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Bisons kick off homestand

In about an hour, the Buffalo Bisons will kick off an eight game homestand starting with a four-game series against the Lehigh Valley IronPigs.

The Herd enters tonight's game 3.5 games out of the wild card playoff spot in the International League.

Pat Misch gets the start for the Bisons looking for his 10th win of the season. He is 0-1 in his first three attempts to grab win No. 10.

Tonight's Bison's lineup:

Luis Hernandez -- 2B
Justin Turner -- 3B
Lucas Duda -- LF
Nick Evans -- 1B
Fernando Martinez -- RF
Jorge Padilla -- CF
Ruben Tejada -- SS
J.R. House -- C
Pat Misch -- P

--- Amy Moritz

Hopes flickering for wild finish from Bisons

Somehow, the Bisons are still in the International League wild-card race (click here for the standings). But it sure doesn't feel like it. The standings say they're certainly in range, being 3 1/2 games out with 39 to play. But there are now four teams ahead of them after an 11-14 July and it's going to be very difficult to get back into contention.

Buffalo fell below .500 for the first time since Opening Day with Thursday's 11-8 loss at Columbus and the Herd is is 11-14 in July. Worse yet, the Bisons (52-53) are just 25-36 since May 23 as callups to New York and the injury to Mike Hessman have really hurt.

Louisvillle has soared to the top of the wild-card heap with a seven-game winning streak and a sizzling 20-6 mark in July. Syracuse has fallen apart with a 9-16 July and a nine-game losing streak.

The division races are just about over as Scranton/Wilkes-Barre has a seven-game lead in the North, Durham has a 14-game lead in the South and Columbus is up by 9 1/2 in the West. The Bisons play their road trip finale tonight in Columbus and then open an eight-game homestand Saturday night at 7 against Lehigh Valley.

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

Hessman back in Mets' lineup for noon matinee

Hess Mike Hessman's nice game in his first Mets start Wednesday night -- topped by his two-run double in the first -- has led to a second straight start for the ex-Bisons slugger today. The Mets and Cardinals, who didn't finish their 13-inning game last night until 11:40 p.m, have a 12:10 game today and Hessman will give David Wright the day off and start at third base while batting fifth.

Hessman's double was a couple of feet shy of being a grand slam and started the Mets' long road back from the six-run hole starter Johan Santana dug them in the top of the first. Hessman then scored the tying run in the eighth on Ike Davis' two-run pinch single.

Here's a couple Hessman stories today out of New York. No new ground broken here if you've read our Bisons coverage all season but interesting nonetheless to see how quickly the Crash Davis references came out.

New York Times

MLB.com 

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

(AP Photo: Hessman clubs his two-run double Wednesday night).

Trade ends Peralta's run with Tribe

JP You can argue the best season ever put up by a Bison was Dave Clark's .340 campaign in the 1987 War Memorial Stadium swan song (.340-30-80-.621 slugging). Or maybe Al Martin's 1992 season (.305, 16 doubles, 15 triples, 20 homers, 20 steals). I'll take Jhonny Peralta's 2004 campaign over both of them.

Peralta was the International MVP six years ago for the champion Bisons, batting .326 with modern-era records of 181 hits and 44 doubles. He also had 15 homers, 86 RBIs and played decent shortstop. He was Buffalo's first MVP since 1961 and graduated to Cleveland, where he's been a starter at short and third for five straight seasons.

That run ended Wednesday night, when Peralta was traded to the Detroit Tigers. Peralta has three 20-homer seasons and three seasons of at least 78 RBIs in Cleveland but never really endeared himself to Tribe fans. The soft-spoken Dominican was average defensively at best and was a lightning rod for criticism because of some lax play at the field and at that plate, where he's having his worst year (.246-7-43). Still, he was 7 for 15 in the 2007 division series against the Yankees and homered twice against the Red Sox in the ALCS.

He's owed a $7.25 million option after this year so he's clearly a rental for the injury-riddled and reeling Tigers, who need infield help. Peralta, who is making $4.6 million, will have to pick things up the next two months if he wants to keep earning real money next year.

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

(Photo: Associated Press)

On A-Rod and Jeter

I know the reasons for this but it's odd to yet again compare Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter. Here's A-Rod going for his 600th career home run -- something only six players in history have done -- and it really hasn't been that big a deal until he got to about 598.

When Jeter was pushing for his 2,722nd hit last season -- which, remember, was only a franchise record and nothing more -- it was celebrated like a monumental national event.

I know, I know. Steroids. Steroids. Steroids. I get it. But it's personality too. A-Rod has a certain smugness to him. The Yankees will always be Jeter's team and The Captain was breaking a record held by Lou Gehrig.

And A-Rod is about to join a club whose members also include No. 25 of the Giants whom we don't name here and Sammy Sosa. I get it. 

What a shame our home run records mean so little nowadays. So odd. Just sayin'.

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


Bulletin: Strasburg scratched, heading for MRI

CLEVELAND -- Lots of chatter in the press box here over a potential worst-case scenario for the Nationals: Stephen Strasburg was scratched from making his start tonight against the Braves and will be undergoing an X-ray and MRI exam on his golden right arm. Oy vey.. 

Nats GM Mike Rizzo made the call when he was told by pitching coach Steve McCatty and trainer Lee Kuntz (the trainer of the '97 championship Bisons, no less) that Strasburg wasn't able to get loose in the bullpen.

"I pulled the plug on it," Rizzo said. "Precautionary move. Erring on the side of caution, I just didn't want him to go out there when he was struggling to get loose in the bullpen pregame. There's no pain. There's no shooting pains or anything like that in the shoulder or elbow. He was just struggling to get loose."

The way this guy has been babied this year with innings and pitch counts, what will teams do now if he's hurt? Jeez.

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

WEDNESDAY UPDATE: The Nationals say Strasburg's MRI was clean and he's day to day. Bet he sits for a couple weeks.

Yankee doodles: To pie or not to pie

CLEVELAND -- In this season of no-hitters, another growing subplot is the (apparently) dangerous postgame celebration. Marlins outfielder Chris Coghlan might need knee surgery after injuring his meniscus Sunday while doing the obligatory pie-in-the-face routine to Wes Helms following a Florida walkoff win. Combine that with Kendry Morales' walkoff home run/broken leg earlier in the season and you have yourself a funny afternoon pregame diversion.

The Yankees, of course, are the kings of pie so reporters crowded around piemaster A.J. Burnett before tonight's game against the Indians. It's all kind of funny at first glance but two serious injuries say otherwise too.

"I always try to somewhat think safety first -- unless I’m the one snapping," joked Burnett, who cut his hand recently punching a plastic wall ornament in the Yankees clubhouse. "We’re always thinking about safety. Even when I’m 'pieing.' "

Manager Joe Girardi said he has not issued any directives to his players to tone things down (Marlins skipper Edwin Rodriguez has banned his team from any more pies).

"It's a shame it happened that way," Girardi said of Coghlan. "AJ has had a lot of practice at it and seems pretty efficient at it. I want to be careful not to take the enthusiasm away. It's a fine line."

It will be all-ARod all the time again tonight as he's batting fourth and trying for home run No. 600 on his 35th birthday. He went 0 for 4 last night but showed no ill effects from getting hit on the hand Sunday against Kansas City.

"Alex is in pretty good shape for 35," Girardi said. "No problems with his back, his knees, just the hip. With the way conditioning is now, 35 is really younger than it used to be."

It's CC Sabathia on the mound against Cleveland's Josh Tomlin, just up from Columbus for his big-league debut. Hmmm. Starting tonight against the Bisons or making this start and possibly landing in the history books next to A-Rod. Quite a time for a debut.

"I know in the right situation, probably a lower-profile team would have been better for him [to debut against]," said Tribe manager Manny Acta. "But these guys are in the league too. Somebody has to face them today and it's his turn. Based on all we've heard about his makeup, it's not going to bother him."

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

Yankee Doodles live from Progressive Field

CLEVELAND -- We're in the house for the opener of tonight's Yankees-Indians series (it's on YES at 7) and Alex Rodriguez is in the lineup trying for his 600th home run, despite getting hit by a pitch on the hand in his final at-bat yesterday against Kansas City.

"Hand's good, hand's really good," A-Rod said, brushing past reporters inside the Yankees clubhouse at about 4:40 this afternoon.

Some pregame chatter from the Bombers:

---"It's a lot, lot, lot of home runs," manager Joe Girardi said of No. 600. "A lot of production. It's being consistent and staying healthy. It's an amazing accomplishment."

---A-Rod has continued to produce even though he hasn't homered the last three games (he had three RBIs yesterday). 

"Usually when you go for it, you don't get it," Girardi said. "It's just going to happen. ... He can't get away from it. People are screaming the flasbulbs are going off. He can't get away from it. But I would bet he'll get one more."

---One issue figures to be how the Yankees get possession of the ball. Girardi said he's hoping it goes into the Yankees' bullpen and joked about A-Rod maybe getting an inside-the-parker to save the club the trouble. It's not going to be a packed house here (probably no more than 25,000 or so). But that's an issue.

---In other Yankees news, Girardi said Dustin Moseley will start Thursday's series finale here instead of Sergio Mitre, who will move to the bullpen. CC Sabathia start Tuesday against Josh Tomlin, making his big-league debut and Wednesday's game is A.J. Burnett vs. Fausto Carmona.

---I chatted with Sabathia before the game about the state of sports in Cleveland for an upcoming column and he had plenty of thoughts on LeBron James' move to Miami

"He made the best decision for him to try to win a championship," Sabathia said. "Teaming up with those two guys (Wade and Bosh), they got a pretty good chance. I'm sure he's aware (that people say his legacy will be stained). and people making a big deal of that. At the end, he wants to win. If you have to have a 1 and a 1A, take that all day."

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

Mets add another veteran for Bisons

The Mets signed veteran catcher Michael Barrett as a free agent on June 29 and stashed him at Class A St. Lucie while he was getting in game shape. Barrett was called up today and added to the Bisons' roster for tonight's game against Toledo. He will form a solid tandem of veteran catchers with J.R. House, which certainly shows the Mets full intend to keep youngster Josh Thole in the big leagues.

Barrett only played 17 games in the Toronto system during an injury-plagued 2009 campaign and was a free agent heading into 2010. During his 12-year career with the Montreal Expos, Chicago Cubs, San Diego Padres and Blue Jays, Barrett batted .263 with 98 homers and 424 RBIs in 1,054 major league games. He had three straight 16-home run seasons for the Cubs (2003-05).

Barrett is best known, however, for a pair of confrontations while with the Cubs. On May 20, 2006, he punched White Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski, sparking a brawl between the crosstown rivals. On June 1, 2007, he got into a dugout confrontation with pitcher Carlos Zambrano and got stitches in the lip after his pitcher punched him. There's a few pitchers on the Bisons' roster who could use a couple shots to the head the way they've been throwing lately.

The Bisons returned catcher Jean Luc Blaaquiere to St. Lucie and pitcher Dylan Owen has been promoted from Double-A Binghamton for the second time this year.

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

While you slept, all the Mets and the Red Sox bullpen did too

Stayed up past 1 a.m. Thursday night/Friday morning for some full-moon baseball. Take your pick: It was the morose Mets sleepwalking through a 2-0 loss at Dodger Stadium or the reeling Red Sox pulling out an 8-6, 13-inning win at Seattle after blowing a 6-1 lead in the bottom of the ninth.

The Mets are 1-7 on their West Coast road trip and, remember, should be 0-8 if not for umpire Phil Cuzzi's blown call at home Sunday in San Francisco. They're 7 1/2 out in the National League East, horrific Jason Bay was benched last night and the Jerry Manuel Watch is on again. GM Omar Minaya was in LA and said his manager was safe last night. Uh-huh. Hey Omar: Are you safe too?

The Mets, by the way, designated reliever Fernando Nieve for assignment and called up Manny Acosta from the Bisons after the game. Memo to Mets: Acosta won't help. Throws hard and straight and barely gets Triple-A hitters out. The Bisons have also put Andy Green on the (phantom) DL to make room for Justin Turner's return. Sure, Green will be listed with some injury but he looked fine getting three hits Wednesday night.

As for the Red Sox, their relievers are a bunch of phantoms. John Lackey was actually four outs from a no-hitter before Manny Delcarmen and Jonathan Papelbon imploded in the ninth.   Among other things, Boston needs bullpen help if it has any hope of staying afloat in the AL East. At least the Sox get Josh Beckett back tonight.

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

Plenty of options in Herd lineup

Jesus Feliciano, Ruben Tejeda and Justin Turner are back from New York. Mike Hessman is back from the disabled list. Luis Hernandez and Lucas Duda have come from Binghamton and made major impact. So Bisons manager Ken Oberkfell suddenly has a good problem just a week after the all-star break -- spreading out at-bats to all these guys.

Oberkfell is moving guys around for today's 1:05 game against Rochester in Coca-Cola Field. Hessman gets a turn at DH so Turner can play third. Hernandez gets in at shortstop and Tejeda, who was at short last night, moves to second base today. Duda is in left and Fernando Martinez is in right.

That leaves veterans like Andy Green, Jorge Padilla, Russ Adams Mike Cervenak available on the bench for today's game. 

"It's a good problem to have. Everybody will play and get their opportunities," Oberkfell said after Wednesday night's 9-2 loss. It will keep them well-rest ed down the stretch and they're going to move around which they need to do anyway. They go to the big leagues, that's what they're going to do. It's a good problem to have, something we didn't have last year. So I'm ready for the challenge."

Here's today's lineup in the final game of the four-game, two-city set with the Red Wings:

Jesus Feliciano, cf
Luis Hernandez, ss
Mike Jacobs, 1b
Mike Hessman, dh
Lucas Duda, lf
Fernando Martinez, rf
Justin Turner, 3b
Ruben Tejada, 2b
J.R. House, c
---
Bobby Livingston, p

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

Staying with Mets Amazin'ly easy call for Bisons

The Bisons made official today what's been expected for several weeks: They have signed a two-year extension with the New York Mets to remain as parent club through the 2012 season.

Frankly, there weren't many other options if the Herd was seeking a change (the Blue Jays and Marlins would have likely been the only choices), and the Mets have done a much better job all around with their Triple-A club this year.

Once wacky VP Tony Bernazard was excised last year, the Mets started to seriously work on behalf of its affiliates. The hiring of Buffalo Baseball Hall of Famer Terry Collins over the winter as field coordinator has also provided a major boost.

"What they did in the offseason ... was to say we're going to create in our minor-league system a philosophy and a method of operation that is going to create winners up and down the line and provide a good pipeline for the major leagues," Bisons president Jon Dandes said today in Coca-Cola Field. "What we saw was a real change and philosophy for a commitment to get that done."

Click below for the full audio of Dandes' meeting with reporters.

On the field, the Bisons are hosting Rochester tonight at 7 and it will mark Mike Hessman's first home game since June 3 as he missed more than a month with a stress fracture of the hand. Hessman bats fourth in a Buffalo lineup that will try to make Pat Misch the Herd's first 10-game winner since 2005 and provide the team's first six-game winning streak since 2005.

The lineup:

Jesus Feliciano, cf
Ruben Tejada, ss
Jorge Padilla, lf
Mike Hessman, dh
Mike Jacobs, 1b
Mike Cervenak, 3b
Fernando Martinez, rf
J.R. House, c
Andy Green, 2b
---
Pat Misch, p

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

Hessman returns to Bisons' lineup

In a surprising move that's a huge boost to their lineup, the Bisons have announced that slugging third baseman Mike Hessman has been activated off the disabled list and will be available for tonight's game in Rochester. Hessman has been out since suffering a stress fracture of the hand June 6 in Norfolk. He played Sunday for the Gulf Coast League Mets, going 2 for 4, and apparently felt his hand was good to go. Normally, players take more than one game on rehab but Hessman has been antsy to return and wants to be in the lineup this weekend when the Herd plays his former team, Toledo.

When he was injured, Hessman led all of professional baseball with 57 RBIs and was tops in the International League with 18 home runs. He is batting .287 and his  18 homers still rank tied for third-most in the IL. His .616 slugging percentage is just five plate appearances shy of qualifying as the league's best.

To make room for Hessman, DH/OF Valentino Pascucci has been put on the disabled list with an ankle sprain. He's batting .238 with 11 homers and 22 RBIs.

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

Bisons set for Hall of Fame day

Hello from Coca-Cola Field. Richie Sexson might not be here today, but I am, and that will have to suffice.

The Bisons are getting set up for today's Buffalo Baseball Hall of Fame ceremony, honoring the aforementioned, and absent, Sexson, as well as the team's longtime broadcaster, Duke McGuire.

For more on the Sexson situation, be sure to check out the always-excellent work of Mike Harrington in his weekly inside baseball column.

And here's Harrington's profile of McGuire, a true legend of Buffalo baseball.

After the ceremony, the Herd will look to continue its walk-off magic. The Bisons have won the last two games over the Gwinnett Braves with walk-off hits, Saturday night when Jorge Padilla hit a pinch-hit sacrifice fly in the ninth inning.

Dillon Gee (8-5, 4.77 ERA) will be on the hill for the Herd.

Here's the Bisons' lineup for today's game:

Jesus Feliciano, CF

Luis Hernandez, SS

Jorge Padilla, LF

Valentino Pascucci, RF

Lucas Duda, 1B

Mike Cervenak, 3B

Andy Green, 2B

Jean Luc Blaquiere, C

Dillon Gee, P

---Jay Skurski

Thoughts on Ollie

Jerry Manuel says Oliver Perez won't pitch in his starting rotation. Perez, as is his right, won't accept an option to Buffalo. Should be an interesting week for the Mets' decision-makers after Perez pitched a pretty decent 6 2/3 innings Saturday night in Coca-Cola Field, just as Hisonari Takahashi was blowing up in San Francisco.

Perez allowed seven hits, struck out seven and walked just two, leaving in a 3-3 tie with the Gwinnett Braves (the Bisons won it 4-3 in the ninth). He threw 103 pitches, 61 strikes. It was a far cry from Sunday's walkathon in Rochester when Perez threw just 52 of 100 pitches for strikes, walked five, hit two batters and threw two wild pitches.

"Every game is different but I started getting stronger [Saturday]," Perez said. "I feel real good about all my progress with my knee. I'm excited every time I have a game like this. If I don't feel any pain in my knee and I pitch like this, I think that's very positive."

Perez was certainly better than Sunday but was he major-league ready? Eh. Some pretty good breaking pitches had batters' knees buckling but can you really get big-league hitters out with an 85-mph fastball? Doubt it.

More from the Ollie show:

On Manuel's clear aversion to using him: "I don't have anything to say about it. I have to keep working every time and try to do everything to get better. I have to do my job and that's to get ready and get healthy. you have to understand baseball is business. Sometimes you go to other teams. You have trades. You get released. Anything can happen. You just have to get ready every day."

Any chance he'd reconsider and take the option to Buffalo? "Right now I don't know. I have to speak with my agent. Right now, the most important thing is my knee is feeling good."

On getting a big hand from the crowd and tipping his cap when he was pulled in the seventh: "It's one of those times you have to enjoy the moment, enjoy the game. I always like to pitch like it's the last game of my career so you have to enjoy it. Before, I was not enjoying the game because I was putting too much pressure on myself."

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

Ollie to the hill for Herd

The dark storm clouds moved through late this afternoon and the sun is now shining at Coca-Cola Field. Mother Nature must have missed the memo about who's starting tonight for the Bisons. Oliver Perez takes the hill for his second rehab start in game three of the series against the Gwinnett Braves. The scuttle coming out of the Mets' series in San Francisco is that this will be his final rehab start.

Jerry Manuel, however, is certainly not putting Perez in the rotation, unless Hisonari Takahashi completely blows up tonight against the Giants. And Perez better show he can get people out. He threw five innings Sunday in Rochester and only allowed one run on three hits. But that was hardly the whole story -- Perez walked five, hit two batters and threw just 52 of his 100 pitches for strikes.

Not what you'd expect from a $36 million man.

The Mets would love to dump Perez and he has already said he won't accept a minor-league assignment so the Mets have a real dilemma on their hands. Of course, it would be nice if he would just pitch well. That hasn't happened to date.

Neither has the Buffalo bullpen. Twelve runs against in the first two games of this series and 22 runs in the last five. The relievers figure to get a good dose of work tonight again too.

Here's the Bisons' lineup tonight:

Jesus Feliciano, cf
Luis Hernandez, ss
Lucas Duda, lf
Mike Jacobs, 1b
Mike Cervenak, 3b
Fernando Martinez, rf
Russ Adams, 2b
J.R. House, c
Oliver Perez, p

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


Herd survives bullpen blowup

It was another wacky night for the Bisons Friday in Coca-Cola Field, as they survived a blown five-run lead and a 3-hour, 57-minute marathon to post a 10-9 win over Gwinnett. Jesus Feliciano's RBI single in the bottom of the 11th got the job done. Feliciano, in his second game back from New York, was 0 for 5 to that point.

"I didn't think he'd go hitless tonight and he got the big hit," said manager Ken Oberkfell. " ... He's hitting .370 and you defeinitely want him up in that situation. You know he's going to put the ball in play and not try to do too much. He came through with the big hit."

"I feel pretty good to have that hit after having a tough game," said Feliciano.

The Buffalo bullpen frittered away a 9-4 lead over the final two innings, with Brandon Hicks' two-out, two-run homer off Manny Acosta in the ninth tying the game at 9-9. The pen has given up 12 runs in the last two games and 22 runs in the last five. Yikes.

"It's killing me. Look at my hair," said a pained Oberkfell. "It's frustrating, very frustrating. You know they're trying. Manny gives up that two-run homer and just made a bad pitch. (a breaking ball). It's a learning experience but you've got to have guys who can shut a team down. Right now, we're not doing that but we managed to win the game."

"Acosta is a big-league pitcher and that's just part of the game," Feliciano said. "He made good pitches early in the at-bat. He was getting ahead iwht the fastball and then he threw a breaking ball and the guy hit it. As a player and a teammate, you feel bad for the guy. He was trying his best."

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

Misch back on the mound

After throwing his scoreless inning in Wednesday's Triple-A All-Star Game, Pat Misch is on the mound tonight for the Bisons in the second game of their series against the Gwinnett Braves. 

Misch (9-3) will be trying to become the third pitcher in the International League this season to get to 10 wins. His opponent is 23-year-old lefty Scott Diamond, a former Binghamton University pitcher making his Triple-A debut after getting promoted from Double-A Mississippi.

The Bisons (46-45) have dropped two in a row and five of their last seven to fall a season-high 7 1/2 games out of first place in the IL North. They are 4 1/2 behind Syracuse in the race for the wild card.

7:35 update: Infielder Justin Turner is not in the lineup tonight and ESPNNY.com is reporting he is en route to San Francisco to join the Mets in case Jose Reyes (finally) goes on the DL.

Here's tonight's Buffalo lineup:

Jesus Feliciano, cf
Luis Hernandez, ss
Lucas Duda, lf
Mike Jacobs, 1b
Mike Cervenak, 3b
Fernando Martinez, rf
J.R. House, c
Russ Adams, 2b
Pat Misch, p

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

Herd returns from break

The Buffalo Bisons return from the All-Star break to host a four-game series with the Gwinnett Braves. The series begins at 7 p.m. tonight and there's no shortage of news and notes from Coca-Cola Field.

For the Herd, Jesus Feliciano returns after playing 21 games with the Mets in his first big-league call-up. Feliciano will lead off for the Bisons and start in center field.

Ramon Oritz gets the start for the Herd with International League All-Star Pat Misch scheduled to start on Friday. Lefty Oliver Perez is set for Saturday's start.

For Gwinnett, center fielder Nate McLouth is starting and in the leadoff spot. McLouth is on a rehabilitation assignment coming back after sustaining a concussion in a June 9 outfield collision with rookie Jason Heyward. McLouth was hitting .176 in 57 games for the Atlanta Braves. He was an All Star in 2008 with Pittsburgh.

Meanwhile, Gwinnett's starting pitcher Todd Redmond pitched a no-hitter this season against Louisville on May 28. The Braves won that game, 4-0.

Today's Herd lineup:

Jesus Feliciano -- CF
Justin Turner -- 2B
Lucas Duda -- LF
Mike Jacobs -- 1B
Mike Cervenak -- 3B
Fernando Martinez -- RF
Luis Hernandez -- SS
J.R. House -- C
Ramon Ortiz -- P

--- Amy Moritz

More on the Duke of Buffalo

Duke-Bob Radio/TV analyst and former PA announcer Duke McGuire is one of the true characters of Bisons baseball and he's getting inducted into the Buffalo Baseball Hall of Fame on Sunday. Richly deserved. Be sure to read our story in Thursday's paper about McGuire's long career in the game -- and his huge role in getting "The Natural" filmed in Buffalo as well as playing a member of the New York Knights alongside Robert Redford (that's McGuire with Redford in 1930s baseball duds)

A long career can produce a long story and you can never have enough space to tell all the tales about this true Buffalo original. Rather than lose so much of these anecdotes in the story, I collected thoughts about Duke here from his three broadcast partners over the years. 

Pete Weber (TV, 1990-95, currently with NHL's Nashville Predators)

On his broadcast style: "Because he has lived through the situations, he's very good at keeping things simple and explaining what could be complex. He never makes you feel like that football coach mentality of, 'You couldn't possibly absorb the info I'm about to impart to you here.' He's a teacher. He's used that in broadcasting and made it fun.

On a bizarre moment at the mic: "He uttered one of the funniest impromptu PA announcements I've heard in my life. He was announcing the license tag of a car needing to be moved [outside War Memorial Stadium] and as he's in the middle of the number, an M-80 or cherry bomb goes off on Dodge Street outside. Duke just keeps reading and when he finished the number he simply said, 'Your car has just blown up.' That dispays how quickly he could adapt to a situation."

On the Hall of Fame induction: "My mindset is we're not giving him a gold watch. This is somebody who has served so well in so many capacities with the team and is being properly honored."

Jim Rosenhaus (radio 1996-2006, currently with Cleveland Indians)

On his broadcast style: "He didn't take the game too seriously. He realized it was fun. The game was fun. When we had big games, it was a big deal but he would see the fun side of the game. He wanted to see the game played right. As a former player, he knew good and bad baseball. His persepectives gave him credibility too. I've seen a lot of baseball but he played it. He knew what guys were going through, especially as a former minor leaguer. He knew the challenges and that type of thing. He had a good perspective on the big club taking out five guys.

A bizarre moment: "WGR used a promo and it was a replay of a foul ball one night in Buffalo that hit [mascot] Chip in the head. I'm calling the play and before I even finished saying what was going on, Duke just blurts out, "Chip is down! Chip is down!" He made it sound like Ali-Frazier. They would play that all the time and it was hysterical."

On the Hall of Fame: "This is awesome for Duke. He would miss some road trips early in the season when school was still going on and to some extent for me, it never felt like baseball season till Duke went on the road."

Duke-BenBen Wagner (Radio/TV, 2007-present)

On his broadcast style: "He sees things on the field before they happen and that helps the listeners. That can come out at any time, early or late in the game. He uses it as a tool to teach through our broadcasts as well, which I really appreciate. He helps the broadcast flow. He can move from the first inning and relate it back. He's been a player, a manager, worked in the front office. It makes a big difference."

On his wackiness in the booth: "I have to be alert at all times with Duke. From the "celebrity guest appearance" to the drop of something by 'The K-Man' in the stands. Duke is worrying about the ball -- and about the guy spilling a drop or two too."

On McGuire becoming a Hall of Famer: "I knew from the very beginning he was more of a connection to a fans that anybody I would ever have with me on the air. He's the connection to the current team and the years past. He's been the greatest resource to me in trying to learn Bisons history through regular conversation. It's not just players either. The Butcher came in and we started talking about him and that led to other cast of characters he had seen.

"He has longevity of the history but also the connection to all the loyal listeners out there. I've tried to use that to my advantage. It's huge for me to be able to connect to the history of this team through him."

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

Photo: McGuire and Wagner earlier this month at Coca-Cola Field -- James P. McCoy/Buffalo News

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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 | [email protected]


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 | [email protected]

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