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IL Star of Game award another nice touch to strong season for Herd's Hendriks

Liam
Liam Hendriks works in the first inning Wednesday. (Associated Press)

By Mike Harrington

One of the best seasons by a starting pitcher in recent Bisons history continued Wednesday night for right-hander Liam Hendriks, as he was voted the International League's "Top Star" in its 7-3 win over the Pacific Coast League at the Triple-A All-Star Game in Durham, N.C.

Hendriks threw two shutout innings and struck out four, one of shy of the record by a starter in the 27-year-old midsummer affair. He became the first Buffalo pitcher to win the game since Roy Smith in 1993, who did it when Triple-A was three leagues and the game was played under a National League vs. American League affiliates format.

Hendriks threw 25 pitches and 19 went for strikes, true to his form from a regular season that has seen him strike out 74 and walk only seven in 94 1/3 innings. He hit the break 7-1 with a 2.19 earned-run average.

MILB.com has its full wrapup of the game at this link, complete with video of the MLB Network postgame video wtih Hendriks (there's no embed code-sorry). 

Hendriks is the fourth Bisons player to earn a Top Star award at the game, joining DHs Luis Lopez (1995 American Association) and Russell Branyan (1999 IL) and pitcher Matt Harvey, who threw two shutout innings for the IL in 2012 when the Bisons hosted the game in Coca-Cola Field.

The Bisons resume their season tonight in Pawtucket. They are 48-48 with 47 games to play and stand five games back in the IL wild-card race.

Wedge and wife heading benefit golf tourney on Aug. 10

By Mike Harrington

Eric Wedge's wife, Kate, is an Alden native who has worked with many charitable groups during his managerial stints in Buffalo, Cleveland and Seattle. She created Mystery Ball Night in Cleveland and brought it to Buffalo in 2008, where it has become a huge hit for the Herd in the ensuing years. 

I was chatting with Wedge Friday after his induction into the Buffalo Baseball Hall of Fame and he wanted me to put in a plug for The Carol K Golf Classic, a benefit for Kate's late mother, Carol Kulniszewski. She died in 2009 of multiple myeloma and the tournament has been held in her honor since to raise money for groups.

This year's beneificiary is the Zukowski Children Fund for two children left orphaned by an April murder-suicide in Kate's hometown of Alden. The shotgun scramble tournament will be held Aug. 10 at 1 p.m. at Arrowhead Golf Course in Akron.

For non-golfers, there is a wine tasting tour running from 1-5:30 before returning to the course for the tournament dinner and awards ceremony. There are several contests and prizes -- including a Mystery Ball section -- and a silent auction of memorabilia. 

The cost for golf and dinner is $110 for an individual or $400 for a foursome. The wine tasting is $90 and a dinner-only guest is $40. Full information and registration is available by going to the tourney's Web site below.

The Carol K Golf Classic

Bisons game postponed

Rain
The scene about 1:15 today in soggy Coca-Cola Field.

By Mike Harrington

We've needed an ark for the last two hours at Coca-Cola Field and the series finale between the Buffalo Bisons and Durham Bulls has been postponed. Because it's the last game of the series -- and the only Durham visit to Buffalo -- the game will be made up in Durham when the teams meet there Aug. 7-10.

Heavy rain kept striking the ballpark on and off, inundating the outfield and warning tracks. That was the likely weather pattern for at least the next 2-3 hours and, with players scattering for the all-star break, the decision was made to call it a day.

The Bisons thus head to the break with a 48-48 record. They are five games behind Rochester for the International League wild-card spot after the Red Wings' game today in Frontier Field against Scranton/Wilkes-Barre was also rained out. 

Tickets to today's game can be exchanged for a comparable ticket to any future game. All exchanges must be made at the ballpark box office and can be made at any time the rest of the season.

In other news, reliever Bobby Korecky has cleared waivers and returned to the Bisons. He will thus be able to represent the Herd in Wednesday's Triple-A All-Star Game in Durham. Buffalo's Liam Hendriks will be the IL's starting pitcher. Korecky is 4-1 with a glossy 0.57 ERA in 36 outings for the Herd, allowing just three runs all season. He has 45 strikeouts and just 11 walks in 47 innings.

Blue Jays call up Gose, Bisons look to snap mini-skid

By Taylor Nigrelli 

The Bisons take the field tonight looking to snap a two-game losing streak against the visiting Durham Bulls, who lead the IL South.

They will have to do so without outfielder Anthony Gose whom the Blue Jays called up Saturday to replace injured Nolan Reimold, who was placed on the 15-day disabled list.

The team will also be without its leader in home runs and walks as the Blue Jays called up Dan Johnson Friday.

P.J. Walters (2-0, 3.27) will make his fourth start for the Bisons. The righty has had a bit of a roller coaster 2014, as he’s played for three teams.

He started the year in the Pacific Coast League with the Omaha Storm Chasers. The Blue Jays acquired him in a trade and placed him in Double-A New Hampshire. After four solid starts, he was promoted to Buffalo.

Righty Matt Andriese (9-4, 3.41) will get the call for Durham. The former San Diego third-round pick has been one of the most dominant pitchers in the International League this season, posting wins in eight wins in his past nine decisions. He’s tied with four others for third in the IL with nine total wins on the season.

Tonight’s Lineup:

Ryan Goins – 2B
Jared Goedert – 3B
Kevin Pillar – CF
Cory Aldridge – DH
Brad Glenn – LF
Ryan Schimpf – RF
Mike McDade – 1B
Mike Nickeas – C
Jonathan Diaz – SS

Bisons drop 4-2 decision to Durham

by Amy Moritz

It wasn't a pretty night for Deck McGuire.

The starter walked seven batters in just 4 1/3 innings. Still he only gave up three runs, but that was enough for the Durham Bulls, who took a 4-2 win over the Buffalo Bisons in front of 13,205 at Coca-Cola Field Friday night.

“I’m surprised we were still in the game to be honest with you," manager Gary Allenson said of McGuire's performance.

“He wasn’t like that the first three times out. He was throwing strikes and aggressive in counts, getting some ground balls. If the strikeout evolved then great. When you overthrow and try to throw it by guys, the ball gets up, gets elevated. For the most part he didn’t work ahead.

"It was one those games where 1-0 felt like 5-0."

The Bulls took a 1-0 lead in the first when McGuire issued a bases-loaded walk. 

He gave up a two-run homer to Jeremy Moore as the Bulls built a 3-0 lead.

Catcher A.J. Jimenez drove in both runs for the Herd. His single scored Kevin Pillar in the sixth and a sacrifice to center brought in Ryan Goins in the eighth. But that was the end of the Herd’s rally.

"We’re not hitting," Allenson said. "With all due respect to their starter, his numbers weren’t very good and he gave up just one run. … As a hitter you’ve got to be aggressive for a fastball and too many guys are not right now."

Durham starter Nathan Karns came into the game with a 5-5 record and a 5.99 earned run average. He took the win giving up one run on five hits. He struck out seven and walked two in seven innings of work.

The series continues Saturday (7:05 p.m.) with P.J. Walters (2-0, 3.27 ERA) scheduled to start for the Herd against Matt Andriese (9-4, 3.41).

Live blog: Durham at Buffalo Bisons

by Amy Moritz

It was a busy day at Coca-Cola Field all before the Buffalo Bisons and Durham Bulls even got underway in the second game of their four-game set.

Friday morning, Dan Johnson earned his first trip to the big leagues this season as the Toronto Blue Jays purchased the contract of the slugger as Adam Lind was placed on the 15-day disabled list.

Friday afternoon, Liam Hendriks was named the starting pitcher for the International League in Wednesday's Triple-A All Star Game.

Meanwhile catcher A.J. Jimenez was named to the 2014 World Team roster for the All-Star Futures Games which will be played Sunday at Target Field in Minnesota. Jimenez is hitting .275 and has driven in 15 runs in 40 games with the Herd this season.

In other roster moves, first baseman Mike McDade was promoted from Double-A New Hampshire and will be in the Bisons' lineup tonight.

It's also Buffalo Baseball Hall of Fame Day while Buffalo Sabres first-round draft choice Sam Reinhart is throwing out the first pitch.

Oh, and there's a baseball game to be played with Deck McGuire (3-4, 5.51 ERA) making is 10th start for the Bisons.

Tonight's starting lineup:
Kevin Pillar -- LF
Anthony Gose -- CF
A.J. Jimenez -- C
Cory Aldridge -- DH
Brad Glenn -- RF
Mike McDade -- 1B
Ryan Schimpf -- 2B
Andy LaRoche -- 3B
Ryan Goins -- SS

 

Live Blog Live: Durham at Buffalo Bisons

Hendriks gets All-Star start

by Amy Moritz

Liam Hendriks was announced as the starter for the International League in the 2014 Triple-A All Star Game, scheduled for 7 p.m. Wednesday at Durham Bulls Athletic Park in Durham, N.C.

“I was kinda of surprised when I found out," Hendriks said. "There are a couple of good guys in this league who have been doing extremely well but obviously I'm honored with the start. It’s a huge accomplishment not only for me but what is it 20 years since the Bisons have had a guy start the game? It’s huge for the organization as well.”

The last Bisons' pitcher to start in the Triple-A All Star game was Roy Smith in 1993. Hendriks becomes the fourth All-Star starter for the Herd along joining Smith, Dorn Taylor (1990) and Rick Reed (1991).

Hendriks is 7-1 with a 2.19 earned run average in 14 starts (16 total appearances) for the Herd this season. His ERA ranks second in the league while he leads the IL in the fewest walks (0.70) and baserunners (8.77) per nine innings pitched. He has allowed fewer than three runs in 11 of his 14 starts.

 

The game will be broadcast live on the MLB network and carried on Radio 1520 AM.

 

Dan Johnson finally gets the call

by Amy Moritz

For the first time in 94 games, Dan Johnson will not be in the Buffalo Bisons lineup.

The first baseman has played in every game for the Herd this season and leads the International League in home runs and walks. 

Finally, Johnson got the call from the Toronto Blue Jays as the parent club selected his contract. The 34-year-old gets his first promotion of the season after the Blue Jays put designated hitter Adam Lind on the 15-day disabled list with a foot fracture.

Johnson has played in 416 Major League games over eight seasons, the most coming in 2007 when he was in 117 games for the Oakland As. 

The Blue Jays signed him to a minor league contract in the offseason and with Buffalo he has been the lone consistent producer at the plate. He leads the International League with 17 home runs while his 79 walks are the most in all of affiliated baseball. Overall, he has averaged .248 with a team-high 55 runs scored.

Johnson had been selected to the Triple-A All Star Game, scheduled for Wednesday night in Durham, N.C., and was to compete in the Triple-A Home Run Derby on Monday. 

To make room for Johnson on the 40-man roster, the Blue Jays designated reliever Bobby Korecky for assignment. He's a player the Bisons desperately hopes clears waivers. Korecky was also named an IL All-Star with a 4-1 record and a 0.57 earned run average in 36 appearances. He has 12 saves and 25 games finished.The Bisons are 27-9 in games Koreckey has appeared in.

 

Buffalo Baseball Hall of Fame induction prior to tonight's Bisons game

By Keith McShea

This week, Mike Harrington has chronicled the careers of this year's Buffalo Baseball Hall of Fame class, and tonight's their big night. 

Former Buffalo Bisons and major-league manager Eric Wedge, legendary Western New York scout Bob Miske and former Bisons outfielder Greg Tubbs will be inducted in pregame ceremonies at Coca-Cola Field before tonight's 7:05 game with the Durham Bulls.

Harrington's Hall of Fame profiles:

 

The Bisons also announced Friday morning that Buffalo Sabres top draft pick Sam Reinhart will throw out tonight's first pitch.

The Bisons dropped Thursday night's series-opener to Durham, 3-2 (game story | live blog). 

Live blog: Durham Bulls 3, Buffalo Bisons 2

by Amy Moritz

Oh Aaron Sanchez. Can he get his first Triple-A win?

The top prospect in the Toronto Blue Jays organization is making his sixth start since joining the Bisons on June 12. He has just one decision in those six starts -- a loss in his debut at Toledo where he gave up four earned runs on six hits in four innings.

His last outing was a bit of a struggle, giving up three runs on seven hits with two walks and four strikeouts in six innings at Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Sanchez left that game on the hook, but the Herd scored four runs in the eighth and came back for a 6-3 win.

Kevin Pillar raised his batting average 10 points in Wednesday's 6-2 win at Rochester. Pillar had a four-hit night, including a lead-off home run, to up his average from .301 to .311.

Tonight's Bisons lineup:

Kevin Pillar -- LF
Anthony Gose -- CF
A.J. Jimenez -- DH
Brad Glenn -- RF
Dan Johnson -- 1B
Jared Goedert -- 3B
Ryan Goins -- 2B
Mike Nickeas -- C
Jonathan Diaz -- SS

Follow along with updates during the game here:

Live Blog Live: Durham at Bisons

Audio: Great moments from the Bisons career of Greg Tubbs

Tubbs
Greg Tubbs (Buffalo Bisons photo)

By Mike Harrington

Be sure to check out my story in Wednesday's editions on former Bisons outfielder Greg Tubbs, who will be inducted into the Buffalo Baseball Hall of Fame prior to Friday night's game in Coca-Cola Field.

Tubbs -- who played for the Bisons in 1991, 1992 and 1994 -- runs an indoor hitting academy and is an assistant high school baseball coach in Cookeville, Tenn.

"Being around these kids has kept me young and I love being able to give the same advice that some of Hall of Famers gave me," Tubbs (left) told me this week. "Our kids love being able to hit and our high school program has benefitted from it. I had a good career, a great time in the game and I finally got an opportunity to show I could play on the highest level,

"This hall of fame in Buffalo is really icing on the cake. This is the last thing everybody in their career wants in some way and I'm getting this opportunity. It's really a storybook situation for me."

As noted in the article, Tubbs is the answer to a couple of unique Bisons trivia questions and we can recreate the events through audio archives provided by former announcer Pete Weber.

1. Playing center field, Tubbs caught the final out of Buffalo's back-to-back American Association Eastern Division clinchers at Pilot Field -- a 6-4 win over Louisville in 1991 and a 3-1 win over Nashville in 1992.

Listen to those below:

Tubbs' final out in 1991

Tubbs' final out in 1992

2. Tubbs was also the batter who lined a two-run double into the left-field corner in Denver in the ninth inning of Game 4 of the '91 Association finals. The Bisons entered the frame getting no-hit and trailing, 9-0. They had six runs in and Tubbs drove in runs 7 and 8 -- but Greg Edge was called out at the plate and Buffalo lost, 9-8.

Listen to the most controversial finish in franchise history here:

Edge out in 1991

Tubbs had a great series against Denver even though Buffalo lost the series in five games. He homered in back-to-back 4-1 wins over the Zephyrs in Pilot Field as Buffalo took a short-lived 2-0 lead in the series. Here's his homer in Game Two:

Playoff HR in 1991

Be sure to look for my other Buffalo Baseball Hall of Fame stories this week, focusing on longtime scout Bob Miske on Thursday and former manager Eric Wedge on Friday.

Herd's Johnson picked for Triple-A Home Run Derby

Belt
The Durham Bulls unveiled this belt to go to the HR Derby champion. (DurhamBulls.com)


By Mike Harrington

Buffalo Bisons slugger Dan Johnson, who has played every game this season, has been named one of the six participants in the Triple-A Home Run Derby to be held Monday night in Durham Bulls Athletic Park. Johnson will also start for the International League in the Triple-A All-Star Game hosted by Durham next Wednesday.

Johnson will hit for the IL team that also includes Toledo's Mike Hessman and Columbus' Jesus Aguilar. Hessman recently hit his 259th career homer in the IL to break the all-time mark set by 1930s Bisons slugger Ollie Carnegie.

Johnson is batting .251 with team highs of 17 homers and 54 RBIs for the Bisons. This will be his third derby. He won the 2010 edition at Lehigh Valley while competing for Durham as part of his IL MVP season. In 2012 at Coca-Cola Field while competing for Charlotte, he lost in the finals to Bisons designated hitter Valentino Pascucci.

The Pacific Coast League team will feature Las Vegas' Allan Dykstra, the MVP of the Double-A Eastern League last year for the Binghamton Mets, Reno's Mike Jacobs and Omaha's Francisco Pena, son of Yankees bench coach and Buffalo Baseball Hall of Famer Tony Pena.

Hessman, who has participated in three previous derbies, and Jacobs are both former Bisons. Hessman, then with Oklahoma City, joined Johnson in taking part in the 2012 derby in Buffalo. Hessman had nine homers in the first round but was eliminated in the semifinals.

In addition to the championship belt pictured above, players will be batting to win money and prizes for fans in attendance if they hit a home run off the famous snorting bull above the left-field wall at Durham Bulls Athletic Park, made famous in the 1988 film "Bull Durham."

The pitcher for the final round will be 76-year-old North Carolina resident Clay Council, who earned some fame as Josh Hamilton's pitcher during his 28-homer binge at the 2008 MLB HR Derby in old Yankee Stadium.

Bisons host RailRiders in Independence Eve game

By Taylor Nigrelli

In what has become a popular tradition locally, the Buffalo Bisons will host their annual Independence Eve game tonight, complete with the season's largest post-game fireworks display and a performance by the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra and Chorus.

As of this morning, only 3000 tickets were available for the game.

The 20th edition of Independence Eve will feature a matchup against the struggling Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders (40-46). The Herd (45-40) took the first two games of a five-game set with 1-0 and 3-1 wins yesterday in a double-header.

The Bisons may be a little fatigued heading into tonight’s matchup as four of the team’s past six contests have gone into extra innings.

Esmil Rogers (2-1, 3.10), who’s spent time in both Toronto and Buffalo this year, will get the start for the Bisons. Chris Leroux (1-2, 7.94) is expected to get the call for the Railriders.

The Herd will be looking to build on a recent hot streak that’s seen the team win five of its past seven games.

Tonight’s starting lineup:

Kenny Wilson – LF
Ryan Goins – 2B
Kevin Pillar – CF
Dan Johnson – 1B
Erik Kratz – DH
A.J. Jimenez – C
Ryan Schimpf – RF
Andy LaRoche – 3B
Jonathan Diaz - SS

Fewer than 3,000 tickets left for tonight's Bisons Independence Eve game

By Keith McShea

The Buffalo Bisons told The News this morning that fewer than 3,000 tickets remain for tonight's Independence Eve game. 

The 20th annual event features the team's largest fireworks show of the season along with a performance by the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra and Chorus. 

The gates will open at 4:30 p.m. for the 6:05 game with the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders. 

All tickets cost $24 and are available by calling THE-HERD at 843-4373, by visiting the Coca-Cola Field Box Office or via bisons.com

The Bisons swept a doubleheader against Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Wednesday, 1-0 and 2-1. The Bisons are 45-40 in the International League's North Division, 5-1/2 games behind first-place Syracuse. Esmil Rogers (2-1, 3.10) of the Bisons starts against Chris Leroux (1-2, 7.94).

The musical program for tonight's event is available here.

Doubleheader day for the Bisons

by Amy Moritz

The Buffalo Bisons return to Coca-Cola Field after splitting a four-game series in Syracuse. But here's the thing -- three of those games went to extra innings.

The Herd won the opener, 7-6, in 13 innings. After being blanked the second night, 7-0, they played two more extra-inning games -- a 5-4 loss in 11 and a 5-4 win in 10 last night.

The pitching staff hopes there isn't more of the same tonight. Not with a doubleheader on deck.

Buffalo and Scranton/Wilkes-Barre will play two seven-inning games, to make up a game lost due to snow and cold back on April 15.

Here's what you need to know:

All-Stars: The Bisons had three players elected to the International League All-Star team. Dan Johnson, who is playing in his 84th game with the Herd tonight, leads the league in home runs (16) and walks (69). Liam Hendriks is 6-1 with a 2.13 ERA. He has the fewest walks (0.59) and baserunners (8.61) per nine innings in the IL. Bobby Korecky has 10 saves in 11 chances. He has allowed just 26 hits while striking out 42 in 44 2/3 innings.

Tonight's starters: P.J. Walters will make his third start of the season in the first game. He is 2-0 and as allowed just one earned run in each outing with the Bisons since his promotion from Double-A on June 21.

Raul Valdes makes his second start for the Herd. He picked up the win in his last spot start, giving up two runs in five innings on June 21 against Rochester.

Ticket alert: As of 3:30 p.m. there were about 3,500 tickets left for the Independence Eve Celebration. The 20th annual event features a performance by the Buffalo Philharmonic and Chorus after the game along with the largest fireworks display of the year. Gates open at 4:30 for the 6:05 p.m. first pitch.

Tonight's Game 1 starting lineup:

Ryan Goins -- 2B
Jared Goedert -- DH
Kevin Pillar -- CF
Dan Johnson -- 1B
A.J. Jimenez -- C
Ryan Schimpf -- RF
Andy LaRoche -- 3B
Kenny Wilson -- LF
Jonathan Diaz -- SS

 

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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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