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Bisons vs. Norfolk: Your pregame guide as the rain passes

by Amy Moritz

The storm that rolled through downtown Buffalo is breaking up and the grounds crew is working to clean up the field. It all means there's a good chance tonight's games between the Bisons and Norfolk Tides goes off as scheduled, or at least close to as-scheduled.

In the meantime some tidbits for tonight's matchup:

  • Edwin Encarnacion begins his rehab assignment with the Bisons. He will DH annd leadoff for the Herd today. Manager Gary Allenson said Encarnacion will play first base for the Bisons on Wednesday. The All-Star has not played for Toronto since he strained his right quadriceps on July 7.
  • Encarnacion is the fourth player to make a rehab start with Buffalo this year. Also making rehab stops with the Herd were J.A. Happ (April 10-15), Colby Rasmus (June 12-17) and Brett Cecil (June 30-July 3).
  • Kendall Gravemen gets his third Triple A start tonight and is looking for his first win. He took a pair of one-run losses on the road, but both were quality starts. He went six innings in each outing, giving up a combined three runs. He was promoted just five days after making his Double-A debut with New Hampshire on Aug. 2.
  • Kevin Pillar is on an 18-game hit streak for the second time this season. He leads the International League in doubles (34) and ranks third in stolen bases (26), slugging percentage (.510) and extra-base hits (47).
  • Oh that playoff chase. The Herd is 3 1/2 games back of Syracuse in the IL North Division race and 3 1/2 games behind Pawtucket for the Wild Card spot.

Tonight's starting lineup:

Edwin Encarnacion -- DH
Darin Mastroianni -- CF
Kevin Pillar -- LF
Brett Wallace -- 1B
Cole Gillespie -- RF
Ryan Goins -- 2B
Andy LaRoche -- 3B
George Kottaras -- C
Jonathan Diaz -- SS

Live Blog Live blog: Bisons vs. Norfolk

From the archives: With Encarnacion coming to Bisons, a look back at sluggers who have joined the Herd on injury rehab

By Mike Harrington

Toronto Blue Jays first baseman/DH Edwin Encarnacion is joining the Bisons on injury rehab for tonight's game against Norfolk and this situation is exactly the kind of fringe benefit both sides envisioned when they signed their player development contract in September, 2012.

The Blue Jays knew it would be a short hop for team officials to come down the QEW whenever they wanted to look at a player, and also knew it would be a pretty representative setting if any of their stars needed rehab work. The Bisons figured plenty of Toronto fans might hop across the Peace Bridge too, and that Buffalo fans would surely be interested if a big name suits up for the Herd.

It worked out well last year when Jose Reyes came to town for a four-game series and produced the team's highest weekend ticket count since 2001. But there's something different when a slugger gets to play here on rehab. People notice every at-bat, thinking maybe the passing cars and trucks on Oak Street might be in jeopardy.

At the time he was injured last month, Encarnacion led the big leagues in home runs and RBIs -- and had the most home runs in baseball since the start of 2012. So this is a pretty rare injury rehab stint in Buffalo's modern era. Here's my list of the biggest sluggers we've seen here on rehab:

1. Manny Ramirez -- In five games here in July, 2000, Ramirez put on a show by going 5 for 11 with three home runs, seven RBIs, six walks and only one strikeout. But he also had Indians' deep thinkers scratching their heads about how badly injured his hamstring really was. He seemed to really enjoy his few days here. It was clearly a Manny-being-Manny moment.

2. Jim Thome -- In September, 1998, the Indians were in the thick of a pennant race and all their minor-league affiliates had concluded their seasons. Except the Bisons, who were set to open the Governors Cup finals against the Durham Bulls. They sent Thome, on the mend from a broken pinky, to join the Herd lineup and Durham manager Bill Evers flipped his lid, while the parent Tampa Bay Devil Rays protested the move to no avail. (We found that out after the fact, as Evers was diplomatic when I talked to him before the series opener).

Blue Jays slugger Encarnacion to join Bisons on injury rehab

Edwin
Edwin Encarnacion was leading the majors in home runs and RBIs when he was injured. (Getty Images)


By Mike Harrington

Some big news out of the Blue Jays' pregame media briefing tonight in Seattle as Toronto first baseman/designated hitter Edwin Encarnacion is leaving his injury rehab work at Class A Dunedin and coming to Buffalo to play for the Bisons, starting Tuesday night against Norfolk.

(Of course, that's weather permitting since the forecast here for Tuesday is pretty terrible).

Encarnacion hasn't played since July 5, when he suffered a right quad strain while running out a groundball in Oakland, and had a setback during his rehab while swinging last week at the Blue Jays' spring complex. He is batting .277 with 26 home runs and 70 RBIs -- and was tied for the major-league lead in the latter two categories when he was injured. He set a franchise record for any month with 16 home runs in May.

Even though he has been out more than a month, Encarnacion is still fourth in the American League in home runs. Entering Monday's play, Chicago rookie Jose Abreu was the leader with 31, Baltimore's Nelson Cruz had 30 and Los Angeles' Mike Trout had 27.

Encarnacion left Monday's game in Dunedin after one at-bat due to poor field conditions. He was 1 for 4 in two games there. The Blue Jays are 16-15 in his absence.

Encarnacion, 31, has been one of baseball's top sluggers the last three seasons. He had 42 home runs and 110 RBIs in 2012 and followed that up with 36 homers and 104 RBIs last year.

The Bisons are slated to play Norfolk, a Baltimore affiliate, in games here Tuesday and Wednesday night at 7 and Thursday afternoon at 1. They then return to the road, with Encarnacion expected to join the Blue Jays at that point in Chicago if he remains healthy.

Some big-name sluggers who have previously rehabbed with the Bisons include Ron Kittle of the Chicago White Sox (1985) and two Cleveland-era stars: Jim Thome (1998) and Manny Ramirez (2001). Juan Gonzalez played five games for the Herd in 2005 at the very end of his career when he was well past his prime -- and a couple of his games were against rehabbing White Sox slugger and future Hall of Famer Frank Thomas, then playing with Charlotte.

Live blog: Welcome to Triple-A Scott Copeland

by Amy Moritz

For the third time in 10 games a starting pitcher will be making his Triple-A debut with the Buffalo Bisons.

Welcome righty Scott Copeland to the Herd. He will get the start as the Bisons open a four-game homestand with the Norfolk Tides.

It's been quite a year for debuts on the mound. Copeland joins a list of six pitchers who pitched their first Triple-A game with the Bisons this season. Marcus Stroman and Aaron Sanchez are now in Toronto. Deck McGuire was designated for assignment off the 40-man roster and claimed by the Oakland As.

On this past road trip, Kendall Graveman made his debut while Daniel Norris threw for the first time in Triple-A yesterday. In that outing, Norris struck out 10 in six innings of work to pick up the win.

Now it's Copeland's turn. Originally drafted by Baltimore in the 21st round in 2010 he was signed by the Blue Jays as a free agent in 2012. Now in his fifth season of professional baseball, Copeland has spent all of this year with Double-A New Hampshire. In 26 games (21 starts), he went 8-7 with a 3.70 earned run average. At the time of his promotion, he led the FisherCats in starts (21), innings pitched (133 2/3) and strikeouts (86).

Other bits:

  • Ryan Goins returns to Buffalo after being optioned by Toronto to make a roster spot for Brad Mills. In 79 games with the Bisons this year, Goins has averaged .285 with 14 doubles and two triples while driving in 27 runs.
  • Mills went to join the Blue Jays in Seattle, a fresh arm for the club after its 19-inning marathon win over Detroit on Sunday. Mills made three starts with the Herd, going 1-0 with a 3.14 ERA.
  • Kevin Nolan was transferred to Double-A New Hampshire. The infielder drove in three runs while hitting .239 in 21 games with the Bisons.

Tonight's starting lineup:

Darin Mastroianni -- CF
Ryan Goins -- 2B
Kevin Pillar -- LF
Brett Wallace -- 1B
Cole Gillespie -- DH
Brad Glenn -- RF
George Kottaras -- C
Jared Goedert -- 3B
Jonathan Diaz -- SS

 

Live Blog Live: Bisons vs. Norfolk

Chambers notches the game-winning RBI as Bisons end the homestand 8-2

by Amy Moritz

It was an eight-pitch at-bat.

Adron Chambers fouled off three pitches as the count ran full. The bases were loaded with two outs and the Buffalo Bisons trailed, 2-1.

Chambers finally found his pitch and lined a single up the middle, scoring two runs to give the Bisons the lead. The Herd would go on to win, 4-2, over the Indianapolis Indians in front of 13,173 at Coca-Cola Field Friday night.

"Man it was a game-winner that's all I can really say about it. It's a good at-bat," Chambers said. Reliever Vin Mazzaro "threw some good pitches. I kinda fought some off and finally got a good one to put in play."

Chambers had been 0 for 3 heading into that plate appearance, striking out twice and grounding out to second. The difference in that final at-bat?

"Hit the ball," he said with a laugh. "It's crazy how baseball is, you know what I mean. You can go through whole game looking like crap and then the last at-bat is the one that decides the game. It was just a lot of focus that last at-bat. I kinda beared down. I didn't want to do what I did in those at-bats before. I got a good pitch and I was able to put it in play."

Pillar added an RBI on a ground rule double in the seventh while Ryan Schimpf hit his eighth home run of the year in the fifth inning.

Starter Brad Mills pitched well, giving up two runs on four hits with five strikeouts in 6 2/3 innings.

Ryan Tepera (5-3) picked up the win, pitching a scoreless 1 1/3 innings with one walk. Bobby Korecky notched his 17th save with a perfect ninth.

With the win, the Bisons finish their homestand with an 8-2 record. They play their next nine games on the road starting with a four-game series in Norfolk on Saturday.

Live blog: Allenson back as Bisons conclude homestand

by Amy Moritz

Welcome back Gary Allenson.

The Buffalo Bisons manager returned the club today after his mandatory four-day vacation. He went to Rome, N.Y. to watch his son perform with a drum corp at Drums Along the Mohawk, but the performance was rained out.

"This is his third year doing it and I haven't seen him play yet," Allenson said. "I got to see him briefly for 15 minutes. He's going to be 20 so he probably doesn't want to see mom and dad that much."

The Herd, meanwhile, closes out their 10-game homestand tonight against Indianapolis. Winners of eight of their last 10, the team enters the day five games back of the International League North Division lead and the Wild Card spot.

In roster moves, the Herd added pitcher Kendall Graveman, who will start on Saturday. Graveman comes from Double-A New Hampshire. In his second year as a pro, he has gone 11-4 with a 1.81 ERA in 21 combined starts across three levels of pro ball.

Today, Brad Mills makes his second start for the Herd. He won his debut July 27 against Lehigh Valley, allowing three runs on seven hits in five innings.

Tonight's Bisons' lineup:

Darin Mastroianni -- CF
Adron Chambers -- LF
Kevin Pillar -- RF
Brad Glenn -- DH
A.J. Jimenez -- C
Brett Wallace -- 1B
Ryan Schimpf -- 2B
Jared Goedert -- 3B
Jonathan Diaz -- SS

 

Live Blog Live blog: Bisons vs. Indianapolis

Bisons' winning streak ends in error-filled loss

By Amy Moritz

The Buffalo Bisons seven-game winning streak came to an end Thursday afternoon.

The Indianapolis Indians took advantage of four Bisons' errors for a 6-4 win in front of 7,890 at Coca-Cola Field.

The Bisons took a 2-0 lead in the first when Kevin Pillar drilled a two-run shot over the left-field netting and on to Seneca Street.

Indianapolis tied the game in the fifth when a wild pitch and error on third baseman Kevin Nolan allowed runs to score.

The Herd regained the lead in the bottom of the inning when Ryan Schimpf hit a solo home run, but the defense fell apart for the Bisons in the sixth.

The Bisons committed two errors in that inning as the Indians sent 10 batters to the plate and scored four times to take a 6-3 lead.

The Bisons got one back in the eighth when Kevin Pillar had a two-out single, stole his 21st base and scored on a single by Brad Glenn.

Indianapolis loaded the bases with no outs in the ninth with a walk, double and error, but Andy LaRoche made a fantastic snag at third base and the infield turned a double-play to get out of the inning.

Kevin Nolan drew a two-out walk in the bottom of the ninth but pinch hitter Jared Goedert struck out lookng to end the game.

The homestand concludes Friday night at 7:05 p.m.

Bisons go for 8th straight; follow MLB Deadline Day trade updates and chat at 3 p.m.

By Mike Harrington

It's a quick turnaround for the Buffalo Bisons with a 1 p.m. matinee against Indianapolis in Coca-Cola Field. But that's certainly a good thing with the Herd on a seven-game winning streak and going for its season-high eighth win in a row today.

Buffalo is 9-1 in its last 10 games and has cut an 11-game deficit in the IL North to just five games in a span of 10 days. With 33 games to play, the Bisons are four games behind Pawtucket in the wild-card race. 

The Bisons were once 14-15 at home this season but they're 19-8 in their last 27. The 33-23 record downtown gives them the second-most home wins in the IL (Rochester is 38-20).

Raul Valdes will start today for the Bisons. He threw seven shutout innings in his last start, July 24 against Syracuse. Here's the Bisons' lineup today:

Darin Mastroianni, cf
Adron Chambers, dh
Kevin Pillar, lf
Brad Glenn, rf
Brett Wallace, 1b
A.J. Jimenez, c
Ryan Schimpf, 2b
Kevin Nolan, 3b
Jonathan Diaz, ss
---
Raul Valdes, p

Follow the Bisons' game and all the MLB trade action below. I will also take your comments and chat live with you here beginning at 3 p.m. The deadline is at 4 p.m. Eastern

Live Blog Bisons vs. Indy plus MLB Deadline Day updates

Welcome to MLB Deadline Day

By Mike Harrington

We've arrived at one of the craziest days on the baseball schedule: Trade Deadline day. Today at 4 p.m. is the deadline to trade players without them having to go through waivers and you can figure on a flurry of activity right up until the clock striking 4.

(Remember that trades can keep happening in August but players have to clear waivers and are sometimes pulled back, preventing a deal from going through)

The Bisons play Indianapolis today at 1 looking for their eighth straight win and we'll have a separate post up with a live blog on their action and any trade action. We'll also do a little live chatting at some point. We'll let you know when that will happen this afternoon on this post and my Twitter feed -- @BNHarrington.

Here are some of the things to watch for today:

Jon Lester/John Lackey: It seems like the Red Sox are hellbent on dealing their top pitchers and Lester is going to be a hotly-sought-after rental. Lots of Orioles rumors Wednesday proved unfounded. Wonder if the Pirates get back in the mix. Same with the Blue Jays, Dodgers, A's or Mariners.

More arms: The Rays seem like they're keeping David Price. But will the Mets part with Bartolo Colon? What will the Padres do with Ian Kennedy?

Phillies: It seems like Ryan Howard and Chase Utley stay. But pitchers like Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, A.J. Burnett and Jonathan Papelbon all could be had for the right price. And several teams, including the Yankees, could use OF Marlon Byrd. The Phils have apparently said they don't have to shed payroll and just want good return.

Bats: Rangers OF Alex Rios, Indians 2B Asdrubal Cabrera, Cubs 2B Emilio Bonifacio, Arizona infielder Martin Prado and Houston's Chris Carter are on a lot of rumor lists.

Columbus' Cloyd fires no-hitter vs. Louisville; loses perfecto in 9th

By Mike Harrington

Columbus Clippers right-hander Tyler Cloyd nearly fired just the sixth nine-inning perfect game in the International League 131-year history Wednesday night, but had to settle for a no-hitter while facing the mininum 27 batters in the Clips' 13-0 win over Louisville at Huntington Park.

Cloyd, 27, needed just 88 pitches to complete his gem and threw 59 strikes. He struck out six and got the key defensive play he needed with one out in the eighth when third baseman Giovanny Urshela made a headlong dive across the foul line to rob Thomas Neal of what looked like a sure double.

Cloyd had a perfect game entering the ninth but hit Louisville leadoff man Donnie Murphy on the wrist with a 2-2 pitch to open the inning and end his streak of 24 straight batters retired. Murphy was retired by a double play and Herman Ibarra's lineout to second base completed the no-hitter as the partisan crowd of 10,100 roared its approval.

Read the Columbus Dispatch's account of the game here. 

It was the first nine-inning no-hitter by one pitcher in the IL since Gwinnett's Todd Redmond, a former Bison who now pitches for the Toronto Blue Jays, posted a 4-0 win over Louisville in 2010.

Cloyd entered the game 8-5 with a 4.19 earned-run average. He's best known for being the IL Pitcher of the Year in 2012, when he went 15-1 with a 2.26 earned-run average while playing for Lehigh Valley. He was the IL starter and the losing pitcher in the Triple-A All-Star Game that year at Coca-Cola Field in Buffalo.

Cloyd was trying for the IL's first perfect game since another Columbus pitcher, former Bison Justin Germano, posted a 3-0 win at Syracuse on July 26, 2011.

Germano pitched for Buffalo in 2013 and three of the other four perfect games in IL history involved the Bisons. The Herd got one from Chester Carmichael against Jersey City in 1910 and another from Dick Marlowe against Baltimore in 1952 -- the last one thrown by a Buffalo pitcher. The Bisons were then victimized by Pawtucket's Bronson Arroyo in 2003 during a 7-0 loss at McCoy Stadium.

Marlowe's gem stood as the only one thrown in the league for 48 years, until Pawtucket's Tomo Ohka threw one against Charlotte in 2000.

Columbus, the Triple-A affiliate of the Cleveland Indians, has a 2 1/2-game lead over Indianapolis in the IL West.

Bisons aim for seventh straight win

by Amy Moritz

There's no place like home for the Buffalo Bisons. The Herd has won 18 of its last 26 games at Coca-Cola Field, including a six-game winning streak. The Bisons look to extend that streak tonight when they host the Indianapolis Indians at 7:05 p.m. 

What to watch?

  • P.J. Walters makes his eight start for the Herd. The righty is 3-2 with a 4.82 ERA with all three of those wins coming at Coca-Cola Field.
  • Kevin Pillar has 26 multi-hit games this season and ranks third in the International League with a .318 batting average. He is tied for the league lead in doubles with 30, although he has hit that mark in 23 fewer games that Rochester infielder Deibinson Romero, who also has 30.
  • Who says batting ninth is a bad thing? Jonathan Diaz, who routinely hits at the bottom of the Bison's lineup, is on an eight-game hitting streak. During the streak, Diaz is hitting .444 (12 of 27), driving in four runs with five runs scored and two doubles.
  • The Herd is six games back of Syracuse in the IL North Division race and four back in the Wild Card standings. Buffalo trails Pawtucket and Rochester.

Tonight's Bisons' Lineup:

Darin Mastroianni -- RF
Adron Chambers -- LF
Kevin Pillar -- CF
Brett Wallace -- 1B
Andy LaRoche -- 3B
Ryan Schimpf -- 2B
Jared Goedert -- DH
Sean Ochinko -- C
Jonathan Diaz -- SS

Live Blog Live: Buffalo vs. Indianapolis

Sean Nolin returns to the Herd from the DL

by Amy Moritz

The Buffalo Bisons welcome Sean Nolin back to the starting rotation.

Nolin returns as the Herd opens a four-game series with the Indianapolis Indians in downtown Buffalo

The lefty has missed 50 games this season between two stints on the disabled list. His latest trip to the DL was on June 18 with a left groin strain. Nolin made two starts in Single-A Dunedin coming off his last injury. While there he allowed three runs in 7 1/3 innings with nine strikeouts.

This will be Nolin's 11th start of the season for the Herd. At Coca-Cola Field, he is 1-1 with a 2.77 ERA.

In other roster news, catcher Sean Ochinko was promoted from Double-A New Hampshire. Last season Ochinko played in 50 games for the Herd. This year he missed 58 games with a concussion. 

He fills an immediate need behind the plate for the Bisons after Erik Kratz was traded (along with pitcher Liam Hendriks) to Kansas City. With Mike Nickeas on the disabled list, the Bisons were only left with A.J. Jimenez behind the plate.

While the offense has been good throughout the lineup lately, the big numbers have come from Jonathan Diaz and Kevin Pillar. Diaz is on a seven-game hitting streak while Pillar's .319 average ranks third in the International League.

Tonight's Bison's lineup:

Darin Mastroianni -- LF
Kevin Nolan -- 3B
Kevin Pillar -- CF
Brad Glenn -- RF
A.J. Jimenez -- C
Jared Goedert -- 1B
Andy LaRoche -- DH
Ryan Schimpf -- 2B
Jonathan Diaz -- SS 

 

Live Blog Live: Bisons host Indianapolis

Clubhouse culture key as Bisons roll off fifth straight win

by Amy Moritz

Liam Hendriks was ready to begin the next part of his professional baseball journey, being traded by the Toronto Blue Jays to the Kansas City Royals Monday afternoon.

But leaving Buffalo was going to be a little difficult for the best pitcher in the International League.

"This is probably one of the most fun clubhouses I’ve ever been in. .. I’m going to miss a lot of the guys here," he said.

The culture of the Buffalo Bisons' clubhouse has been a key to the Herd's success amid a tumultuous year for transactions.

With 194 roster moves the Bisons set the modern era franchise record on Monday. Yet the Herd came up with a 4-2 win over Lehigh Valley for its fifth straight win and seventh win in its last eight games.

"I've been in Triple-A for 11 years," said hitting coach Richie Hebner, who was helping to run the show while manager Gary Allenson took his mandated four-day vacation. "This is the best group of guys I've been with. It's a fun team to be around. And they all pull for each other. That hasn't been the case in some years I've been with Triple-A. You have some selfish guys and this and that. But this group is a good group.

"They have fun. They show up. We've got guys who come down from the big leagues and they don't mope around. I've been with clubs when they come down, they mope around. I just tell those guys, you want to go back to the big leagues, get better."

Kevin Pillar falls into that category of guys who have been up and down the QEW and kept a positive attitude. Pillar had a two-run home run and a single for his 27th  multi-hit game with the Herd.

"We have fun on the field, we have fun off the field and we all understand the best way to get back up is win games," Pillar said. "Guys at the big-league level want winners and that's what we're trying to do down here. .. The core group of guys that have been here have been great.

"I've never part of a team ... where five, six, seven guys and their wives and their families, we like hanging out together. Guys get to the field early. Guys will stay late. We just enjoy being around each other."

That atmosphere has translated into wins even with the roster in constant flux. The Bisons are now 4 1/2 games out of the Wild Card spot behind Rochester and Pawtucket.

Hendriks and Kratz traded from the Herd (updated with audio)

By Amy Moritz

Liam Hendriks has been the most consistent player for the Buffalo Bisons this season. He was 8-1 with a 2.33 earned run average, earning him the starting spot for the International League in the Triple-A All-Star game. He the winning pitcher and Most Valuable Player for the IL in that showcase game.

And now, he's off to the Kansas City Royals organization.

Hendriks and Herd catcher Erik Kratz were traded by the Toronto Blue Jays to Kansas City for infielder Danny Valencia just prior to Monday's game against Lehigh Valley. Hendriks will report to Triple-A Omaha, according to the Kansas City Star, while Kratz will join the Royals.

Here is what Hendriks had to say about being traded:


Download

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Roster moves: 192 and counting

by Amy Moritz

Hopefully Austin Bibens-Dirkx is enrolled in some kind of travel rewards program. Because the pitcher has again been transferred from the Buffalo Bisons to Double-A New Hampshire. This was the fourth time the pitcher has been sent back to the FisherCats after he had four promotions to the Herd.

Also on Monday, Sean Nolin was transferred to the Bisons from Single-A Dunedin where he made two starts after coming off the disabled list. Nolin is scheduled to start for the Herd on Tuesday.

That was the 192nd roster move of the season for the Bisons, setting a modern era record.

When Brad Mills earned the win for the Bisons on Sunday, he became the 61st different player to suit up for Buffalo in 2014.

Baring any further changes to your scorecard, here are the highlights for tonight's series finale with the IronPigs:

  • Radhames Liz makes his fourth start for the Bisons and his second since his last promotion from Double-A. His last outing was July 22 at Lehigh Valley where he gave up six runs on eight hits in 4 1/3 innings of a no-decision.
  • Jonathan Diaz is on a six-game hitting streak. He is batting .391 (9 for 23) during the streak.
  • Kevin Pillar continues to tear it up for the Herd. He leads the team in hits (97), stolen bases (19) and runs batted in (39). He is tied for third in the International League in batting (.317) and leads the league in doubles (30).

Tonight's starting lineup:

Darin Mastroianni -- CF
Adron Chambers -- DH
Kevin Pillar -- LF
Brad Glenn -- RF
A.J. Jimenez -- C
Ruan Schimpf -- 2B
Kevin Nolin -- 3B
Brett Wallace -- 1B
Jonathan Diaz -- SS

 

Live Blog Live: Bisons host Lehigh Valley, 7 p.m.

Bisons display explosive offense in Sunday win

by Amy Moritz

With a huge third inning, the Buffalo Bisons won their fourt straight game, taking a 9-4 decision over the Lehigh Valley IronPigs in front of 7,881 at Coca-Cola Field Sunday afternoon.

The Bisons produced some insane offense in the third, chasing Lehigh Valley starter Jo-Jo Reyes after 2 2/3 innings.

The first five batters in the third singled, producing three runs. A ground out from A.J. Jimenez gave the Herd a 5-3 lead.

Ryan Schimpf struckout but the offense kept coming. Andy LaRoche drew a walk and Jared Goedert smoked a three-run triple. Jonathan Diaz and Adron Chambers had their second hits of the inning. Kevin Nolan just missed a home run to center field for the final out of the inning.

When it was all done, the Herd sent 12 batters to the plate in the third, scoring seven runs on eight hits and taking an 8-3 lead.

Brad Mills gave up three runs in the first inning, but settled in to pick up the win. He gave up seven hits with one walk and two strikeouts in his Buffalo Bisons debut. He was claimed off waivers by the Toronto Blue Jays who then designated him for assignment.

The series concludes at 7:05 p.m. Monday.

Brad Mills gets first start with the Bisons

by Amy Moritz

Brad Mills will make his Buffalo Bisons' debut this afternoon as the Herd hosts the Lehigh Valley IronPigs.

Manager Gary Allenson said Saturday night that Mills would be on a pitch count, probably in the 65-70 range. Mills was claimed by the Toronto Blue Jays off waivers from Oakland on July 17. He pitched one game for the Jays, taking a no decision after giving up eight runs on seven hits in two innings. He was promptly designated for assignment after that outing.

To make room for Mills, catcher Mike Nickeas was placed on the disabled list.

Offensively, the Bisons are getting contributions from throughout the lineup. Among the highlights is infielder Ryan Schimpf who had is sixth multi-hit performance on Saturday night and his fourth in the last five games.

Today's Bisons' lineup:

Adron Chambers -- LF
Kevin Nolan -- 3B
Kevin Pillar -- CF
Brad Glenn -- RF
A.J. Jimenez -- C
Ryan Schimpf -- 2B
Andy LaRoche -- DH
Jared Goedert -- 1B
Jonathan Diaz -- SS

 

Live Blog Live: Bisons vs. IronPigs

Hendriks to the mound as Herd battles IronPigs

by Amy Moritz

Everyone's favorite Aussie pitcher takes the mound today for the Buffalo Bisons. Ok, so Liam Hendriks may not be everyone's favorite Australian starter, but he's so darn happy to be playing ball it's fun to watch. And if you're a Bisons' fan, his numbers make him even more fun to watch.

Hendriks will make his 16th start as the Herd hosts the Lehigh Valley IronPigs at 7 at Coca-Cola Field. The righty is 7-1 with a 2.40 earned run average. 

Starting for the IronPigs is righty David Buchanan. It's his second start since returning to Lehigh Valley after pitching seven games for the Philadelphia Phillies.

Kevin Pillar continues to belt extra-base hits. With two doubles in Friday night's win, he took over the International League lead with 30.

Saturday afternoon, the Bison activated Adron Chambers who will be in the lineup playing left and batting second. Chambers went on the disabled list July 1 with a left groin strain. Righty Randy Boone was transferred to Double-A New Hampshire.

Tonight's Bisons' lineup:
Darin Mastroianni -- RF
Adron Chambers -- LF
Kevin Pillar -- CF
Erik Kratz -- C
A.J. Jimenez -- DH
Ryan Schmipf -- 2B
Brett Wallace -- 1B
Andy LaRoche -- 3B
Kevin Nolan -- SS

Live Blog Live: Bisons vs. Lehigh Valley

It's 90s Night at the Ballpark as the Herd continues homestand

by Amy Moritz

Break out your best "Saved by the Bell" and "Beverly Hills 90210" references and put the Backstreet Boys and Spice Girls on your playlist. It's 90s Night at Coca-Cola Field as the Bisons open a four-game series against the Lehigh Valley IronPigs.

P.J. Walters starts for the Herd, coming off his third quality start of the season. He has a 2-1 record at Coca-Cola Field with a 3.47 ERA.

Meanwhile it was another day of roster moves for the Bisons.

First, the Blue Jays traded starting pitcher Deck McGuire to the Oakland A's for cash.

Then, righty Sergio Santos was outrighted to the Bisons after he was designated for assignment by the Blue Jays on July 22. Cather Erik Kratz was activated after he was optioned by Toronto.

Meanwhile infielder Mike McDade and outfielder Cory Aldridge were transferred to Double-A New Hampshire.

Tonight's Bisons' lineup:

Darin Mastroianni -- CF
Kevin Pillar -- LF
A.J. Jimenez -- C
Brad Glenn -- RF
Erik Kratz -- DH
Kevin Nolan -- 2B
Jared Goedert -- 1B
Andy LaRoche -- 3B
Jonathan Diaz -- SS

 

 

Live Blog Live: Bisons vs. Lehigh Valley, 7 p.m.

Bisons defeat Syracuse, 3-1, at Coca-Cola Field

by Amy Moritz

The Buffalo Bisons earned a series split with the Syracuse Chiefs, taking a 3-1 win in front of 9,583 at Coca-Cola Field Thursday afternoon.

The Herd took a 1-0 lead in the third on a home run from Ryan Schimpf. They added two more in the fifth when Syracuse outfielder Eury Perez misplayed a hit from Darin Mastroianni in center. That pushed Jonathan Diaz home and the error allowed Mastroianni to land on third. A sacrifice to right by Kevin Pillar scored Mastroianni and gave the Herd a 3-0 lead.

Raul Valdes had an impressive outing, pithing seven scoreless innings. He scattered three hits, walked just one, and struck out five.

The shutout bid was lost with one out in the ninth when Tyler Moore homered off closer Bobby Korecky.

The Bisons continue their homestand Friday night (7:05 p.m.) with Lehigh Valley coming in for a four-game series. P.J. Walters 92-2, 5.01) is scheudled to start for the Herd.

It was a good Wednesday for Bisons' alumni

by Amy Moritz

Wednesday was a solid night -- if you were a Buffalo Bisons alumnus.

There were 10 players on the Blue Jays active roster in Toronto last night in a 6-4 win over the Boston Red Sox. Ryan Goins tied the game with his first Major League triple before scoring the game-winning run. Aaron Sanchez made his MLB debut throwing two perfect innings in relief with two strikeouts.

Their teammates back in Triple-A did not fare as well, dropping a 5-0 decision to the Syracuse Chiefs. The Herd fell three games below .500 and one game behind Syracuse in the Thruway Cup standings.

The Bisons and Chiefs finish off their two-game series at 1:05 (TWCS, Radio 1520 AM). Lefty Rual Valdes will make his fifth start for the Herd and his 16th appearance overall. Syracuse will counter will Taylor Hill, who returns off the disabled list. Hill missed one turn in the rotation and ranks fourth in the International League with a 2.63 ERA.

Today's Bisons' lineup:

Darin Mastroianni -- RF
Ryan Schimpf -- 3B
Kevin Pillar -- CF
Brad Glenn -- LF
Brett Wallace -- DH
Kevin Nolan -- SS
Mike McDade -- 1B
Mike Nickeas -- C
Jonathan Diaz -- 2B

Live Blog Live: Bisons vs. Syracuse, 1:05 p.m.

Happy 10th to ARod-Varitek brawl at Fenway

Arod-Varitek
The iconic moment: Jason Varitek gives it to Alex Rodriguez. July 24, 2004, Fenway Park, 3rd inning. (Getty Images)

By Mike Harrington

Ten years ago today, I was in Fenway Park covering a Yankees-Red Sox game. Former executive sports editor Howard Smith had an out-of-left-field idea to cover the series and do another-will-the-Red-Sox-ever-win story. Neither he nor I ever imagined what I would see.

Here's the first paragraph to my story on the game played on Saturday, July 24, 2004: "It was a game that almost never happened. Now it will be hard to ever forget."

The numbers will show the Red Sox wiped out a 9-4 deficit and won, 11-10, on Bill Mueller's two-run walkoff homer off Mariano Rivera in the bottom of the ninth. Stunning as that was, it was a mere footnote.

This was the A-Rod/Varitek game.

Top of the third inning. Bronson Arroyo plunked Alex Rodriguez. Jason Varitek intervened as A-Rod barked at Arroyo and it was on. I was in the top row of the Fenway press box that day and was looking down at my scorecard making a couple notes when A-Rod got plunked. I quickly looked up when I heard the crowd noise, saw everything unravel -- and saw a reporter from the New York Daily News jump knees-first on the desk next to me to get a better view of things. 

Here's my sidebar on the fight from The News of July 25, 2004.

The funny thing was the game really did almost never happen. It had rained in Boston overnight and the field was not in good shape. Around 2 p.m., an hour before the scheduled first pitch, unofficial word filtered to the press box the game was off. I was in a group of reporters that went downstairs and lined up to go into the Yankees clubhouse to do some interviews. When the door briefly swung inside, we clearly saw some players in street clothes. They had been told the game was off.

Media types in the line were joking about getting an early start on dinner. But after a few minutes, they didn't let us in and we were told to go back upstairs. As legend has it, the Red Sox players were irate -- and so was FOX -- and the Boston grounds crew was told to go to work on the field for another hour. They did and history happened.

The postgame chatter was surreal. At the time, the Red Sox had a tiny interview room adjacent to their clubhouse and Terry Francona was downright giddy talking about things. Arroyo and Varitek were matter of fact. A-Rod took forever to emerge in the Yankees' clubhouse but he was pretty glib too. This was, remember, just a few months after the Sox thought he was coming to them. Interesting backdrop for sure.

Ask any Red Sox fan and they'll tell you this was the moment their team made the statement that enough was enough from the Yankees. It's easy to forget Boston didn't win the AL East that year but it's impossible to forget the Sox coming back from 0-3 down to win the ALCS. The actual World Series sweep of St. Louis is an odd final chapter not discussed a whole lot, given that it was Boston's first title in 86 years).

Relive the frivolity of the full fracas here:

Bisons make more roster moves as they open a 10-game homestand

by Amy Moritz

Get your scorecards ready. There are more changes to your Buffalo Bisons' roster.

Ready? Here we go:

Austin Bibens-Dirkx returns to the Herd for a fifth time this season and gets the start tonight as the Bisons host Syracuse at Coca-Cola Field. In three starts and 13 relief appearances with the Herd, he is 2-1 with a 3.31 ERA. His last outing with the Bisons was Thursday in Pawtucket where he allowed one run on three hits in four innings.

Randy Boone gets his first promotion of the year to the Bisons after spending all of 2014 with Double-A New Hampshire. With the FisherCats, Boone was 1-3 with a 2.48 ERA and nine saves in 31 games. The righty has struck out 37 and allowed just 36 hits in 40 innings of work.

Kevin Nolan played seven games with the Bisons in April. The infielder went 5 for 23 in his time with the Herd with a double, triple and RBI. In 82 games with New Hampshire, he has hit .258, driving in 35 runs with 20 doubles and five home runs.

Darin Mastroianni returns to the Herd, activated after being optioned by the Toronto Blue Jays. In 14 games with the Jays, he hit .156 (5-32) with a home run and a pair of runs batted in. He has played in 56 games with the Herd, batting .279 with 13 doubles, four home runs and 16 RBI.

Mickey Storey was activated off the Bisons' disabled list and the reliever was transferred to New Hampshire.

Got it? Not quite? No worries if you don't because it's subject to change at a moment's notice.

The 10-game homestand begins at 7 tonight and you can follow along the live blog for all the fun-filled action.

Tonight's starting lineup:

Darin Mastroianni -- CF
Kevin Pillar -- LF
Ryan Schimpf -- 2B
Brad Glenn -- RF
Brett Wallace -- 1B
Jared Goedert -- 3B
Cory Aldridge -- DH
Mike Nickeas -- C
Jonathan Diaz -- SS

Live Blog Live: Bisons vs. Syracuse

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.

 

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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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