innings. When the starting pitcher fails to eat up innings, the effect trickles down to the rest of the staff.
"It's tough when you only get two-plus innings out of your starter," Backman said. "It takes a toll on the bullpen, it really does. You're trying to manage a game to be able to play tomorrow, and that's basically what we had to do today."
Similar themes ran constant through the series, and Pawtucket's big 3rd brought a harsh reminder of Saturday's five-run 6th. One-inning outbursts tend to seep momentum from the opposition, and the Herd failed to counter Pawtucket's 3rd-inning explosion, managing only one run the rest of the way.
On a positive note for Buffalo, the Herd bounced back from Saturday's sloppy fielding effort. After committing four errors Saturday, the Bisons committed none on Sunday.
The end result could have been much worse if not for the sound defensive outing, and Den Dekker played a large role in the effort. With just one out in the 3rd - and Pawtucket having already scored three runs in the inning - the bases were loaded, and the PawSox looked ready to break the game open.
Cody Ross hit a high fly ball to center, and Den Dekker made the catch for the easy out. Mike Rivera tagged up at third and headed home, but Den Dekker had other plans. The center fielder made a perfect throw that needed only one hop to make it to catcher Lucas May, and May had plenty of time to tag Rivera out. The double play ended the inning, limiting the damage.
"You've got to kind of anticipate where the ball's going to be hit," Den Dekker said. "And that's what I try to do when I'm out there."
Den Dekker also made a resilient defensive play in the 5th, tracking down Tony Thomas' fly ball to center and making a diving catch.
After a disappointing series, the Bisons look to take all the positives they can into the upcoming road trip. The bounce-back fielding performance Sunday is a start, but the Herd will need a wholesale all-around improvement in order to battle back in the standings.
"Guys have been tired, putting pressure on themselves," Backman said. "It might be a good time to get out on the road."

Bisons Notes: RHP Collin McHugh has been called up from Double-A Binghamton and will start for the Herd Monday night in Norfolk. In 12 starts this year for the B-Mets, McHugh is 5-5 with a 2.41 ERA...Raul Reyes had a multi-hit game for the Herd Sunday, going 2-for-3 with a double and RBI...The Bisons conclude the 8-game homestand with a record of 2-6.

from team press release

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