It's not so much that the Salt Lake Buzz dropped a 6-5 decision to the Phoenix Firebirds Wednesday night at Franklin Quest Field, but rather the all-too-familiar way it happened.
Taking a 5-3 lead into the top of the eighth inning, Buzz reliever Dan Serafini gave up a two-out single to Marcus Jensen, walked Tim Florez, then yielded an RBI single to Darryl Kennedy and an RBI double to Calvin Murray.Just like that the score was tied heading into the ninth, and it would only get worse.
Serafini again retired the first two batters he faced in the ninth before giving up a single to Desi Wilson and an RBI double by Jay Canizaro off the glove of a diving Steve Hazlett in right field. Buzz bats went down in order in their half of ninth, leaving Buzz manager Phil Roof scratching his head looking for answers.
"It was a repeat performance for us tonight," Roof said. "We can't seem to close the door or push far enough ahead. We're struggling right now."
Someone who wasn't struggling for the Buzz heading into the game was right-handed pitcher Brett Roberts, who had compiled a 5-0 mark in his last six starts. But even Roberts, who pitched six solid innings before giving way to Serafini with the score tied 3-3, couldn't close the deal.
"Every time we scored, they scored," Roof said. "And every time they scored, we did."
Sure enough, it was an anything-you-can-do-I-can-do-better game.
The Buzz scored runs in the first and second innings, only to watch the Firebirds match them run for run in the second in third. Both teams again exchanged runs in the sixth, the Firebirds on a leadoff home run by Keith Williams, the Buzz off an RBI single by Chris Latham.
"Sometimes you can make great pitches and they can still get their bloop hits," Roof said. "Brett hasn't given up a home run in his last six games and he gives up an opposite-field home run tonight. Sometimes you just have to give the guy a tip of your hat."
Despite the loss, Roof was encouraged by Serafini's effort, who was making only his second appearance after spending four weeks on the disabled list. Serafini gave up five hits and three runs, all earned, in taking the loss. Roof plans to return Serafini to the starting rotation as early as Sunday or Monday when the Buzz begin a four-game series at Colorado Springs.
"He'll be an important pitcher for us in the second half of the season," Roof said.
BUZZ BRIEFS: Buzz outfielder-designated hitter Kevin Reimer was given his unconditional release on Wednesday. According to Roof their was a verbal understanding that Reimer could ask for his release if it was clear he didn't fit into the franchise's major league plans. Reimer was batting .285 in 54 games for the Buzz, and was tied for the team lead in homers with 10 . . . Shawn Barton got the win for the Firebirds, improving his record to 2-1 on the season. Steve Mintz picked up his 14th save, retiring the only two batters he faced.