The Buffalo Bisons scored three runs in the bottom of the eighth inning to stun the Red Wings 3-2 Thursday night in Buffalo. The rally, against reliever Michael Tonkin, came after Wings starter Cole De Vries had allowed just two hits over seven shutout innings. The second place Wings fell 3 1/2 games behind division leading Pawtucket, but remain just a half-game behind wild card leader Norfolk.
Buffalo left-hander Sean Nolin was making just his third Triple-A start with the Bisons, and Nolin hit lead-off batter Antoan Richardson with a pitch to open the game. A ground ball double play and fly out followed and the Wings took the field with starter De Vries on the mound.
De Vries was placed on the disabled list July 6 (right elbow strain), and was coming off four starts for other Twins clubs before re-joining the Wings this week. De Vries posted an efficient, seven-pitch first inning on the mound Thursday.
Both starters were stellar through three innings, with a second inning double by Andy La Roche off De Vries the only hit of the game. The Wings had just one other baserunner through three innings, a walk to Eric Fryer in the third inning.
In the top of the fourth, Eduardo Escobar drew a walk with one out, but Escobar was stranded at first after Chris Parmelee flew out and Nolin struck out Deibinson Romero.
After another 1-2-3 inning by De Vries in the bottom of the fourth, the Wings finally put a runner into scoring position in the fifth. Nolan walked Aaron Hicks to open the inning, the third walk of the night for Nolan. Eric Farris successfully bunted Hicks to second base, and Jermaine Mitchell's ground ball to the right side moved Hicks to third base with two outs. Nolan got a called third strike on Fryer on a ball that appeared to be outside, stranding Hicks at third base and keeping the Wings hitless through five at-bats.
De Vries got two ground ball outs and his third strikeout of the game to set down the side in the Buffalo half of the fifth, making it 11 straight Buffalo batters retired for De Vries. He had thrown just 55 pitches through five innings.
Escobar broke up the no-hitter and the scoreless game with one swing in the sixth inning, clubbing a 3-2 pitch from Nolin over the wall in center field to put Rochester ahead 1-0. Nolin, who had racked up 100 pitches at that point, left the game and was replaced on the mound by Mickey Storey.
Jim Negrych lined the ball up the middle to start the bottom of the sixth inning, and the ball deflected off De Vries and toward third base. Romero quickly bare-handed the ball and fired to first, retiring Negrych. Manager Gene Glynn and Trainer Larry Bennese visited De Vries, and he stayed in the game - then walked Mike Nickeas, for just the second Buffalo baserunner of the night. Mike McCoy followed with a single and the Bisons had a scoring threat in place. De Vries got a fly ball to right field for the second out, then struck out league home run co-leader Mauro Gomez on a 2-2 curveball to end the threat and move play to the seventh inning.
Rochester put a pair of runners on against Storey with one out in the seventh. Hicks ripped a double to right field, and Farris worked Storey for a walk. Mitchell flew out to left field, but Fryer drew a walk to load the bases with two outs. Richardson, who came into the game 3-for-5 in bases loaded situations, hit a fly ball to left on the first pitch he saw, stranding the runners.
The Bisons had two hard hit balls to open their half of the seventh inning, and Farris made two nice plays to snag both of them. De Vries struck out Ryan Langerhans to end the seventh, the fifth strikeout of the game for De Vries.
John Stilson took the mound for Buffalo in the top of the eighth, and was greeted by a James Beresford single. Escobar bunted Beresford to second, but Stilson (6-2) struck out Parmelee for the second out. Romero delivered a clutch single up the middle to score Beresford and put Rochester up 2-0. It was Romero's 50th RBI of the season, in 84 games with the Wings.
De Vries turned in seven strong innings, allowing just two hits and a walk while striking out five. De Vries threw 81 pitches, 52 for strikes.
Tonkin took the mound for Rochester in relief of De Vries in the bottom of the eighth inning, and struck out Brad Glenn for the first out. Tonkin (1-2) walked the next batter, and pinch-hitter Jimenez followed by belting a mammoth two-run home run to tie the score at 2-2. Tonkin got a ground out followed by Blake Gailen's double, just the fourth Buffalo hit of the game. Gomez lofted a long fly ball to the right field corner, and despite a great attempt at a running catch by Mitchell, the ball bounced just fair and then up into the stands for an opposite field double. The hit put Buffalo ahead for the first time in the game, 3-2. The hit also prompted Tonkin's exit from the game, replaced by Aaron Thompson - who struck out Clint Robinson to end the inning.
Jeremy Jeffress worked the ninth inning for the Bisons, and struck out the side to record his fifth save and preserve the comeback win for Buffalo.