Blue Jays: Standout performers from the Buffalo Bisons after the first series
A day after the excitement and pageantry of MLB Opening Day, the Buffalo Bisons got their Triple-A season underway on Friday against the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders.
The team went 2-1 over the weekend versus the Yankees' affiliate, with the series full of standout performances from players most recently seen in major league camp in Dunedin.
The Bisons only managed three hits in the Friday opener, losing 2-1 despite a solid start from Casey Lawrence, who went five innings with eight punchouts.
The biggest standout was Nate Pearson, who picked up where he left off in Florida. Pearson pitched the final frame and struck out the side with some impressive heat, topping out at 99.9 mph. He finished his weekend with four strikeouts in two innings of work. If he keeps it up, he could start to look enticing to the Blue Jays, whose bullpen could have used some help this weekend.
The Bisons' bats came alive in the team's 6-4 victory on Saturday, highlighted by a massive home run from Spring Training darling Addison Barger. Following a first-inning lead-off walk by Otto Lopez, Barger mashed his 456-foot no-doubter to straightaway center.
The young third baseman, who finished his weekend four-for-12 with the homer, two RBI and a pair of runs scored, wants to ensure he's not forgotten in Buffalo this year. If he keeps hitting like this, there's not much chance of that happening.
Following up on his strong spring, third-string catcher Rob Brantly also got in the act at the plate on Saturday. After going 0-for-3 in the Friday opener, he was a perfect 3-for-3 with a walk, a double, a pair of RBI and a run scored in the rain-delayed contest. The 33-year-old veteran even kept working during the delay, signing autographs in the concourse.
The Bisons closed out the series with an extra-inning 2-1 win on Sunday, thanks to big games from starter Bowden Francis and center fielder Wynton Bernard.
Francis pitched four clean innings, scattering four hits while striking out seven and walking none. It was an efficient outing for the 26-year-old, who threw 36 of his 56 pitches for strikes. Despite not factoring in the decision, Francis kept the Bisons in it until the bats got going.
Bernard was the offensive hero, driving all three runs for Buffalo. After he cashed the first run with an infield chopper, he plated the eventual winning run with a two-run double in the 10th. He finished his day going 2-for-4 with all three RBI and a walk.