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Herd tries to rebound vs. Scranton

By Rodney McKissic

The Bisons, who were swept in a doubleheader against Scranton/Wilkes Barre on Saturday, are trying to avoid a series sweep this afternoon against the RailRiders. Here is the starting lineup for today's game:

Mike McCoy, rf
Munenori Kawasaki, 2b
Kevin Pillar, lf
Jim Negrych, dh
Andy LaRoche, 3b
Ryan Goins, ss
Sean Ochinko, 1b
Anthony Gose, cf
Mike Nickeas, cf
Ricky Romero, p

While you slept: A-Rod turned down rehab in Buffalo, Giants' Lincecum tosses no-hitter

By Mike Harrington

Two big items this morning as we head into the final day prior to the All-Star break for both MLB and Triple-A:

---Remember when I wrote last Sunday that Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez were not coming to Buffalo this weekend on rehab with the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders? Well, it turned out I was right -- but only barely. 

Jeter left Scranton late Wednesday, played Thursday for the Yankees but injured his quad and his now trying to stay off the DL again. A-Rod, meanwhile, apparently was told by the Yankees to be in Buffalo Saturday night but refused the assignment after citing pain in his legs. The New York Post initially reported on how A-Rod didn't show up for a Class A game Friday in Tampa after meeting with MLB investigators about Biogenesis. The Daily News said A-Rod may be working on a plea deal with MLB 

Asked about turning down the trip to Buffalo, A-Rod told reporters in Tampa, "This is news to me."

The Tampa Yankees tweeted last night that A-Rod will be in their lineup today, so don't look for him at Coca-Cola Field this afternoon. 

---The other big story came past 1 a.m., when Giants pitcher Tim Lincecum lived up to his nickname and threw a completely freaky no-hitter at Petco Park in San Diego. Lincecum struck out 13 and threw 148 pitches in the Giants' 9-0 win over the reeling Padres. 

Here's MLB.com's look at all 27 outs from the no-no.

Bisons fall to Scranton, 2-1

By Rodney McKissic

The Bisons couldn't do much against Scranton starter Chris Bootcheck, who went seven innings and allowed one run on four hits in a 2-1 Bisons defeat. Sean Ochinko's solo home run in the fifth was the lone run for the Herd.

Here's the starting lineup for the nightcap:

Kevin Pillar, rf
Mike McCoy, ss
Mauro Gomez, dh
Andy LaRoche, 3b
Jim Negrych, 2b
Eugenio Velez, lf
Sean Ochinko, c
Anthony Gose, cf
Clint Robinson, 1b
Dave Bush, p

Herd plays two vs. Scranton

By Rodney McKissic

The Bisons, winners of five straight, will start Chien-Ming Wang in Game One of tonight's doubleheader against Scranton. Game Two's starter is Dave Bush. Here is the starting lineup for Game One:

Kevin Pillar, cf
Ryan Goins, ss
Jim Negrych, 2b
Mauro Gomez, dh
Andy LaRoche, 3b
Eugenio Velez, lf
Clint Robinson, 1b
Anthony Gose, rf
Sean Ochinko, c
Chien-Ming Wang, p

Forget about Buffalo -- Jeter will be in the Bronx today

Jeter anthem
Life in the minors: Derek Jeter and Scranton teammate Addison Maruszak, left, are joined on the field by Little Leaguers for the national anthem Wednesday. (AP Photo)


By Mike Harrington

Got plenty of questions about the possibility of Derek Jeter being at Coca-Cola Field on rehab with the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders on Saturday night and I said in Sunday's Inside Baseball column that it seemed unlikely.

It looks like I made a good call.

The Yankees apparently decided overnight that Jeter is ready to make his season debut today and multiple sources say he will in the lineup, either at shortstop or designated hitter, for this afternoon's game against Kansas City in Yankee Stadium.

(FOX Sports reported the Jeter news last night with Andy McCullough of the Newark Star-Ledger giving more confirmation to it this morning).

(11:30 a.m. update -- Jeter is DHing today and GM Brian Cashman said he should be at short tomorrow)

After last night's game in Scranton, Jeter said "see you tomorrow" to reporters and teammates so there was some sort of new decision made overnight. Jeter sightings around Scranton have been a big topic in the city.

Jeter went 1 for 9 in his four games with Scranton and here's his stat rundown.

Bisons back in the race

by Amy Moritz
@amymoritz

Remember when the Buffalo Bisons slid all the way to nine games back in the International League North Division race? Remember when they were four games out of the Wild Card, seemingly their only hope at their first playoff appearance since 2005?

My, how things can change in a week.

IL North leader Pawtucket has hit the skids, on a seven-game losing streak.

Meanwhile, the Buffalo Bisons have won four straight.

That puts the Herd just 4 1/2 games behind the PawSox in the IL North Division race and 1 1/2 games behind Norfolk in the wild card race.

The Bisons open a key two game series against the Lehigh Valley IronPigs in Allentown, Pa. The teams play tonight (7:05 p.m.) and Friday (7:05 p.m.). The IronPigs are 1 1/2 games up on the Herd in both the IL North Division and the wild card races.

The Bisons return to Buffalo this weekend to host Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. The teams will play a doubleheader at 6:05 p.m. Saturday and a single game on Sunday (1:05 p.m.) as the league then heads into the Triple-A All-Star break.

Go to the video: In '04, new Buffalo BB Hall inductee Roberts became an October hero forever

By Mike Harrington

Dave Roberts and Ernie Young have been announced as the player inductees for the 2013 class of the Buffalo Baseball Hall of Fame today, and they will be enshrined prior to the July 19 game against Toledo in Coca-Cola Field.

(Full disclosure: Your neighborhood beat writer/columnist/blogger has been named in the Contributor category. Huge thanx to all who have texted, tweeted, called or approached today. Massive honor).

Young was the power-hitting first baseman/DH of the 2004 and 2005 teams while Roberts is the modern-era stolen base leader in a Buffalo career that began late in 1998 and stretched through 2001. Roberts, now the first-base coach of the San Diego Padres, is much more remembered for his stolen base in Game Four of the 2004 ALCS for the Red Sox and for the tying run he scored off Mariano Rivera that got Boston even and kick-started its historic comeback from a 3-0 deficit in the series.

I was pretty fortunate to be in the house on assignment that night in Fenway, and Roberts and I had a good chat about it the next day prior to Game Five. Little did anyone know at the time, of course, how historically significant the play would become.

Here's a pair of must-see videos on Roberts. The first is ESPN's "30 for 30" segment on the Roberts stolen base from the epochal "Four Days in October" episode on the 2004 ALCS. The second is an interview NESN did with Roberts last week when he was at Fenway Park with the Padres:

Roberts, Young and Harrington join Buffalo Baseball Hall of Fame

by Amy Moritz
@amymoritz

Former players David Roberts and Ernie Young along with Buffalo News sports reporter Mike Harrington were officially named today to the Class of 2013 for the Buffalo Baseball Hall of Fame.

Roberts played for the Herd from 1998-2001 and is the franchise's modern-era leader in stolen bases with 97. His longest season with the Bisosn came in 2000 when he batted .292, drove in 55 runs and stole 39 bases in 120 games.

He is part of baseball lore after "the steal" for the Boston Red Sox in the 2004 American League Championship Series. The Red Sox were on the verge of elimination to the New York Yankees, trailing 4-3 in the ninth in Game 4. Kevin Millar drew a walk and Roberts went in as the pinch runner. He stole second then scored the tying run on a single by Bill Mueller. Boston went on to win that game in 12 innings, sparking an eight-game winning streak to give the Red Sox their first World Series championship since 1918.

Young played with the Herd in 2004 and 2005, part of the franchise's last championship team (2004 Governors Cup) and the last team to the make the playoffs (2005). In 2004, he batted .299, driving in 100 runs with 27 home runs. He followed that up with a 20-homer, 78-RBI season in 2005.

Harrington joins the Class of 2013. The Amherst native started at The Buffalo News in 1987, took over as the Bisons' beat reporter in 1993 and debuted the Sunday column, "Inside Baseball" in 2004. He covered the Herd's championship seasons in 1997, 1998 and 2004 and has covered every World Series since 2000.

All three will be formally inducted before the Bisons game on July 19 when the Herd hosts the Toledo Mud Hens.

Lawrie joins Bisons for rehab assignment

by Amy Moritz
@amymoritz

First it was Jose Reyes. Now third baseman Brett Lawrie joins the Buffalo Bisons for a major league rehabilitation stint. Unfortunately for Bisons fans, the team spends the next four days on the road.

Lawrie will be with the Herd tonight in Syracuse for a 7 p.m. game with the Chiefs at NBT Bank Stadium.

Lawrie was placed on the disabled list on May 29 with a left ankle sprain. His rehab has progressed through the Blue Jays organization, playing two games with Single-A Dunedin, two with Single-A Lansing and three with Double-A New Hampshire. In those seven games, he has hit. 300 (6 for 20) driving in six runs and scoring four.

He played 37 games with Toronto this season, averaging .209 (29 for 139) with four doubles, two triples, five home runs and 14 RBI.

Last season, he drove in 48 runs while batting .273 in 125 games with the Blue Jays.

The Bisons are 2 1/2 games out of the International League Wild Card spot behind the Norfolk Tides. The Herd plays tonight and Wednesday in Syracuse then two games at Lehigh Valley, a team which is ahead of them in the wild card race.

Bisons' Gomez selected to compete in Triple-A Home Run Derby

by Amy Moritz
@amymoritz

Mauro Gomez will have a chance to become the third Buffalo Bison to be crowned Triple-A All-Star Home Run Derby Champion.

The Herd's designated hitter was one of three players from the International League selected to compete against three Pacific Coast League sluggers in the All-Star Home Run Derby on July 15 in Reno, Nevada.

Gomez has 24 home runs on the season for the third most in all of minor league baseball. He has posted five multi-home run games this season, tied for the modern era Buffalo Bisons record.

Last year, Valentino Pascucci belted out 22 home runs in the All-Star derby at Coca-Cola Field to win the title. In 2006 it was Andy Marte who took the title with 26 homers at Fifth Third Field in Toledo, Ohio.

Also on the IL home run derby team are Chris Colabello (Rochester) and Ernesto Mejia (Gwinnett).

Representing the PCL will be Matt Davidson (Reno), Johnny Monell (Fresno) and Brock Peterson (Memphis).

The Bisons open a four-game road trip tonight in Syracuse. On Thursday they move to Lehigh Valley before returning home for weekend games against Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

Bisons sweep doubleheader

by Amy Moritz
@amymoritz

Sean Ochinko hit his first Triple-A home run, a three-run rocket to left field in the second inning, and Chien-Ming Wang had a solid outing as the Buffalo Bisons earned a 4-1 win over the Syracuse Chiefs to sweep the Sunday doubleheader at Coca-Cola Field.

The Herd won Game 1, 6-2, and pulled themselves back to .500 (45-45).

The Herd scored all four of their runs in the second inning with Ryan Goins adding an RBI single to score Mike McCoy.

Wang retired the first nine batters he faced before giving up back-to-back singles to start the fourth. He pitched seven complete innings giving up one run on three hits with no walks and one strikeout.

Bush pitched seven complete innings to pick up the win in Game 1. That makes it the first time Bisons starters have thrown complete games in a doubleheader since July 18, 2009. Jonathon Niese pitched a 1-0 win over Toledo in the first game followed by a 2-0 win for Nelson Figueroa.

The Herd has a scheduled off day on Monday then begins a four-game road trip with two games in Syracuse followed by two games at Lehigh Valley.

 

Herd wins Game 1

by Amy Moritz
@amymoritz

Andy LaRoche went 3-for-3 with an RBI as the Buffalo Bisons defeated the Syracuse Chiefs, 6-2, in the first game of a doubleheader at Coca-Cola Field Sunday afternoon.

The win ends a four-game losing skid for the Bisons. The second game, which will feature the Bisons' debut of righty Chien-Ming Wang, will begin at 3:25.

The Herd jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first inning on a blast by Kevin Pillar The Bisons added another run on an RBI single from Eugenio Velez for a 3-0 lead.

 In the third, Will Rhymes cut the lead to 3-2 with his own two-run shot on a home run to right field that just kept carrying and carrying and carrying until it just cleared the wall.

 The Herd got those runs back in the third when Anthony Gose drove in two runs with a two-out bases-loaded single. A single in the fifth from LaRoche added another run and the Herd had a comfortable 6-2 lead.

Buffalo scored its six runs on nine hits.

Dave Bush pitched a complete seven-inning game, giving up two runs on five hits. He struck out eight and walked one to pick up the win and improve to 8-6.

The Bisons' lineup for Game 2:

Mike McCoy -- RF
Ryan Goins -- SS
Kevin Pillar -- CF
Mauro Gomez -- 1B
Jim Negrych -- 2B
Andy LaRoche -- 3B
Eugenio Velez -- DH
Anthony Gose -- LF
Sean Ochinko -- C 

From Buffalo across the Pacific, Wang still going global

By Mike Harrington

Look below for an image tweeted by the Bisons of the front page of today's China Times, featuring Chien-Ming Wang and Bisons pitching coach Bob Stanley (middle). Clearly, they're talking about the Buffalo debut today of Wang, the former Yankees ace throwing in the second game of the doubleheader against Syracuse.

And here's a (very rough) translation of the story. No idea what Uncle Google is doing giving us all these Aberdeen references. 

China times

Wang makes his Buffalo debut

by Amy Moritz
@amymoritz

They've fallen two games under .500 but they have one afternoon to make it up.

The Buffalo Bisons host the Syracuse Chiefs for a scheduled doubleheader at Coca-Cola Field (1:05 p.m., Radio 1520, TWC).

The Bisons had been 10 games over .500 on eight different occasions this season, but have slid out of contention in the International League North Division race, sitting nine games back of first-place Pawtucket. What's gone wrong? I took a look at the numbers in today's story in The Buffalo News.

Bisons Debut for Wang: Chien-Ming Wang is scheduled to pitch Game 2 of today's doubleheader. Wang was designated for assignment to Buffalo after going 1-1 with a 7.13 ERA in five starts with the Toronto  Blue Jays, who signed him on June 9. He won 19 games in 2006 and 2007 for the New York Yankees. The press box has been an interesting place the last three Bisons home games, ever since Wang was designated for assignment, as Taiwanese media have joined the local media corps to cover Wang. 

Extra! Extra! No Jeter in the B-Lo: Derek Jeter is on his Major League rehabilitation assignment with the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders. And Alex Rodriguez has been transferred to Class A Tampa as he recovers from hip surgery. Scranton is headed to Buffalo next weekend. So could we see Jeter or A-Rod in Buffalo? Mike Harrington says probably not in today's Inside Baseball column.

"I should point out the Yankees rarely send rehab players on the road," Harrington writes. "They like to have control over issues like field conditions, clubhouses, security (because autograph hounds are an issue) and arrangements for press conferences. They don’t have that if a game is not being played in a home of one of their affiliates."

Bush Gets Start: Dave Bush will start Game 1 for the Herd. He leads the Bisons with seven wins and has a 4.12 ERA. In his last start, a no-decision at Charlotte on Tuesday, he strike out nine batters.

Pillar Continues to Impress: Outfielder Kevin Pillar continues to turn heads and Toronto general manager Alex Anthopolous has been in town specifically to watch him. He has 14 hits in his first 16 games at Triple-A and and has reached base safely in every contest.

Today's Game 1 Lineup:
Mike McCoy -- 3B
Ryan Goins -- SS
Kevin Pillar -- CF
Mauro Gomez -- 1B
Jim Negrych -- 2B
Andy LaRoche -- DH
Eugenio Velez -- LF
Anthony Gose -- RF
Mike Nickeas -- C 

Bisons rally falls short

by Amy Moritz
@amymoritz

There's something to be said for battling and working hard until the final out. There's something good in finally finding your offense. Even if it doesn't come until the ninth inning.

So that's the bright spot for the manager Marty Brown while the Buffalo Bisons fell to the Syracuse Chiefs, 4-3 at Coca-Cola Field.

The Herd scored three runs in the bottom of the ninth. A one-out single from Jim Negrych was followed up with a home run shot to left to cut the deficit in half. A walk and two singles ended up scoring Eugenio Velez, but the Herd's rally ended on a Ryan Goins strikeout.

"We've got to get everybody clicking but I like to see the fire that we had in the last inning," Brown said. "It was nice."

"I think everybody's going out and giving the best effort that they know how. You've got to give their starter some credit because he did mix in cutters and located to both sides of the plate and we really struggled to make any kind of adjustment to him. But it's nice to see us ... have a run to give us a chance to win the game."

Syracuse starter Ryan Tatusko (2-3) picked up the win pitching seven shutout innings with two walks and five strikeouts.

The big picture has the Bisons falling two games below .500 for the first time the season. The team was 10 games over .500 at eight different points earlier this season. And the problem has been the offense, which entered Saturday's game hitting .161 and have scored 11 runs in six games.

"The guys know we're in a bit of lull right now, but it's about bringing your A game from the first inning on," Brown said. "That A game may not be what it normally is because everyone's run down a little bit but that's baseball. That's why you play every day. One day a week in football, you get a chance to regroup. You don't get a chance to regroup here. That's why it's such an interesting game."

For more on the Bisons fall from first place, look for my story in Sunday's edition of The Buffalo News.

The Bisons and Syracuse will play a scheduled double-header Sunday at Coca-Cola Field, beginning at 1 p.m.

 

 

Herd stumbles below .500

by Amy Moritz
@amymoritz

This is a new view for the Buffalo Bisons -- one that is below the .500 mark.

For the first time this season the Herd has dipped below the .500 mark after taking a 3-2 loss at Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Friday night.

And so, the Herd enters tonight's game against Syracuse at Coca-Cola Field (Radio 1520, TWC) at 43-44. This for a team that 10 games over .500 eight different times this year and spend much of the first two months of the season in first place of the International League North Division.

Now, they're nine games out of the division race with their post-season hopes pinned to the wild card race, which they currently trail by 3 1/2 games.

Weber gets the start: Thad Weber gets the start for the Herd. He has pitched at least six innings in each of his last four starts going 3-1 in that span. He has allowed just four earned runs while striking out 22.

Pillar's streak ends: Outfielder Kevin Pillar saw his 11-game hit streak come to an end Friday night, but he continues to be one of the best hitters in the Herd's lineup since his promotion from Double-A on June 21. He has hit .355 with nine doubles, three home runs and 11 RBI in 15 games.

Thruway Cup: For those keeping score on the Thruway Cup series among the Herd, Rochester and Syracuse teams, the Bisons are on top at 9-6.

Tonight's Bisons lineup:
Mike McCoy -- LF
Ryan Goins -- SS
Kevin Pillar -- CF
Mauro Gomez -- 1B
Jim Negrych -- 2B
Andy LaRoche -- 3B
Eugenio Velez -- DH
Anthony Gose -- RF
Sean Ochinko -- C 

 

Happy Independence Eve

Bisons Coca Cola Field

by Amy Moritz
@amymoritz

Tonight marks the 19th annual KeyBank Independence Eve Celebration at Coca-Cola Field as the Bisons host Rochester for a 6:05 start (1520, TWC). The Herd is just 6-12 in this game since 1995 with a win last year, 5-4 over Durham, snapping a five-game losing streak on one of the biggest nights in the ballpark.

Vargas gets the start: Claudio Vargas will move from the bullpen to make his 13th start of the season. He takes the spot in the rotation for Todd Redmond who was recalled to the Toronto Blue Jays. Vargas has worekd the last five games out of the bullpen with a 4.15 ERA. Overall he is 5-5 with a 5.54 ERA.

Negrych and Gomez All Stars: In case you missed it earlier, Jim Negrych and Mauro Gomez were elected as starters for the International League team for the Triple-A All-Star Game. The 2013 game will be July 17 in Reno, Nevada. Negrych, the 28-year-old Buffalo native and St. Francis alum, ranks third in the IL in batting average (.327) while Gomez leads the league in home runs (24).

Tonight's Bisons' Lineup:
Kevin Pillar -- RF
Ryan Goins -- SS
Mauro Gomez -- 1B
Eugenio Velez -- LF
Jim Negrych -- 3B
Ramon Hernandez -- DH
Mike McCoy -- 2B
Anthony Gose -- CF
Mike Nickeas -- C 

Negrych and Gomez elected Triple-A All Stars

by Amy Moritz
@amymoritz

Buffalo native Jim Negrych will make his second straight appearance in the Triple-A All Star game.

Negrych and Mauro Gomez have been elected to the International League squad for the 26th annual Triple-A All-Star Game scheduled for July 17 in Reno, Nevada.

Negyrch played in the 2011 All-Star game, held in Buffalo, while he was playing for the Syracuse Chiefs. this season, he has the third best batting average in the IL (.327, 82-251). He is among the league leaders in doubles (25) and on-base percentage (.394). He ranks second on the Bisons in hits (82) and extra-base hits (28).

It is also the second IL All-Star nod for Gomez, who was named to the team in 2011 while playing with the Gwinnett Braves.

Gomez has 24 home runs this season -- tied for second most in Minor League Baseball -- along with five multi-home run games this year.

The Bisons host their annual Independence Eve celebration tonight when the play Rochester at 6:05 p.m. at Coca-Cola Field.

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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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