On the road again…

The Buffalo Bisons open an eight-game road trip Friday night in Norfolk, VA before traveling to Durham, NC, concluding the road trip. Here are some current facts on both clubs leading into the action.

STRONG STARTS: Today’s starter Brandon Erbe will look to continue an impressive run by Tides starting pitchers, as Norfolk’s starters have posted a 1.57 ERA (11-ER, 63.0-IP) with 46 hits allowed and 46 strikeouts over their last nine starts. Tides starters have turned in a Quality Start in seven of those nine outings, and Norfolk has gone 5-4 over that stretch.

DOUBLE THREAT: Tides infielder Josh Bell has six multi-hit games over his last 12 contests. The 23-year-old has hit .356 (16-for-45) with eight doubles, eight runs scored and two RBI over that span, which has seen him raise his average from .237 to .264. Bell, who was rated as the #2 prospect in the Orioles system according to Baseball America prior to the season, has a team-high 16 doubles, a total that is tied for the 4th-most in the International League.

WHAT A RELIEF: With a scoreless inning in Tuesday night’s win, Dennis Sarfate registered his fourth save of the season and lowered his ERA to 1.15. Sarfate has held opposing batters to a .113 average thus far (6-for-53) while walking nine and striking out 19 in 15.2 innings. The 29-year-old has not allowed an earned run in 10 of his 12 outings this season.

SERIES BUSINESS: With a win today, Norfolk would wrap up a win of their four-game series with Rochester, which would be just the second road series win this season. Of the six road series the Tides have played prior to the current set, Norfolk has won one (April 23-26 at Charlotte) and lost five, including each of its last four. A win today would also be Norfolk’s first victory in a road series finale, as the Tides have lost the final game of each of their previous six road series.

RUN LIKE THE BULLS: Durham added another stolen base yesterday in a 4-0 win at Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, and now has 70, 14 ahead of everyone else. Durham has been successful 83 percent of the time (just 14 CS), a success rate which also leads the IL. Elliot Johnson and Fernando Perez lead the Bulls and are third in the IL with 16 each. Four Bulls, Johnson (16), Perez (16), Desmond Jennings (12) and Justin Ruggiano (11) are in double digits. Ruggiano was 4-for-4 in a 4-3 defeat on Tuesday.

REHAB REPORT: Kelly Shoppach went 2-for-4 yesterday in his third game on MLB rehab with the Bulls. He caught the first seven innings. Shoppach, who’s coming back from a knee injury, is 4-for-11 with 2 RBI at the plate in three games. The Bulls have allowed just one run in the 12 innings where he’s been behind the plate.

SEVENTH HEAVEN: The current series against Scranton/Wilkes-Barre marks the first time since joining the Bulls where top prospect Desmond Jennings hit somewhere other than first or second in the lineup. Jennings moved down to seventh and is 5-for-11 with a double, walk, and three runs scored in three games since the move. He had been in a 4-for-40 stretch at the plate.

TOUGH ROAD: Durham (30-23) is in the midst an eight-game road trip against the top two teams in the North Division (Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and Syracuse). The Bulls, who are 14-13 on the road this year, are playing 18 of 24 games away from home (currently 2-1). Durham started this stretch with a 5.5 game lead over Gwinnett in the South Division, a lead the Bulls currently maintain.

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