Sometimes you just never know in this game. The Bisons vs. Lehigh Valley was supposed to be a routine Game 119 playing out the string. But Mets COO Jeff Wilpon and assistant GM John Ricco show up and there's a story. Then the team goes and explodes for an eight-run eighth inning to get a 9-4 win and continues its run of exciting offensive baseball.
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As presently constructed, the Bisons are their April opposites. Instead of inept hitting and decent pitching, the Herd is scoring runs in bunches but driving manager Ken Oberkfell crazy on the mound. Two bases-loaded walks by Buffalo pitching did damage Monday but Lehigh Valley left 14 men on base. Then came the eighth inning. Some facts and figures from this one:
---It was the Bisons' biggest inning since an eight-run fifth here against Rochester on Aug. 15, 2008. Chip Ambres' two-hit inning was the first for a Buffalo player since Michael Aubrey had two singles in that frame against Rochester.
---The 3-hour, 37-minute affair was one minute shy of the longest nine-inning game of the season (the 11-10 loss Aug. 1 at Toledo went 3:38). It was the first 3-hour-plus regulation game at home since April 16.
---In the International League's August stats, the Bisons continue to lead the IL in batting (.307) and runs (5.6), and are second in home runs (17).
I really thought this team was headed for an ugly run-for-the-bus finish when it dropped six straight earlier this month to fall to 40-67. But Ambres said an off day in Columbus helped stem the tide and the Bisons are 8-4 since ending that skid.
"We're a tight-knit group. We stick together," Ambres said. "We had that off day in Columbus and we hung out together. Baseball is what we do every day. People call it a job but we play baseball. When it's time to focus, we've always known we had this in us. It's a point to just go out there and do it."
"We went to Toledo and lost four games that we could have won," said manager Ken Oberkfell. "They could have packed it in but I'm not going to let them pack it in. They're playing for jobs and to earn a spot somewhere next year, whether it's here, New York or somewhere else. You've got to finish strong if you want a job next year and that's what they're doing."