(bisons.com) - Jim Negrych has hit all over the lineup this season for the Buffalo Bisons.
He's led off, batted fourth, fifth, sixth, and seemingly at every other spot. But the one constant is his steady production, regardless of his spot in the order. Hitting second, like he did Monday night in the opener of a four-game series against the Gwinnett Braves, though, is where he seems to be most comfortable. A position he can showcase his skills as the catalyst he is.
The Buffalo native had two hits, a walk, a run and what proved to be the game-winning RBI on a sacrifice fly in the eighth inning to help lift the Herd past the Braves, 5-4, at Coca-Cola Field.
"That was a big key (Monday)," manager Marty Brown said of Negrych's performance. "... I like the way Jimmy swings the bat in the two-hole, he makes things happen."
Negrych attributed some of a high comfort-level of hitting second to the speedy leadoff man, Anthony Gose.
The two hitting 1-2 has been a rarity lately, due to slugger Josh Thole getting called up to Toronto earlier this month, and Gose spending 16 days with the Blue Jays, a stint that ended June 6. It's pressed Negrych, the International League's second-best hitter at .349, into the middle of the order more often.
Gose, the center fielder who has been a mainstay in the one- or two- spot during his time in Buffalo, joined Negrych in jump-starting the offense Monday. He, too, had a pair of hits, a walk and a run scored.
"(Gose) makes it a lot easier for me to hit when he's on first base," Negrych said. "With his speed, he's such a threat that it changes the way the pitcher has to attack me. He can't throw me as much off-speed as he'd like because if he throws more off-speed, Gose is going to steal second all the time."
Negrych only continued a season-long offensive tear. The second baseman now has 25 multi-hit games in the 56 he has played in.
After losing a 1-0 lead in the top of the third to a two-run Todd Cunningham single, the Bisons answered in the bottom half of the frame. They had two hits and a walk, leading to them regaining a one-run advantage.
Gose and Negrych, who started the inning with a single and a walk, respectively, each came around to score. Luis Jimenez drove in Gose with a double down the first-base line and into the Bisons' bullpen area. Moises Sierra, who had two hits of his own, proceeded with a fielder's choice to shortstop that allowed Negrych to cross.
Negrych said he saw some good pitches to hit in the game because of such sluggers like Jimenez, and the IL-leader in homers, Mauro Gomez, commanding the attention of the pitchers in the third and fourth spots.
"Having Mauro or Jimenez or whoever's behind me in our lineup is a plus, as well," Negrych said, "because most guys would rather face me than have to face a guy who's going to have a chance to hit the ball over for a three-run homer."
Todd Redmond took the mound for the Herd and pitched solid over six innings. He allowed just two runs on five hits while fanning three Braves.
The Bisons played heads up in the field to help Redmond out, too. They tagged out four runners on the base paths with Redmond in the game, two of those coming on Mike Nickeas catching runners stealing.
"(Redmond) really pitched ahead in the count, he was aggressive and he kept putting the pressure on their hitters," Brown said. "Made good pitches and we played defense behind him, as well."
Mickey Storey recorded the hold, pitching the seventh and eighth. He registered three strikeouts and gave up one hit.
The Bisons furthered the lead to 5-2 after the eighth on a sixth-inning solo shot by Andy LaRoche and Negrych's sacrifice fly to center, which scored LaRoche.
John Stilson entered in the ninth having only given up one run over 11 2/3 innings pitched. He recorded his second save of the season, but not without him heading into unchartered territory, which for him was allowing baserunners.
Jose Constanza and Todd Cunningham both reached to start the inning. They both came around to score, but only as Stilson retired the next three batters after them to end the game.
Despite some trouble, Redmond was confident he'd still end up with the win to improve to 2-1 when watching Stilson pitch the ninth on a TV in the clubhouse while icing his arm. He noted how much of a confident boost it is to pitch in front of a bullpen that has been steady all year.
"It's a great mindet," Redmond said. "You can go out there, give up two runs, even if you're behind, they can still hold you to a one-run game, it doesn't matter. They'll come in and throw strikes and get the job done."