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Familia nearly flawless in 6-0 Herd win
Den Dekker hits second grand slam of season
08/14/2012 10:26 PM ET
Reliable Bisons fielder Fred Lewis notched a double on Tuesday night.
Reliable Bisons fielder Fred Lewis notched a double on Tuesday night. 
After putting together an efficient midseason stretch, Jeurys Familia has struggled on the mound recently - allowing four or more runs in each of his last four starts.

The right-hander definitively bucked that trend on Tuesday night.

Utilizing a scarily effective breaking ball as well as a precise fastball, Familia steadily went about retiring Lehigh Valley batters Tuesday at Coca-Cola Field. The 22-year old allowed no runs on just four hits through seven innings of work, with only one walk. Matt Den Dekker's 7th-inning grand slam complemented Familia's effort with style, and the Bisons rolled to a 6-0 win over the IronPigs on a cloudy night in downtown Buffalo.

"Outstanding," Bisons manager Wally Backman said of Familia's performance. "His last outing was pretty darned good, too, and it carried over into this outing...He pounded the strike zone, and he had a great breaking ball tonight."

Although Familia wasn't perfect on the evening, he managed to keep Lehigh Valley scoreless by limiting any damage after a rare miscue. He did allow four hits - but all were singles, and the IronPigs weren't able to notch multiple hits in any inning.

As a result, Familia made it through his time on the mound quickly and efficiently - keeping Lehigh Valley from generating any significant momentum at the plate.

Maybe the most impressive statistic from Familia's effort on Tuesday night? The walk total: only one, compared to eight strikeouts. After struggling with his command earlier in the season, the promising prospect has now gone 11 starts without issuing more than three walks - dating all the way back to June 16 against Pawtucket.

Familia's command has steadily improved throughout the year, allowing his walk totals to decrease.

"Against a team that's pretty well-disciplined at the plate, he got ahead of hitters," Backman said. "He was able to expand the zone. That's why you want pitchers to throw first-pitch strikes, so they can expand the zone and make the hitter expand the zone. When they fall behind, those hitters are able to shrink the zone."

As for Den Dekker's grand slam, it was his second of the year, allowing the center fielder to become the first Bison since 2004 to record multiple slams in one season. It came at a critical time, with the Herd up 2-0 and one out in the 7th. Den Dekker took a crack at a 1-1 offering from Lehigh Valley reliever Joe Savery, and the ball sailed out of the park - bouncing off a tent just beyond right-center field.

Although Den Dekker doesn't recall hitting a professional slam prior to his time in Buffalo, he enjoys having a chance with the plate when the bases are loaded, and showed it on Tuesday.

"It was great," Den Dekker said. "You want to drive the guys in (with the bases loaded), so just put the barrel on the ball somewhere. Hit it hard somewhere."

The Bisons put together a quality outing on Tuesday, with Den Dekker's heroics and Familia's gem working together to provide a pleasant evening for the Coca-Cola Field faithful.

Buffalo has little margin for error the rest of the way in its quest to chase a wild-card berth, to be sure. But if Tuesday night was any indication, the team has no intention of going down without a fight.

Bisons Notes: Den Dekker was the only Bison to record a multi-hit outing, going 2-for-3 at the plate with a strikeout. The effort raises his average to .210 on the year in Buffalo...Robert Carson pitched two solid innings to close the game for Familia, allowing no runs on one hit, with a walk and a strikeout.

-the herd-

This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.
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