The Louisville Bats have struggled this season with runners in scoring position and nothing seemed to have changed to that effect Tuesday night. That is until Henry Rodriguez came to bat with two on in the seventh.
Rodriguez singled to score Willie Harris and give the Bats a 2-1 lead. The hit turned out to be the game winning hit of the Bats’ 4-1 victory over the Buffalo Bisons. Two batters later, Felix Perez reached on an error by Bisons’ first baseman Adam Loewen that allowed two more to score, making it 4-1.
The Bats (39-67) got stellar relief work from Will Ohman, Nick Christiani, and Donnie Joseph after a 67-minute rain delay forced starter Chad Reineke out of the game. The three relievers combined to pitch the final four innings scoreless giving up just three hits and striking out four.
“I thought Chad could have gone seven if it wasn’t for the rain,” Bats manager David Bell said. “Our bullpen was outstanding (after the delay).”
Christiani (1-5) pitched scoreless seventh and eighth innings to pick up his first win of the season while lowering his ERA to 3.44.
“Christiani is having a good year, although his record doesn’t show it.” Bell said. “He pitched really well for two innings tonight.”
The Bats struck first in the first when Didi Gregorius lined a one out home run to right field. It was Gregorius’ third homer in 13 games with the Bats; he had just one in 81 games with Pensacola before his promotion.
Mike Baxter, who is on rehab from the New York Mets, tied it at one with a two out RBI single in the third.
After starting the fifth inning with a single, Denis Phipps advanced to second on a ground out by Henry Rodriguez. Following the play, home plate umpire Travis Carlson halted play as the rain poured. The delay lasted for 67 minutes.
The Bats improved to 24-8 when outhitting their opponents and 24-15 when scoring first. Perez, who finished the game 3-for-4 with an RBI, has now hit safely in 28 of his last 39 games, including 12 multi-hit games.
Brett Tomko comes of the disabled list Wednesday to start for the Bats in game two of the four game series with the Bisons. While Tomko’s record is 0-6, he boasts an ERA of 3.12. In his ten starts, the Bats have scored a combined 20 runs.
“He’s pitched two simulated games. One was 65 pitches and one was 85 pitches” Bell said. “With his experience, we’ll kind of just see how it goes. He may be able to go deep into the game.”
Tomko will be opposed by righty Collin McHugh (1-3, 4.54 ERA). First pitch for the midweek affair is set for 7:05.
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