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Wild night at the ballpark

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.

(We pause for a plug alert: Go here to check out the Derek Jeter post advertised in Tuesday's print edition. Back to regular programming)

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."

---Mike Harrington

(www.twitter.com/bnharrington)

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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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