The Bisons took home their fifth straight win with a 2-1 final over Lehigh Valley Saturday afternoon. Clearly it ended up being a pitcher’s duel but it certainly did not always seem destined for that fate. Chad Jenkins got the start for Buffalo, and on the first pitch to the second batter of the game the Herd was down 1-0, as Cord Phelps ripped a home run over the right center wall.
After seeing Jenkins' last start, which ended with an eight-run third inning he never worked out of, I was concerned we would be in for another rough outing. To his credit though he was able to maintain composure, and use the roughly 80 pitches he was allotted to work through five innings, allowing just the one run and only one additional baserunner.
The key for Jenkins was his ability to locate the sinker for strikes out of the middle of the plate. He got himself ahead in counts, and then kept his slider and changeup low in the zone to prevent any solid contact. Jenkins managed only three strikeouts, however he was getting consistent empty cuts with his slider.
Manager Gary Allenson is hoping that Jenkins will be able to work six or seven innings in his next start. It is unclear what the Jays plan on doing with the 27-year-old righty once he is fully stretched out, but if he continues to pitch this well he could potentially take the roster spot just handed out to Jeff Francis.
Both Jenkins and pitching coach Randy St. Claire felt that last start was an anomaly not worth harping on, as the weather was as intense as it could have been without being called. Jenkins is starting to pick up where he left off as a starter before the injury setback in 2013. Now he is just has to work on building up his pitch count and getting more quick groundball outs with his sinker.
Ryan Tepera, who Allenson calls "the vulture", came in and grabbed a win out of the tied ball game when Chris Colabello hit the game winning homer. Last season Tepera managed wins out of tied games seven times, it was his first this year. He and Bo Schultz both pitched two strong innings a piece, allowing just a pair of singles. Schultz earned his second save of the young season.
Colabello’s homerun saved the Bisons from wasting a great pitching performance. The team left 13 men in scoring position going 0-for-9 in those situations. Fortunately the wind started to pick up towards right center in the middle innings, which works in favor of the powerful Colabello.
"Sometimes you have an experience within your mind that if I get something over the plate I’m gonna hit it out," said the slugger. It was a quality team win, and according to Colabello games like this only add to the great comradery in the club house. If the Bisons continue to get pitching like the have over the past week, they could be a scary club when the offense gets going.