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Clubhouse culture key as Bisons roll off fifth straight win

by Amy Moritz

Liam Hendriks was ready to begin the next part of his professional baseball journey, being traded by the Toronto Blue Jays to the Kansas City Royals Monday afternoon.

But leaving Buffalo was going to be a little difficult for the best pitcher in the International League.

"This is probably one of the most fun clubhouses I’ve ever been in. .. I’m going to miss a lot of the guys here," he said.

The culture of the Buffalo Bisons' clubhouse has been a key to the Herd's success amid a tumultuous year for transactions.

With 194 roster moves the Bisons set the modern era franchise record on Monday. Yet the Herd came up with a 4-2 win over Lehigh Valley for its fifth straight win and seventh win in its last eight games.

"I've been in Triple-A for 11 years," said hitting coach Richie Hebner, who was helping to run the show while manager Gary Allenson took his mandated four-day vacation. "This is the best group of guys I've been with. It's a fun team to be around. And they all pull for each other. That hasn't been the case in some years I've been with Triple-A. You have some selfish guys and this and that. But this group is a good group.

"They have fun. They show up. We've got guys who come down from the big leagues and they don't mope around. I've been with clubs when they come down, they mope around. I just tell those guys, you want to go back to the big leagues, get better."

Kevin Pillar falls into that category of guys who have been up and down the QEW and kept a positive attitude. Pillar had a two-run home run and a single for his 27th  multi-hit game with the Herd.

"We have fun on the field, we have fun off the field and we all understand the best way to get back up is win games," Pillar said. "Guys at the big-league level want winners and that's what we're trying to do down here. .. The core group of guys that have been here have been great.

"I've never part of a team ... where five, six, seven guys and their wives and their families, we like hanging out together. Guys get to the field early. Guys will stay late. We just enjoy being around each other."

That atmosphere has translated into wins even with the roster in constant flux. The Bisons are now 4 1/2 games out of the Wild Card spot behind Rochester and Pawtucket.

Hendriks and Kratz traded from the Herd (updated with audio)

By Amy Moritz

Liam Hendriks has been the most consistent player for the Buffalo Bisons this season. He was 8-1 with a 2.33 earned run average, earning him the starting spot for the International League in the Triple-A All-Star game. He the winning pitcher and Most Valuable Player for the IL in that showcase game.

And now, he's off to the Kansas City Royals organization.

Hendriks and Herd catcher Erik Kratz were traded by the Toronto Blue Jays to Kansas City for infielder Danny Valencia just prior to Monday's game against Lehigh Valley. Hendriks will report to Triple-A Omaha, according to the Kansas City Star, while Kratz will join the Royals.

Here is what Hendriks had to say about being traded:


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Roster moves: 192 and counting

by Amy Moritz

Hopefully Austin Bibens-Dirkx is enrolled in some kind of travel rewards program. Because the pitcher has again been transferred from the Buffalo Bisons to Double-A New Hampshire. This was the fourth time the pitcher has been sent back to the FisherCats after he had four promotions to the Herd.

Also on Monday, Sean Nolin was transferred to the Bisons from Single-A Dunedin where he made two starts after coming off the disabled list. Nolin is scheduled to start for the Herd on Tuesday.

That was the 192nd roster move of the season for the Bisons, setting a modern era record.

When Brad Mills earned the win for the Bisons on Sunday, he became the 61st different player to suit up for Buffalo in 2014.

Baring any further changes to your scorecard, here are the highlights for tonight's series finale with the IronPigs:

  • Radhames Liz makes his fourth start for the Bisons and his second since his last promotion from Double-A. His last outing was July 22 at Lehigh Valley where he gave up six runs on eight hits in 4 1/3 innings of a no-decision.
  • Jonathan Diaz is on a six-game hitting streak. He is batting .391 (9 for 23) during the streak.
  • Kevin Pillar continues to tear it up for the Herd. He leads the team in hits (97), stolen bases (19) and runs batted in (39). He is tied for third in the International League in batting (.317) and leads the league in doubles (30).

Tonight's starting lineup:

Darin Mastroianni -- CF
Adron Chambers -- DH
Kevin Pillar -- LF
Brad Glenn -- RF
A.J. Jimenez -- C
Ruan Schimpf -- 2B
Kevin Nolin -- 3B
Brett Wallace -- 1B
Jonathan Diaz -- SS

 

Live Blog Live: Bisons host Lehigh Valley, 7 p.m.

Bisons display explosive offense in Sunday win

by Amy Moritz

With a huge third inning, the Buffalo Bisons won their fourt straight game, taking a 9-4 decision over the Lehigh Valley IronPigs in front of 7,881 at Coca-Cola Field Sunday afternoon.

The Bisons produced some insane offense in the third, chasing Lehigh Valley starter Jo-Jo Reyes after 2 2/3 innings.

The first five batters in the third singled, producing three runs. A ground out from A.J. Jimenez gave the Herd a 5-3 lead.

Ryan Schimpf struckout but the offense kept coming. Andy LaRoche drew a walk and Jared Goedert smoked a three-run triple. Jonathan Diaz and Adron Chambers had their second hits of the inning. Kevin Nolan just missed a home run to center field for the final out of the inning.

When it was all done, the Herd sent 12 batters to the plate in the third, scoring seven runs on eight hits and taking an 8-3 lead.

Brad Mills gave up three runs in the first inning, but settled in to pick up the win. He gave up seven hits with one walk and two strikeouts in his Buffalo Bisons debut. He was claimed off waivers by the Toronto Blue Jays who then designated him for assignment.

The series concludes at 7:05 p.m. Monday.

Brad Mills gets first start with the Bisons

by Amy Moritz

Brad Mills will make his Buffalo Bisons' debut this afternoon as the Herd hosts the Lehigh Valley IronPigs.

Manager Gary Allenson said Saturday night that Mills would be on a pitch count, probably in the 65-70 range. Mills was claimed by the Toronto Blue Jays off waivers from Oakland on July 17. He pitched one game for the Jays, taking a no decision after giving up eight runs on seven hits in two innings. He was promptly designated for assignment after that outing.

To make room for Mills, catcher Mike Nickeas was placed on the disabled list.

Offensively, the Bisons are getting contributions from throughout the lineup. Among the highlights is infielder Ryan Schimpf who had is sixth multi-hit performance on Saturday night and his fourth in the last five games.

Today's Bisons' lineup:

Adron Chambers -- LF
Kevin Nolan -- 3B
Kevin Pillar -- CF
Brad Glenn -- RF
A.J. Jimenez -- C
Ryan Schimpf -- 2B
Andy LaRoche -- DH
Jared Goedert -- 1B
Jonathan Diaz -- SS

 

Live Blog Live: Bisons vs. IronPigs

Hendriks to the mound as Herd battles IronPigs

by Amy Moritz

Everyone's favorite Aussie pitcher takes the mound today for the Buffalo Bisons. Ok, so Liam Hendriks may not be everyone's favorite Australian starter, but he's so darn happy to be playing ball it's fun to watch. And if you're a Bisons' fan, his numbers make him even more fun to watch.

Hendriks will make his 16th start as the Herd hosts the Lehigh Valley IronPigs at 7 at Coca-Cola Field. The righty is 7-1 with a 2.40 earned run average. 

Starting for the IronPigs is righty David Buchanan. It's his second start since returning to Lehigh Valley after pitching seven games for the Philadelphia Phillies.

Kevin Pillar continues to belt extra-base hits. With two doubles in Friday night's win, he took over the International League lead with 30.

Saturday afternoon, the Bison activated Adron Chambers who will be in the lineup playing left and batting second. Chambers went on the disabled list July 1 with a left groin strain. Righty Randy Boone was transferred to Double-A New Hampshire.

Tonight's Bisons' lineup:
Darin Mastroianni -- RF
Adron Chambers -- LF
Kevin Pillar -- CF
Erik Kratz -- C
A.J. Jimenez -- DH
Ryan Schmipf -- 2B
Brett Wallace -- 1B
Andy LaRoche -- 3B
Kevin Nolan -- SS

Live Blog Live: Bisons vs. Lehigh Valley

It's 90s Night at the Ballpark as the Herd continues homestand

by Amy Moritz

Break out your best "Saved by the Bell" and "Beverly Hills 90210" references and put the Backstreet Boys and Spice Girls on your playlist. It's 90s Night at Coca-Cola Field as the Bisons open a four-game series against the Lehigh Valley IronPigs.

P.J. Walters starts for the Herd, coming off his third quality start of the season. He has a 2-1 record at Coca-Cola Field with a 3.47 ERA.

Meanwhile it was another day of roster moves for the Bisons.

First, the Blue Jays traded starting pitcher Deck McGuire to the Oakland A's for cash.

Then, righty Sergio Santos was outrighted to the Bisons after he was designated for assignment by the Blue Jays on July 22. Cather Erik Kratz was activated after he was optioned by Toronto.

Meanwhile infielder Mike McDade and outfielder Cory Aldridge were transferred to Double-A New Hampshire.

Tonight's Bisons' lineup:

Darin Mastroianni -- CF
Kevin Pillar -- LF
A.J. Jimenez -- C
Brad Glenn -- RF
Erik Kratz -- DH
Kevin Nolan -- 2B
Jared Goedert -- 1B
Andy LaRoche -- 3B
Jonathan Diaz -- SS

 

 

Live Blog Live: Bisons vs. Lehigh Valley, 7 p.m.

Bisons defeat Syracuse, 3-1, at Coca-Cola Field

by Amy Moritz

The Buffalo Bisons earned a series split with the Syracuse Chiefs, taking a 3-1 win in front of 9,583 at Coca-Cola Field Thursday afternoon.

The Herd took a 1-0 lead in the third on a home run from Ryan Schimpf. They added two more in the fifth when Syracuse outfielder Eury Perez misplayed a hit from Darin Mastroianni in center. That pushed Jonathan Diaz home and the error allowed Mastroianni to land on third. A sacrifice to right by Kevin Pillar scored Mastroianni and gave the Herd a 3-0 lead.

Raul Valdes had an impressive outing, pithing seven scoreless innings. He scattered three hits, walked just one, and struck out five.

The shutout bid was lost with one out in the ninth when Tyler Moore homered off closer Bobby Korecky.

The Bisons continue their homestand Friday night (7:05 p.m.) with Lehigh Valley coming in for a four-game series. P.J. Walters 92-2, 5.01) is scheudled to start for the Herd.

It was a good Wednesday for Bisons' alumni

by Amy Moritz

Wednesday was a solid night -- if you were a Buffalo Bisons alumnus.

There were 10 players on the Blue Jays active roster in Toronto last night in a 6-4 win over the Boston Red Sox. Ryan Goins tied the game with his first Major League triple before scoring the game-winning run. Aaron Sanchez made his MLB debut throwing two perfect innings in relief with two strikeouts.

Their teammates back in Triple-A did not fare as well, dropping a 5-0 decision to the Syracuse Chiefs. The Herd fell three games below .500 and one game behind Syracuse in the Thruway Cup standings.

The Bisons and Chiefs finish off their two-game series at 1:05 (TWCS, Radio 1520 AM). Lefty Rual Valdes will make his fifth start for the Herd and his 16th appearance overall. Syracuse will counter will Taylor Hill, who returns off the disabled list. Hill missed one turn in the rotation and ranks fourth in the International League with a 2.63 ERA.

Today's Bisons' lineup:

Darin Mastroianni -- RF
Ryan Schimpf -- 3B
Kevin Pillar -- CF
Brad Glenn -- LF
Brett Wallace -- DH
Kevin Nolan -- SS
Mike McDade -- 1B
Mike Nickeas -- C
Jonathan Diaz -- 2B

Live Blog Live: Bisons vs. Syracuse, 1:05 p.m.

Happy 10th to ARod-Varitek brawl at Fenway

Arod-Varitek
The iconic moment: Jason Varitek gives it to Alex Rodriguez. July 24, 2004, Fenway Park, 3rd inning. (Getty Images)

By Mike Harrington

Ten years ago today, I was in Fenway Park covering a Yankees-Red Sox game. Former executive sports editor Howard Smith had an out-of-left-field idea to cover the series and do another-will-the-Red-Sox-ever-win story. Neither he nor I ever imagined what I would see.

Here's the first paragraph to my story on the game played on Saturday, July 24, 2004: "It was a game that almost never happened. Now it will be hard to ever forget."

The numbers will show the Red Sox wiped out a 9-4 deficit and won, 11-10, on Bill Mueller's two-run walkoff homer off Mariano Rivera in the bottom of the ninth. Stunning as that was, it was a mere footnote.

This was the A-Rod/Varitek game.

Top of the third inning. Bronson Arroyo plunked Alex Rodriguez. Jason Varitek intervened as A-Rod barked at Arroyo and it was on. I was in the top row of the Fenway press box that day and was looking down at my scorecard making a couple notes when A-Rod got plunked. I quickly looked up when I heard the crowd noise, saw everything unravel -- and saw a reporter from the New York Daily News jump knees-first on the desk next to me to get a better view of things. 

Here's my sidebar on the fight from The News of July 25, 2004.

The funny thing was the game really did almost never happen. It had rained in Boston overnight and the field was not in good shape. Around 2 p.m., an hour before the scheduled first pitch, unofficial word filtered to the press box the game was off. I was in a group of reporters that went downstairs and lined up to go into the Yankees clubhouse to do some interviews. When the door briefly swung inside, we clearly saw some players in street clothes. They had been told the game was off.

Media types in the line were joking about getting an early start on dinner. But after a few minutes, they didn't let us in and we were told to go back upstairs. As legend has it, the Red Sox players were irate -- and so was FOX -- and the Boston grounds crew was told to go to work on the field for another hour. They did and history happened.

The postgame chatter was surreal. At the time, the Red Sox had a tiny interview room adjacent to their clubhouse and Terry Francona was downright giddy talking about things. Arroyo and Varitek were matter of fact. A-Rod took forever to emerge in the Yankees' clubhouse but he was pretty glib too. This was, remember, just a few months after the Sox thought he was coming to them. Interesting backdrop for sure.

Ask any Red Sox fan and they'll tell you this was the moment their team made the statement that enough was enough from the Yankees. It's easy to forget Boston didn't win the AL East that year but it's impossible to forget the Sox coming back from 0-3 down to win the ALCS. The actual World Series sweep of St. Louis is an odd final chapter not discussed a whole lot, given that it was Boston's first title in 86 years).

Relive the frivolity of the full fracas here:

Bisons make more roster moves as they open a 10-game homestand

by Amy Moritz

Get your scorecards ready. There are more changes to your Buffalo Bisons' roster.

Ready? Here we go:

Austin Bibens-Dirkx returns to the Herd for a fifth time this season and gets the start tonight as the Bisons host Syracuse at Coca-Cola Field. In three starts and 13 relief appearances with the Herd, he is 2-1 with a 3.31 ERA. His last outing with the Bisons was Thursday in Pawtucket where he allowed one run on three hits in four innings.

Randy Boone gets his first promotion of the year to the Bisons after spending all of 2014 with Double-A New Hampshire. With the FisherCats, Boone was 1-3 with a 2.48 ERA and nine saves in 31 games. The righty has struck out 37 and allowed just 36 hits in 40 innings of work.

Kevin Nolan played seven games with the Bisons in April. The infielder went 5 for 23 in his time with the Herd with a double, triple and RBI. In 82 games with New Hampshire, he has hit .258, driving in 35 runs with 20 doubles and five home runs.

Darin Mastroianni returns to the Herd, activated after being optioned by the Toronto Blue Jays. In 14 games with the Jays, he hit .156 (5-32) with a home run and a pair of runs batted in. He has played in 56 games with the Herd, batting .279 with 13 doubles, four home runs and 16 RBI.

Mickey Storey was activated off the Bisons' disabled list and the reliever was transferred to New Hampshire.

Got it? Not quite? No worries if you don't because it's subject to change at a moment's notice.

The 10-game homestand begins at 7 tonight and you can follow along the live blog for all the fun-filled action.

Tonight's starting lineup:

Darin Mastroianni -- CF
Kevin Pillar -- LF
Ryan Schimpf -- 2B
Brad Glenn -- RF
Brett Wallace -- 1B
Jared Goedert -- 3B
Cory Aldridge -- DH
Mike Nickeas -- C
Jonathan Diaz -- SS

Live Blog Live: Bisons vs. Syracuse

IL Star of Game award another nice touch to strong season for Herd's Hendriks

Liam
Liam Hendriks works in the first inning Wednesday. (Associated Press)

By Mike Harrington

One of the best seasons by a starting pitcher in recent Bisons history continued Wednesday night for right-hander Liam Hendriks, as he was voted the International League's "Top Star" in its 7-3 win over the Pacific Coast League at the Triple-A All-Star Game in Durham, N.C.

Hendriks threw two shutout innings and struck out four, one of shy of the record by a starter in the 27-year-old midsummer affair. He became the first Buffalo pitcher to win the game since Roy Smith in 1993, who did it when Triple-A was three leagues and the game was played under a National League vs. American League affiliates format.

Hendriks threw 25 pitches and 19 went for strikes, true to his form from a regular season that has seen him strike out 74 and walk only seven in 94 1/3 innings. He hit the break 7-1 with a 2.19 earned-run average.

MILB.com has its full wrapup of the game at this link, complete with video of the MLB Network postgame video wtih Hendriks (there's no embed code-sorry). 

Hendriks is the fourth Bisons player to earn a Top Star award at the game, joining DHs Luis Lopez (1995 American Association) and Russell Branyan (1999 IL) and pitcher Matt Harvey, who threw two shutout innings for the IL in 2012 when the Bisons hosted the game in Coca-Cola Field.

The Bisons resume their season tonight in Pawtucket. They are 48-48 with 47 games to play and stand five games back in the IL wild-card race.

Wedge and wife heading benefit golf tourney on Aug. 10

By Mike Harrington

Eric Wedge's wife, Kate, is an Alden native who has worked with many charitable groups during his managerial stints in Buffalo, Cleveland and Seattle. She created Mystery Ball Night in Cleveland and brought it to Buffalo in 2008, where it has become a huge hit for the Herd in the ensuing years. 

I was chatting with Wedge Friday after his induction into the Buffalo Baseball Hall of Fame and he wanted me to put in a plug for The Carol K Golf Classic, a benefit for Kate's late mother, Carol Kulniszewski. She died in 2009 of multiple myeloma and the tournament has been held in her honor since to raise money for groups.

This year's beneificiary is the Zukowski Children Fund for two children left orphaned by an April murder-suicide in Kate's hometown of Alden. The shotgun scramble tournament will be held Aug. 10 at 1 p.m. at Arrowhead Golf Course in Akron.

For non-golfers, there is a wine tasting tour running from 1-5:30 before returning to the course for the tournament dinner and awards ceremony. There are several contests and prizes -- including a Mystery Ball section -- and a silent auction of memorabilia. 

The cost for golf and dinner is $110 for an individual or $400 for a foursome. The wine tasting is $90 and a dinner-only guest is $40. Full information and registration is available by going to the tourney's Web site below.

The Carol K Golf Classic

Bisons game postponed

Rain
The scene about 1:15 today in soggy Coca-Cola Field.

By Mike Harrington

We've needed an ark for the last two hours at Coca-Cola Field and the series finale between the Buffalo Bisons and Durham Bulls has been postponed. Because it's the last game of the series -- and the only Durham visit to Buffalo -- the game will be made up in Durham when the teams meet there Aug. 7-10.

Heavy rain kept striking the ballpark on and off, inundating the outfield and warning tracks. That was the likely weather pattern for at least the next 2-3 hours and, with players scattering for the all-star break, the decision was made to call it a day.

The Bisons thus head to the break with a 48-48 record. They are five games behind Rochester for the International League wild-card spot after the Red Wings' game today in Frontier Field against Scranton/Wilkes-Barre was also rained out. 

Tickets to today's game can be exchanged for a comparable ticket to any future game. All exchanges must be made at the ballpark box office and can be made at any time the rest of the season.

In other news, reliever Bobby Korecky has cleared waivers and returned to the Bisons. He will thus be able to represent the Herd in Wednesday's Triple-A All-Star Game in Durham. Buffalo's Liam Hendriks will be the IL's starting pitcher. Korecky is 4-1 with a glossy 0.57 ERA in 36 outings for the Herd, allowing just three runs all season. He has 45 strikeouts and just 11 walks in 47 innings.

Blue Jays call up Gose, Bisons look to snap mini-skid

By Taylor Nigrelli 

The Bisons take the field tonight looking to snap a two-game losing streak against the visiting Durham Bulls, who lead the IL South.

They will have to do so without outfielder Anthony Gose whom the Blue Jays called up Saturday to replace injured Nolan Reimold, who was placed on the 15-day disabled list.

The team will also be without its leader in home runs and walks as the Blue Jays called up Dan Johnson Friday.

P.J. Walters (2-0, 3.27) will make his fourth start for the Bisons. The righty has had a bit of a roller coaster 2014, as he’s played for three teams.

He started the year in the Pacific Coast League with the Omaha Storm Chasers. The Blue Jays acquired him in a trade and placed him in Double-A New Hampshire. After four solid starts, he was promoted to Buffalo.

Righty Matt Andriese (9-4, 3.41) will get the call for Durham. The former San Diego third-round pick has been one of the most dominant pitchers in the International League this season, posting wins in eight wins in his past nine decisions. He’s tied with four others for third in the IL with nine total wins on the season.

Tonight’s Lineup:

Ryan Goins – 2B
Jared Goedert – 3B
Kevin Pillar – CF
Cory Aldridge – DH
Brad Glenn – LF
Ryan Schimpf – RF
Mike McDade – 1B
Mike Nickeas – C
Jonathan Diaz – SS

Bisons drop 4-2 decision to Durham

by Amy Moritz

It wasn't a pretty night for Deck McGuire.

The starter walked seven batters in just 4 1/3 innings. Still he only gave up three runs, but that was enough for the Durham Bulls, who took a 4-2 win over the Buffalo Bisons in front of 13,205 at Coca-Cola Field Friday night.

“I’m surprised we were still in the game to be honest with you," manager Gary Allenson said of McGuire's performance.

“He wasn’t like that the first three times out. He was throwing strikes and aggressive in counts, getting some ground balls. If the strikeout evolved then great. When you overthrow and try to throw it by guys, the ball gets up, gets elevated. For the most part he didn’t work ahead.

"It was one those games where 1-0 felt like 5-0."

The Bulls took a 1-0 lead in the first when McGuire issued a bases-loaded walk. 

He gave up a two-run homer to Jeremy Moore as the Bulls built a 3-0 lead.

Catcher A.J. Jimenez drove in both runs for the Herd. His single scored Kevin Pillar in the sixth and a sacrifice to center brought in Ryan Goins in the eighth. But that was the end of the Herd’s rally.

"We’re not hitting," Allenson said. "With all due respect to their starter, his numbers weren’t very good and he gave up just one run. … As a hitter you’ve got to be aggressive for a fastball and too many guys are not right now."

Durham starter Nathan Karns came into the game with a 5-5 record and a 5.99 earned run average. He took the win giving up one run on five hits. He struck out seven and walked two in seven innings of work.

The series continues Saturday (7:05 p.m.) with P.J. Walters (2-0, 3.27 ERA) scheduled to start for the Herd against Matt Andriese (9-4, 3.41).

Live blog: Durham at Buffalo Bisons

by Amy Moritz

It was a busy day at Coca-Cola Field all before the Buffalo Bisons and Durham Bulls even got underway in the second game of their four-game set.

Friday morning, Dan Johnson earned his first trip to the big leagues this season as the Toronto Blue Jays purchased the contract of the slugger as Adam Lind was placed on the 15-day disabled list.

Friday afternoon, Liam Hendriks was named the starting pitcher for the International League in Wednesday's Triple-A All Star Game.

Meanwhile catcher A.J. Jimenez was named to the 2014 World Team roster for the All-Star Futures Games which will be played Sunday at Target Field in Minnesota. Jimenez is hitting .275 and has driven in 15 runs in 40 games with the Herd this season.

In other roster moves, first baseman Mike McDade was promoted from Double-A New Hampshire and will be in the Bisons' lineup tonight.

It's also Buffalo Baseball Hall of Fame Day while Buffalo Sabres first-round draft choice Sam Reinhart is throwing out the first pitch.

Oh, and there's a baseball game to be played with Deck McGuire (3-4, 5.51 ERA) making is 10th start for the Bisons.

Tonight's starting lineup:
Kevin Pillar -- LF
Anthony Gose -- CF
A.J. Jimenez -- C
Cory Aldridge -- DH
Brad Glenn -- RF
Mike McDade -- 1B
Ryan Schimpf -- 2B
Andy LaRoche -- 3B
Ryan Goins -- SS

 

Live Blog Live: Durham at Buffalo Bisons

Hendriks gets All-Star start

by Amy Moritz

Liam Hendriks was announced as the starter for the International League in the 2014 Triple-A All Star Game, scheduled for 7 p.m. Wednesday at Durham Bulls Athletic Park in Durham, N.C.

“I was kinda of surprised when I found out," Hendriks said. "There are a couple of good guys in this league who have been doing extremely well but obviously I'm honored with the start. It’s a huge accomplishment not only for me but what is it 20 years since the Bisons have had a guy start the game? It’s huge for the organization as well.”

The last Bisons' pitcher to start in the Triple-A All Star game was Roy Smith in 1993. Hendriks becomes the fourth All-Star starter for the Herd along joining Smith, Dorn Taylor (1990) and Rick Reed (1991).

Hendriks is 7-1 with a 2.19 earned run average in 14 starts (16 total appearances) for the Herd this season. His ERA ranks second in the league while he leads the IL in the fewest walks (0.70) and baserunners (8.77) per nine innings pitched. He has allowed fewer than three runs in 11 of his 14 starts.

 

The game will be broadcast live on the MLB network and carried on Radio 1520 AM.

 

Dan Johnson finally gets the call

by Amy Moritz

For the first time in 94 games, Dan Johnson will not be in the Buffalo Bisons lineup.

The first baseman has played in every game for the Herd this season and leads the International League in home runs and walks. 

Finally, Johnson got the call from the Toronto Blue Jays as the parent club selected his contract. The 34-year-old gets his first promotion of the season after the Blue Jays put designated hitter Adam Lind on the 15-day disabled list with a foot fracture.

Johnson has played in 416 Major League games over eight seasons, the most coming in 2007 when he was in 117 games for the Oakland As. 

The Blue Jays signed him to a minor league contract in the offseason and with Buffalo he has been the lone consistent producer at the plate. He leads the International League with 17 home runs while his 79 walks are the most in all of affiliated baseball. Overall, he has averaged .248 with a team-high 55 runs scored.

Johnson had been selected to the Triple-A All Star Game, scheduled for Wednesday night in Durham, N.C., and was to compete in the Triple-A Home Run Derby on Monday. 

To make room for Johnson on the 40-man roster, the Blue Jays designated reliever Bobby Korecky for assignment. He's a player the Bisons desperately hopes clears waivers. Korecky was also named an IL All-Star with a 4-1 record and a 0.57 earned run average in 36 appearances. He has 12 saves and 25 games finished.The Bisons are 27-9 in games Koreckey has appeared in.

 

Buffalo Baseball Hall of Fame induction prior to tonight's Bisons game

By Keith McShea

This week, Mike Harrington has chronicled the careers of this year's Buffalo Baseball Hall of Fame class, and tonight's their big night. 

Former Buffalo Bisons and major-league manager Eric Wedge, legendary Western New York scout Bob Miske and former Bisons outfielder Greg Tubbs will be inducted in pregame ceremonies at Coca-Cola Field before tonight's 7:05 game with the Durham Bulls.

Harrington's Hall of Fame profiles:

 

The Bisons also announced Friday morning that Buffalo Sabres top draft pick Sam Reinhart will throw out tonight's first pitch.

The Bisons dropped Thursday night's series-opener to Durham, 3-2 (game story | live blog). 

Live blog: Durham Bulls 3, Buffalo Bisons 2

by Amy Moritz

Oh Aaron Sanchez. Can he get his first Triple-A win?

The top prospect in the Toronto Blue Jays organization is making his sixth start since joining the Bisons on June 12. He has just one decision in those six starts -- a loss in his debut at Toledo where he gave up four earned runs on six hits in four innings.

His last outing was a bit of a struggle, giving up three runs on seven hits with two walks and four strikeouts in six innings at Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Sanchez left that game on the hook, but the Herd scored four runs in the eighth and came back for a 6-3 win.

Kevin Pillar raised his batting average 10 points in Wednesday's 6-2 win at Rochester. Pillar had a four-hit night, including a lead-off home run, to up his average from .301 to .311.

Tonight's Bisons lineup:

Kevin Pillar -- LF
Anthony Gose -- CF
A.J. Jimenez -- DH
Brad Glenn -- RF
Dan Johnson -- 1B
Jared Goedert -- 3B
Ryan Goins -- 2B
Mike Nickeas -- C
Jonathan Diaz -- SS

Follow along with updates during the game here:

Live Blog Live: Durham at Bisons

Audio: Great moments from the Bisons career of Greg Tubbs

Tubbs
Greg Tubbs (Buffalo Bisons photo)

By Mike Harrington

Be sure to check out my story in Wednesday's editions on former Bisons outfielder Greg Tubbs, who will be inducted into the Buffalo Baseball Hall of Fame prior to Friday night's game in Coca-Cola Field.

Tubbs -- who played for the Bisons in 1991, 1992 and 1994 -- runs an indoor hitting academy and is an assistant high school baseball coach in Cookeville, Tenn.

"Being around these kids has kept me young and I love being able to give the same advice that some of Hall of Famers gave me," Tubbs (left) told me this week. "Our kids love being able to hit and our high school program has benefitted from it. I had a good career, a great time in the game and I finally got an opportunity to show I could play on the highest level,

"This hall of fame in Buffalo is really icing on the cake. This is the last thing everybody in their career wants in some way and I'm getting this opportunity. It's really a storybook situation for me."

As noted in the article, Tubbs is the answer to a couple of unique Bisons trivia questions and we can recreate the events through audio archives provided by former announcer Pete Weber.

1. Playing center field, Tubbs caught the final out of Buffalo's back-to-back American Association Eastern Division clinchers at Pilot Field -- a 6-4 win over Louisville in 1991 and a 3-1 win over Nashville in 1992.

Listen to those below:

Tubbs' final out in 1991

Tubbs' final out in 1992

2. Tubbs was also the batter who lined a two-run double into the left-field corner in Denver in the ninth inning of Game 4 of the '91 Association finals. The Bisons entered the frame getting no-hit and trailing, 9-0. They had six runs in and Tubbs drove in runs 7 and 8 -- but Greg Edge was called out at the plate and Buffalo lost, 9-8.

Listen to the most controversial finish in franchise history here:

Edge out in 1991

Tubbs had a great series against Denver even though Buffalo lost the series in five games. He homered in back-to-back 4-1 wins over the Zephyrs in Pilot Field as Buffalo took a short-lived 2-0 lead in the series. Here's his homer in Game Two:

Playoff HR in 1991

Be sure to look for my other Buffalo Baseball Hall of Fame stories this week, focusing on longtime scout Bob Miske on Thursday and former manager Eric Wedge on Friday.

Herd's Johnson picked for Triple-A Home Run Derby

Belt
The Durham Bulls unveiled this belt to go to the HR Derby champion. (DurhamBulls.com)


By Mike Harrington

Buffalo Bisons slugger Dan Johnson, who has played every game this season, has been named one of the six participants in the Triple-A Home Run Derby to be held Monday night in Durham Bulls Athletic Park. Johnson will also start for the International League in the Triple-A All-Star Game hosted by Durham next Wednesday.

Johnson will hit for the IL team that also includes Toledo's Mike Hessman and Columbus' Jesus Aguilar. Hessman recently hit his 259th career homer in the IL to break the all-time mark set by 1930s Bisons slugger Ollie Carnegie.

Johnson is batting .251 with team highs of 17 homers and 54 RBIs for the Bisons. This will be his third derby. He won the 2010 edition at Lehigh Valley while competing for Durham as part of his IL MVP season. In 2012 at Coca-Cola Field while competing for Charlotte, he lost in the finals to Bisons designated hitter Valentino Pascucci.

The Pacific Coast League team will feature Las Vegas' Allan Dykstra, the MVP of the Double-A Eastern League last year for the Binghamton Mets, Reno's Mike Jacobs and Omaha's Francisco Pena, son of Yankees bench coach and Buffalo Baseball Hall of Famer Tony Pena.

Hessman, who has participated in three previous derbies, and Jacobs are both former Bisons. Hessman, then with Oklahoma City, joined Johnson in taking part in the 2012 derby in Buffalo. Hessman had nine homers in the first round but was eliminated in the semifinals.

In addition to the championship belt pictured above, players will be batting to win money and prizes for fans in attendance if they hit a home run off the famous snorting bull above the left-field wall at Durham Bulls Athletic Park, made famous in the 1988 film "Bull Durham."

The pitcher for the final round will be 76-year-old North Carolina resident Clay Council, who earned some fame as Josh Hamilton's pitcher during his 28-homer binge at the 2008 MLB HR Derby in old Yankee Stadium.

Bisons host RailRiders in Independence Eve game

By Taylor Nigrelli

In what has become a popular tradition locally, the Buffalo Bisons will host their annual Independence Eve game tonight, complete with the season's largest post-game fireworks display and a performance by the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra and Chorus.

As of this morning, only 3000 tickets were available for the game.

The 20th edition of Independence Eve will feature a matchup against the struggling Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders (40-46). The Herd (45-40) took the first two games of a five-game set with 1-0 and 3-1 wins yesterday in a double-header.

The Bisons may be a little fatigued heading into tonight’s matchup as four of the team’s past six contests have gone into extra innings.

Esmil Rogers (2-1, 3.10), who’s spent time in both Toronto and Buffalo this year, will get the start for the Bisons. Chris Leroux (1-2, 7.94) is expected to get the call for the Railriders.

The Herd will be looking to build on a recent hot streak that’s seen the team win five of its past seven games.

Tonight’s starting lineup:

Kenny Wilson – LF
Ryan Goins – 2B
Kevin Pillar – CF
Dan Johnson – 1B
Erik Kratz – DH
A.J. Jimenez – C
Ryan Schimpf – RF
Andy LaRoche – 3B
Jonathan Diaz - SS

Fewer than 3,000 tickets left for tonight's Bisons Independence Eve game

By Keith McShea

The Buffalo Bisons told The News this morning that fewer than 3,000 tickets remain for tonight's Independence Eve game. 

The 20th annual event features the team's largest fireworks show of the season along with a performance by the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra and Chorus. 

The gates will open at 4:30 p.m. for the 6:05 game with the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders. 

All tickets cost $24 and are available by calling THE-HERD at 843-4373, by visiting the Coca-Cola Field Box Office or via bisons.com

The Bisons swept a doubleheader against Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Wednesday, 1-0 and 2-1. The Bisons are 45-40 in the International League's North Division, 5-1/2 games behind first-place Syracuse. Esmil Rogers (2-1, 3.10) of the Bisons starts against Chris Leroux (1-2, 7.94).

The musical program for tonight's event is available here.

Doubleheader day for the Bisons

by Amy Moritz

The Buffalo Bisons return to Coca-Cola Field after splitting a four-game series in Syracuse. But here's the thing -- three of those games went to extra innings.

The Herd won the opener, 7-6, in 13 innings. After being blanked the second night, 7-0, they played two more extra-inning games -- a 5-4 loss in 11 and a 5-4 win in 10 last night.

The pitching staff hopes there isn't more of the same tonight. Not with a doubleheader on deck.

Buffalo and Scranton/Wilkes-Barre will play two seven-inning games, to make up a game lost due to snow and cold back on April 15.

Here's what you need to know:

All-Stars: The Bisons had three players elected to the International League All-Star team. Dan Johnson, who is playing in his 84th game with the Herd tonight, leads the league in home runs (16) and walks (69). Liam Hendriks is 6-1 with a 2.13 ERA. He has the fewest walks (0.59) and baserunners (8.61) per nine innings in the IL. Bobby Korecky has 10 saves in 11 chances. He has allowed just 26 hits while striking out 42 in 44 2/3 innings.

Tonight's starters: P.J. Walters will make his third start of the season in the first game. He is 2-0 and as allowed just one earned run in each outing with the Bisons since his promotion from Double-A on June 21.

Raul Valdes makes his second start for the Herd. He picked up the win in his last spot start, giving up two runs in five innings on June 21 against Rochester.

Ticket alert: As of 3:30 p.m. there were about 3,500 tickets left for the Independence Eve Celebration. The 20th annual event features a performance by the Buffalo Philharmonic and Chorus after the game along with the largest fireworks display of the year. Gates open at 4:30 for the 6:05 p.m. first pitch.

Tonight's Game 1 starting lineup:

Ryan Goins -- 2B
Jared Goedert -- DH
Kevin Pillar -- CF
Dan Johnson -- 1B
A.J. Jimenez -- C
Ryan Schimpf -- RF
Andy LaRoche -- 3B
Kenny Wilson -- LF
Jonathan Diaz -- SS

 

Bisons close out homestand against Clippers

by Amy Moritz

Zombie Night is an appropriate way to close out a busy homestand for the Buffalo Bisons. They polish off eight games in nine days (including a rain delay and 13-inning game) with a fridaynightbash! against the Columbus Clippers at Coca-Cola Field (7:05 p.m., Radio 1520).

The Bisons are 6-2 on this homestand, having their five-game winning streak snapped with a forgettable 9-0 loss to Clippers Thursday afternoon.

Starting pitchers: P.J. Walters gets his second start for the Herd since his June 21st promotion from the Double-A FisherCats. He won his debut on Sunday, giving up one run on six hits with two walks and four strikeouts. Walters was part of the trade in May with Kansas City which brought Melky Mesa to the Toronto Blue Jays in May.

Kyle Davies starts for the Clippers. His last game was against Buffalo in Columbus where he gave up two runs (but none were earned) in a 6-2 win.

Hot hitters: Andy LaRoche is on an eight-game hitting streak, raising his batting average 70 points by going 14 of 28 since June 13. During the streak he has three doubles, two home runs and has driven in seven runs.

Adron Chambers is batting .325 in 12 games with the Bisons while Kevin Pillar's 21 doubles rank second in the International League. Darin Mastroianni has a .389 on-base percentage when he leads off an inning, and he's batting top of the order today.

Transactions: You didn't think we'd go two straight days with any roster moves did you? Jonathan Diaz cleared waivers after being designated for assignment and is available for the Herd tonight. Austin Bibens-Dirkxs was promoted from the FisherCats. Meanwhile reliever John Stilson and catcher Hector Gimenez were placed on the disabled list.

Tonight's Bisons' lineup:

Darin Mastroianni -- RF
Adron Chambers -- LF
Kevin Pillar -- CF
Dan Johnson -- DH
Jared Goedert -- 1B
A.J. Jimenez -- C
Andy LaRoche -- 3B
Ryan Schimpf -- 2B
Ryan Goins -- SS

Bisons look to extend five-game win streak

by Amy Moritz

It was a long, late night at Coca-Cola Field, but the Buffalo Bisons will gladly take the results.

The Herd earned two wins over the Columbus Clippers Wednesday. First, it was a 5-4 win in 13 innings with the completion of Tuesday's suspended game. Once that marathon was over, the Herd came back for a 3-2 win in a scheduled seven inning game.

It was the fifth straight win for the Herd who have won eight of their last nine. The only problem is that Syracuse keeps winning, too. The Chiefs are on an eight-game winning streak and hold a 7 1/2 game lead on the Bisons in the International League North Division.

While we get some extra coffee, the Herd is ready for a 1:05 first pitch with the Clippers (Radio 15200.

Some items of interest:

  • Deck McGuire gets his seventh start with the Herd. The Triple-A rookie has struck out 27 batters in 34 innings and is 3-2 with a 5.03 ERA. That earned run averge drops to 3.60 in his three starts at Coca-Cola Field.
  • Kevin Pillar's .325 average ranks fourth in the IL while his 21 doubles rank second. In his last 17 games with Buffalo, Pillar has 11 doubles and nine multi-hit games.
  • Reliever Mike Zagurski has been impressive since joining the Bisons May 30 after signing as a free agent. He has not allowed a hit in his last four appearances and has held opponents to a .111 average.

This afternoon's Bisons' lineup:

Darin Mastroianni -- CF
Adron Chambers -- LF
Kevin Pillar -- RF
Dan Johnson -- 1B
Jared Goedert -- 3B
A.J. Jimenez -- DH
Ryan Schimpf -- 2B
Erik Kratz -- C
Ryan Goins -- SS

Bisons win opener in 13 innings

by Amy Moritz

Well that was an intersting start to the baseball day.

It took 13 innings for the Buffalo Bisons to pull out a 5-4 win over the Columbus Clippers at Coca-Cola Field.

The game was picked up in the bottom of the fourth inning after it was suspended Tuesday night as storms moved through Western New York.

With the game tied, 4-4, Darin Mastroianni drew a one-out walk and then stole second. He scored on the hit from Adron Chambers, who had been 0-for-6 before driving in the winning.

Columbus which got on the board first, taking a 1-0 lea din the fifth.

In the sixth Scott Barnes walked three straight Bison batters. A slow grounder to first from A.J. Jimenez scored one run. After intentionally walking Andy LaRoche, Ryan Goins smoked a shot just out of the reach of the Clippers’ shortstop allowing two more runs to score.

The Clippers tied the game in the eighth, getting to reliever Steve Delabar. An All-Star last season, the Toronto Blue Jays optioned him to Buffalo on June 20 hoping he can regain that all-star form.

It was his first outing as a Bison and he gave up two runs on two hits with a walk in 1 2/3 innings of work. Both runs came in the eighth and knotted the game, 1-1.

The Herd regained the lead in the bottom of the inning, starting with one out back-to-back singles from LaRoche and Goins. Ryan Schimpf drove a ball deep to right and LaRoche scored on the sacrifice for a 4-3 lead.

But Bobby Korecky gave up an uncharacteristic run in the ninth. With two outs and a runner on second he issued a walk. Then a single from Tim Fedroff tied the game, 4-4. It was the third run Korecky has given up all year.

And now on to the main event: Aaron Sanchez on the mound for the Bisons against Danny Salazar for the Clippers in a scheduled seven-inning game. Start time is scheduled for 9:35.

The Bisons lineup for Game 2:

Darin Mastroianni -- CF
Adron Chambers -- LF
Kevin Pillar -- RF
Dan Johnson -- 1B
Andy LaRoche -- 3B
A.J. Jimenez -- DH
Ryan Schimpf -- 2B
Erik Kratz -- C
Ryan Goins -- SS

The Freak baffles Padres for season's third no-hitter

By Mike Harrington

PHILADELPHIA -- So while I'm writing hockey, talking soccer and sitting watching the Phillies-Marlins game (you'll understand the cross-sport references once you read my column on the NHL draft in Thursday's editions..cheap plug alert), there's a lot of buzz here about Tim Lincecum after the Giants pitcher no-hit the punchless Padres for the second time in two years.

The Giants won the game, 4-0, with Lincecum coming within a walk of a perfect game. The Padres entered the contest batting just .182 in June and didn't come close to a hit.

Here's MLB.com's quick turnaround on its standard all-27-outs feature of no-hitters. Great stuff:

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About Inside Pitch

Mike Harrington

Mike Harrington

Mike Harrington, a Canisius College graduate who began his career as a News reporter in 1987, has covered the Buffalo Bisons since 1992 and Major League Baseball since 1995. A member of the Baseball Writers' Association of America, Harrington has reported on more than 30 MLB postseason series — including every game of the World Series in this century — and all three of the Bisons' championship runs in their modern era. He is a connoisseur of the famous Stadium Mustard at Cleveland's Progressive Field.

@BNHarrington | mharrington@buffnews.com


Amy Moritz

Amy Moritz

Amy Moritz, a native of Lockport, has covered the Bisons for The Buffalo News since 2002. She has a bachelor’s degree in journalism/mass communication from St. Bonaventure University and a master’s degree in humanities from the University at Buffalo. An endurance athlete, she has completed several triathlons, half marathons and marathons.

@amymoritz | amoritz@buffnews.com

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