New York State In-depth

Palka smashes two homers, but Syracuse falls short to Buffalo in series opener, 4-3, on Tuesday night

Syracuse, NY – The Syracuse Mets came up a run short on Tuesday night, falling to the Buffalo Bisons, 4-3, on a pleasant, low-70-degree night at NBT Bank Stadium. Despite the loss, Daniel Palka hit two home runs for the Mets.

Syracuse (47-59) got on the board first, plating a run in a flash in the bottom of the second. Palka led off the inning with a bang, crushing a no-doubt home run off the batter’s eye beyond the center-field fence to give the Mets a 1-0 lead.

Buffalo (55-50) promptly surged right back, scoring three runs in the top of the third to chase Syracuse starter José Rodriguez from the game and take an early 3-1 advantage. Seven men came to the plate in the inning for the Bisons. After Logan Warmoth grounded out to start the frame, Stevie Berman walked, and Chavez Young singled to put two runners on base with one out. Young’s single advanced Berman to third, with Young taking second on the throw to third base. Vinny Capra, the next batter, walked to load up the bases. Nathan Lukes then came to the plate and got the job done, chopping a single into center field that plated Berman and Young and advanced Capra to third as the Bisons took a 2-1 lead. The two-run single from Lukes prompted Rodriguez’s removal from the ballgame with Phillip Diehl emerging from the bullpen to take his place. Diehl would work out of the inning without allowing another hit, but a blunder by the left-handed reliever allowed another run to cross home plate. Diehl committed a balk that allowed Capra to walk home with the third run of the inning to give the Bisons a 3-1 edge.

The Mets responded in the bottom of the third. Khalil Lee led off with a single, moved up to second on a Deven Marrero walk, and scored on a Francisco Álvarez RBI single, pulling Syracuse within one, 3-2. Álvarez, the top-ranked prospect in baseball according to MLB Pipeline, has really turned it on at the plate as of late. The 20-year-old catcher has reached base in 16 consecutive games.

In the bottom of the fourth, Palka did it again. On the first pitch of the frame, the left-handed slugger pounded a line-drive down the right-field line that sailed over the wall with ease, knotting the game up, 3-3, in the blink of an eye. Palka now leads the team with 20 home runs this season.

In the fifth, Buffalo took the lead again at 4-3 when Stevie Berman led off the inning with a solo blast over the left-field fence. It was just Berman’s fourth home run in 46 Triple-A game this season. It was also just Berman’s second hit in 22 total at-bats against Syracuse so far on the campaign.

From there, the Bison bullpen locked the game down. The final four relievers of the night for Buffalo (Matt Gage, Graham Spraker, Brandon Eisert, and Vinny Nittoli) combined to shut out the Syracuse Mets in the final five innings on just two hits with no walks and ten strikeouts.

The Mets did get the tying run on base in the bottom of the ninth when Dominic Smith singled to begin the frame. Terrance Gore pinch-ran for Smith and stole his way to second base with nobody out, giving the home crowd a chance to dream of some late magic on an August night. However, it wasn’t to be, as the next three batters went down in order to ensure Buffalo would win the series opener, 4-3.

Syracuse is home all week for a six-game series against the Buffalo Bisons. Wednesday’s game is slated to start at 6:35 pm Left-hander David Peterson is scheduled to start for the Mets, opposed by right-hander Thomas Hatch for the Bisons.

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