Down at Coca-Cola Field in Buffalo, the Bisons swept a doubleheader against the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders (Yankees affiliate) on Thursday. The two wins, coupled with losses by the Norfolk Tides (Orioles affiliate) and the Pawtucket Red Sox (guess!), pulled the Bisons into the International League Wild Card lead, percentage points (.5169 vs .5166) above the Tides.
Being a Blue Jays fan, watching standings is a completely new feeling. It is weird, but I like it. There is still a lot of baseball to go for Bisons with 26 games left in the 144-game International League season, but it's still nice to see them in the lead. The 61-57 Bisons are 3.5 games behind the Rochester Red Wings (Twins affiliate) in the North division. Interestingly, the Tides play the Red Wings for four games this upcoming weekend--who should Bisons fans cheer for? The Voice of the Bisons weighs in:
In game one, the Bisons won 5-2 behind a complete game effort by starter Thad Weber (games are only seven innings long in minor league doubleheaders). Weber only gave up four hits and two runs in seven innings, striking out seven RailRiders while walking two. He gave up one homer, unfortunately it was to Corey Patterson, who has been hitting .173/.198/.263 this season with the RailRiders. The Bison offense was led by Moises Sierra, who went 3-for-3, collecting four RBI by slugging a couple of two-run homers.
Home run 1
Home run 2
In the second game, the RailRiders got the first run on a Randy Ruiz solo shot against starter Bobby Korecky. Scranton/Wilkes-Barre's bats were silenced for the rest of the game, only getting six hits off of Bisons pitching. They might have gotten more if not for a catch at the wall by Moises Sierra, who provided some glove after swinging the bat in the first half. The way he fell down after hitting the wall is rather comical. However, his elbow would be treated after the game.
All the Bisons needed (and got) were two runs, delivered on an Andy LaRoche single:
Buffalo is hosting the RailRiders for another game on Friday before both teams travel to PNC Field in Moosic for two more in the home-and-home. On Friday, Drew Hutchison will make the start to continue his rehab process. The Bisons will welcome him as a fresh arm is much needed with another doubleheader scheduled for Monday.
In more worrisome news, Ben Wagner reported on Jeff Sammut's show on Sportsnet Radio that Mike Nickeas was hit by a pitch while batting in the forearm, near the wrist, on Tuesday against the Pawtucket Red Sox. He was diagnosed with a non-displaced hairline fracture. Nickeas was told he could continue to throw and swing, but the Bisons will have to wait for the swelling to go down before evaluating whether he can continue to play. With J.P. Arencibia possibly suffering from a knee injury, Nickeas was one of the backup options.
First baseman Clint Robinson was also hit, on the thumb by an errant throw and is having trouble holding a bat, Mike Harrington reports. Luis Jimenez continues to be plagued by knee tendinitis.