The Buffalo Bisons earned their third victory in the past two days Friday night with an impressive 5-3 comeback win over Rochester. Top prospect Aaron Sanchez made his home debut to start off the homestand for the Herd taking a no decision after just five innings of work. The hero of the game was Jonathan Diaz and because there may never be another opportunity to say that, I, for one, will take a moment to appreciate it.
The struggling shortstop came up to the plate with the Bisons down three runs in the seventh inning. At this point things really seemed to be business as usual for the struggling offense, but with an opportunity to tie the game Diaz pulled a Kris Johnson hanger over the left field fence. This was the first bomb for Diaz in nearly a year and only number 15 for his career. Amazingly enough this was not the end of the heroics for him. Just an inning later he came up with the bases loaded and two outs in a tied game. After a long battle of an at bat Diaz was able to work a walk that pushed in the go ahead run. Thanks to a strong effort from the bullpen capped by a Ryan Tepera save the Bisons were able to make this lead last.
As great as Diaz was the real story of the game is still the start from Sanchez and Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos was in attendance to see the young righty throw.
"He still needs that development time, he still needs the innings and being up in this environment the fact that he can hold his own and strike guys out is and show you tremendous stuff is all great for him," said Anthopoulos.
The line for Sanchez much like in his first start for Buffalo was not great, but he pitched well. The Rochester Red Wings drew four walks off Sanchez, but he stayed down in the zone for the most part playing to his strengths. His walk numbers are high, but his ground ball rate is among the best in the minors. This mixed with the lights out fastball and dominant curveball in his arsenal provide good reason to be optimistic.
Chris Colabello drove a good pitch out of the park for a two-run bomb which of course hurt the line on Sanchez. He was limited to 83 pitches due to a pitch count, but had this not been the case he likely would have gone into the sixth or perhaps seventh inning. Manager Gary Allenson believes that both starts have been strong for Sanchez and that young righty is getting better. There are some command issues that need to be worked on, but he understands that and the work is being put in.
"The biggest thing for me is commanding number one...That's what everything plays off of," said Sanchez.
The really impressive thing for me was his ability to throw the curveball at any time. He has the confidence to throw it behind in the count or even to start a batter off, and it is still his go to strikeout pitch. His teammates and coaches were all amazed but the quality of his stuff. Anthopoulos did say that if he dominates in his next several starts he could potentially force his way up to Toronto, but right now he is not in the conversation. With all of that said at just 21-years-old for a kid drafted out of high school things are looking good.
Just a few other notes from the conversation with Anthopoulos. The way Kevin Pillar and Darin Mastroianni have been hitting Alex believes a conversation will be had on bringing those guys up just not right now. With Anthony Gose reporting to Buffalo tomorrow his name will likely be in that conversation as well. Liam Hendriks will also be returning to Buffalo after a shaky spot start. It is unclear as of now who will be going up, but it will most likely be a bullpen arm. Lastly, Anthopoulos reported that reliever Steve Delabar will join the Bisons on Monday.
The Herd will look to extend the winning streak with a doubleheader on Saturday starting with Raul Valdes and Deck McGuire on the mound.