Buffalo Splits Doubleheader: Wheeler Okay In Bisons Loss, But Den Dekker’s Grand Slam Keys Win In Nightcap

The Buffalo Bisons split a doubleheader with Syracuse yesterday, dropping the first game by a score of 5-4 and winning the nightcap 4-3 after holding off a late charge by the Chiefs.

Zack Wheeler, whose debut was pushed back a day because of a rainout on Sunday, took the bump for game one and for four innings the Mets top prospect was wicked good. Wheeler was greeted with a single to start the first and the runner advanced to second on a steal, but the right-hander got the next three outs to snuff out the threat including two strikeouts.

Syracuse wouldn’t get another hit until the fifth inning when they finally broke through with two runs off Wheeler before he was replaced by Justin Hampson. Wheeler exhibited some command issues in the game and issued four walks and a hit-batter in his 4.2 innings of work, allowing two earned runs in 4.2 innings and striking out seven.

The Bisons jumped to an early 3-0 lead that included back-to-back homers in the third by Josh Rodriguez and Lucas Duda. But Syracuse came roaring back with the two runs of Wheeler in the fifth, another run in that same inning off Hampson, and then two more runs off newly acquired Scott Patterson in the sixth inning.

The Bisons staged a two-out rally in the seventh with a Mike Nickeas double and a Brad Emaus RBI single, but Fred Lewis was called out on strikes to end the game, leaving the tying run stranded at third base.

In the second game, Buffalo grabbed the early 4-0 lead on the strength of a grand slam homer by center fielder Matt den Dekker crushed a pitch over the right field wall. The score would remain that way until the finally inning when Syracuse launched a late three runs rally to put a scare into the Bisons bullpen, but fell short of tying the game giving the Herd a much needed 4-3 victory and the doubleheader split.

Jenrry Mejia started for the Bisons and pitched 4.1 scoreless innings before being removed in the fifth. Mejia allowed just four baserunners and struck out two and in terms of pure effectiveness he fared much better than Wheeler did in the first game. Pedro Beato vultured the win despite giving up two runs in his two innings of work, and C.J. Nitkowski earned the save, his first with the Bisons.

Herd Rumblings: Nitkowski was making his Bisons debut after being promoted on Sunday. Seven different Bisons notched hits in game one, and three different Bisons had hits in game two. As a result, no Bisons had multi-hit efforts on Monday evening. In a weird, but frequent happening in the minors, the Bisons served as the home team in game two, due to Sunday’s rainout in Buffalo. Syracuse was the home team in game one.

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I'm a lifelong Mets fan who loves writing and talking about the Amazins' 24/7. From the Miracle in 1969 to the magic of 1986, and even the near misses in '73, '00 and '15, I've experienced it all - the highs and the lows. I started Mets Merized Online in 2005 to feed my addiction and interact with other passionate Met fans like you. Follow me on Twitter @metsmerized.