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Bisons lose and get hit by injury bug

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Bisons lost another close game to Syracuse this afternoon blowing a lead in the ninth to fall 8-5. Even worse than the heartbreaking loss was the fact that four pitchers went down with concerning injuries.

It was clearly not going to be a good day for the team as recovering ace Sean Nolin was struck with a line drive in the leg during a simulated game. According to manager Gary Allenson, Nolin should be fine but reevaluations will be performed tomorrow. Assuming there are no serious ramifications from today’s incident, Allenson noted that Nolin is still several days off a return to the rotation.

This is a rotation that took another hit when today’s starter Ricky Romero came up lame with a reported leg strain. The most disappointing thing about it is that he was actually pitching well through the three plus innings he made it through. Granted there were still obvious signs of command issues, but catcher Mike Nickeas was pleased with what he saw.

"He looked good in the bullpen warming up," said Nickeas and more importantly, "he looked confident". After all of the mental troubles that have plagued the former ace it was nice to see him throw with some conviction. He did walk three batters and hit a batter in his abbreviated outing, and he also forced Nickeas to block multiple pitches in the dirt, but unlike his past several starts he was able to work through it. Romero loaded the bases with no outs in the third inning and it seemed as if though we were headed down an all-too-familiar road, but he then pulled a Houdini act getting out scratch-free. He allowed just one run and with an early five run lead he may have had a chance to get a much needed first win. Unfortunately his injury stole this golden opportunity from him.

I am not saying that Romero is anywhere near back to form, especially considering that his injury could be yet another setback. Allenson said post-game that Romero was removed as a precaution, but the tightness Romero felt in the back of the knee on his plant leg is concerning. He has had a history of knee troubles which only adds to the issue. Further tests will need to be done to get a better idea of his condition.

Things only got worse for the Bisons after Romero left the game. The team had already put five runs on the board but was shut down after their one big inning. Dan Johnson’s monster three-run homerun gave the Herd a nice lead but the offensive went stagnant after that.

Reliever Rob Rasmussen made his return to the team but he too had his outing cut short. It was a truly frightening play that fortunately seems to have turned out well. A line drive off the bat of Destin Hood caught Rasmussen flush and the way he fell to the ground had everyone fearing the worst. The ball actually caught him in the upper part of his throwing arm, and thankfully he was able to walk off shortly after. Much like Nolin, Rasmussen will have to be re-evaluated in the morning, but should be fine.

The Bisons took a 5-4 lead into the ninth as closer Neil Wagner took the mound. It was a truly disastrous inning for Wagner as the first three men reached base and the tying run came across. Things went from bad to worse when he also came up lame on a pitch that bounced to the backstop letting in the go-ahead run. Wagner felt tightness in an attempt to cover home and may have aggravated a previous leg injury, but after the game it was announced that Wagner had been feeling forearm tightness--a symptom that reminds one of Tommy John surgery. In total four runs came across in the inning and the herd could not recover.

With an already depleted staff after the loss of Marcus Stroman and Shawn Hill (also to the DL), today’s slew of injuries are a major cause for worry. Allenson did not express extreme concern, but also would not rule out a DL stint for any of them. Fortunately for the Herd, Liam Hendriks is making his way back down to join the team. This is unfortunate for Hendriks as he really did all he could to stay with the big club.

The Bisons will try and recover tomorrow as Kyle Drabek takes the mound in the series finale against the Chiefs.