By Mike Harrington
The Bisons have been below .500 since May 1 and have been living off their franchise-record 17-7 April, but it still means year one of the Toronto Blue Jays era has brought something the New York Mets couldn't deliver: Playoff contention in August.
The Herd opens a four-game series tonight at 7 against the Pawtucket Red Sox in Coca-Cola Field and it's probably the biggest one here since the 2007 team went to the second-last day of the season in the wild-card chase.
The Bisons are third in the wild-card standings, just 1 1/2 games behind Pawtucket and a half-game behind Norfolk. While Durham and Indianapolis have pretty well locked up the South and West Divisions, respectively, the big story for weeks in the IL standings has been resurgent Rochester. The Red Wings started the season just 2-11 and were still 20-30 in late May.
They've gone 42-23 since -- including a 20-8 mark in July -- that has them in a two-game lead in the North Division. But their staying power is a question mark with the callups of stalwarts Chris Colabello and Oswaldo Arcia to Minnesota.
The Bisons, meanwhile, had plenty to think about on their five-hour bus ride home overnight after coming within one strike of getting no-hit by four pitchers last night in Columbus. Anthony Gose's two-out single was the only plus in an 8-0 loss to the Clippers. It would have been just the second four-man no-no in the IL's 130 seasons, joining one by Rochester against Lehigh Valley in 2011. The Bisons have not been no-hit since the perfect game by Pawtucket's Bronson Arroyo in 2003.
Tonight's game is Celery Bobblehead Night and standard rules apply: Swan Street gate only and one per person to the first 3,000 fans. Does Celery win tonight's wing race in honor of the doll? Don't bet on it.