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May 20, 2022
Connor Grey, a 2012 Frewsburg graduate, delivers to the plate for the Syracuse Mets during their International League East Division game against the Buffalo Bisons on Thursday at Sahlen Field in Buffalo. P-J photo by Scott Reagle
BUFFALO — Connor Grey seems to be settling in nicely with the Syracuse Mets.
Pitching as close to home as he ever has professionally, the 2012 Frewsburg graduate threw six shutout innings Thursday afternoon as the Mets beat the Buffalo Bisons 1-0 in Game 1 of an International League East Division doubleheader at Sahlen Field.
“It’s basically home for me,” Grey said while spending Thursday evening at home enjoying the comfort of Frewsburger pizza. “I work out in Buffalo. … It’s my area code. It’s familiar territory and I get to pitch in front of my people. It makes it a homecoming in a way.”
With a small group of friends and family sitting next to the visitors dugout, Grey allowed six hits and struck out seven while walking two and hitting a batter. He received a no-decision with the score tied 0-0 when he left the game.
Syracuse earned the win in the top of the eighth inning when “ghost runner” Cody Bohanek scored on Tzu-Wei Lin’s RBI single to right field.
Connor Grey’s family roots for him from seats next to the Syracuse Mets’ dugout at Sahlen Field in Buffalo on Thursday. P-J photo by Scott Reagle
“It’s my job to keep putting up zeros and keep us close. If you are feeling it, (quick, scoreless innings) kind of help,” Grey said. “When you are in the zone, you are ready to get back out there.”
The Mets would’ve never been in position to win if not for Grey.
Starting for the first time in Buffalo, just 75 miles from home, the 6-foot, 180-pound right-hander matched Bisons left-hander Nick Allgeyer zero for zero through the first five innings.
With one out in the first, Grey hit Bisons catcher Gabriel Moreno with his 11th pitch of the game, but he managed to get through the frame with strikeouts of Nathan Lukes and Jordan Groshans.
“I just missed one arm side. It slipped and ended up hitting him,” Grey said of the hit by pitch. “I dialed it back in and got out of that unscathed.”
Connor Grey has thrown 11 2/3 straight scoreless innings, lowering his earned run average from a season-high 7.52 on May 5 to a 4.78 after Thursday’s outing. P-J photo by Scott Reagle
In the bottom of the second inning, Grey picked up his third straight strikeout with a 75 mph curveball. The 2016 St. Bonaventure graduate got through the inning when he induced a fly ball with his 33rd pitch of the afternoon.
“The curveball is my best pitch so I’m always going to throw it. It’s always graded pretty well,” Grey said. ” … When I throw it in the zone, all of the exit velocities are low compared to my other pitches. … When I need to, with two strikes, I can punch people out with it.”
Buffalo’s Joshua Fuentes led off the bottom of the third with an infield single and ended up on second base on a throwing error. After a sacrifice bunt, Grey struck out Cavan Biggio — the 2016 fifth-round pick of the Toronto Blue Jays and son of Hall of Famer Craig Biggio — with a 93 mph fastball. Moreno left the game after getting hit by Grey’s first-inning pitch and his replacement, Stevie Berman, flew out to center field to end the third.
“Since he’s been in the (Major Leagues) you know he’s there. He’s had a hot bat lately,” Grey said of Biggio. “My fastball and curveball play well off each other. That’s usually kind of my game, playing them off each other and tunneling them.”
Grey allowed another pair of infield singles in the bottom of the fourth, but started a 1-4-3 double play to escape the jam unscathed.
“I like to think I’m an athlete out there and can make some plays for myself,” Grey said.
In the fifth, after issuing a walk to open the inning, the 20th-round draft pick of the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2016 struck out Fuentes and Nick Podkul. With first base open after a stolen base, Grey intentionally walked Biggio and the strategy paid off as he struck out Berman to end the inning.
Grey did his best Harry Houdini impression to escape a mess in the bottom of the sixth. Lukes and Groshans singled to open the inning. Taylor then laid down a bunt intended to be a sacrifice, but scored a base hit when third baseman Mark Vientos’ throw to first pulled Bohanek off the bag. Unfazed, Grey induced a groundball double play as Lin threw home for the first out and catcher Nick Meyer threw to third for the second out.
“I haven’t seen that. I talked to a couple of guys in the dugout and they hadn’t seen it,” Grey said of the unusual double play. “It’s always something new in baseball.”
Left with runners at first and second, Grey spun toward second before his fourth pitch to Logan Warmoth and ran down Taylor in between second and third for the final out of the inning.
“We were kind of setting that up. We knew he was a runner and I was switching up my looks,” Grey said. “After the first pitch, he looked mad that he didn’t go. … We’ve always been instructed to run at him and make him decide which way to go. He kind of got caught in the middle.”
Yoan Lopez, who has seen action in two games this season for the New York Mets, relieved Grey and got the final six outs for Syracuse to earn the victory when Bohanek scored the winning run.
Grey has now thrown 11 2/3 straight scoreless innings, lowering his earned run average from a season-high 7.52 on May 5 to a 4.78 after Thursday’s outing. The impressive stretch couldn’t come at a better time as Syracuse’s parent club is dealing with injuries to starters Jacob deGrom, Tylor Megill and, most recently, Max Scherzer, who left Wednesday’s game with an injury.
“We don’t like to play general manager. We never know what they’re thinking,” Grey said. “We see what happens, but we don’t assume anything is going to happen until the transaction happens.”
NOTES: Buffalo won Game 2 4-1 to improve to 22-17 on the season. … The Mets fell to 14-24 after their loss in the nightcap. … Syracuse finishes its six-game series in Buffalo on Sunday before returning home for a six-game homestand against the Rochester Red Wings. … The next time Syracuse visits Buffalo will be Monday, July 4 through Sunday, July 10.
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