It feels like a playoff game around Coca-Cola Field today. That's because this series could determine the playoff fate for the Buffalo Bisons.
The Herd has not made the International League playoffs since 2005. The last time they were a serious contender was 2007 when they were eliminated from playoff contention on the second last day of the regular season.
Tonight begins the showdown between the Bisons and visiting Pawtucket Red Sox which could decide, or at the very least have major implications for, the IL Wild Card spot.
Pawtucket enters the game with a two-game lead in the Wild Card standings, going 5-5 in it last 10 games. Buffalo trails by two games but the Herd has been surging , winners of 22 of their last 31 games. This four-game head-to-head showdown has the ability to shake out the standings as Buffalo has just 11 games and the PawSox 10 in the regular season.
Don't forget about Rochester, though. The Red Wings are three games back in the Wild Card and very much still in the mix.
Here's what you need to know for tonight's 7:05 start (TWC, Radio 1520):
- The series could come down to pitching and defense. The teams are tops in the league on the mound with the PawSox (3.48) edging the Herd (3.49) for the best earned run average in the IL. The Bisons have been steady all season on defense leading the league in fielding percentage (.985 with just 75 errors on the season). The second-best defensive team? Yep. Pawtucket (.983, 82 errors).
- Kendall Graveman wil make his fifth start of the season. The Triple-A rookie has throw quality starts in his first four outings with the Herd. In two of those starts he didn't issue a walk.
- Manager Gary Allenson has five outfielders to chose from and today Anthony Gose gets the day off as Dalton Pompey, Darin Mastroianni and Cole Gillespie get the start. Kevin Pillar returns to the lineup as the designated hitter and will bat third.
- Pompey broke out in his second Triple A game on Friday, getting a pair of hits, scoring three runs and stealing two bases.
Tonight's Bisons' lineup:
Dalton Pompey -- CF
Darin Mastroianni -- RF
Kevin Pillar -- DH
Matt Hague -- 3B
Dan Johnson -- 1B
Cole Gillespie -- LF
Ryan Goins -- SS
Mike Nickeas -- C
Jonathan Diaz -- 2B