By Mike Harrington
There are 26 games left and the Buffalo Bisons would be in the playoffs for the first time since 2005 if the International League season ended today.
The Herd won its two games, 5-2 and 2-1 over Scranton, then got help as Norfolk lost in 10 innings to Gwinnett, 3-2, and last-place Syracuse swept a twinbill from reeling Pawtucket, 4-0 and 5-4.
So the wild-card standings look like this:
Buffalo 61-57 . 5169
Norfolk 62-58. 5166
Pawtucket 61-58 1 GB
What could a wild-card berth mean? The Bisons' first playoff spot in eight years could result in the first playoff series of the modern era against the Rochester Red Wings. Remember, in the preset IL format, the wild-card team plays the North Division winner.
There are some issues on the injury front for Buffalo, however.
---Manager Marty Brown said after the sweep that catcher Mike Nickeas has non-displaced hairline fracture of the elbow suffered when he was hit by a pitch Tuesday and will try to play through the pain (swinging a bat seems like it might be difficult, however).
---Hot-hitting first baseman Clint Robinson was hit on the thumb by an errant throw and had to leave the nightcap; Brown said after the game he was having trouble gripping a bat.
---Twinbill hero Moises Sierra was getting treatment on both his elbow (running into outfield fence) and foot (hit by a pitch) after a rough fourth inning of the nightcap.
---And first baseman Luis Jimenez continues to be severely hampered by knee tendinitis. He is stuck on 16 home runs -- with none since June 29.