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Final thoughts on Strasburg

ROCHESTER -- Hard not to be wowed by Stephen Strasburg's outing here Wednesday night. Even though he was hit hard in the fourth inning, it's all relative. He's thrown 18 1/3 scoreless innings in three starts in Triple-A! Amazing.

His poise on the mound is airtight. His poise in front of a packed media throng that included Sports Illustrated was equally impressive. He didn't want to think ahead to the big leagues, didn't want to submit to the hype. Finally, someone asked him if he was having fun. He is.

"You all can see I'm a pretty intense person, especially on game day. But I've been having a blast," he said. " We've got a great team here, great coaching staff and I've learned a lot. I'm in a good environment where I'm learning a lot of things."

Not much more to learn. The Nationals are in his native San Diego next week and someone asked Strasburg if he'd like to be there. Sure, he would but his arbitration status doesn't get  pushed back until June 1. Besides, the Nationals want the hype of his debut at home.

"I'm trying to get tickets for my dad because he'll be there," Strasburg said. "I don't know where I'll be at."

Here the audio of Strasburg's post-game presser below. Ther'e's about a 12-second delay before it starts.

---Mike Harrington
(www.twitter.com/bnharrington)

Live from Rochester: The Strasburg Show

ROCHESTER -- All the seats are sold in Frontier Field for Stephen Strasburg's appearance tonight. The Red Wings are still selling grass berm seating and expect a big walkup. Keep it here for updates and thoughts on Strasburg's outing.

---Mike Harrington
(www.twitter.com/bnharrington)

Pregame: It's quite a scene here as Strasburg was trailed by photographers all the way from the third-base dugout out to left field for his stretching and long toss and then into the bullpen. There's a grass berm in the LF corner and it's crowded with people getting a look. There's standing room behind the pen and folks are crowded in both spots.

The Wings are selling Strasburg Nationals T-shirts for $19.99. Advertised them on the scoreboard too. An entire table of them in an entranceway below the press box behind home plate sold out. By the way, they sell Cal Ripken and Joe Altobelli Red Wings shirts here for $15. I really hate they're selling apparel of an opposing player. I know. I know. It's money. But they sold all their tickets to see the guy too. Now they have to grab a few more bucks? Boo.

Joe Posnanski from Sports Illustrated is in the house reporting on this one as is Dave Sheinin of the Washington Post. Posnanski, formerly of the Kansas City Star, has a must-read blog. He's also the author of a terrific book released last fall called "The Machine", about the 1975 Cincinnati Reds.

It's a blog-eat-blog world in the crowded press box tonight. The dean of IL beat writers, Jim Mandelaro of the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle, is, um chronicling the proceedings at this link. Donnie Webb of the Syracuse Post-Standard is doing likewise here.

End-1st: Another 1-2-3 inning for Strasburg, who has given up one hit -- yes, one HIT -- in 13 Triple-A frames over his three starts. That makes nine straight hitless innings. He had to work a little as he threw 18 pitches, 11 strikes. He hit 99 mph three times. His first four pitches to Matt Tolbert, just down yesterday from Minnesota, were clocked at 96, 97, 98, 99. Tolbert took a called third strike on a 94-mph fastball. Trevor Plouffe grounded to third and Brian Dinkelman grounded back to the mound on an excuse-me, self-defense check-swing at a 98-mph pitch. Twelve of the pitches were clocked at 94 or higher. Pretty impressive stuff. Lots of gasps and murmurs from the crowd as the 98s and 99s hit the board.

End-2nd: Another hitless inning although Rochester left a man at third, nearly touching Strasburg for his first Triple-A run. But veteran Jacque Jones struck out swinging on a completely unfair 81-mph changeup. Strasburg walked leadoff man Jose Morales and Dustin Martin reached on an error as Eric Bruntlett's throw to second wasn't handled. But Danny Valencia bounced into a double play and Jones fanned. Through two: 37 pitches, 22 strikes, 2 Ks, 1 BB. There were a couple 98-mph pitches but plenty of others weren't registering on the left-field board and one showed up at 46. Not a good night for the radar to be on the fritz here.

In the 3rd: The crowd is pretty subdued. Maybe they don't know if they should be cheering Strasburg striking out a Wing or not. Almost like they're confused. The seating areas are packed. The berms are full and there are people standing behind the fence in deep left-center under the scoreboard. I've been coming here since 1998 and I've never seen that before.

End-3rd: Strasburg's hitless streak ended at 11 1/3  innings as Trevor Plouffe beat out a slow roller to third to put runners at the corners (Tolbert reached on a two-out walk and stole second). Brian Dunkleman struck out on a wicked changeup. Radar readings are an issue here: Folks in the tunnel area, be they team employees or overflow photographers, keep walking in front of the gun and leaving us with no readings. Not tonight, people. Jeez. We did get one 99 in that inning.

Syracuse leads, 2-0, through three (you almost forget the score because you're really only watching half the game). Strasburg through three: 1 H, 53 pitches, 31 strikes, 3 Ks, 2 BBs. That's two hits against Strasburg in 15 Triple-A frames, a slow roller up the middle by Gwinnett's Matt Blanco and the Plouffe roller. Absurd.

End-4th: Syracuse leads, 4-0. Strasburg hit harder than any other Triple-A inning. Gave up a solid single leading off to Jose Morales, a hard line drive to center by Dustin Martin and a scorching liner to third that was speared by Chase Lambin's dive. Through four: 60 pitches, 36 strikes, 2 H, 2 BB, 3 K. No runs in 16 IP in Triple-A.

End-5th: Syracuse leads, 5-0, in a much better inning as Strasburg strikes out the side around a Jason Repko single rolled up the middle. Leadoff man Brock Peterson looked particularly silly, diving out of the way of strike one, an 81-mph changeup, and getting frozen  by a 79-mph hook for strike through. Through five: 74-47, 3 H, 6 K, 2 BB. That's 17 straight scoreless innings in Triple-A. We're laughing in here that Strasburg has "struggled" a little tonight. Amazing your perspective.

End-6th: Strasburg's night is apparently over as he fans two more in the inning and was airing it out up to 98 mph. When he fanned Martin to complete a 1-2-3 frame, many fans in the crowd -- especially on the side of the ballpark -- behind the Syracuse dugout, gave him steady applause and a standing ovation. Nice. Final count: 86 pitches, 56 strikes, 6 IP, 0 R, 3  H, 8 K, 2 BB.  In three Triple-A outings: 18 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 21 K, 4 BB. Ridiculous.

More later. Stay tuned for audio from Strasburg's post-game presser. Off to write the print edition. Sorry, folks: No way he pitches in Buffalo June 1-2-3. The Nationals are going to call him up to start in the bigs June 4 so he can pitch twice on their homestand and get two full houses.

HOLD THE PHONE: Strasburg comes out for the 7th. He was supposed to be limited to 6 IP or 90 pitches, whichever came first. He throws six pitches, getting Danny Valencia on a 96-mph fastball for strike three and is taken out. A much bigger standing O followed by some boos as the kid walked off with no acknowledgment of the crowd. Final Final line: 6 1/3 IP, 0 R, 3 H, 9 K, 2 BB. Current Triple-A line: 18 1/3 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 22 K, 4 BB.

Bisons place Pridie on DL

The Bisons placed outfielder Jason Pridie (right hamstring strain) and infielder Alex Cintron (left wrist sprain) on the disabled list. The Bisons also announced that infielder Jonathan Malo and pitcher Jose De La Torre have been promoted to the Herd from Double-A Binghamton. Also, outfielder Emmanual Garcia has been added to Buffalo’s roster from the Single-A St. Lucie Mets.

Pridie was injured in Tuesday night’s defeat to the Charlotte Knights, while Cintron was injured in last Friday’s 5-3 victory over the Norfolk Tides and is being placed on the disabled list retroactive to May 17. Catcher Josh Thole (hip), infielder Ruben Tejada (dizziness) and outfielder Andy Green (hand), who all suffered injuries during Tuesday's game are available for tonight's game. Thole and Tejada are in the lineup while Green is available if need be.

Here is the starting lineup for tonight's game:

Jesus Feliciano, rf
Russ Adams, 2b
Mike Jacobs, dh
Mike Hessman, 3b
Valentino Pascucci, 1b
Josh Thole, c
D.J. Wabick, lf
Ruben Tejada, ss
Emmanuel Garcia, cf
Dylan Owen, p

---Rodney McKissic

(www.twitter.com/rodneyjmckissic)

More tix options for Strasburg's start tonight in Rochester

The entire Frontier Field grandstand is just about sold out for Stephen Strasburg's outing tonight in Rochester so the Red Wings are putting 2,500 grass berm seats on sale for $5.50 as well as selling individual tickets to their party suites for $35 and $45 (including food).

Sounds like it's going to be a pretty crazy night with perhaps a record crowd on hand. The stadium record is 13,723 for a 1997 exhibition game (remember those?) against the then-parent Baltimore Orioles. The record for an official Red Wings game is 13,485 in 1997 against Columbus when "fat toad" Hideki Irabu started for the Clippers. I'll be on hand tonight giving you some live updates on how Strasburg looks.

If you want to go, it's about a 70-minute drive from Buffalo. Take Exit 47 of the Thruway and follow I-490 into downtown to Exit 12. Go straight on Allen Street across Broad Street and follow signs to parking.

Buy tickets ahead by calling (585) 423-9464 or take your chances at the box office. There are no more Internet sales for this game.

---Mike Harrington
(www.twitter.com/bnharrington)

Heading to the Strasburg Show

I was unavailable Tuesday night so I did a rain dance looking East and got my downpour in Rochester. It means I will get to cover Stephen Strasburg's outing tonight at 7 in Frontier Field after the teams' game Tuesday was rained out. They already had an 11 a.m. contest scheduled today and the Washington Nationals and Minnesota Twins agreed to a split DH to accommodate ticket holders. Nice of them.

The rainout has now tweaked Strasburg's schedule to the point no one really knows yet how many more starts he will make for Syracuse. I am, however, seeing more and more references to a June 4 opening in the big leagues -- which would mean no Strasburg on June 2 or 3 in Coca-Cola Field. Bummer. We'll have to see if that holds.

The Nationals are definitely massaging their $15 million arm. SI's Tom Verducci wonders if they're being too careful in this terrific piece. Either this is going to be the way every young pitcher is brought up from here on in or we'll find out they need to pitch, like the Reds are doing with Mike Leake.

Writes Verducci: "No one has undergone a more public, more closely watched minor league development than Strasburg. He is the Times Square of pitching development, the brightly-lit, crowded intersection of how the game is covered and how it is taught."

---Mike Harrington
(www.twitter.com/bnharrington)

Owen scheduled to pitch on Wednesday

There was speculation that Mets rookie pitcher Jennry Mejia would be sent down to Buffalo and pitch on Wednesday against Charlotte, but the Bisons just announced that right-hander Dylan Owen will start tomorrow's game at Coca-Cola Field.

Owen was promoted to the Herd earlier on Tuesday from the Double-A Binghamton Mets. He has spent the entire season with the B-Mets, going 2-1 with a 2.82 ERA in seven games and six starts. Owen has worked five innings or more in all seven of his appearances. In his last start, Owen struck out eight and allowed just one hit in six innings in a no-decision in Trenton. Owen was selected by the Mets in the 20th round of the 2007 draft. In 2008, he was the Florida State League Most Valuable Pitcher after going 12-6 with a 3.43 ERA in 24 starts with Single-A St. Lucie.

Mets pitcher Ryota Igarashi is scheduled to make rehabilition appearances for the Bisons on Thursday and Friday.

Here is the starting lineup for tonight's game:

Jason Pridie, cf
Jesus Feliciano, rf
Mike Jacobs, 1b
Mike Hessman, 3b
Valentino Pascucci, dh
Russ Adams, ss
Andy Green, lf
Josh Thole, c
Ruben Tejada, 2b
Tobi Stoner, p

---Rodney McKissic

(www.twitter.com/rodneyjmckissic)

Around the horn: Strasburg and Herd

---The Stephen Strasburg Show hits Rochester Tuesday night. Great friend of the blog Jim Mandelaro has a big feature on him in Tuesday's Rochester Democrat & Chronicle. Twelve innings, one hit in two Triple-A starts for Syracuse. Let's see if he keeps it up. Then a postgame update will bear watching to see if he's on schedule to pitch in Buffalo June 2 or 3 or will instead go to Washington.

---How consistent have the Bisons been this season? They've played 11 series, winning five, splitting four and losing only two. They won three of four against Norfolk and have won five of six overall, a big bounceback after a 1-5 stretch on their recent road trip.

"Winning series is big, especially when they're four-game series," outfielder Jason Pridie said after Monday's 11-4 win over the Tides. "That means you've got to win three out of four, which can be tough."

"I'm very confident with this club," said manager Ken Oberkfell.  "We've been playing really good baseball at home (13-5). I like the way we bounced back after a tough loss [Sunday]. It's nice to see them come back out the next day. They don't let the previous night affect them."

---Dillon Gee had given up 11 runs in his last two starts. He gave up a two-run homer to Michael Aubrey and nothing else Monday. Was he distracted by the Mets' possible needs? Not a chance.

"We've got a job here. You focus on doing that to the best of your ability," Gee said. "Whatever happens up there is out of our hands."

Oberkfell said before the game he didn't think any of his starters had one eye on the Mets and his words were borne out by the way Gee pitched.

"He pitched his game and that's exactly what he's done all year," Oberkfell said.

---Mike Harrington
(www.twitter.com/bnharrington)

On the field, Herd moves on

With all the Mets-related rumors coming out of Atlanta, let's not forget the Bisons have a game tonight too, the finale of a four-game set with Norfolk at Coca-Cola Field.

ESPNNY.com has printed the transcript of Mets' COO Jeff Wilpon's session with the media today at Turner  Field after he was part of a 90-minute meeting with manager Jerry Manuel and GM Omar Minaya. Wilpon's key quote: "I didn't come here to fire anybody guys. I'm sorry. That's not what we're doing."

We'll see if Wilpon rues that comment in the coming days.

Anyway, Dillon Gee is on the mound tonight for the Herd. Here's the Buffalo lineup:

Jason Pridie,  cf
Jesus Feliciano, rf
Mike Jacobs, dh
Mike Hessman, 3b
Valentino Pascucci, 1b
Russ Adams, lf
Andy Green, 2b
Josh Thole, c
Ruben Tejada, ss
----

---Mike Harrington
(www.twitter.com/bnharrington)

Herd ace Dickey gone

No sign of knuckleballer R.A. Dickey as the Bisons have just opened some pitchers' fielding practice in Coca-Cola Field. No announcement yet but he's expected to be joining the Mets tonight in Atlanta. The Mets need a starter for Wednesday against Washington and it would be Dickey's day. Tobi Stoner and Pat Misch are on the field and Dillon Gee is starting tonight. Dickey is 4-2 with a 2.23 ERA that's third in the International League.

There's plenty of drama brewing in Atlanta with the Mets as well. Jeff Wilpon has made an unscheduled trip South with GM Omar Minaya. They've already had one meeting with embattled manager Jerry Manuel, who emerged from his office and joked with beat writers watching, "I've got a uniform on, don't I?"

5:30 UPDATE: Manuel met the media in Atlanta and is still employed. He said his meeting with the domos was "just baseball." Yeah, right. The Mets have not officially announced Dickey has been called up but the Bisons list no one on their clubhouse lineup card for Wednesday's starter and Dickey has a locker in Atlanta.

"He should get everything he deserves," manager Ken Oberkfell said of Dickey. "He's been solid. More important, he's such a quality person. He threw his knuckleball for strikes right from spring and he's mixed his other pitches for strikes.

"I remember him in '07 for Nashville when he was PCL Pitcher of the Year. He looked like the same guy last year in Rochester. He works hard, is in great shape and knows how to pitch. You throw that knuckleball over for strikes, you'll be pretty effective. Think of the major-league pitchers with knuckleballs, the Niekros, Charlie Hough, Wilbur Wood. They threw it well and they had long careers. I wish nothing but the best for R.A. I'd love to see him go to the big leagues and stay."

---Mike Harrington
(www.twitter.com/bnharrington)

Heat rising on Mets' Manuel

The Mets have gone from first place to last in the NL East in 16 days. They looked terrible over the weekend in Florida, their starting pitching is a mess and their lineup is a mish-mosh of underachievers. It all means Jerry Manuel's job is in question again and, in fact, friend of the blog and St. Bona grad Mike Vaccaro says today it's time to give Manuel the ax in his column in the New York Post.

The likely successor would be Mets scout and former Diamondbacks manager Bob Melvin, who joined the organization over the winter and was clearly labeled the manager in waiting. GM Omar Minaya is joining the team today in Atlanta in what was not a scheduled stop. Hmmm.

Back in April, ESPNNY's Adam Rubin saw this day coming and listed odds on the candidates to replace Manuel. If I were the Mets, I might go with the fiery Terry Collins but, like Rubin says, you may not want to upset your minor-league system that much and anyone who's watched the Bisons this year can see the impact Collins has had.

How might all this affect the Herd? It should be noted that when Willie Randolph was fired and Manuel was hired in 2008, Ken Oberkfell was pulled out of his manager's chair in New Orleans and brought to the big leagues as a coach. He's well-regarded by the front office although I don't think he's a candidate to replace Manuel.

Could an Oberkfell promotion happen again? Would the Mets tell Wally Backman to take a detour from his scheduled post in Class A Brooklyn next month and come to Buffalo so they could see him in action closer to the majors? Hmmmm. There's an idea. With this wacky organization, anything is possible I suppose.

--Mike Harrington
(www.twitter.com/bnharrington)

Herd on drive for five today

The Bisons meet the Norfolk Tides in another 1 p.m. matinee at sunny Coca-Cola Field and Buffalo will be trying to win its fifth straight game. Doesn't seem like that big a deal until you consider how lean times have been around here of late. The Bisons, in fact, have not won five in a row since June 28-July 2, 2007. Since then, they have posted six four-game runs and lost game five in the previous five.

Couple other amazing Mike Hessman stats in the wake of today's story about his offensive outbursts: Hessman has 41 RBIs on 41 hits largely because he's batting .419 and slugging .977 with runners in scoring position. In two-out/RISP situations, Hessman is batting .455 and slugging 1.045. Absurd.

Catcher Josh Thole is back from a stint with the Mets trying to improve his .203 average in Buffalo. Oddly enough, Thole is 7 for 22 (.318) with runners in scoring position and 9 for 57 (.158) when there's no ducks on the pond.

12:55 update: The Mets have released Buffalo reliever Kiko Calero. Mercifully. He was 2-0 in 10 appearances  but had a 10.59 ERA overall -- and a 36.82 ERA in May. Yes, 36.82. As in 15 earned runs in 3 2/3 innings. Yeesh.

Here's today's lineup:

Jason Pridie, cf
Jesus Feliciano, rf
Mike Jacobs, 1b
Mike Hessman, 3b
Valentino Pascucci, dh
Russ Adams,  2b
Josh Thole, c
Andy Green, lf
Ruben Tejada, ss
---
Bobby Livington, p

---Mike Harrington
(www.twitter.com/bnharrington)

Ethier can't catch Hessman if he's on DL

Bisons slugger Mike Hessman might not have to worry about Dodgers Triple Crown threat Andre Ethier chasing him down for the RBI lead in professional baseball. The Dodgers are hoping Ethier can avoid a trip to the disabled list but are awaiting further word today after he broke a bone in his right pinkie Friday night.

Be sure to catch up on today's story about Hessman, who is threatening to rewrite the Bisons' record book.

Lots of questions in recent days from fans about why this guy isn't in the major leagues. Hessman has played 77 games in the bigs with Atlanta and Detroit -- and 1,591 games in the minors. The answer is pretty obvious when you look at Hessman's career stats: He's a career .228 hitter in the minor leagues with bushels of strikeouts. A classic Dave Kingman type player.

But Hessman took stock over the winter and realized he had to stop getting himself out. He had to be more patient at the plate and cut down on strikeouts. What a difference a change in thought process can make. Should be a fun summer watching him hit every day.

---Mike Harrington
(www.twitter.com/bnharrington)

Herd back at it with matinee

Quick turnaround for the Bisons today as they have a 1 p.m. start against Norfolk. They will be trying to equal their season high with their fourth straight win after Friday night's 5-3 victory in the series opener.

Today's game will mark the home debut of 24-year-old catcher Jean Luc Blaquiere, a Montreal native who chose baseball over hockey as a youngster. Good choice it seems and you know he's thrilled about the hockey team in his life too. Blaquiere was called up on the team's road trip from Class A St. Lucie because Josh Thole went to the big leagues with Henry Blanco out on bereavement leave.

In two games in Louisville, Blaquiere went 5 for 8 with two doubles, two homers, four RBIs, a 1.625 slugging percentage and a 2.250 OPS.  Wild.

Speaking of wild, cleanup man Mike Hessman has taken over the RBI lead in all of professional baseball with 39, one more than Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Andre Ethier. Hessman has 11 home runs, one more than Nick Evans' team-leading total of last season. And he's closing in on Mike Lamb's total of 53 RBIs that led the '09 Herd for entire season. Double wild.

Here's the Bisons'  lineup today:

Jason Pridie,  cf
Jesus Feliciano, rf
Mike Jacobs, 1b
Mike Hessman, 3b
Valentino Pascucci, dh
Russ Adams, 2b
Andy Green, lf
Jean Luc Blaquiere, c J.R. House, c
Ruben Tejada, ss
-------
Pat Misch, p

12:20 UPDATE: I'll keep up the info on Blaquiere for entertainment value but he just got scratched. No reason given. J.R. House is now catching.

---Mike Harrington
(www.twitter.com/bnharrington)

Big mound matchup as Herd opens homestand

The Bisons are back in town at Coca-Cola Field and open an eight-game homestand tonight against the Norfolk Tides. The game is on Time Warner 13 as well as WGR and WWKB Radio (550 and 1520 AM).

Knuckleballer R.A. Dickey is on the mound for Buffalo and he'll be facing Norfolk right-hander Chris Tillman, the hot Baltimore prospect who fired a no-hitter April 28 at Gwinnett and struck out 10 Toledo batters in his last start May 9. That was the IL's first nine-inning no-no since 2006 and the first for the Tides since 1992.

Tillman is 3-3, 3.49 for the season -- but 3-0, 1.86 with 24 strikeouts and four walks over his last four starts. He was a second-round choice by Seattle  in 2006 and was one of five players Baltimore acquired in 2008 for Erik Bedard. Dickey is 3-2, 2.56 in seven starts but 2-1, 1.59 in four starts at home.

The Bisons will be debuting two new veteran players tonight as the Mets have signed DH Val Pascucci from independent Camden of the Atlantic League, where he was hitting .275, and catcher J.R. House (.345 for Newark in the same league).

Pascucci has hit 72 home runs in the PCL the last three years, including 27 in 2008 for Ken Oberkfell when they were both with the Mets' affiliate in New Orleans. He was with Buffalo in spring training before being released. Pascucci has 193 minor-league home runs, 10th among active players and led the PCL with 34 in 2007 at Albuquerque (Florida chain). Of course, the Bisons have the top minor-league dinger man in third baseman Mike Hessman, who is second in the IL with 10 and has 321 for his career. 

To  make roster room, the Bisons have put Fernando Martinez on the disabled list with a left hamstring strain. He has  not played since Sunday at Indianapolis and yet another trip to the DL is a big step backward for the 21-year-old, who just can't stay healthy.  On top of that, he was only batting . 244 this season.

Here's the Bisons' lineup tonight:

Jason Pridie, cf
Jesus Feliciano, rf
Mike Jacobs, 1b
Mike Hessman, 3b
Valentino Pascucci, dh
Russ Adams, lf
J.R. House, c
Alex Cintron, 2b
Ruben Tejada, ss
--
R.A. Dickey, p

---Mike Harrington
(www.twitter.com/bnharrington)

Strasburg starting Tuesday in Rochester

Good news if you want to make a short drive down the Thruway: Stephen Strasburg is being given an extra day of rest by the Nationals and the Syracuse fireballer will make his next start Tuesday night at Frontier Field in Rochester.. He had been slated to throw Monday at Pawtucket.

Strasburg, of course, has been ridiculous so far in Triple-A, allowing one hit in 12 innings over two starts. Baseball's No. 1 draft pick last June has instantly become the game's top prospect and was lifted by pitch count with a no-hitter after six innings in his second start Wednesday in Syracuse.

What does this mean for the possibility of Strasburg pitching in Buffalo when the Chiefs are here May 31-June 3? It's still up in the air. That would almost certainly be his last Triple-A start. Still thinking June 2 or 3 are in play -- unless he gets the call to Washington. Stay tuned.

As far as the Rochester start goes, you can get tickets by calling the Frontier Field box office at 585-423-WING (9464) or by ordering online here.

---Mike Harrington
(www.twitter.com/bnharrington)

Strasburg makes second Syracuse start tonight

It's game two of the Stephen Strasburg tour in Syracuse tonight as the Chiefs host Norfolk. Unlike last Friday, when a record crowd of more than 13,000 was on hand, the crowd should be in the 8,000-9,000 range tonight. So that two-hour drive down the Thruway won't get you shut out if you want to check it out.

The Chiefs, of course, will be holding their breath on the weather because this is a huge bonanza for a Triple-A team on a weeknight in May. Love how longtime colleague Mike Waters of the Syracuse Post-Standard described last night's crowd in the article linked above: "The inclement weather kept attendance at least 3,500 shy of the announced crowd of 3,844." Classic.

Strasburg is still on line to make his final Syracuse start in Buffalo at Coca-Cola Field. If he pitches here on June 1, it would allow him to debut in Washington on June 6 against Cincinnati. But that's a Sunday afternoon. Maybe the Nats want to boost the crowd on June 8, a Tuesday night against the Pirates. Maybe they push Strasburg's final Triple-A start back a day.

We'll see. Should be interesting. I'm still betting Strasburg pitches in the series in Buffalo at some point.

---Mike Harrington
(www.twitter.com/bnharrington)

Big loss for Jays on the schedule

The Blue Jays always draw pretty well when the Yankees are in town but the big draw on their schedule was the June 25-27 series with the defending NL champion Phillies -- and a potential matchup with former ace Roy Halladay. The team budgeted ticket sales of 90,000 for the three games and probably would have gone over 100,000 if it turned out Halladay was pitching one of the three games.

I know a few folks who already had tickets. I had the series circled on my calendar. Not now. The Blue Jays had to officially cry uncle Tuesday as Major League Baseball moved the games to Citizens Bank Park in Philly because of the upcoming G20 Summit in Toronto.

The Blue Jays and MLB really had no other choice. The summit is at the Metro Convention Center, next door to Rogers Centre. Front Street, the main thoroughfare you walk or drive down to get to the Dome, is within the security perimeter and would be restricted to fans. It would be a traffic and pedestrian nightmare. And don't forget the scores of demonstrations likely to fill the streets and greet the world leaders attending.

It was the right decision, albeit perhaps a late one, said Toronto Star columnist Richard Griffin. The Jays hope to have the Phillies scheduled in Toronto next season. It's about all they could do in this case.

---Mike Harrington
(www.twitter.com/bnharrington)

See every out of the perfect game

MLB.com has compiled the video of Dallas Braden's perfect game with just the important stuff: All 27 outs can be viewed here.

Dear A-Rod: Braden is perfect

Guess A-Rod will know who Dallas Braden is now. Braden just pitched a perfect game -- yes, a perfect game -- for the Athletics against the Rays. Wow. That's how you make a name for yourself.

(It's the 19th perfect game in history and the second in a row against the Rays. Mark Buehlre did it for the White Sox against the Rays on July 23, 2009. The Rays, Dodgers and Twins are the only teams with two against them).

---Mike Harrington
(www.twitter.com/bnharrington)

The Braden/A-Rod interview

Here's the interview with Dallas Braden of the Athletics that I talked about in today's Inside Baseball column. Clearly intimates he's prepared to settle things with A-Rod in his own way. But the clod doing the "interview" should be ashamed too. Jeez.

---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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