Let's Play 7: Bisons No Stranger to Shorter Games
Major League Baseball announced on Friday that they would be moving to seven inning games for their doubleheaders this season. And while the concept of a 'fifth-inning stretch' may seem out there, the Bisons are no stranger to seven-inning contests... especially after the early season Buffalo weather does its thing with the Herd schedule.
So, with that in mind, here's a look at seven of our favorite games from the past 15 years that were at least scheduled for only seven innings of play.
Ken Takahashi, 40, was pitching for the first time in America.
In the blink of an eye -August 20, 2009 -Syracuse at Buffalo
The shortest game in the Bisons modern era belongs to maybe the oldest rookie ever to play with the team. Southpaw Ken Takahashi made his American baseball debut in 2009 at the age of 40 years old. Despite a solid 2.38 ERA in 18 appearances, his lone win came in a 2-0 victory over the Syracuse Chiefs in the second game of an August 20, 2009 doubleheader. The veteran/rookie made quick work of the Bisons Thruway Cup rival by needing just 71 pitches and an hour and 21 minutes to complete the three-hit shutout. And if you take out the 26 tosses the lefty needed in the game's scoreless 2nd inning, he used just 45 pitches in the other six innings combined, including a four-pitch fifth inning and a five-pitch seventh to close out the win.
No Fly Zone - June 4, 2006 -Durham at Buffalo
From the quickest game in Bisons history to one of the longest afternoons at the ballpark. This doubleheader was slated for 14 total innings, but lasted 23 as the Bulls swept a pair of games from the Bisons, 7-5 and then 3-2 in 16 innings. The day lasted seven hours and 37 minutes! Now, we normally wouldn't bring up a pair of Bisons loses if not for one of the most bizarre moments in Sahlen Field history. In the 11th inning of game two, Bulls pitcher Jason Childers hit a seagull with a pitch intended for Herd infield Ramon Vazquez. Vazquez, thinking he struck out, ran to first as the ball skipped to the backstop. After some discussion, and the removal of the bird from the playing field by Bisons catcher Einar Diaz, the umpire's officially ruling was to do a 'do over' and Vazquez returned to the plate to ground out later in the at-bat.
The fate of the seagull remains ballpark lore, but some say they witnessed the bird fly off under its own power after a brief visit with the team's trainers.
His victory in game one would be Jon Niese's last appearance with the Bisons before being called up to the Mets.
Dueling shutouts - July 18, 2009 -Toledo at Buffalo
You wouldn't think the 2009 season would have two of our favorite doubleheaders, but Jon Niese and Nelson Figueroa were nothing short of brilliant on this Saturday night in downtown Buffalo with a pair of complete game shutouts. One of the Mets top prospects at the time, Niese turned around an 0-6 start to the year with this his fifth consecutive win, prompting his first big league promotion. The southpaw allowed just two singles and added a pair of strikeouts in a 1-0 win that was just three minutes longer than Takahashi's modern era record. The veteran Figueroa followed that gem up with five strikeouts and no walks over his seven shutout innings. The Herd won the second game, 2-0.
Ernie Young homered twice on Opening Day in 2005
Season Opening Twinbill -April 8, 2005 -Richmond at Buffalo
Because of a rainout the day before, the first chance Bisons fans had to welcome back the defending IL champions was a fridaynightbash! doubleheader against the team the Herd defeated in the 2004 finals. An extremely well-played doubleheader saw each team pick up a 5-4 victory. Ernie Young homered twice in game one for Buffalo but a go-ahead blast in the top of the seventh by the game's top prospect at the time, third baseman Andy Marte, give the Braves the first win of the day. And while Marte homered again in game two, veteran slugger Andy Abad came through with a pinch-hit walk-off RBI-single in the bottom of the eighth inning to give the Bisons their 5-4 victory.
Kirk Nieuwenhuis broke up the no-hitter with an opposite field home run.
No, No, you're not going to win -April 21, 2011 - Rochester at Buffalo
In the first game of this doubleheader, it looked like top Twins pitching prospect Kyle Gibson was in complete control as he took a no-hitter to the seventh and final inning. In fact, the Bisons had just two base runners all afternoon, both reaching on fielding errors. But the Rochester lead was just 1-0 and that quickly evaporated when Kirk Nieuwenhuis led off the bottom of the seventh with a home run. Then in extras, Rochester retook the lead 2-1 only to have Nick Evans lead off the bottom of the eighth with another home run. Evans was not done as he then homered again in the 10th to give Buffalo the 4-2 win. In game two, it was 22-year old Ruben Tejada that had a homer and a two-run double in a 4-1 Bisons victory.
Bisons manager Bobby Meacham celebrates the walkoff win with Patrick Kivlehan and Bo Bichette. Michael Majewski
Two on Independence Eve -July 3, 2019 -Lehigh Valley at Buffalo
The Bisons signature event of the summer got the seven-inning treatment in 2019 after a rainout at Sahlen Field the day before. As a crowd of 16,341 settled in for this WNY tradition they were treated to a comeback walk-off win. Trailing 3-1 in the seventh of game one, 2019 MVP Socrates Brito delivered a pinch-hit RBI-double to deep centerfield to cut the deficit in half. Bo Bichette then chopped an infield single up the third base line to cash in Roemon Fields and tie the game. In the eighth, after the IronPigs scored their free base runner, Reese McGuire lined a single up the middle that scored two and gave Buffalo the 5-4 win.
Jeff Francis threw the first of two, 2-0 shutout victories
Lefty déjÃ vu -April 15, 2015 Pawtucket at Buffalo
A game so good the Bisons played it twice. In this doubleheader, the Bisons had a veteran lefty lead them to a 2-0 victory and then after that... a veteran lefty led them to a 2-0 victory. First up was southpaw Jeff Francis, who allowed just two hits with five strikeouts in five innings in game one and earned the win thanks to a two-run single from Ryan Goins in the second inning. Then in game two, Andrew Albers threw six shutout innings and also struck out five batters. The two-run hit in this game was a first-inning double from slugger Brad Glenn. The doubleheader lasted just three hours and 10 minutes with the PawSox failing to advance a runner to third base in either contest.
• Discuss this story on the International League message board...
International League Stories from August 1, 2020
- Let's Play 7: Bisons No Stranger to Shorter Games - Buffalo Bisons
The opinions expressed in this release are those of the organization issuing it, and do not necessarily reflect the thoughts or opinions of OurSports Central or its staff.