Just when the Rochester Red Wings figured out how to beat the Buffalo Bisons, rain interrupted their progress Sunday afternoon.
The finale of the weeklong six-game series at Frontier Field was postponed to Sept. 15 when it will be part of a doubleheader.
Entering the week, the Bisons had defeated the Wings in 10 of 12 games, including five of six by a cumulative score of 39-12 on their last visit to Rochester June 15-20.
Sean Nolin pitched five innings Saturday in the resumption of Friday’s suspended game and earned the victory as the Wings beat the Bisons 7-3.
Since dropping the series opener on Tuesday 3-2, the Wings (25-33) closed it out by winning three of the last four games.
“I like the energy that we’re playing with,” Wings manager Matt LeCroy said Saturday after he watched his team win the completion of Friday night’s suspended game, 7-3, and then captured the seven-inning nightcap 4-3. “The older guys are picking it up. Anytime you can win a couple games against a team of this caliber, the pitchers they have, hopefully it gets us going in the right direction where we can run off a few.”
If not for two ninth-inning meltdowns, the Wings could have won all five of the games.
Tuesday night they led 2-0 going to the ninth and had closer Dakota Bacus on the mound. Bacus has been outstanding all season, particularly since Justin Miller was called up the Washington Nationals a few weeks ago and he moved into the closer role.
However, a one-out error by third baseman Brandon Snyder gave the Bisons life and after Alejandro Kirk singled home that run, Bacus yielded a two-run homer to Tyler White.
Bacus, who has a microscopic ERA of 1.35, got right back on the horse Wednesday night, though. LeCroy brought him in to protect a 4-3 lead courtesy of Blake Swihart’s grand slam, and after giving up a leadoff single he mowed down the next three Buffalo hitters for his fourth save.
“In that closer position you gotta have a short memory,” said LeCroy. “I was really excited I was able to get him back out there. This hopefully will give him a little bit of a boost of confidence to know that he’s gonna be finishing games for us down the stretch here so it was really good.”
Because he pitched back-to-back games, Bacus wasn’t available on Thursday night and Buffalo broke a 2-2 tie with two runs in the ninth to win 4-2. Bryan Bonnell came on in the eighth and killed a Bisons first-and-second threat by inducing an inning-ending groundout. But then in the ninth he gave up a walk and a single before Breyvic Valera lined a game-winning two-run single to right field.
“You give away free bases, it usually comes back to haunt you, especially in big spots,” LeCroy said of Bonnell’s base on balls to Juan Graterol which kick-started the rally as Graterol eventually scored the tying run. It was one of seven walks from Wings pitchers.
On Friday, rain halted play after two innings so the game was picked up from that point Saturday afternoon with Rochester leading 2-1 thanks to a pair of first-inning homers by Andrew Stevenson and Jake Noll.
When play resumed, a huge throwing error by Buffalo shortstop Kevin Vicuna allowed two runs to score in the fourth, and then the Wings extended their lead to 7-1 in the fifth when Noll hit his second homer of the game, Rafael Bautista hit an RBI single, and Ali Castillo ripped an RBI triple.
In the nightcap, the newest Wing, Derek Dietrich, started the bottom of the first with a walk and came around to score on Daniel Palka’s two-run double, and then Palka came home on Brandon Snyder’s single for a 3-0 lead.
The Bisons chipped away and drew even in the fifth, but Corban Joseph’s solo homer in the sixth won the game for the Wings.
Regarding Sunday’s rainout, fans with tickets can exchange them for any home game the rest of the year, but the exchanges cannot take place until the rest of the season is put on sale Wednesday at 10 a.m. All exchanges must be made in person at the Frontier Field ticket office.
The Wings now hit the road for two weeks. First stop is Syracuse for six games against the Mets, and then it’s off to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre for six against the Yankees. They return home Tuesday, July 27, when they’ll open a six-game series against Lehigh Valley.