You know that PCL divisional lead the Salt Lake Buzz worked so hard to get in recent weeks? Well, they lost it Saturday night by - get this - losing both at home and on the road to the Calgary Cannons.
Actually, the Buzz didn't really lose in Calgary, but they dropped both ends of a doubleheader - 6-5 in the first game, 5-1 in nightcap - and the Cannons were officially the "home" team in the second game even though it was played at Franklin Covey Field.The Buzz, now 67-52, entered the night with a one game lead in the PCL's Southern Division over Fresno. But the two losses combined with the Grizzlies' victory over Colorado Springs gives Fresno (68-52) a one-half game advantage in the standings. It was not the way manager Phil Roof wanted to start a 10-game homestand with only two dozen games remaining in the season.
The Buzz, who arrived in Salt Lake from Nevada just a couple of hours prior to game time, seemed to have left more than some spare gambling money in Las Vegas. It appeared like they also left their bats. The Buzz, in two games, had only nine base hits.
"It was not a good day," said Roof. "We just couldn't get started. We couldn't get on track with our bats. It's as simple as that."
Calgary edged the Buzz in the opener 6-5 with a two-run homer by second baseman Craig Wilson in the sixth inning being the difference. Buzz starter Mark Redman (5-5) was strong through five innings, allowing only one earned run. But he tired in the sixth, giving up three runs to be saddled with the loss.
A Buzz rally in the opener came up just short. Salt Lake entered the bottom of the seventh (and final) inning trailing by three runs. Torii Hunter singled to open the inning and catcher A.J.
Pierzynski followed with a blast over the right-field wall, pulling the Buzz to within one. But Calgary pitcher Mike Heathcott retired the next three Salt Lake hitters in order - two on called third strikes - to earn the complete-game victory.
The Cannons had the advantage of batting last as the home team in the second game - because it was a make-up of a rained out game that was supposed to be played in Canada earlier in the year. They didn't need their final at-bats, anyway. Again the Buzz got a solid start. Buzz starter Gary Wilson, who has been primarily a reliever this year, hurled four no-hit innings before giving up a single run in the fifth. Buzz reliever Steve Wojciechowski, who had given up only one earned run in six appearance for Salt Lake entering Saturday's game, was touched off for four runs without getting an out to suffer his first defeat with the Buzz.
But pitching wasn't Roof's big concern. He was more upset by the lack of hitting. He realizes there are going to be games like Saturday's during a long season, but he also knows that Salt Lake can't afford many more of them if they want to win the division and advance to the playoffs.
At this point of a season "it is an everyday grind," said Roof. "We're in the thick of a pennant race and there is no let-up. When you have a one-game lead, your neck is on the line every game.
There's a lot of pressure there."
The Buzz will try to get back on the winning track - and perhaps regain the divisional lead - with a 5 p.m. game tonight against the Cannons. Buzz lefty Benj Sampson (8-6) is scheduled to start against Calgary's Luis Andujar (1-1).
"We'll go home get some good cooking and some rest and we'll be ready tomorrow," said Roof.