The Buffalo Bisons used a four-run first inning to top the Red Wings 6-3 Thursday afternoon in Buffalo, the 2014 season opener for both clubs. The teams meet again Friday afternoon in Buffalo, before heading to Rochester for Saturday's 2:05 p.m. home opener at Frontier Field.
Rochester's Scott Diamond became just the second Wings left-hander to get the Opening Day assignment in the last 19 years; Glen Perkins made the start on Opening Day 2008. Diamond's mound opponent Thursday was Marcus Stroman, Toronto's first round pick in 2012 and the Jays' second best prospect entering the 2014 season.
Stroman showed little signs of either rookie or opening day jitters, striking out Darin Mastroianni and Danny Santana to open the game. Bisons third baseman Andy LaRoche bobbled a groundball by Deibinson Romero for an error, and Chris Parmelee followed with a single. But Stroman struck out Brad Nelson escape the two-out scoring threat.
The Bisons racked up four runs with two outs in their half of the first inning against Diamond (0-1). Buffalo took advantage of a pair of walks, and a key two-run single by Mike Nickeas.
The Red Wings cut the lead in half in the top of the second. Mastroianni contributed a clutch two-out, two-run single to score Wilkin Ramirez and James Beresford making the score 4-2 Buffalo. Ramirez had walked to open the frame, and Beresford followed with a single; both advanced into scoring position on a long flyball out by Chris Rahl.
The Bisons picked up another run in the second inning, on an unusual combination of plays. With Gose at third and one out, Matt Tuiasosopo lifted a fly ball over the left side of the infield. Third baseman Romero moved for it, then backed off thinking shortstop Santana would make the play. The ball dropped in safely and Gose broke for home; Santana's throw to the plate struck Gose in the back, with the play scored as an infield hit and throwing error allowing Gose to score.
Diamond's day was done after two innings and 60 pitches, having allowed six hits, four walks, and five runs (four earned). Yohan Pino relieved Diamond in the third inning.
Stroman allowed four hits, two earned runs and a walk over four innings, striking out four in his Triple-A debut. Former Wing Liam Hendriks (1-0) replaced Stroman to start the Rochester fifth.
Pino set down all six Bisons hitters he faced, notching a strikeout in two innings' work. Brooks Raley took over on the mound in the bottom of the fifth for the Wings.
The Bisons added a sixth inning run with two outs, on Tuiasosopo's third hit of the game. Raley walked Dan Johnson after the run-scoring hit, and Deolis Guerra came out of the bullpen to get the final out of the inning.
Rochester put together a rally attempt in the eighth inning against reliever John Stilson, who issued two walks and a wild pitch. Beresford laced a two-out single to drive in Romero and bring the Wings to within three runs at 6-3. Neil Wagner replaced Stilson, and caught Rahl looking for the final out.
Guerra didn't allow a hit over his 1 1/3 innings, in his first Triple-A appearance since missing all but three games of the 2013 season with an injury. Matt Hoffman worked the eighth inning for Rochester, retiring all three batters he faced.
The Wings bullpen allowed three hits and an unearned run over six innings of work.
Wagner retired the Wings in order in the ninth to record the save.
NOTES: The 2014 season's first pitch was a called strike from Marcus Stroman to Darin Mastroianni at 2:11 p.m., with the game time temperature 42°...Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown threw out the ceremonial first pitch...The Bisons defeated the Wings in the previous two season openers here, in 1988 and 2013....The Wings have now dropped four of their last five Opening Day games... Wilkin Ramirez was hit on the right hand by a pitch in the third inning, but stayed in the game...On Thursday morning, the Twins reinstated LHP Brian Duensing and optioned RHP Michael Tonkin to Rochester...Buffalo has former Wings Bobby Korecky, Liam Hendriks, and Steve Tolleson on the roster... Double-A New Britain opens Thursday night with lefty Pat Dean on the mound.....Class A Advanced Fort Myers opens Thursday night with RHP Jason Wheeler starting....Class A Cedar Rapids opens Thursday night, with 6'10" righty Aaron Slegers on the hill for the Kernels.
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UPCOMING PROBABLE STARTERS
4/4 @ BUF 2:05 pm RHP Alex Meyer (NR) vs. RHP Ricky Romero (NR) WYSL 1040 AM/TWCS 26
4/5 vs BUF 2:05 pm LHP Kris Johnson (NR) vs. RHP Kyle Drabek (NR) WHAM 1180 AM/TWCS 26
4/6 vs BUF 1:05 pm RHP Trevor May (NR) vs. LHP Sean Nolin (NR) WHTK 1280 AM/TWCS 26
4/7 vs SWB 7:05 pm LHP Logan Darnell (NR) vs. TBD WHTK 1280 AM