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  • Tony Fiorello


Updated: Sep 27, 2023

An outing that initially looked as if it would be a blowout turned into a close one near the end as the Buffalo Bisons upended the Toledo Mud Hens on Friday night 8-5 at Sahlen Field.

The win was the Herd’s first following Major League Baseball’s All-Star break, and it was needed according to those who were there.

“That was a great game for the whole team,” outfielder Cameron Eden said. “Zach Thompson came out and really dominated from the beginning and then we all kind of worked together and put up a lot of runs. Overall it’s a great team win.”

“The guys had four days off came back, swung the bats well and we did some good things out there tonight,” manager Casey Candaele added.

Thompson earned his fifth win of the season while allowing just two runs on four hits and striking out five baserunners while walking just three. But as well as Thompson performed on the mound, the story surrounding the game was the amount of runs scored.

At first, the contest looked to be entirely in favor of Buffalo. Following a solo home run by Addison Barger to right field in the bottom of the second, Eden collected both a leadoff double and a stolen base and was driven home by Spencer Horwitz on a sacrifice fly to make it 2-0 in the third.

Eden’s stolen base was his 37th of the season, a career-high and the third straight year in which he has swiped more than 30 bags in the minors. With Triple-A baseball testing out bigger bases a year ago – and MLB making them permanent this year – that was music to Eden’s ears.

“(Increasing the size of bases) definitely helps with base-running,” Eden said. “I’m the kind of guy who likes to steal and I’m going to take full advantage of it, for sure. I’m going to try and get as many as I can.”

Candaele praised Eden’s baserunning skills.

“He is elite at it and Cam doesn’t steal any cheap bases,” Candaele said. “He’s not stealing bases in situations where people are like, ‘Well, he ran and they’re up by four’ – he’s not doing that. He’s stealing them in situations early in games, when we need them late in games, or if we’re down by a run or in a tie game. It’s pretty impressive.

“He’s 37 for 39 this year, I think, and in looking at those other two he could have arguably been safe on replay. So in my opinion he’s 39 for 39. There’s something to having a feel for the game and knowing when it’s time to run. It’s a special gift that he has.”

Tyler Nevin’s home run to centerfield in the fourth and Johan Camargo’s own solo shot in the fifth notwithstanding, Jordan Luplow hit a sac fly of his own to make it 3-1 and Eden got the Bisons’ third sac fly of the night to increase the lead to 4-2. Then a three-run blast to left field by Davis Schneider and Eden’s RBI double put Buffalo up by an 8-2 count, and it looked as if the Bisons would cruise to a victory.

Not so. After Hagen Danner and Paul Fry relieved Thompson in the sixth inning and pitched a pair of scoreless frames, Junior Fernandez struggled in the eighth – walking four baserunners and surrendering three runs (two of them earned). He then yielded the mound to Jimmy Burnette and Hayden Junger, who got through the rest of the game to secure an 8-5 win for the Herd.

“Jimmy Burnette in particular came in and did an outstanding job,” Candaele said. “He came into a tough situation with the bases loaded and no outs. They had already scored a run or two and he allowed just one after that, which was huge. That was a big turning point in the game and that was a great effort on his part.”

The Bisons will take on Toledo again in the second of a three-game series on Saturday night at 6:05. Former MLB All-Star and current Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Hyun-Jin Ryu will make an injury rehab start for Buffalo.

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