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Hessman returns to lineup, Bisons take on Toledo in early game

By Taylor Nigrelli 

After missing the past three games to recover from a procedure that removed “pre-cancerous growths” from his face, Toledo Mud Hens infielder Mike Hessman will return to the lineup this afternoon in the third game of a four-game set between Toledo and Buffalo.

Hessman is currently tied with Bisons great Ollie Carnegie for most home runs – 258 – in International League history.  He’ll bat fourth and play third base.

Today’s game will feature an unusually early 10:35 a.m. first pitch as the Bisons are holding their annual “school kid’s day” promotion.

When the Herd takes the field – just over 12 hours after leaving it last night – it will be looking to snap out of a rough stretch that has stretched over two weeks. The Bisons have lost four straight and 10 of 12 contests.

Buffalo will hand the ball to Deck McGuire for his third triple-A start. The former first round pick has pitched well so far – he’s 1-0 with a 2.84 ERA. Drew VerHagen (3-5, 3.77) will get the call for Toledo.

Today’s lineup:

Darin Mastroianni – CF
Munenori Kawasaki – 2B
Jared Goedert  - 3B
Dan Johnson – DH
Matt Tuiasosopo – 1B
Ryan Goins – SS
Brett Carroll – RF
Mike Nikeas – C
Kenny Wilson - LF

Bisons fall to under .500 in extra innings loss, Hessman sits

By Taylor Nigrelli 

The Bisons fell to under .500 – 27-28 – for the first time all season after dropping an 11-inning contest, 5-4, to the Toledo Mud Hens Tuesday.

The loss came with some controversy as Toledo’s Jordan Lennerton scored on a close-play at home plate in the 11th inning to take the lead . Bisons manager Gary Allenson believed he saw catcher A.J. Jimenez tag Lennerton and went out to argue the call. He was subsequently ejected.

“I thought the guy was out,” Allenson said. “I thought Jimenez tagged him on the sleeve. I went out to argue but (the umpire) wasn’t in position to see the tag. He was behind the plate.”

On a brighter note for the Bisons, the game saw both Liam Hendriks and Bobby Korecky make their returns to the Buffalo pitching staff after short stints in Toronto.

Hendriks gave up four runs, three of which came on a third inning home run, and struck out six. He tied a Bisons season high with eight innings pitched. Korecky pitched scoreless ninth and tenth innings.

Dan Johnson slugged his team-leading 11th homer of the year, cutting across the wind to land over the right centerfield wall.

The Bisons will look to even the series Wednesday as they will take on Toledo in game two of a four-game set. Radhames Liz, who was recently promoted from New Hampshire (AA) will get the start for Buffalo. Kyle Lobstein (4-5) is expected to get the call for Toledo. 

Toledo slugger Mike Hessman, who is currently tied with Bisons great Ollie Carnegie for the International League home run record with 258, sat out Tuesday's game after having a procedure done to remove pre-cancerous growths from his face. 

Hessman sits as Bisons open series against Mud Hens

By Taylor Nigrelli

Toledo slugger Mike Hessman, who is currently tied with Bisons great Ollie Carnegie for the all-time International League home run record with 258, will  not start today, as was previously expected.

Hessman was also not in the lineup yesterday as he had pre-cancerous growths removed from his nose and forehead.

Buffalo fans may still have a chance to see Hessman, who played briefly for the Bisons in 2010, break Carnegie’s record if he’s able to play either Wednesday, Thursday or Friday.

Liam Hendriks (5-0, 1.48) will get the start for the Bisons (27-27) tonight as the team opens up a four-game set against the Toledo Mud Hens (27-31).

Hendriks gets the call after spending nearly two weeks with the Toronto Blue Jays. The righty pitched just 11 and two-thirds innings in two starts for the big club but sported an impressive 2.31 ERA.

The Blue Jays outrighted Hendriks Tuesday. In doing so, the Jays called up righty Chad Jenkins for the third time this season. The Herd will also be without relief pitchers Neil Wagner and John Stilson, who were moved to the disabled list Monday.

Duane Below (3-1, 3.81) will get the call tonight for Toledo.

Bisons lineup:

Darin Mastroianni - CF
Ryan Goins – 2B
Jared Goedert – 3B
Dan Johnson - DH
A.J. Jimenez - C
Matt Tuiasosopo – 1B
Brett Carroll - RF
Kenny Wilson - LF
Jonathan Diaz - SS

Bisons use big eighth inning to upend Chiefs

The Bisons offense came alive Saturday as the team snapped a four-game losing streak with a 5-2 win over Syracuse.

Buffalo starter Deck McGuire impressed, going seven innings and allowing just two runs on three hits. However, Syracuse starter Taylor Jordan was more impressive for most of the game, allowing just one hit in seven innings at one point.

Jordan began to struggle a bit in the eighth, however, and the Bisons took full advantage of the opportunity. Andy La Roche and Munenori Kawasaki led off the inning with singles before Kenny Wilson hit into a fielder’s choice.

Things began to look bleak again for Buffalo as Darin Mastrianni popped up for the second out. However, Jordan walked Ryan Goins and was subsequently taken out to allow Xavier Cedeno finish the inning.

Cedeno surrendered back-to-back two-RBI singles to Jared Goedert and Dan Johnson before getting A.J. Jimenez to strike out. But the damage was done. Neil Wagner came on to earn his fourth save with a scoreless ninth inning.

As Bisons manager finished up his press conference after the game, he summed up what many Bisons faithful are liking thinking.

“Hopefully, we’re back on track,” he said.

The Bisons will take on Syracuse again tomorrow in the third game of a four-game set. Ricky Romero and Ryan Tatusko are scheduled to take the start. First pitch is scheduled for 1:05. 

More from Joe Siddall on broadcasting and the Blue Jays

Joe Siddall (right) with Jerry Howarth in the Blue Jays' radio booth. (Fox Sports Detroit)

By Mike Harrington

Be sure to read my column in Wednesday's editions on Canisius College outfielder Brett Siddall and his father, new Blue Jays radio announcer Joe Siddall, as they continue to cope with the February death of their 14-year-old brother/son, Kevin.

There are plenty of poignant thoughts in the story and Canisius will be playing with plenty of emotion during its MAAC Tournament opener against an opponent to be determined tonight in Lakewood, N.J. I talked to Joe Siddall Tuesday from Fenway Park prior to the Blue Jays' series opener against the Red Sox and made sure to get some Jays talk in as well that didn't really fit the column.

So here are the outakes of the interview, largely focused on Joe Siddall's MLB thoughts:

---Siddall said he can "talk baseball until I'm blue in the face" and was always comfortable dealing with the media as a player. He said learning the nuances of broadcasting has been a fascinating ride, especially the depth of preparation that goes into a television broadcast in areas such as pre-planned graphics. He spent five games on the last homestand working in the Sportsnet TV booth.

"It's been a comfortable transition, from the broadcasting perspective and learning tricks of the trade," he said. "I continue to bounce things off Buck Martinez, Pat Tabler, Jerry Howarth and learn things that help me get better. 

"TV is a different ballgame so to speak. It's such a big production, starting with the meeting during the day, so you're prepared for the show opening and the graphics you'll be discussing during the game. It's really neat. I joked after my five days that I will certainly watch a game on TV differently now because now you know what went in to all the things. A really cool experience."

On legendary Jays announcer Howarth: "It's been great working with him since day one. He's been that right-hand guy to give me tips and pointers and it's helped our broadcast. The No. 1 thing Jerry has taught me is to have fun. When you're in the booth, have fun, joke, laugh, talk baseball. That's what people want to hear."

The Blue Jays in the AL East --  "They're hanging in because everybody has issues, all these teams are struggling. We're here in Boston and here's a team coming off the World Series that's struggling and not consistent whatsoever. The Blue Jays' lineup is tremendous."

Blue Jays slugger Jose Bautista -- "He's special. I worked batting practice with the Tigers for 12 years and worked with Miguel Cabrera every day. Imagine what that's like. Maybe Jose isn't Miguel Cabrera but he's just about the same type of player every time out. He's had tremendous discipline here. When Edwin Encarnacion was scuffling, Jose didn't try to do too much and he contributed offensively."

Jose Reyes as an X-factor guy: "He seems to be coming along. If he gets on base consistently, he would score so many runs. The lineup is so deep with power that if Reyes gets on base, it's really going to be tough. What's really going to be the big factor is the pitching. They have to solidify that. And who doesn't say this, but it would sure be nice to have one more solid big-league starter."

Red-hot Blue Jays starter Mark Buehrle: "I can't not laugh answering a question about him. I have to chuckle. The way he does it is unbelievable. It should inspire every kid in the minor leagues who throws 84 mph. He locates so well. You do that it doesn't matter if it's at 84 or 94. He changes speed, moves it in and out. He's a classic pitcher...He's good at his craft."

Pujols Twitter
From left, Canisius teammates Anthony Massicci, Brett Siddall and Connor Panas pose with Albert Pujols of the Angels last week in Toronto. (Joe Siddall Twitter photo)

Starting pitching woes contribute mightily to AL East's struggles

By Mike Harrington

So why is everyone in the AL East pretty much mediocre and only Toronto (at plus-4) owning a positive run differential? It's mostly because of starting pitching.

Check out the numbers below for the starters on the five teams: 

Team W-L , ERA (AL rank)
BOS 11-12, 3.83 (5)
TOR 12-9, 4.19 (7)
NYY 13-11, 4.36 (10)
BAL 10-12, 4.46 (11)
TB 9-11, 4.48 (12)

Check out the standings heading into tonight's games:

BAL 16-14
NYY 17-15
TOR 16-17
BOS 16-17
TBR 15-18

Not what anyone expected. The Rays and Orioles meet again tonight at Tampa Bay, while the Blue Jays and Phillies switch sites and move to Rogers Center, and the Yankees wrap up a three-gamer in Anaheim before opening a toughie Friday night in Milwaukee.


Super Saturday afternoon slate in wild card races

By Mike Harrington

Today is game 161, the second-last day of the season. Here's our playoff update:

AL divisions/homefield: The Red Sox have a magic number of one to wrap up the top seed after Friday's 12-3 win over the Orioles and would thus meet the wild card winner in the division series. The Tigers would play the A's in the other series, with Oakland having home-field advantage.

AL wild card: Everyone is in action early this afternoon, with Texas hosting Los Angeles at noon, Cleveland at Minnesota at 1 and Tampa Bay at Toronto at 1. The Rays' 6-3 loss in Toronto Friday night dropped them into a tie with the Indians at 90-70, while the Rangers' win over the Angels pushed them to 89-71. Cleveland has won eight in a row, Texas has won five straight and Tampa Bay's loss Friday snapped a seven-game winning streak. All finishing very strong.

NL divisions/wild card: The Cardinals clinched the Central with Friday's win over the Cubs and are tied with the Braves at 95-65. The Dodgers (92-68) will be the No. 3 seed. The Pirates have a two-game lead on the Reds with two to play after Friday's 4-1 win in Cinci and need just one more win to clinch homefield against the Reds in the wild-card game. 

Pettitte's farewell: Nothing involving any of the races going on tonight, with the most significant game being the Yankees' 7:05 contest at Houston on YES. It will be the final start in the career of left-hander and suburban Houston resident Andy Pettitte, as John Harper sets the stage in today's New York Daily News and Ken Davidoff offers a similiar-scene setter in the Post. 

Quick thought: Doesn't Joe Girardi have to send Mariano Rivera out to pull Pettitte tonight?

In the throes of the 2013 pennant race, the 2014 MLB schedule is out

By Mike Harrington

Baseball released its tentative 2014 master schedule Tuesday, beginning with the previously announced two-game series between the Dodgers and Diamondbacks March 22-23 in Sydney, Australia. The annual Sunday night opener will be played March 30 with the teams yet to be determined (my guess might be Red Sox at Orioles unless the Tigers win the World Series, which could make Royals-Tigers the ESPN target. Or it could be the Cubs at Pirates).

Here's a look at how things open up and other notes on the teams I hear the most about from WNY fans: 

Yankees: They begin next season just as this one will end -- with a series in Houston, a three-gamer that opens April 1. They play in Toronto April 4-5-6, June 23-24-25,  and Aug. 29-30-31, and in Cleveland on July 7-8-9-10. The season ends with a three-gamer in Fenway Park (Sept. 26-27-28)

Blue Jays: They open on the road March 31 at Tampa Bay, part of a four-game series. The home opener will be a big one on Friday, April 4 against the Yankees. The interleague visitors to Toronto next season will be the Phillies (May 7-8), the Cardinals (June 6-7-8), Brewers (June 1-2) and Cubs (Sept. 8-9-10). Bad for stretch-drive drama: Neither the Yankees nor the Red Sox come to Toronto in September. 

Red Sox: the Fenway opener is April 4 against the Brewers. In the spirit of 1975, the Reds come to town for an interleague visit May 6-7. 

Mets: They open at home March 31 against the Nationals. The games against the Yankees are May 12-13 in the Bronx and May 14-15 in Citi Field. 

Indians: They open March 31 in Oakland, which is an easy trip from their spring base in Arizona and cuts off one long jaunt to the West. The home opener is Friday, April 4 against the Twins. The Red Sox visit June 2-3-4 while the Yankees have the aforementioned July 7-10 series. Interleague visitors are the Rockies, Reds and Diamondbacks.

Pirates: Will they be raising a banner of some sort for that home opener? We'll see. The Blue Jays come in May 2-3-4, while the Mets are in June 26-27-28-29, and the Tigers visit Aug. 11-12.  The biggest interleague series is (a potential World Series rematch?) with the Red Sox at PNC Park on Sept. 16-17-18.

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.

Lots of extra extra innings

ScoreboardBy Mike Harrington

If it seems like a lot of long MLB days are turning into night lately, you're right.

For the third time in less than a week, a matinee went at least 18 innings. This time, it was the Yankees' 3-2 loss Thursday at Oakland that ended in the bottom of the 18th after 5 hours and 35 minutes. Last Saturday while I was in Scranton with the Bisons, we were following the Mets' 20-inning loss to the Marlins and the Blue Jays' 18-inning win over the Rangers.

So how rare is all this?

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, it's just the fourth time in history there has been three 18+-inning games in a month and it's never happened in a week. The previous three times were June 1967, August 1972 and May 1973.

More from Elias on A's-Yankees:

Continue reading "Lots of extra extra innings" »


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 |

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 |