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After a week of play, it's the first fridaynightbash! for good-looking Herd in game two vs. PawSox

By Mike Harrington

We've gone through the first week of the International League season and the Buffalo Bisons have dodged three rainouts to post a 4-2 record heading into tonight's 6:05 game in Coca-Cola Field against the Pawtucket Red Sox.

Some quick numbers on the Herd thus far:

Batting: .240 (believe it or not, 7th in the 14-team IL)
Runs: 30 (T-6th)
Runs per game: 5.0 (5th)
ERA: 3.00 (2nd)

The Bisons have scored a lot early (seven runs in first innings, their highest total) and have scored a lot late (five runs in the eighth, four in two extra-inning wins). Their batters have been selective, walking 29 times in six games, while the pitchers have a 2-1 strikeout-walk ratio (54-27 in 57 innings).

Among individuals:
---Anthony Gose has hit in all five starts, posting a .423 on-base percentage to go with a .286 average.
---Newly acquired Juan Francisco leads the team in batting (.429), on-base (.478), slugging (.714) and OPS (1.193). Dan Johnson is second (.300/.464/1.114) and Johnson and Francisco have split the team's four home runs.
----In need of a quick breakout: Kevin Pillar is 2 for 25 and Mike Nickeas is 1 for 16.
----Reliever Bobby Korecky is one of four IL pitchers with two wins, and both Korecky and Chad Jenkins have six scoreless innings out of the bullpen thus far.

Kyle Drabek will make his second start of the season tonight against Pawtucket's Jeremy Kehrt. The Bisons (4-2), Rochester (4-2) and Pawtucket (5-3) are tied top the IL North thus far.

Elsewhere in the IL, it's a big night tonight in Charlotte as the Knights officially move downtown to BB&T Ballpark with  7:05 game against Norfolk. Props to the folks down there for getting that project done and here's hoping they remember April 11, 2014 as fondly as we recall April 14, 1988.

The Bisons' lineup tonight:

Anthony Gose,  cf
Steve Tolleson,  2b
Juan Francisco, 3b
Dan Johnson, 1b
Matt Tuiasosopo, lf
Kevin Pillar, rf
Andy LaRoche, dh
Mike Nickeas,  c
Munenori Kawasaki,  ss
----
Kyle Drabek, p

It's Durham vs. Omaha for Triple-A title as IL, PCL seasons end

The Durham Bulls celebrate the last out of the Governors' Cup final.

By Mike Harrington

The Durham Bulls and Omaha Storm Chasers wrapped up their league titles Saturday night and will meet Tuesday night in Lehigh Valley in the Triple-A National Championship Game (7 p.m., NBCSN).

Both teams won the titles in Game Four on the road. Durham won at Pawtucket, 7-0, while Omaha -- a 70-74 team during the regular season -- wrapped up a 6-1 PCL postseason with a 10-5 win at Salt Lake.

The Durham victory was particularly amazing because the Bulls held Pawtucket scoreless for the final 29 innings of the series, including all 20 at the PawSox home field. Durham won Game Three in McCoy Stadium on Friday night, 2-0 in 14 innings, as Pawtucket managed just four hits. The PawSox had only two hits in the finale. Former Wilson High and UB pitcher Steve Geltz retired both batters he faced in the eighth inning of the finale.

Here's the Providence Journal recap of the final game.

And here's the Durham Herald-Sun's story on the Bulls' fourth title since joining the IL in 1998. The Bulls also won in 2002 (sweeping the Bisons in the final), 2003 and 2009, when they took the Triple-A title with a win over Memphis.

IL, PCL finals resume tonight: Pawsox-Bulls tied, Omaha can clinch 2nd title in three years

By Mike Harrington

Pawtucket and Durham split the first two games of the Governors' Cup finals and will continue the International League championship series tonight at Pawtucket's McCoy Stadium. The Red Sox are trying to become back-to-back champions for the first time in their history and all three of their previous championships were won on the road. With the final three games in Rhode Island, they could wrap up a title at McCoy for the first time.

The teams split 2-1 victories at Durham Bulls Athletic Park, with the hosts taking Wednesday's game to even the series. In the Pacific Coast League, Omaha won its two games at home and heads to Salt Lake with a 2-0 lead in its series. Both series took Thursday off.

The Omaha Storm Chasers are the longtime Kansas City affiliate known as the Royals when the Bisons played them in their American Association days. They won their division in the regular season with a 70-74 record but upset 82-win Oklahoma City in three straight in the semifinals and are trying to make it 6 for 6 against Salt Lake, the Angels affiliate. The Bees beat Wally Backman-led Las Vegas, the Mets affiliate that was booted from Buffalo after last season, in four games in the semis.

Omaha won both games Wednesday, 3-2 and 2-1 (with the second win coming on a walk-off homer), after Tuesday's opener was suspended by rain.

The winners meet in the Triple-A National Championship Game, which is Tuesday night at Lehigh Valley and will be televised on NBC Sports Network. 

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

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

Herd tries to rebound vs. Scranton

By Rodney McKissic

The Bisons, who were swept in a doubleheader against Scranton/Wilkes Barre on Saturday, are trying to avoid a series sweep this afternoon against the RailRiders. Here is the starting lineup for today's game:

Mike McCoy, rf
Munenori Kawasaki, 2b
Kevin Pillar, lf
Jim Negrych, dh
Andy LaRoche, 3b
Ryan Goins, ss
Sean Ochinko, 1b
Anthony Gose, cf
Mike Nickeas, cf
Ricky Romero, p

Herd plays two vs. Scranton

By Rodney McKissic

The Bisons, winners of five straight, will start Chien-Ming Wang in Game One of tonight's doubleheader against Scranton. Game Two's starter is Dave Bush. Here is the starting lineup for Game One:

Kevin Pillar, cf
Ryan Goins, ss
Jim Negrych, 2b
Mauro Gomez, dh
Andy LaRoche, 3b
Eugenio Velez, lf
Clint Robinson, 1b
Anthony Gose, rf
Sean Ochinko, c
Chien-Ming Wang, p

More from Durham's Geltz on Buffalo weather, and his MLB debut video

By Mike Harrington

Be sure to read Sunday's Inside Baseball column on Durham pitcher Steve Geltz, the Ransomville native and former hurler at Wilson High and the University at Buffalo.

Here's one little vignette I didn't get into the story: At spring training this year in Tempe, Ariz., with the Los Angeles Angels, rookies were assigned different tasks or projects to carry through camp. Geltz's assignment from manager Mike Scioscia? The weather reports for camp -- and for his home metro area of Buffalo.

"So I'd go get Tempe and Buffalo and post it in the bulletin board and then to get ahead and get some brownie points I'd get road places we were going like Peoria or Surprise," Geltz told me Friday in the Durham clubhouse. "I'd have to stand up in the middle of the morning meeting and I'd have UV index, pollen count, all that. Then they'd be like,'What's it like back home?' and I'd have to say like, '8 (degrees) with snow.' 

"I actually kind of lucked out. Some guys had to do projects, trips, go to butterfly museums. I just had to print the weather out."

And as promised in the column, here's the MLB.com video showing Geltz's debut inning for the Angels last August against Tampa Bay. There's no embed code (sorry) but the link gets you there.

Gose returns to the lineup

By Rodney McKissic

Anthony Gose will start in left field and will bat ninth for tonight's game against Durham.

Gose was benched for two games for poor fielding then failing to throw the ball to the cut off man in time in the Bisons' loss to Gwinnett on Wednesday. Gose's lapse in concentrate cost the Herd two runs in the ninth inning.

Bisons manager Marty Brown said Gose's place in the battling order in the future will be determined by his performance. Gose generally hits first or second.

Brown said he spoke with Gose at length about his approach to the game on Friday.

"There's no guarantees in this game," Brown said prior to Saturday's game. "It's difficult in this day and age with the sense of entitlement, lack of accountability, it's a different game. ... It boils down to when a player has heart and goes out and plays the game the right way, then everything irons itself out."

Gose is hitting .228, with a pair of homers and 15 RBIs in 53 games for the Bisons.

Here is the starting lineup for tonight's game:

Jose Reyes, ss
Kevin Pillar, cf
Mauro Gomez, 1b
Luis Jimenez, dh
Moises Sierra, rf
Jim Negrych, 3b
Ryan Goins, 2b
Mike Nickeas, c
Anthony Gose, lf
Chad Jenkins, p

No Bull about it, Durham celebrates movie heritage on 25th anniversary of classic flick

By Mike Harrington

As I wrote about in Sunday's Inside Baseball column, this weekend is the 25th anniversary of the Kevin Costner-Susan Sarandon baseball classic "Bull Durham." Jim Caple of ESPN.com rolled out an incredible piece deconstructing the movies scenes on Saturday. If you get way down near the end, he talks about a convo on the mound between current Seattle pitching coach Carl Willis and veteran catcher Tim Laker. That had to be in Buffalo in 2002!

The Bulls are having events all season, with a big celebration planned for today. One thing the team did this year was have a nightly "Bull Durham Racers" run. The characters? Of course, Crash, Annie and Nuke. Check it out.

The team also did an hysterical vignette of current and former players reciting famous lines from the movie. Well done and candlesticks DO make a good gift!

Think the Bulls don't embrace the movie? The famous bull is on a wall of the concourse and there's a new one in left field. Hit the bull, win a free steak for you and a fan. Hit the grass, win a free salad. Here's Shelley Duncan doing just that earlier this month.

Bisons are takers of the road

By Mike Harrington

MOOSIC, Pa. -- Sunday's 4-1 win over the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders continued the Bisons' odd trend of dominance on the road as compared to scuffling at home.

The win gave the Bisons a 20-12 record on the road, tied with Pawutcket for the best mark in the International League (click here for the full IL standings). Buffalo is just 14-16 in Coca-Cola Field, one of four North Division teams better out of their home park.

"No idea why," said infielder Jim Negrych. "I wish I did know. It seems like offensively we swing the bats good at home. It will come there. If we get the pitching like we have the last couple weeks, we're a tough team to face anywhere."

The Bisons are simply scoring more on the road and batting with more power, with 46 of their 72 home runs. That's especially true for IL home run leader Mauro Gomez, who is batting just .217 in Coca-Cola Field with three homers and nine RBIs -- but is at .295-13-28 on the road.

Continue reading "Bisons are takers of the road" »

Bisons make return to Scranton

SWB pic 1
SWB pic II

By Mike Harrington

MOOSIC, Pa. -- The Bisons are back at PNC Field tonight for the first time since Sept. 5, 2011 but it's not the same place they made regular visits to during their stints in both the Triple-A Alliance and the International League.

The home of the newly-christened Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders was completely reconstructed during the last year (Remember, the then-SWB Yankees played the whole year on the road!) and it's quite an improvement for both specators and players. There's a 360-degree open concourse, grass berm in the outfield, party areas, HD video boards and a club level complete with buffet restaurant.

The huge concrete cavern of an upper deck is gone. The place seats about 7,200 with room for another couple thousand in the outfield. It's intimate and scenic, on the base of Montage Mountain. It's about a 4-hour drive from Buffalo and worth the trip. Be sure to look for a big look at the park next week in The News.

Continue reading "Bisons make return to Scranton" »

Updated with video: Bisons manager Brown gets three-game suspension for infield sit-in

Bisons manager Marty Brown takes a seat on the Norfolk infield Sunday. (MILB.TV video)

By Mike Harrington

The Buffalo Bisons open a four-game homestand tonight at Coca-Cola Field against Lehigh Valley but veteran manager Marty Brown will be absent for the first two games after earning a suspension from the International League in the wake of his comedic ejection Sunday at Norfolk.

Brown was suspended three games and fined an undisclosed amount, the team said today. Pitching coach Bob Stanley and batting coach Jon Nunnally ran the team during Monday's 10-5 win at Norfolk, and Toronto Blue Jays minor league field coordinator Doug Davis will be at the head of the Herd tonight and Wednesday.

Brown was ejected in the second inning Sunday, arguing that second baseman Jim Negrych had been interfered with while trying to field an infield chopper. Base umpire Kevin Bultron ejected Brown and the Bisons skipper than made contact with plate umpire Travis Carlson, who tried to get between them.

Brown then sat down on the infield, refusing to leave the field, and tossed his helmet. The umpires walked away from Brown, who finally got up and booted his helmet toward the Buffalo dugout. I've watched the video on the MILB.TV subscription package. Classic. Hysterically funny -- except, of course, to IL president Randy Mobley.

Continue reading "Updated with video: Bisons manager Brown gets three-game suspension for infield sit-in" »

Herd close out homestand

By Rodney McKissic

A win today would give the Bisons (27-20) a split against the IL West leading Indianapolis Indians (34-16) in this four-game set. Herd begins an eight-game road trip tomorrow in Durham.

Here is the starting lineup for today's game:

Jim Negrych, 2b
Moises Sierra, cf
Luis Jimenez, dh
Mauro Gomez, 1b
Josh Thole, c
Ryan Langerhans, rf
Ricardo Nanita, lf
Ryan Goins, ss
Mike McCoy, 3b
Dave Bush, p

Herd opens series vs. Tribe

By Rodney McKissic

Wind and rain - elements that hindered baseball in WNY during early April - have delayed tonight's game against the Indianapolis Indians. Tonight opens a four-game set against the IL West Division leading Tribe (32-15), who are in first place by 31/2 games. The Bisons, tied for first in the IL North with a 26-18 record, split a four-game set with Charlotte which ended on Tuesday.

Here is the starting lineup for tonight's game:

Jim Negrych, 2b
Moises Sierra, cf
Luis Jimenez, 1b
Mauro Gomez, dh
Josh Thole, c
Andy LaRoche, 3b
Ryan Langerhans, rf
Ricardo Nanita, lf
Ryan Goins, ss
Justin Germano, p

Bisons win streak ends at 9

By Rodney McKissic

Pawtucket rallied to score eight runs in the sixth inning and went on to defeat the Buffalo Bisons, 8-3, in the first game of a doubleheader.

The Bisons nine consecutive wins was one shy of the club's modern era record. They had won 10 straight twice, first in April (18-28) of 2002 and in August (12-21) of 2004.

Bisons starter Dave Bush retired 14 of the first 15 batters he faced until the PawSox Dan Butler started the sixth with a single on a swinging bunt. Pawtucket batted around in the inning as Butler capped the scoring with a two-run homer to center and an 8-3 advantage.

First pitch for Game 2 is scheduled for 3:05 p.m.

Mejia Takes Next Step

Mets pitching prospect Jenrry Mejia will don a Buffalo Bisons uniform for the first time in more than a year tonight as he continues to make his way back from Tommy John surgery.

Mejia's comeback hits the Triple-A level after four comeback starts, two at Class A St. Lucie and two at Double-A Binghamton. He's gone at least five innings but no more than six in four of those startsq.

Mejia left Buffalo's April 29, 2011 game at Rochester after four innings upon experiencing discomfort in his right elbow. He was diagnosed with a tear in the ulnar collateral ligament and underwent surgery three weeks later. The 22-year-old righty from the Dominican Republic entered 2011 as the organization's top-rated prospect by Baseball America.

This is the third game of the four-game set with Columbus, with the Bisons having won the first two. The series concludes at 10:35 tomorrow morning.

Tonight's Lineups
COLUMBUS
Ezequiel Carrera, cf
Jason Donald, ss
Cord Phelps, 2b
Matt LaPorta, lf
Jared Goedert, rf
Russ Canzler, 1b
Beau Mills, dh
Andy LaRoche, 3b
Matt Pagnozzi, c
***
David Huff, p (3-1, 3.08)

BUFFALO
Corey Wimberly, cf
Josh Thole, dh
Valentino Pascucci, rf
Fred Lewis, lf
Matt Tuiasosopo, 3b
Josh Satin, 1b
Brad Emaus, 2b
Lucas May, c
Sean Kazmar, ss
*****
Jenrry Mejia, p (0-0, 0.00)

-- Bob DiCesare

Herd-Clips Lineup

Columbus is in town for a four-game series that opens at 2 this afternoon. The Clippers (Cleveland) have won three straight to improve to 5-5 in their last 10. The Bisons also are playing .500 ball over that stretch.

COLUMBUS (24-25)
Ezequiel Carrera, cf
Jason Donald, ss
Cord Phelps, 2b
Matt LaPorta, dh
Jared Goedert, lf
Chad Huffman, rf
Russ Canzler, 1b
Andy LaRoche, 3b
Matt Pagnozzi, c
******
Zach McAllister, p (3-1, 2.83)

BUFFALO (28-22)
Corey Wimberly, cf
Fred Lewis, lf
Valentino Pascucci, dh
Matt Tuiasosopo, 3b
Josh Satin, 1b
Jordany Valdespin, 2b
Lucas May, c
Dustin Martin, rf
Omar Quintanilla, ss
****
Dylan Owen, p (2-2, 3.19)

-- Bob DiCesare

Bisons face top prospect Teheran

The Buffalo Bisons are sticking with the same lineup tonight that produced 14 runs in defeating the Gwinnett Braves on Wednesday in the second game of a four-game set.

Getting another 14 tonight, however, will be a tall order. The Herd will face Braves right-hander Julio Teheran (3-1, 2.48 ERA), the 2011 International League Pitcher of the Year. As our own Mike Harrington pointed out earlier today, Teheran is baseball's No. 3 prospect, according to MLB.com.

The Bisons counter with right-hander Chris Schwinden, who's making his third home start. The Herd's lineup:

CF Corey Wimberly
LF Fred Lewis
RF Vinny Rottino
1B Valentino Pascucci
3B Matt Tuiasosopo
2B Brad Emaus
SS Omar Quintanilla
C Jean Luc Blaquiere
P Schwinden

---Jay Skurski

http://twitter.com/jayskurski

 

Nelson throwing out first pitch tonight at Bisons game

Bills receiver David Nelson will try and match teammate Fred Jackson's strike when he throws out the first pitch tonight before the Buffalo Bisons take on the Gwinnett Braves.

The Herd, which dropped the opener of a 16-game homestand Tuesday, made a roster move this afternoon, activating left-handed pitcher Chuck James from the disabled list and sending righty Jeff Stevens to Single-A Brooklyn.

The Bisons' lineup for tonight's 7 p.m. first pitch looks like this:

CF Corey Wimberly
LF Fred Lewis
RF Vinny Rottino
1B Valentino Pascucci
3B Mat Tuiasosopo
2B Brad Emaus
SS Omar Quintanilla
C Jean Luc Blaquiere
P Garrett Olson

---Jay Skurski

http://twitter.com/jayskurski

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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 | [email protected]


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 | [email protected]

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