By Mike Harrington
Bisons manager Marty Brown used a little pyschology today with his struggling team. He canceled batting practice and told his players to hit in the indoor cage at 5:15 in preparation for tonight's series opener against Lehigh Valley in Coca-Cola Field.
The Bisons have to do something different. They scored one run in the final 27 innings in Pawtucket and were shut out the last two games, extending their scoreless streak to 21 1/3 innings.
"It's more about getting a little bit more tunnel vision," Brown told me late this afternoon. "We need to focus on some of the little things and take it out on the field."
The Bisons went 0 for 9 with runners in scoring position the last three games in Pawtucket and left 19 men on base. Of course, just nine RISP at-bats in three games shows how little the offense did.
On the mound: Ricky Romero (4-6, 5.85) gets the start tonight and had one of his best outings of the year in his last one Saturday in Pawtucket, giving up just one run in seven innings. Chien-Ming Wang was supposed to go tonight and has been scratched with Thad Weber slated to throw tomorrow night.
Brown was very cryptic about Wang when I asked about the change saying only, "It wasn't my decision" and "he's healthy." It would appear Wang might be in line to start for the Blue Jays Saturday in Houston, which would be pretty ironic because Minute Maid Park was where Wang suffered his career-altering foot injury in 2008 running the bases for the Yankees.
The standings: This is the opener of a two-city, seven-game series with the Iron Pigs, who are tied with the Bisons at 67-64 and four games behind Pawtucket in the wild-card race. So a loss tonight drops the Bisons into fourth place in the North Division.
The roster: Mauro Gomez, who has slipped to second in the IL home run race with 28, will be back in the lineup tonight after coming off the DL following his oblique strain. He has not played since Aug. 4. The Blue Jays have re-signed outfielder Ryan Langerhans, a member of Buffalo's Opening Day lineup who was released on June 21 after batting .220. He has been playing since then for the Sugarland Skeeters (seriously), a Houston-are team in the independent Atlantic League, and will be in center field tonight.
Brown said Luis Jimenez, who continues to be homerless since June 29 due largely to knee tendonitis, is going to be limited to mere pinch-hitting duties the rest of the way.
Here's the Buffalo lineup tonight:
Mike McCoy, ss
Jim Negrych, 2b
Ricardo Nanita, lf
Mauro Gomez, dh
Clint Robinson, 1b
Andy LaRoche, 3b
Ryan Langerhans, cf
Brad Glenn, rf
Mike Nickeas, c
Ricky Romero, p