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  • Mike Rose

Bisons defeat Red Wings, head into All-Star break

Updated: Jul 18, 2023

By: Mike Rose

Paolo Espino posted his first quality start since 9/13/21 against the Marlins as a member of the Nationals. (Photo: Rochester Red Wings/Joe Territo)

ROCHESTER, N.Y.– In the final game before the All-Star break the Buffalo Bisons secured a split of the series with the Rochester Red Wings, winning 8-2. Buffalo was propelled by a four-run second inning to pull away from the Red Wings and never look back. Both teams have experienced uneven performances at times as they head into the break as they look to use the four-day break to reset.

"There have been a lot of ups and downs but we have a lot of confidence in our team. We know it is a long season and we're just gonna keep going and playing hard. We know there are going to be some struggles sometimes but it's all about staying positive," Bisons shortstop Otto Lopez said.

The Bisons' confidence was on full display early on in this one. Davis Schnieder got the scoring started with his 16th home run of the season to make it a 1-0 game in the first.

The Bisons continued the momentum into the second with some help from the Red Wings' defense. An error by first basemen Jacob Nottingham put the lead-off man LJ Talley aboard and set the table for the big inning that ensued. Two batters later Jamie Ritchie drove in a run on a fielder's choice groundout to make it a 2-0 game. Espino record the second out of the inning sandwiched between a Tanner Morris single and Spencer Hortwitz walk to load the bases for Lopez. He delivered with a double into the right-center field gap clearing the bases and extending the lead out to five.

"I've known this pitcher (Red Wings starting pitcher Paolo Espino) for a long time. I was just being patient and just looking for one pitch to send into the gap. The entire at-bat and the first at-bat I was looking for it," Lopez said.

All four runs in the inning went down as unearned against Espino who managed to settle in and work a quality start despite the early struggles. He finished allowing five runs, with only one earned, across six innings of work surrendering five hits and two walks while striking out three. Espino maintained a positive outlook despite some of his defense's shortcomings early.

"I mean this is baseball, anything can happen," Espino said. "Nobody wants to make mistakes, nobody wants to make errors. It's just part of the game to learn how to reset. Stuff like that is going to happen you just gotta know how to deal with it. The easiest thing is to just forget about it and keep going, it was only the second inning when things weren't going right so there was a lot of baseball left to play."

As Espino settled in the Red Wings offense continued to sputter. They were able to push a run across in the third on an RBI single from Erick Meija as well as a run in the fifth on an RBI single from Travis Blakenhorn but that was all the offense they would get the rest of the way. Bisons' starting pitcher Casey Lawrence allowed six hits on the day allowing two runs with only one earned with three strikeouts and just one walk. Rochester would send the minimum to the plate for the final four frames of the day as the Bisons' bullpen secured the victory. Manager Matthew LeCroy believes the break is coming at a much-needed time for his club.

Erick Meija finished off the series against Buffalo hitting 9-23 (.391) with at least one hit in every game. (Photo: Rochester Red Wings/Joe Territo)

"I think it's a recharge. They're beat up and tired it's a tough game and a long season but the guys need a blow. We're gonna give them three days and come back in on Thursday, guys can throw and hit if they need to but we're still in a good spot we just have to get everyone healthy and get rolling," LeCroy said.

Buffalo would tack on some insurance runs in the eighth plating three runs against Red Wings reliever Tommy Romero to round out the day. Ritchie plated two with a base hit while Spencer Horwitz worked a bases-loaded walk to push across the eighth run of the day.

With the win Buffalo (40-46) moves to 6-5 in the second half while the Red Wings (40-45) fall to 6-6. Both teams will join the rest of the baseball world in celebrating the All-Star break from July 10-13 before returning to action on Friday. The Red Wings will head on the road to take on the Syracuse Mets and the Bisons play host to the Toledo Mud Hens out of the break.

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