It's Independence Eve at Coca-Cola Field and that means the annual post-game concert from the BPO and the season's largest fireworks show, all of it coming before what should be another packed house or close to it.
I'm betting this might be one of the best shows ever because of the giant HD screen in center field. The video will really augment the music, especially in the dark with the lights off. Should be a great show.
The Bisons have been a decent show on this homestand with a 6-3 record, albeit with losses in their last two games. The Herd will be wearing special red, white and blue caps for tonight's game, which you can watch on Time Warner 13. Buffalo is 36-48 but can pull even at home this year at 24-24 with a win. Syracuse is 35-45.
Jack Egbert, who missed all of last year with Tommy John surgery and has lost his first two starts, is on the mound against former Washington National Craig Stammen (7-3). Fernando Martinez has been returned from the Mets but is not expected here tonight.
Keep it here during the game for updates and thoughts on the Bisons.
The Buffalo lineup: Luis Figueroa, ss; Jesus Feliciano, cf; Nick Evans, lf; Valentino Pascucci, 1b; Michael Fisher, 3b; Luis Hernandez, 2b; Bubba Bell, rf; Raul Chavez, c; Jack Egbert, p
First pitch: The members of the Bedlington Terriers, the English-based soccer team that Bob Rich has befriended and brought to Buffalo, had their picture taken around the mound prior to their pitch.
6:30 update: Syracuse has a 2-1 lead after one inning. It will be interesting to see how close this one comes to a sellout. It's always a late arriving crowd (veterans know the show doesn't really start until the 9:30 range), but there are plenty of empties down the left-field line. Already folks in deep right field so that will be full. The Terriers, several in kilts, came out to kick soft balls into the crowd. The music that accompanied them? "Who Let the Dogs Out?" Nice. Bisons PR maven Brad Bisbing says that, in fact, is the team's goal song.
6:50 p.m.: It's 2-2 in the top of the third as Bubba Bell tied the game for the Herd with a solo home run into the tarp covering the BPO's stage in right. During the 13-inning July 3 marathon against Rochester in 2008, Metro's Dave Ricci famously cracked, "Hit one at the oboe player" as the game dragged on. Bell's shot would have nailed an oboe or one of the town's more noted viola players, at least to Sabres fans.
7 p.m: Scoreboard faux pas. A trivia question asks which year the Bisons set the International League attendance record: 1988, 1990 or 1991. How quickly the kids working here forget. The Bisons were in the American Association in those days (the answer was 1991, by the way, with more than 1.2 million).
7:35 p.m.: It's 3-2 for the Bisons after four. Bell singled to lead off the bottom of the fourth to go 2 for 2. Michael Fisher is also 2 for 2. Luis Figueroa's two-out RBI single gave the Herd the lead and made him 2 for 3. Fisher has been an interesting midseason callup from Double-A in his first Triple-A chance. Batting over .270 and slugging nearly .400. Got a real chance through all of Zach Lutz's injury troubles.
7:50 p.m.: Halfway home and it's 3-2 for the Bisons through 4 1/2. Great 2 1/3 innings of relief from Mike O'Connor of the Herd. ... There is nothing like reading game notes at the ballpark. Bisbing's nightly nuggets always include some head-shakers. Like these: The Bisons are 0-40 when trailing after eight innings and 1-39 when trailing after 7. ... Nick Evans has 12 multi-hit games in 17 outings since returning from New York. ... Buffalo starters had an 0.75 ERA in their first two games in July after posting a 5.15 mark in June. ... Counting tonight, the Bisons have been outscored, 59-46, in the first inning and 50-30 in the second. ...
7:52 p.m.: The mascots for the chicken wing race are warming up on the hill in right field. Celery remains winless.
7:55 p.m.: Wing wins after some physical contact. Heavy duty. Bleu Cheese might need a trainer....Lots of interference from Buster and Chip too. It's Wing 28, BC 16 and Celery zip. Guess the stalk's last chance is Sept. 1.
8:05 p.m: You see plenty of weirdness at times here on July 3. We've got a guy in front of the press box lifting a small boy so he can see inside and he's thoroughly entertained watching us. As if we're in the Biosphere. Hey pal, make sure he doesn't get cranked in the back of the head by a foul ball.
8:15 p.m: Three solid innings of relief by Mike O'Connor but he needed 3 1/3. Gives up two-out RBI hits to Steve Lombardozzi and Gregor Blanco as the Chiefs take a 4-3 lead in the top of the sixth and gets relieved by Taylor Tankersley.
8:18 p.m.: Want to read about Derek Jeter's rehab outing tonight in Trenton? Go here to this great blog from Mike Ashmore of the Hunterdon County Democrat.
8:27 p.m: Just been pointed out to me that Bisons have 12 of their final 59 games against the Chiefs. Ugh. These teams both mostly stink. And in a bizarre twist of the IL schedule, tomorrow's meeting at Alliance Bank Stadium is the first of the year in the Salt City.
8:33 p.m.: The Chiefs have broken it open with a four-run seventh off Tankersley to make it 8-3. A bunt single by Tug Hulett -- on a ball that was foul and took a big right turn fair and rolled over the bag -- was a key play. Corey Brown just cleared the bases with a three-run double to right-center.
8:36 p.m.: Two-run bomb high into the screen in left by Jeff Frazier. 10-3, Chiefs. Get to the BPO and the fireworks.
8:38 p.m.: Huge Bronx cheer from the crowd as Tankersley fans Lombardozzi for the first out. The first six men in the inning have all scored on five hits and a walk. The inning ends with the score still 10-3.
9:15 p.m.: Fans happy as we head to the bottom of the 9th. Still 10-3. Herd will finish 6-4 on this homestand. Pretty good considering this season but a disappointment considering it started 6-1. It's a season-high crowd of 17,454, putting the total at 317,511 in 17 years of BPO nights.
Final score: Syracuse 10, Buffalo 4. Bisons get a run in the ninth on Figueroa's RBI double, his third hit.