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Mystery Ball Night might feature mystery Bisons

By Mike Harrington

Blue Jays second baseman Macier Izturis has gone on the disabled list with a sprained ankle suffered last night in New York and the Jays have called up infielder Ryan Goins from the Bisons for today's series finale in Yankee Stadium.

The Bisons, meanwhile, were off Wednesday and open a series tonight at 7 in Coca-Cola Field against Lehigh Valley on their always popular Mystery Ball Night. No idea who might be in the lineup.

Look who won't be from the last time the Herd was home: Anthony Gose, Moises Sierra, Kevin Pillar, Munenori Kawasaki and now Goins. That's a killer to a Triple-A team. 

Look who the Blue Jays have lost: Izturis, Jose Bautista, Melky Cabrera, Colby Rasmus, Josh Johnson, Steve Delabar, Dustin McGowan, Juan Perez. 

Who's left in Buffalo? The only 40-man roster guys here are the injured Mauro Gomez and catcher A.J. Jimenez, just up from Double-A New Hampshire. Luis Jimenez and Jim Negrych are still here from the Bisons' core but injuries have severely limited them for several weeks. 

With 13 games left, the Bisons are 4 1/2 games out in the North Division and four games out in the wild-card race. It's just about over for them. 

As for Mystery Ball Night, here's the complete list of all the autographs available and it's an awesome one. And don't forget the trading station that was introduced last year by the Washington Street gate to perhaps get a better autograph. Nice touch.

WNYers in pro ball stats update

By Mike Harrington

Here's our updated list of players in pro ball with Western New York high school or college connections. If we miss somebody, kindly put his name and connection in the comment space below, send me an email at mharrington@buffnews.com or tweet me at @BNHarrington and we can immediately update. 

The stats are through Sunday.

Player (Connection)    Team-Class    GP Avg. HR RBI
Dave Sappelt (South Buffalo)  Iowa-AAA 74 .242 3 36
  (Sappelt also played 31 games this year for Chicago Cubs.. .240-0-4) 
Jim Negrych (St. Francis) Buffalo-AAA   96 .298 3  42
Kevin Mahoney (Canisius Col) Trenton-AA  39  .203  1 8
Tom Murphy (UB)                 Tulsa-AA    9   .257   0  2          
   (Promoted on Aug. 6. Had 80 GP at Class A Asheville ... .288-19-74)
Sean Jamieson (Canisius Col) Visalia-A 108  .295  10 48
Wynton Bernard (Niagara U.) Eugene-A 31 .250  1 9
Jason Kanzler (UB)            GCL Twins-A 34 .231 1 13
Jonah Heim (Amherst)      GCL Orioles-A 21 .169 0 3
Cory Brownsten (Lockport) Lynchburg-A  38 .176 0 9

Pitcher (Connection)         Team-Class            GP GS W-L-ERA Sv
John Axford (Canisius Col)  Milwaukee                 58   0  6-6  4.35  0
Kevin Siegrist (Buffalo)        St. Louis                    26  0  1-1  0.76  0
Steve Geltz (Wilson/UB)        Durham-AAA            37 0 4-3 2.97 3
   (Read this Inside Baseball column on Geltz from earlier in the season)
Garret Cortright (Frontier-Canisius Col) GCL Orioles-A  9 3 5-0 0.98 0
Jon Fitzsimmons (Canisius Col)   Idaho Falls-A              8 0 0-0 3.77 0
Chris Barczykowski (NCCC)       GCL Braves-A               12 2-0 5.50 0
Mark Armstrong (Clarence)      AZL Reds-A                    0 0 0-0 0.00 0 

Note 1: Sappelt grew up in South Buffalo and moved to North Carolina when he was 14. Read this 2011 story on him from The News

Note 2: Siegrist was born in Buffalo in 1989 but moved to Florida as a child. His second pro team was the 2009 Batavia Muckdogs. Read this story on him last week via MLB.com

Bisons look to make a move in homestand finale

by Amy Moritz
@amymoritz

This was a homestand to make a move. Instead, the Buffalo Bisons are just trying to stay in the hunt.

The Herd is 2-3 this week heading into tonight's game against Rochester (7:05 p.m., TWC, Radio 1520) as the Bisons look to gain some ground on the International League North Division leaders.

The Bisons are 3 1/2 games behind Rochester in the IL North and fell 1 1/2 games behind Pawtucket in the Wild Card race. That will make the four-game series in Pawtucket, which begins Saturday, another opportunity to make-or-break Buffalo's playoff hopes.

Roster moves: As reported earlier, the Bisons lost outfielder Anthony Gose who was recalled by Toronto. The Blue Jays optioned pitcher Mickey Storey back to the Herd.

Wang on the Mound: Righty Chien-Ming Wang makes his eighth start of the season for the Bisons. He has gone six or more innings in four straight starts, good news for a beleaguered Bisons' bullpen. Combined with his early-season time with Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, Wang has a combined 2.71 ERA -- third best in the IL.

Colabello Returns for Rochester: The Minnesota Twins announced that first baseman/outfielder Chris Colabello was optioned back to the Red Wings. A corresponding move will be made by Rochester on Saturday to make room for Colbello, who leads the IL in average (.354), is fourth in home runs (24) and third in RBI (76). In 22 games with the Twins, he hit .243 with four home runs while driving in eight runs. 

Tonight's Bisons' Lineup:
Mike McCoy -- CF
Ryan Goins -- SS
Moises Sierra -- RF
Clint Robinson -- 1B
Andy LaRoche -- 3B
Ricardo Nanita -- DH
Brad Glenn -- LF
Jim Negrych -- 2B
Sean Ochinko -- C 

Blue Jays make it official: After big August, Bisons Gose gets another chance in Toronto

By Mike Harrington

Anthony Gose played in the Bisons' 4-2 loss to Rochester yesterday, then apparently hit the QEW to Toronto as he was seen in the Blue Jays' clubhouse in Rogers Centre last night so he could make the club charter to Florida. And the Blue Jays have now made it official: Gose has been recalled from the Herd and pitcher Mickey Storey has been returned to Buffalo.

Jays manager John Gibbons went one step further this morning during an interview on the FAN 590 in Toronto when he said he expects to start both Gose and Kevin Pillar in the outfield tonight for the series opener at Tampa Bay.

While the losses of Pillar and Gose are tough ones to stomach with the Bisons in the final 20 games of their playoff push, the Jays are dealing with center fielder Colby Rasmus being on the DL, second baseman/backup outfielder Emilio Bonifacio being traded to Kansas City and now utility man Munenori Kawasaki being on the paternity list.

Moreover, Pillar and Gose deserved the callup. Gose, especially, went through some tough times in Buffalo this season but has been at his best in August with a .283 batting average and 10 steals in 11 attempts. Since Aug. 4, Gose is at .313,has hit safely in 10 of 13 games and is 10 for 10 in steals.

For their part, the Bisons did pick up Eastern League all-star Brad Glenn from New Hampshire and he homered in his first Triple-A at-bat Thursday.  But this is shaping up to be a make-or-break part of the scheule with tonight's homestand finale against Rochester and a four-game set at red-hot Pawtucket opening Saturday night in McCoy Stadium.

The PawSox have won five in a row and have dropped the Bisons to third in the wild-card race, 1 1/2 games back. There are 18 games left and if the Bisons don't hold the fort the next five days, they're not going to have time to bounce back.

Bisons drop game to Rochester

by Amy Moritz
@amymoritz

A three-run fifth inning from Rochester helped pace the Red Wings to a 4-2 win over the Buffalo Bisons in front of 10,044 at Coca-Cola Field Thursday afternoon.

With two outs and a runner on first Justin Germano walked Darin Mastroianni. A hit from Eudardo Escobar scored one run while an error by third baseman Jim Negrych allowed another run to score, tying the game for the Red Wings. Another error, this time from right fielder Moises Sierra on a shot from Chris Parmelee allowed Escobar to score giving Rochester a 3-2 lead.

A solo home run from Eric Fryer in the seventh extended Rochester's lead to 4-2.

The bright spot for the Herd was the Triple-A debut of Brad Glenn. The leftfielder had a two-run home run in the second inning -- his first at bat with the Bisons. 

Germano pitched the complete game, giving up four runs, only two earned, on eight hits with one walk and five strikeouts.

P.J. Walters (6-3) took the win, giving up two runs on six hits in seven innings with three walks and four strikeouts.

Buffalo went 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position and stranded eight base runners.

The teams conclude their series on Friday night (7:05 p.m., TWC, Radio 1520) with righty Chien-Ming Wang (7-7, 2.71) scheduled to start for Buffalo against lefty Pat Dean (1-0, 1.23).

Glenn makes Triple-A debut with the Herd

by Amy Moritz
@amymoritz

The Buffalo Bisons picked up some help today as outfielder Brad Glenn was promoted from Double-A New Hampshire. The 26-year-old is making his Triple-A debut with the Bisons this afternoon, starting in left and batting seventh as the Herd hosts Rochester in Coca-Cola Field (1:05 p.m., TWC, Radio 1520).

Glenn was drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays in 2009 and was named an Easter League mid-season all-star with the Fisher Cats this year. He played in 111 games with New Hampshire, batting .264 with 28 doubles and 17 home runs while driving in 64 runs.

Playoff Watch: The Bisons are now 2 1/2 games behind Rochester in the International League standings. Pawtucket, also winners on Wednesday, moved two games behind the Red Wings and hold a half-game lead over the Herd in the Wild Card race.

Thruway Cup: The Bisons continue to lead the Thruway Cup race with a four-game lead over Rochester. Buffalo is 15-9 against Rochester and Syracuse. Just in case you were wondering. Because it's the cup.

Germano Gets Start: Justin Germano looks to follow up his best outing of the season when he takes to the mound today. On Saturday, Germano struck out eight batters over eight innings to defeat the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders. Since June, he has a 3.40 ERA in 13 starts with 61 strikeouts.

Improvement By the Numbers for Gose: Manager Marty Brown noted on Wednesday that Anthoy Gose has played well in the last few weeks. Here are the numbers to back that up: Since July 25, Gose has averaged .287 (25 of 87) with five doubles, four triples, a home run and 13 runs scored. He has scored in seven straight games and has been successful in his last 10 steal attempts.

Today's Starting Lineup:
Mike McCoy -- SS
Anthony Gose -- CF
Jim Negrych -- 2B
Clint Robinson -- 1B
Moises Sierra -- RF
Ricardo Nanita -- DH
Brad Glenn -- LF
Ryan Goins -- 2B
Mike Nickeas -- C 

 

Crazy Little League HR in Toronto

Blue Jays outfielder Rajai Davis circled the bases tonight in Toronto with your basic "Little League home run" -- after a groundball back to Red Sox pitcher Jon Lester.

Check it out. Crazy.

Pillar makes Major League debut

by Amy Moritz
@amymoritz

Last night during the television broadcast, Buffalo Bisons manager Marty Brown was asked which outfielder he felt was ready to go to Toronto in light of the looming liklihood that Colby Rasmus was headed to the Blue Jays disabled list.

Brown had said Anthony Gose.

The Blue Jays picked Kevin Pillar.

The outfielder will make his Major League debut tonight for the Jays as he was promoted today. In 52 games with the Bisons, Pillar hit .299 with 19 doubles, four triples, four home runs and 27 RBI.

But Brown noted that any of three outfielders -- Gose, Pillar or Moises Sierra -- were capable of helping out the Blue Jays.

"You could have taken any of the three outfielders," Brown said Wednesday afternoon. "Gose is doing a great job right now, too. Over the course of the last two and half weeks, you could see in his game he’s much more comfortable at the plate. Defensively he’s really playing well. Sierra too has done a good job. ... All three of them are very capable outfielders."

Also recalled by the Blue Jays was shortstop Munenori Kawasaki who had been with the Herd since July 13. In 25 games with the Bisons he averaged .250, driving in three runs with three stolen bases.

This makes the third player the Bisons have lost in 24 hours as pitcher Thad Weber was also promoted to the Blue Kays. Weber was 6-4 with a 2.63 ERA in 15 appearances (12 starts) for the Herd.

The Bisons received some help in the bullpen as righty Kyle Drabek was promoted from Double-A New Hampshire and is expected to throw tonight behind starter Drew Hutchinson. 

Drabek, 25, began the season in Single-A Dunedin, continuing to come back after his second Tommy John surgery on June 19, 2012. He made six starts with eight appearances for Dunedin (0-1, 2.61 ERA). He made two starts with New Hampshire (0-1, 3.38 ERA).

That leaves the Bisons with two available roster spots. Watch for moves and news in the hours to come.

Hutchinson makes second start: Drew Hutchinson is working his way back from Tommy John surgery last August and the road continues tonight against Rochester. He is making his second start for the Herd. His last one was on an MLB injury rehab assignment when he allwoed six runs in 3 2/3 innings in a loss to Scranton on Friday.

Playoff Picture: It's a key series for the IL North Division race as the Rochester Red Wings have a 3 1/2 game lead over the Bisons. Buffalo enters tonight's game a half game back of Pawtucket and Norfolk in the Wild Card race.

Tonight's Lineup:
Mike McCoy -- LF
Anthony Gose -- CF
Jim Negrych -- 2B
Andy LaRoche -- 3B
Clint Robinson -- 1B
Ryan Goins -- SS
Moises Sierra -- RF
Ricardo Nanita -- DH
Sean Ochinko -- C 

Drabek to give relief to Bisons bullpen

by Amy Moritz
@amymoritz

Just about an hour before Tuesday's game against Syracuse, the Buffalo Bisons got the call. Yank starting pitcher Thad Weber. He was being recalled by the Toronto Blue Jays after Josh Johnson went on the disabled list with a strained right forearm.

That meant the bullpen tried to cobble together the outing, complete with second baseman Mike McCoy throwing the ninth inning to become the first positional player to pitch for the Bisons at home since 2007.

The result was a predictible, yet disappointing, 13-4, loss to the Chiefs.

But help is on the horizon.

After the game, manager Marty Brown said that Kyle Drabek would be joining the Herd on Wednesday, possibly backing up Drew Hutchinson who will make his second start for the Herd, coming off his Major League Rehabilitation stint.

Drabek and Hutchinson were two of three Toronto Blue Jays players to have Tommy John surgery last season.

"I don't even know if I'm at liberty to say but Kyle Drabek is coming up tomorrow to back up Hutch," Brown said. "He's been throwing real well in Double-A. I've had him before so I know what to expect. Even though he's coming off surgery it will be nice to get him here."

Drabek went 0-1 in two starts with Double-A New Hampshire with a 3.38 ERA. He gave up three runs on four hits in eight total innings of work with three strikeout and one walk.

Hutchinson made his Bisons debut Aug. 9. He gave up six runs on six hits in 3 2/3 innings to take the loss. He is the scheduled starter for Wednesday's game, which kicks off a key three-game series with the Rochester Red Wings. The Herd trails Rochester by 3 1/2 games in the IL North Division race.

"I'm not real positive about knowing what Hutch is going to bring to the table," Brown said. "His first outing was a little rough in the third. I liked what I saw but it's not quite the same guy. Hopefully he can build on these days off in between starts and we can go out and see him a little more down in the zone, a little more crisp with his fastball command and go from there.

"But it will be nice to get Kyle here. I've had Kyle before, like I said. He's a bulldog."

Weber recalled, Carlyle gets spot start

by Amy Moritz
@amymoritz

Thad Weber has been pitching well for the Bisons lately, going deep in games and racking up a 3-0 record with a 2.50 ERA in his last four starts.

That's why the Toronto Blue Jays recalled him (officially he will be recalled tomorrow) after placing Josh Johnson on the 15-day disabled list with a right forearm strain. Weber may pitch for the Blue Jays tomorrow.

So where does that leave the Bisons today? With Buddy Carlyle getting a spot start as the Herd closes out its series with Syracuse (7:05 p.m., TWC, Radio 1520).

It is the second spot start for Carlyle, who took a no-decision on April 27 at Rochester, giving up two hits with seven strikeouts in four innings pitched.

Overall, the reliever is 4-1 with a 3.67 ERA in 35 appearances.

Thruway Cup: Ah, yes. In the midst of the IL Wild Card and North Division race there is the Thruway Cup series. The Herd is 14-8 in their games against Syracuse and Rochester giving them the lead in the standings.

Playoff update: Heading into tonight's game, the Bisons have a half game lead over Pawtucket and Norfolk in the Wild Card race and a 1 1/2 lead over Lehigh Valley. Meanwhile, the Bisons trail Rochester by three games in the North Division race. The Red Wings and IronPigs are off tonight while Pawtucket is at Louisville and Norfolk is at Toledo.

Tonight's Lineup:
Anthony Gose -- CF
Kevin Pillar -- LF
Clint Robinson -- 1B
Luis Jimenez -- DH
Andy LaRoche -- 3B
Jim Negrych -- 2B
Moises Sierra -- RF
Sean Ochinko -- C
Munenori Kawasaki -- SS 

 

Bisons drop first game to Syracuse

by Amy Moritz
@amymoritz

A rough start for Ricky Romero and a bad base-running decision in the seventh inning combined for the Buffalo Bisons in a 5-3 loss to Syracuse in the first game of a doubleheader at Coca-Cola Field.

It was an inauspicious start for Ricky Romero. He gave up four runs on three hits with two walks – all before the first out of the game was recorded. That made it 14 straight batters to reach base against Romero after he gave up seven runs in the fourth inning against Pawtucket last week.

A bases-clearing double to centerfield by Chris Marrero did the bulk of the first-inning damage as Syracuse jumped out to a 4-0 lead.

He settled down, retiring six straight. He gave up one more run in the third inning but scattered six more hits over the next six innings with seven strikeouts.

 Trailing 4-0 early, the Herd cut the lead to 4-2 in the bottom of the first. Mike McCoy and Anthony Gose led off with back-to-back singles. A sacrifice to center by Kevin Pillar scored McCoy. Gose then stole second and third base with Clint Robinson batting, scoring when Robinson hit a deep fly to left.  

A double from Tyler Moore scored another run in the third for Syracuse to make it 5-2.

The Herd cut it back to 5-3 when Moises Sierra tripled and scored on a sacrifice to right.

Romero, who pitched a complete seven-inning game, kept the Chiefs off the board.

Buffalo began a rally in the bottom of the inning as Moises Sierra led off with a single. Luis Jimenez then reached on a error by the shortstop. The ball rolled into shallow centerfield and Sierra decided to try for third. He was easily thrown out.

That play took the wind out of the Herd's sails as Ryan Goins hit into a double play to end the game.

 

Welcome to the playoff push homestand

by Amy Moritz
@amymoritz

It's the most wonderful time of the baseball season, that is for those teams in the postseason race. And for the Buffalo Bisons, who found themselves 10 games back of the divisional race on June 27, it's all about controlling their own destiny, with a bit of scoreboard watching for good measure.

In Monday afternoon games, Lehigh Valley lost to Gwinnett, 5-4. Rochester, meanwhile, tied the game with two runs in the ninth and scored five in the 14th to win at Norfolk, 9-4.

And so the setup going into tonight's doubleheader at Coca-Cola Field with Syracuse (5:30 p.m., Radio 1520, TWCS) is this: Buffalo is three games behind Rochester for the IL North Division title and half a agame ahead of Norfolk and Pawtucket in the Wild Card race.

Buffalo begins a stretch of six games in five days at home, with two today and one tomorrow against Syracuse and then a three-game series with Rochester.

The Bisons start today with Ricky Romero. He had a rough start in his last outing, a no-decision on Aug. 6 against Pawtucket. The start was solid -- just one hit in three innings with his offense spotting him a 7-0 lead. He then gave up seven runs in the fourth inning.

Bobby Korecky will get the spot start in the second game. He his 3-0 with a 4.31 ERA.

In other news, the Bisons lead the Thruway Cup series with Rochester and Buffalo. I throw that in, because, well, because it's the cup.

Today's Game 1 Starting Lineup:
Mike McCoy -- 2B
Anthony Gose -- CF
Kevin Pillar -- LF
Clint Robinson -- 1B
Moises Sierra -- RF
Luis Jimenez -- DH
Ryan Goins -- 3B
Munenori Kawasaki -- SS
Mike Nickeas -- C 

Weekly look at WNYers in pro ball

By Mike Harrington

As promised in Sunday's Inside Baseball column on Tigers outfielder and ex-Bison Matt Tuiasosopo, here's our updated list of players in pro ball with Western New York high school or college connections. In response to a couple of inquiries, we're not including Rochester-area players (e.g. Section V high schoolers), or players in independent leagues. Affiliated pro ball only.

If we miss somebody, kindly put his name and connection in the comment space below, send me an email at mharrington@buffnews.com or tweet me at @BNHarrington and we can immediately update. I've received a couple emails of players who were active in 2012 but do not show up on the stats of any affiliated team this season, so they are not listed.

The stats are through Friday. 

Player (Connection)    Team-Class    GP Avg. HR RBI
Dave Sappelt (South Buffalo)  Iowa-AAA 66 .239 3 36
  (Sappelt also played 31 games this year for Chicago Cubs.. .240-0-4) 
Jim Negrych (St. Francis) Buffalo-AAA   89 .295 3  38
Kevin Mahoney (Canisius Col) Trenton-AA  39  .203  1 8
Tom Murphy (UB)                 Tulsa-AA    3   .455   0  2          
   (Promoted on Aug. 6. Played 80 games at Class A Asheville ... .288-19-74)
Sean Jamieson (Canisius Col) Visalia-A 101  .287  9 44
Wynton Bernard (Niagara U.) Eugene-A 27 .272  1 8
Jason Kanzler (UB)            GCL Twins-A 29 .198 1 10
Jonah Heim (Amherst)      GCL Orioles-A 17 .117 0 2
Cory Brownsten (Lockport) Lynchburg-A  36 .180 0 9

Pitcher (Connection)         Team-Class            GP GS W-L-ERA Sv
John Axford (Canisius Col)  Milwaukee                 56   0  5-5  4.28  0
Kevin Siegrist (Buffalo)        St. Louis                    18  0  0-1  0.93  0
Steve Geltz (Wilson/UB)        Durham-AAA            34 0 3-3 3.10 3
   (Read this Inside Baseball column on Geltz from earlier in the season)
Garret Cortright (Frontier-Canisius Col) GCL Orioles-A  8 2 4-0 0.86 0
Jon Fitzsimmons (Canisius Col)   Idaho Falls-A              6 0 0-0 1.64 0
Chris Barczykowski (NCCC)       GCL Braves-A               11 2-0 6.19 0
Mark Armstrong (Clarence)      AZL Reds-A                    0 0 0-0 0.00 0 

Note 1: Sappelt grew up in South Buffalo and moved to North Carolina when he was 14. Read this 2011 story on him from The News

Note 2: Siegrist was born in Buffalo in 1989 but moved to Florida as a child. His second pro team was the 2009 Batavia Muckdogs.

Brown joins Bisons' 300-win club

By Mike Harrington

The Bisons beat Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Saturday night, 6-2, to improve to 62-58 on the season and give manager Marty Brown his 300th victory in four years at the helm of the Herd (read the box score here). Brown is Buffalo's modern-era leader in wins and becomes the seventh man in the franchise's 128 seasons to get to 300.

Five of the previous six managed prior to 1950, and the most recent was the legendary Kerby Farrell, who directed the team from 1959-65.

Here's the complete list, including W-L records, courtesy of Bisons media relations director Brad Bisbing:

Bisons manager 300-win club
591-497                1. George Wilste (1918-1924)
582-450                2. Bill “Derby Day” Clymer (1913-14, 1926-1930)
549-386                3. George Stallings (1902-06, 1911-12)
544-508                4. Ray Schalk (1932-37, 1950)
422-363                5. Major Kerby Farrell (1959-63, 1965)
318-316                6. John C. Chapman (1885-88, 1893-94)
300-251                7. Marty Brown (2003-05, 2013)

Jays' Hutchison on mound as Bisons' Brown goes for No. 300

By Mike Harrington

Marty Brown became the Buffalo Bisons' modern-era leader in victories earlier this season and can reach another milestone tonight -- becoming just the seventh manager in the franchise's 128 seasons to reach 300 wins. He goes for it as the  Herd can make it three straight over Scranton/Wilkes-Barre in tonight's game against the RailRiders in Coca-Cola Field.

Five of the other six managers to get to 300 -- John C. Champman, George Stallings, George Wiltse, Bill Clymer, Ray Schalk and Kerby Farrell -- were pre-1940s-era skippers. The exception was Farrell (1959-64). 

Rehab note: Right-hander Drew Hutchison gets the start tonight in his first rehab assignment at Triple-A after throwing at both Class A Dunedin and Double-A New Hampshire on the road back from Tommy John surgery. He went 75 pitches in his last outing so the hope is certainly that he could go five innings or so.

Standings: The Bisons open tonight 3 1/2 games behind Rochester in the IL North but in the lead in the wild-card chase by percentage points over Norfolk and a half-game over Pawtucket. The wild-card standings are here.

Lineup notes: Sean Ochinko caught both ends of last night's doubleheader and is in there again tonight with Mike Nickeas nursing a hairline elbow fracture. First baseman Clint Robinson is sidelined after getting hit in the thumb with an errant throw while running the bases last night.

Tonight's lineup
Mike McCoy, 3b
Anthony Gose, cf
Kevin Pillar, lf
Luis Jimenez, dh
Moises Sierra, rf
Ryan Goins, 2b
Andy LaRoche, 1b
Munenori Kawasaki, ss
Sean Ochinko, c
---
Drew Hutchison, p 

Updated: Bisons take wild-card lead with sweep

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.

Herd preps for twinbill, Jays announce Hutchison gets start here Friday

Drew
Drew Hutchison is one step from a return to the big leagues. (Getty Images)

By Mike Harrington

Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Drew Hutchison has not thrown in the big leagues since being pulled from a start on June 15, 2012 against Philadelphia with elbow soreness and then undergoing Tommy John surgery last August. But he's getting much closer, as the parent club announced today that the right-hander will start for the Buffalo Bisons Friday night in Coca-Cola Field against Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

The Bisons and RailRiders are opening their series with a doubleheader tonight at 5:30. Thad Weber and Bobby Korecky are the Buffalo starters, with Korecky coming out of the bullpen for a spot start.

Hutchison began a rehab assignment on July 14 at Class A Dunedin, making three appearances there and two at Double-A New Hampshire. In 16 1/3 innings of work, he is 0-1 with a 2.76 ERA and has allowed just eight hits.

Continue reading "Herd preps for twinbill, Jays announce Hutchison gets start here Friday" »

Bisons try to make up ground

By Rodney McKissic

The Bisons have some catching up to do in both the wild card and IL North division races after Monday's loss to Pawtucket.

The Herd is tied with Lehigh Valley, 2.5 games behind the Red Sox for the IL's wild-card spot, while Norfolk sits a half game out of the wild-card lead. The Bisons and IronPigs are also tied 4.5 games behind Rochester in the IL North.

Here is the starting lineup for tonight's game against the PawSox:

Mike McCoy, 3b
Anthony Gose, cf
Kevin Pillar, rf
Clint Robinson, 1b
Ricardo Nanita, lf
Luis Jimenez, dh
Ryan Goins, 2b
Mike Nicheas, c
Munenori Kawaski, ss
Ricky Romero, p

The Biogenesis Bans: Leadoff thoughts

By Mike Harrington

Talking out loud about MLB's announcements today from the Biogenesis scandal ... 

A-Rod: He reportedly infuriated Bud Selig with his comments Friday night in Trenton that there was a "pink elephant" in the room and it was the fact that MLB and the Yankees were conspiring to keep him off the field, with the Yankees most interested in getting out of his contract. The Commish then shut town all talks of a settlement, with ARod contending he should be no more penalized than Ryan Braun. We'll see about that.

On the field, the Yankees can use A-Rod, even at less than 100 percent. He's still going to be far more productive than anyone they've had at third base all year. But if he stays on the field for any length of time, how will they deal with the daily fan and media circus on the road? And what will be the reaction when A-Rod steps on the field in the Bronx? 

Selig knew he couldn't go for a lifetime ban, and that the union would have to defend A-Rod on simple due process if he did. So he went for a suspension through the Joint Drug Policy, which allows for the appeal. That should be heard within the next three weeks or so. 

Read the full text of Selig's statement here. 

Read the Yankees' statement here.

A-Rod is trying to maximize the money he can make by staying on the field but I'm betting this carries into 2015 -- not 2014 -- before it's all done. He's never failed a test and this is more about obstruction of MLB's investigation. It seems more personal than ever between A-Rod and Selig, much like it was at the end between Bart Giamatti and Pete Rose in 1989.

The Commish: Selig wants his legacy to be about 1). Getting rid of PEDs from baseball; 2) adding the wild-card to get more cities interested deeper into the season; and 3) fixing the All-Star Game after the 2002 tie fiasco. He's looking at retirement in the next two years and it's interesting that the PED situation became such a focus, given the way baseball was complicit in it through the McGwire-Sosa home run chase of 1998. Better late than never, I suppose. 

Continue reading "The Biogenesis Bans: Leadoff thoughts" »

Gomez placed on DL

By Rodney McKissic

The Buffalo Bisons, in the hunt for a playoff berth with 28 games remaining, suffered a huge blow today when they placed All-Star Mauro Gomez on the disabled list retroactive to Sunday.

To replace Gomez, the Herd activated pitcher Todd Redmond, who was optioned from the parent Toronto Blue Jays on Saturday.

Gomez left the Bisons' 5-3 win over Pawtucket on Saturday in the eighth inning with a strained left oblique and told The News' Mike Harrington that he expects to be out at least two weeks.

Gomez leads the International League with 28 home runs, a total that is also tied for the third most in the minors. Gomez leads the Bisons with 67 RBIs (fifth in the IL) and 46 extra-base hits (fourth). In a team-high 97 games, Gomez has averaged .243 with 17 doubles, a triple and 55 runs scored.

Redmond has pitched in six games for the Bisons this season and has a 3-1 record with a 5.06 ERA and 29 strikeouts in 26.2 innings.

Here is the starting lineup for tonight's game against Pawtucket:

Anthony Gose, cf
Kevin Pillar, lf
Ricardo Nanita, dh
Andy LaRoche, 3b
Jim Negrych, 2b
Ryan Goins, ss
Clint Robinson, 1b
Sean Ochinko, c
Mike McCoy, rf
Chien-Ming Wang, p

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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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