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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.

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" »

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

See the Habs' Gary Carter tribute

Spring training kicked into gear this weekend with everyone reporting and most teams getting down to the nitty-gritty of workouts on Monday. Allow me to morph some hockey here, however, with a look at the fitting tribute the Montreal Canadiens had Sunday night in the Bell Centre to honor the late Gary Carter, who went into the Hall of Fame with an Expos cap after his great years at Olympic Stadium.

Youppi, the Expos' old mascot who has switched allegiances to the Habs, donned his old uniform for one night with the No. 8 patch. Nice video and sweet use of the ice for the laser show.

---Mike Harrington
(www.twitter.com/bnharrington) 

With Newark out, still no plan for Scranton/WB Yankees' home in 2012

We pause from the daily death watch for the Red Sox -- who look just about cooked after Josh Beckett couldn't beat the Orioles last night -- with this bizarre update on the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees.

The Bisons' IL North rival, you may recall, announced last month they were likely going to barnstorm or at least find one predominant home in 2012 because PNC Field in Moosic, Pa., is being bulldozed and getting a $40 million renovation. The schedules have already been announced but no word where the team would play.

You'd think this would have all been arranged, rather than let the Baby Yankees have the league waiting. An announcement was supposed to come at last week's league meeting in Albuquerque but one never did. How come?

Turns out Newark Star-Ledger columnist Jerry Izenberg, a venerable veteran of New York City sports, uncovered a plan to have Scranton move to Newark for 2012 as a sort of reprisal of the famous Newark Bears teams the Yankees fielded there from  1926-1949. But according to Izenberg, the Mets balked, fearing a Yankees Triple-A team in Jersey would hurt them in Queens.

Negotiations between the teams have broken down and it appears the Scranton franchise is back to square one. Maybe the Mets have valid reasons and maybe they don't but that's really irrelevant. I can't believe the Scranton franchise and the International League have let this fiasco go on this way. 

Somebody better make a decision here. It's almost October.

---Mike Harrington
(www.twitter.com/bnharrington) 

Beltran, Grantland not so clutch

First things first. I really like Grantland, the new site from espn.com major domo Bill Simmons. There's a ton of great stuff. So much to read, so little time.

The other day I saw a story teased on the espn.com home page: "The Case for Carlos Beltran."

Part of the tagline for the story was a rewrite of the story's subhead, which reads: "The Giants' new right fielder has always been clutch — now maybe he'll be recognized for it."

As a Met fan, my knee-jerk reaction was, naturally: "WHUHHH!?!?!"

It was 2006, during the aftermatch of the epic October Storm that hit Western New York. It was Thursday, Oct. 19, and Game Seven of the National League Championship Series was that night.

As a Met fan, this Game Seven brought with it equal parts hope and an impending sense of anguish. If we win, it will be awesome, but it might even be a bigger relief that we didn't lose. That's because if we lose, it will not only be terrible, there will always be obnoxious Yankee fans who will remind us of it. Normally, I would spend an evening so momentous with two companions: my television and my couch.

Invite people over? What will they do when I start screaming at the TV? Or yelling at Tony LaRussa that he's not as smart as he thinks he is? Or holding my breath for inordinate amounts of time through at-bats?

But with skeletons of trees still strewn across streets and a groaning chorus of generators filling the darker-than-usual Northtown nights -- and my cable still out -- I had little choice but to head to Tully's on Niagara Falls Blvd. I went with a group of friends. We got a table. I told them the situation. I told them not to bother me. 

The game was tense. It was not that pretty. It was tied at 1-1 in the sixth when Scott Rolen hit a ball that scared me to death. That's because it looked like he got all of it. A "yeah!" came from a Cardinal fan somewhere in the Tully's bar area. Then, Endy Chavez made one of the greatest catches in baseball history, and I made sure the rest of Tully's knew about it as I let loose with a anything-you-can-do-I-can-do-louder "YEAHHHH!!!!!!"

We were going to win. Endy made the greatest catch ever. We were home at Shea Stadium, a hunk of concrete we loved even though everyone else said it was a dump. We had been down, 3-2, in the series, but now we were going to win.

Continue reading "Beltran, Grantland not so clutch" »

Around the horn: Mets, Meals, mound magic

Lots of tasks cluttering my mind that include (gasp) a Bills column for Friday's paper. I'll have some thoughts on free agency, especially how Darcy Regier simply has a much easier road than Buddy Nix at this point in time. But there's never "out of time" when it comes to baseball and I've got a few thoughts here:

---Wish the Mets could have gotten more help for the '12 Bisons in exchange for Carlos Beltran. That said, the word is that Zach Wheeler is a solid pitching prospect and GM Sandy Alderson said today they went for one high-ceiling prospect (Wheeler was the No. 6 pick in 2009), rather than a package of three-lower prospects. Maybe he sneaks to Buffalo in the second half of next year. We'll see. 

---Wonder what, if anything, the Yankees do this week for pitching. Especially since Phil Hughes couldn't even beat the 17-loss-in-a-row Mariners in yet another game that showed the Yankees could use Felix Hernandez.

---How about a suspension when umpires make an obvious mistake? Can't think of any candidates offhand .... Can you, Jerry Meals?

---I love this MLB.com collection of calls on the Meals video from both teams' crews. ROOT Sports Pittsburgh's Greg Brown -- the former Bisons and Bills announcer -- goes utterly ballistic around 27 seconds. Classic.

---What a crazy couple of days in Syracuse. Columbus pitcher Justin Germano tossed just the fifth perfect game in IL history Tuesday over the Syracuse Chiefs but the Chiefs nearly got revenge Wednesday as Brad Peacock took a no-hittter into the eighth before a Beau Mills double broke him off. That was the only Columbus hit in a 2-0 Syracuse win. Crazy year in the Cuse. Ex-Bison Michael Aubrey had a four-homer game in June against Durham and now a perfect game.

---Courtesy of the Clippers, here's the final out of the perfecto and the clubhouse scene as Germano comes off the field.

---Mike Harrington
(www.twitter.com/bnharrington) 

 

Bisons take game one, Lujan starts game two

The first home series win of the season is in sight for the Buffalo Bisons.

After opening today's doubleheader against Gwinnett with a 5-3 win, the Herd is now on a two-game winning streak and can take three of four from the Braves with a sweep this afternoon. First pitch is scheduled for 3:35 p.m.

Valentino Pascucci's two-out grand slam into the Bully Hill party deck in right field highlighted a five-run fifth inning for the Bisons in the opener. Pascucci made up for his pair of errors in the first inning that allowed Gwinnett to take a 2-0 lead.

Bisons reliever Bobby Parnell, on injury rehab from the New York Mets, made his best appearance with the Herd. He pitched the final two innings, striking out three batters in a row at one point. Parnell ended the sixth with a 99 mph strikeout of Gwinnett catcher J.C. Boscan.

Starters for the Bisons in the nightcap will be:

Michael Fisher, 3B

Luis Hernandez, SS

Lucas Duda, LF

Pascucci, 1B

Fernando Martinez, RF

Bubba Bell, CF

Chin-Lung Hu, 2B

Raul Chavez, C

John Lujan, P

Lujan is making his first career start for the Bisons and just the eighth of his career (the last came in 2007 with Single-A Winston-Salem) as back-to-back doubleheaders have forced the Bisons to cobble together a staff.

---Jay Skurski

http://twitter.com/jayskurski

Rain washes out Pagan's rehab trip

As I write this at 7:17 p.m., the sun is shining at Coca-Cola Field.

The rain that preceded it, however, was too strong, thus postponing tonight's game between the Buffalo Bisons and Gwinnett Braves. It's the Herd's third postponement of the season at home in what has been a spring made for ducks.

The rainout also cost Bisons fans a chance to see Mets outfielder Angel Pagan take the field in a Buffalo uniform. Pagan was scheduled to bat leadoff and play center field for the Herd. Manager Tim Teufel said no decision has been made on whether Pagan will stay with the Herd and play Friday, or whether he'll rejoin the Mets for their series with Philadelphia.

The Bisons will make up the game as part of a doubleheader today, beginning at 5:35 p.m. The two teams will play two seven-inning games. Gates open at 5 p.m. and the team's Plaza Party will begin at that time.

Fans with tickets for today's game can exchange them for a comparable ticket to any future 2011 Bisons game (excluding special events). All exchanges must be made at the Coca-Cola Field box office.

---Jay Skurski

http://twitter.com/jayskurski

Pagan to hit leadoff tonight for Herd

Bisons manager Tim Teufel has got his instructions for tonight from Mets manager Terry Collins: get outfielder Angel Pagan as many at-bats as possible.

That means Pagan will hit leadoff as the Herd opens a four-game set with the Gwinnett Braves at Coca-Cola Field.

Pagan won’t be long for Buffalo; he’s expected to rejoin the Mets prior to their game Friday against Philadelphia.

He will start in center field on his brief one-game rehabilitation assignment as he comes back from a strained left oblique that landed him on the disabled list April 22.

“When they come down here [on rehab], we just get them ready,” Teufel said this afternoon. “In this case with Pagan, it’s a pretty easy thing to do. Stick him in the top of the lineup and let him do his thing.

“That came from TC [Collins]. He said, ‘hey just stick him in the leadoff spot, get him some at-bats and get him ready to come up here.’ ”

Pagan has played six games with the Single-A St. Lucie Mets of the Florida State League as part of his rehab. With St. Lucie, he hit .261 (8-23) with a double, home run and two RBIs.

This will be the second time in his career that Pagan has rehabbed with the Bisons. The outfielder joined the Herd for a three-game stint, May 12-16, 2009, while recovering from offseason elbow surgery. He hit .286 (4-14) with two triples, two RBIs and two runs scored in those three games. In his Bisons debut on May 12, he hit a two-run, walk-off triple in the bottom of the 11th inning of a 4-3 win over Gwinnett.

 “He said he’s feeling really good,” Teuefel said of Pagan, who will not speak with the media until after the game. “He wants to be more aggressive with the fastball tonight. He’s able to hit breaking balls pretty good, he said, down in St. Lucie. Tonight is about seeing a little bit tougher competition, a little bit better ball movement. … This is a little bit closer to the big leagues than the Florida State League, so this is a good tune-up.”

The Bisons’ starting lineup looks like this:

Pagan, CF

Luis Figueroa, SS

Valentino Pascucci, 1B

Bubba Bell, RF

Michael Fisher, 3B

Jason Botts, LF

Luis Hernandez, 2B

Mike Nickeas, C

D.J. Carrasco, P

We’ll update each of Pagan’s at-bats tonight on the blog, as well as any weather information, so check back closer to game time.

---Jay Skurski

http://twitter.com/jayskurski

Fisher, Owen promoted to Bisons

---The Bisons announced that infielder Michael Fisher and pitcher Dylan Owen were promoted to the team. Fisher was with Double-A Binghamton while Owen was with Single-A Brooklyn. Also, Bisons outfielder Fernando Martinez was sent up to the Mets and pitcher Tobi Stoner has been taken off the Bisons disabled list and transferred to Single-A St. Lucie.

---Rodney McKissic

(www.twitter.com/rodneyjmckissic)

World Series: You make the call

Around the horn: Chapman hits 105!

Reds reliever Aroldis Chapman earned a slice of history last night by throwing the fastest recorded pitch in major-league history, a 105-mph heater -- yes, I said 105 mph -- in an eighth-inning at-bat against Tony Gwynn during the Reds' 4-3 loss at San Diego.

Here's the MLB.com highlights from Chapman's outing, including the 105-mph pitch. I love hearing the oohs and aahs in the crowd as each speed is posted on the left-field wall at Petco Park. The guy has thrown 74 of his 159 big-league pitches at or above 100 mph since being recalled from Louisville. Amazing.

Things are starting to sort themselves out in the National League races. The Phillies have won 11 straight after last night's 3-2 win over the Mets and their magic number is two to clinch the NL East. The Padres' win has them a half-game ahead of the fading Braves in the NL wild-card race. San Diego is a half-game behind San Francisco in the NL West after the Giants' 2-1 win at suddenly-fading Colorado. The Rockies have dropped five straight and are four out of the wild card with nine to play.

So much for the Yankees' 2 1/2-game lead in the AL East, huh? They've lost three straight, including Friday's 10-8 defeat to the Red Sox, and Tampa Bay has won three straight to go back up by a half-game. The Rangers, meanwhile, can clinch the AL West with a win today at Oakland.

---Mike Harrington
(www.twitter.com/bnharrington)

New York, New York: See the video as A-Rod (No. 608) and Duda (No. 1) go deep

Some longballs to remember Friday night courtesy of the Yankees and the Mets:

The Bombers were one strike away from dropping a 3-1 decision at Baltimore -- which would have been their ninth loss in 11 games. And they may have actually done that as Alex Rodriguez took a close 1-2 pitch for a ball. He then uncorked the next offering for a three-run homer that gave the Yankees a 4-3 win and, combined with a Tampa Bay loss to the Angels, put New York back in first place in the AL East.

Here' the Daily News recap on the game, including quite a mystery surrounding A.J. Burnett.

Meanwhile, the Mets lost an 8-4 decision to Atlanta but things are finally looking up for Lucas Duda. The Bisons' MVP, who was named the MVP of the entire minor-league system earlier this week, started his big-league career 0 for 10 and a disastrous 1 for 33. But he had two doubles on Thursday against the Pirates and cracked his first big-league home run last night.

Here's the video of Duda's shot. 

---Mike Harrington
(www.twitter.com/bnharrington)

That's a wrap from the ballpark

The Bisons lost to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre,  9-2, on Thursday night to provide a downer of a finish to what's been a pretty entertaining year at Coca-Cola Field. The Bisons went 17-3 at one stretch in late July through mid-August but you just can't keep that up indefinitely. 

Here's what's cluttering my mind after the home finale:

Bisons' record: The Herd is 73-67 overall but just 4-11 in the last 15 games. Still, three wins in the final four games at Lehigh Valley in Rochester would provide 76 wins -- and a 20-win improvement over last year's disaster. That would be the biggest one-season jump in the modern era without an affiliation change (the team improved by 27 wins from 1994 to 1995 when it switched from Pittsburgh to Cleveland).

Kudos to the Mets for getting players in here, both free agents and better prospects. It's five straight non-playoff seasons and counting now in Buffalo but this one was a close shave. A couple fewer injuries and a couple better performances in New York and this team keeps even more players and makes a deep run.

Mets: I know they don't need a whole lot more players at this point. But it would be nice to see Jesus Feliciano and Justin Turner get a few more big-league at-bats. I'm betting Nick Evans gets another look. Will be interesting to see if they give Dillon Gee a start and perhaps take a look at former Nationals closer Chad Cordero, who has a 1.76 ERA in 16 appearances with Buffalo and seems like he's on the road back from two years of shoulder trouble.

Gee, in fact, might get that look now that I see Johan Santana came out of Thursday's game in Atlanta with a strained pectoral muscle. No need for the Mets to push him if there's any sort of issue. Why not give Gee a start?

Attendance: The Bisons finished fifth in the IL and their total ticket count for the season of 575,296 is more than 45,000 above last year with a few more dates. The average went up slightly from 8,027 to 8,219. Good to see. The team should be able to get above 600,000 if it's a division winner and gets to the playoffs.

Syracuse Chiefs: They've won five straight to take over second place in the IL North from the Bisons. Their operators must be having a good laugh at Buffalo's expense, potentially finishing ahead of the Herd in the standings both years of the teams' affiliate switches (Nationals and Mets, respectively) and raking in the dough this year with the Stephen Strasburg Show.

Rochester Dead Things, er Red Wings: They've lost 11 straight, one shy of their all-time record. They're 48-92 after tonight's 7-3 loss to Syracuse. They play two more against the Chiefs and finish against the Bisons Sunday and Monday. Oh, how the Herd must wish those games were meaningful. 

Durham Bulls: The defending Triple-A champions are a favorite to repeat for the Governors' Cup and who are two of their starting pitchers now? Bobby Livingston and Ramon Ortiz, who spent gobs of time with the Herd this year.

Chicken Wings: As I write this late Thursday evening, they're rolling out plastic covers for the outfield for this weekend's National Chicken Wing Festival. Guess baseball season in this town is over until the 2011 opener on Thursday, April 7 against Syracuse.

Out.

---Mike Harrington
(www.twitter.com/bnharrington)

Delgado on DL, won't play against Bisons

If you were hoping for a glimpse of veteran Carlos Delgado playing for Pawtucket over the next five days, it's not going to happen. PawSox manager and old friend Torey Lovullo told me today that Delgado is going on the DL after suffering back spasms Sunday against the Herd unrelated to his surgically repaired right hip. According to Lovullo, Delgado actually tweaked his left side while overcompensating for the injury.

Lovullo said Boston reliever Hideki Okajima will pitch an inning of relief in the opener of today's doubleheader (5:35 first pitch). Okajima has made 198 appearances with Boston the last three years since being signed out of Japan and has never pitched in the minor leagues. He has a 2.11 ERA in 17 postseason appearances, the most ever by a Japanese-born pitcher.

Fernando Nieve will start the opener for Buffalo and Adam Pettyjohn will start in the nightcap. The Famous Chicken is in the house as well. The Herd's Game One lineup:

Jesus Feliciano, cf
Justin Turner, 2b
Lucas Duda, lf
Nick Evans, 1b
Fernando Martinez, rf
Valentino Pascucci, dh
Mike Cervenak, 3b
Luis Hernandez, ss
Michael Barrett, C
---
Fernando Nieve, p

---Mike Harrington
(www.twitter.com/bnharrington)

New York, New York: Yanks survive brushbacks, Mets win in 14

It was a testy affair Wednesday night in the Bronx as the Yankees beat the Tigers, 9-5, in a game marked by several inside pitches and warnings issued to both benches. It started when Jeremy Bonderman hit Brett Gardner on the leg with his first pitch of the game. The YES Network crew, as is often the case, was clueless as to what was going on. Former players John Flaherty and Paul O'Neill were behind the mic with Michael Kay and they all  should have remembered that it was payback for Gardner's crunching slide that KO'd Carlos Guillen at second Monday night to try to break up Derek Jeter's game-ending double play.

In any event, the Yankees hit Miguel Cabrera in the eighth, the Tigers threw behind Derek Jeter and came inside to Robinson Cano in the bottom of the eighth. And there were no ejections other than Jim Leyland? Bizarre.

MLB.com has a great rundown here, including comments from both sides and lots of video.

The Mets, meanwhile, pulled out a 3-2, 14-inning win at Houston on Ike Davis' sacrifice fly in the top of the 14th.. The Francisco Rodriguez affair hurt, however, as R.A. Dickey stayed on in the ninth and gave up Geoff Blum's game-tying home run. In spite of that, however, it was still another great 8 1/3 innings from the knuckleballer.

The Mets are going to activate catcher Rod Barajas today and will send back a player to the Bisons, expected to be either Mike Hessman or Fernando Martinez. The Bisons could certainly use Hessman's bat for the final two weeks of the season.

---Mike Harrington
(www.twitter.com/bnharrington)

While you slept, all the Mets and the Red Sox bullpen did too

Stayed up past 1 a.m. Thursday night/Friday morning for some full-moon baseball. Take your pick: It was the morose Mets sleepwalking through a 2-0 loss at Dodger Stadium or the reeling Red Sox pulling out an 8-6, 13-inning win at Seattle after blowing a 6-1 lead in the bottom of the ninth.

The Mets are 1-7 on their West Coast road trip and, remember, should be 0-8 if not for umpire Phil Cuzzi's blown call at home Sunday in San Francisco. They're 7 1/2 out in the National League East, horrific Jason Bay was benched last night and the Jerry Manuel Watch is on again. GM Omar Minaya was in LA and said his manager was safe last night. Uh-huh. Hey Omar: Are you safe too?

The Mets, by the way, designated reliever Fernando Nieve for assignment and called up Manny Acosta from the Bisons after the game. Memo to Mets: Acosta won't help. Throws hard and straight and barely gets Triple-A hitters out. The Bisons have also put Andy Green on the (phantom) DL to make room for Justin Turner's return. Sure, Green will be listed with some injury but he looked fine getting three hits Wednesday night.

As for the Red Sox, their relievers are a bunch of phantoms. John Lackey was actually four outs from a no-hitter before Manny Delcarmen and Jonathan Papelbon imploded in the ninth.   Among other things, Boston needs bullpen help if it has any hope of staying afloat in the AL East. At least the Sox get Josh Beckett back tonight.

---Mike Harrington
(www.twitter.com/bnharrington)

Dickey vs. Strasburg today

Wickedly interesting pitching matchup coming up at 4 p.m. on FOX as the Mets are in Washington: It's former Bisons knuckleballer R.A. Dickey, one of the main subjects of my feature today on the improving Bisons-Mets relationship, against Nationals all-everything rookie Stephen Strasburg. 

By the way, Josh Thole is going to be catching Dickey today. A break for Henry Blanco and Rod Barajas but perhaps a ticket for Thole to stay in the big leagues as a third catcher. Jerry Manuel has said he wouldn't mind carrying three and Dickey loved throwing to Thole in Buffalo. It was Thole who caught Dickey's amazing April start against Durham, when he gave up a leadoff single and retired the final 27 batters.

Dickey is 6-1, 2.98 for the Mets in eight starts. Strasburg is 2-2, 2.27 with 48 strikeouts and seven walks in 31 2/3 innings.

Stay tuned here for more later from the ballpark on Bisons BPO night as Triple-A rookie Lucas Duda tries to set a franchise record with home runs in six straight games.

---Mike Harrington
(www.twitter.com/bnharrington)

Mets sign ex-Yankee Bruney for Herd pen

Here might be a potentially sticky bit of chemistry someday later this summer in the Mets' clubhouse: The Amazins have signed former Yankees reliever Brian Bruney to a minor-league deal and assigned him to the Bisons. Safe to say Bruney is not one of Francisco Rodriguez's favorite guys in bullpens across America.

You may remember that Bruney and K-Rod nearly came to blows in the Yankee Stadium outfield during batting practice before a Subway Series game last year. This came after Bruney ripped the Mets' closer for his theatrics a couple days earlier after pitching in a Double-A rehab game.

Bruney is most noted for being a workhorse in the Yankees' pen the last four years. He made 153 relief appearances from 2006-2009, including 32 in 2008 (when he was 3-0, 1.83) and 44 last year (5-0, 3.92).

He signed with the Nationals in the winter and was 1-2, 7.64 in 19 games for Washington. He got a look with the Brewers, pitching two scoreless games in Nashville, before hooking up with the Mets.

---Mike Harrington
(www.twitter.com/bnharrington)

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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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