BEIJING (AP) — In one game-breaking inning against the Americans, Cuba demonstrated exactly why it has been so dominant on the world baseball stage for decades.
The U.S. team will find no gold in Beijing. And the Cubans are back in the very place the know so well — playing for an Olympic title.
“Playing for bronze isn’t what we came here for, but it’s what we’re doing now,” said American reliever Jeff Stevens, on the mound as Cuba started the eighth-inning onslaught. “We want to bring home a medal. We don’t want to leave here empty-handed. Japan’s thinking the same thing.”
What’s left for Team USA:
The Bisons return to the road after going 5-3 on an eight-game homestand. While the Bisons love playing in front of the home town crowd, you can’t help but notice the recent success for this club on the road, winning seven of their last 11 road games.
A few notable’s prior to the News & Notes concerning “Rehab Central” as the Bisons enter Salt City. Josh Barfield is back in the lineup and playing in the field tonight and Travis Hafner returns from his off day to bat in the cleanup slot as the DH in the series opener. (Victor Martinez is scheduled for an off day)
Tonight’s contest is the first road game for Buffalo since August 11 (5-4 loss at Lehigh Valley) and only their sixth away from Dunn Tire Park this month.
TODAY’S GAME: Tonight, the Buffalo Bisons travel to Syracuse to open a two-game set with the Chiefs at Alliance Bank Stadium. RHP Bryan Bullington will take the mound for the Herd. The righty will be looking to rebound after taking the loss against Pawtucket on August 17. Syracuse will counter with LHP John Parrish.
TODAY’S STARTER:Bryan Bullington
-Last Game: 8/17 vPAW: (L, 5.0IP, 10H, 6R, 5ER, 3BB, 6K), Bisons’ 8-3 Loss.
-2008 w/Bisons: (0-2, 5.56, 1SV)(7G, 5GS, 34.0IP, 41H, 24R, 21ER, 8BB, 34K).
-2008 w/Indianapolis: (4-6, 5.52)(15GS, 75.0IP, 90H, 54R, 46ER, 25BB, 60K).
-2007 w/Indianapolis: (11-9, 4.00)(26GS, 150.2IP, 146H, 70R, 67ER, 59BB, 89K)
-2007 w/Indianapolis: 1st in starts (26), innings (150.2), wins (11).
-Originally a first overall pick in 2002 by the Pittsburgh Pirates.
-Claimed off waivers by Cleveland, July 10, 2008.
EVERYDAY ANDY: Since joining the Herd on August 4, INF Andy Cannizaro has been a key part of the team’s offense. Cannizaro has hit in 14 of 16 games with the Herd and has failed to reach base in a game just once. The middle infielder displayed his all-around game yesterday afternoon, when he went 1-2 with two walks and two runs scored. In 16 games with the Herd, Cannizaro is hitting .309 (17-55) with 13 runs, three doubles, two home runs, 11RBI and five walks.
HOT IN THE PEN: The trio of LHP Rich Rundles, RHP Preston Larrison and RHP Tom Mastny has been a force in the bullpen as of late. All three enter tonight with impressive streaks of not allowing an earned run (Rundles -12G, Larrison -8G, Mastny -6G). In the month of August, the three have pitched a combined 23 games and own a 0.00ERA (22.1IP, 19K, 4BB).
HOT HITTER: OF Todd Linden has hit in 11 of his last 12 games, owning a .356 (16-45) batting average during a span that dates back to August 7. He has added six doubles, four home runs and eight RBI in those 12 games. Linden’s 13 home runs and 46 walks are currently tops on the team, and his 47RBI are second to OF Brad Snyder’s 60.
BISONS BITS: The Bisons turned four double plays in yesterday’s 7-3 loss to Pawtucket, the highest single-game total of the season…C Victor Martinez is hitting .400 (2-5, 2R, 2B, 2RBI, 3BB) while DH Travis Hafner has averaged .600 (3-5, R, 2 2B, 2RBI, 2BB) in their two rehab starts with the Bisons…INF Michael Aubrey has 5RBI in his last three games.
This afternoon, the Buffalo Bisons host the Lehigh Valley IronPigs in the final game of a four-game series at Dunn Tire Park (1:05 p.m.). The Herd is in position for the sweep, having won the first three games of the set by a combined score of 25-7. The Bisons are 5-2 on the eight-game homestand that will conclude today. Taking the hill for the Herd is LHP John Halama. The southpaw allowed just two hits in seven shutout innings on Saturday against Pawtucket in a 1-0 victory. Lehigh Valley will counter with LHP J.A. Happ.
TODAY’S STARTER: John Halama
-Last Game: 8/16 vPAW: (W, 7.0IP, 2H, BB, K), Bisons’ 1-0 win.
-2008 w/ Bisons: (8-4, 4.00)(13GS, 2CG, 87.2IP, 93H, 43R, 39ER, 13BB, 37K).
-2008 w/ So. Maryland (IND): (4-1, 1.88)(8GS, 56.2IP, 47H, 13R, 12ER, 8BB, 48K).
-2007 w/ Long Island (IND): (8-10, 4.14)(26GS, 167.1IP, 201H, 94R, 77ER, 44BB, 93K).
-Career 56-48 with a 4.65ERA in 262 Major League Games (911.0IP, 492K).
-Originally a 23rd round pick (640th overall) of Houston in 1994 amateur draft.
-Signed as a free agent on June 7, 2008.
ON HALAMA’S BACK: LHP John Halama has thrown five innings in all 13 of his starts with the team and has worked at least seven frames in six of his last seven performances. Last Saturday, he yielded just two singles in seven innings to defeat the PawSox for his team-leading eighth win of the season. Halama has been particularly tough at home with a 4-0 record, a 2.23ERA and two complete games in five starts at Dunn Tire Park.
REHAB UPDATES: C Victor Martinez will start today and is expected to catch all nine innings. The two-time American League All-Star went 1-2 with a walk and a pair of RBI on Tuesday night. DH Travis Hafner is not scheduled to play today. Pronk went 1-2 with two RBI last night and is now 3-5 with two doubles, two RBI and two walks in two games with Buffalo.
EVERYDAY ANDY: The Bisons can count on INF Andy Cannizaro to produce just about every game. Cannizaro has hit in 14 of 15 games since joining the Herd and has failed to reach base in a game just once. In his last three games, he has hit .417 (5-12) with five RBI. Overall with the Herd, Cannizaro is hitting .302 (16-53) with two home runs and 11RBI.
HOT HITTER: OF Todd Linden has hit in 10 of his last 11 games with a .366 (15-41) batting average since August 7. He has added six doubles, four home runs and eight RBI in those 11 games. Last night, Linden hit his team-leading 13th home run of the season. He also ranks second on the team with 47RBI, with 23 of them coming since the All-Star Break.
The field is set for the medal rounds at the Summer Olympics, with the United States getting its rematch against Cuba on Friday (6 a.m. ET) and unbeaten Korea meeting Japan in the other semifinal.
That was determined by the Americans’ 4-2 victory over Japan in 11 innings on Wednesday night at Wukesong Main Field. Capitalizing this time on the new extra-innings rule, the U.S. broke a scoreless tie in the top of the 11th inning.
Both teams used this final preliminary game as a way to get work in for their pitchers. Davy Johnson used starter Trevor Cahill and relievers Jeremy Cummings, Brian Duensing, Blaine Neal, Jeff Stevens and Casey Weathers.
“It was important, because we got a lot of work in for guys we’re going to be counting on the rest of the way,” Bisons pitcher Jeff Stevens told MLB.com, who retired the side in order in the ninth and then got away with a single allowed in the 10th.
Excerpts from MLB.com
What’s left for Team USA:
Southpaws Aaron Laffey and Brian Mazone matched up in a terrific pitcher’s duel just 11 days ago. In Lehigh Valley, Laffey bested Mazone in a 2-0 Bisons win. Buffalo’s lefty fanned nine in eight innings of four-hit baseball. Mazone allowed just a solo home run (OF Todd Linden) in his six innings. Mazone struck out eight but suffered the defeat.
TODAY’S GAME: Tonight, the Buffalo Bisons host the Lehigh Valley IronPigs in the third game of a four-game series at Dunn Tire Park (7:05 p.m.). Last night’s 10-1 win has given the Herd four victories in their last five games. The Bisons is currently 4-2 on their eight-game homestand that will conclude on Thursday. Taking the hill for the Herd this evening is LHP Aaron Laffey. The southpaw pitched six strong innings against Rochester on Friday and allowed just two unearned runs and struck out five. Lehigh Valley will counter with LHP Brian Mazone.
TODAY’S STARTER:Aaron Laffey
-Last Game: 8/15 vROC: (W, 6.0IP, 3H, 2R, 0ER, 4BB, 5K), Bisons’ 14-7 win.
-2008 w/ Bisons: (4-1, 2.70ERA)(7GS, 40.0IP, 35H, 13R, 12ER, 10BB, 33K).
-2008 w/ Cleveland: (5-7, 4.23)(93.2IP, 103H, 52R, 44ER, 31BB, 41K).
-2007 w/ Bisons: (9-3, 3.3.08)(16G, 96.1IP, 89H, 36R, 33ER, 23BB, 75K).
-2007 Bisons Warren Spahn Most Valuable Pitcher (Buffalo 13-3 when he pitched).
-2007 Indians Bob Feller Minor League Pitcher of the Year (13-4, 2.88ERA).
-Selected in the 16th round (468th overall) of the 2003 First-Year Player Draft
NO LAUGHING MATTER: LHP Aaron Laffey is 2-0 with a 1.80ERA since returning to Buffalo on August 4. The southpaw has pitched six or more innings in his last three starts and hasn’t allowed an earned run in his last two trips to the mound. Laffey who is 5-1 with a 2.35ERA on the season with the Herd, hasn’t allowed an earned run in five of his eight starts. At Dunn Tire Park this season, Laffey is 2-0 with a 2.70ERA in three starts. He hasn’t lost in Buffalo since May 22, 2007 (11 starts, 8-0).
RECORD SETTING: Last night, OF Jason Cooper set the record for most games played (401) in a Bisons uniform in the modern era. Cooper entered the game in the top of the eighth and then doubled in his only plate appearance. Cooper now has 81 career doubles as a Bisons, 2nd in the modern era. Other notable categories Cooper ranks in the Bisons Modern Era are 2nd in RBI (218), 3rd in walks (167), T3rd in triples (18), 4th in runs (202), and 6th in hits (322) and home runs (49).
REHAB UPDATES: DH Travis Hafner is expected to continue his major league rehab assignment this evening. Monday night, Hafner singled and doubled as part of a 2-3 performance. The DH has been out of Cleveland’s lineup since May 25 nursing a sore right shoulder. C Victor Martinez will rest today after going 1-2 with a run and two RBI last night.