The Bisons go for a four-game split against Columbus today in Coca-Cola Field and a win would give them four splits in four series outside the IL North. The Bisons are 7-8 in games outside their division -- but just 4-21 inside it. Ouch.
Fernando Nieve, who has spent parts of the last four years in Triple-A with Round Rock in the Houston chain, makes his second start for the Herd today against Columbus veteran Tomo Ohka, a veteran of 172 big-league starts. The 33-year-old Japanese veteran pitched a perfect game for Pawtucket against Charlotte in 2000 -- needing an incredible 76 pitches to get the 27 outs.
After getting a scheduled day off yesterday, Travis Hafner is back in the Columbus lineup today as the DH. It may be the last game on his injury rehab assignment. Clippers third baseman Andy Marte is 8 for 10 in the series and has hits in seven straight at-bats.
Red-hot Javier Valentin, the hero of Saturday's win for the Herd, is batting cleanup today for Buffalo for the first time since he arrived on the scene May 13. IL extra-base hit leader Fernando Martinez is in his usual No. 3 hole and playing left field today.
Martinez is batting .295 and the rumblings continue that he may not be here much longer. Adam Rubin reports in his New York Daily News blog today that Mets RF Ryan Church is getting an MRI and there's some concern he may have a torn hamstring. If the Mets need an outfielder for an extended period, you would think Martinez would get the call.
In other Mets/Bisons news, pitcher Oliver Perez is in town and threw a session in the bullpen this morning. Perez, who went 1-2, 9.97 in five starts before telling the Mets his $36 million knee had some tendinitis (nudge-nudge), is expected to start here this week against Lehigh Valley. If he threw today, that would mean he would start either Tuesday or Wednesday. He has been throwing in extended spring training in Port St. Lucie, Fla.
Today's game is on Time Warner 13 and you can follow pitch-by-pitch coverage here. Here's the lineups:
Michael Brantley, lf Argenis Reyes, 2b
Trevor Crowe, cf Cory Sullivan, cf
Travis Hafner, dh Fernando Martinez, lf
Chris Gimenez, c Javier Valentin, dh
Michael Aubrey, 1b Michael Abreu, 1b
Andy Marte, 3b Mike Lamb, 3b
Jordan Brown, rf Rene Rivera, c
Josh Barfield, 2b Jesus Feliciano, rf
Andy Cannizaro, ss Mark Kiger, ss
Tomo Ohka, p Fernando Nieve, p