Advance Scout: Charlotte

Following their series split in Gwinnett, the Buffalo Bisons begin a four-game series against the Charlotte Knights on Friday night to finish of their final road trip against the IL-Southern division.

Buffalo took 3-of-4 in mid-May during the clubs’ first series of the year. The Bisons snapped a 7-game losing streak against the Knights with their win on May 19 at Coca-Cola Field and proceeded to win the next three in the series. The Herd is now 48-52 against Charlotte since 1998.

Probables for Bisons & Knights series:
6/25 RHP Tobi Stoner (3-6, 5.16) vs. RHP Daniel Hudson (9-3, 3.89) 7:15 pm
6/26 RHP Dylan Owen (3-3, 6.39) vs. RHP Carlos Torres (5-5, 3.08) 7:15 pm
6/27 LHP Pat Misch (6-3, 3.49) vs. RHP Jeff Marquez (6-4, 4.35) 2:15 pm
6/28 RHP Ramon Ortiz (0-0, 4.50) vs. RHP Matt Zaleski (5-5, 3.18) 7:15 pm

HOT AS THE WEATHER: The Knights enter tonight’s game having won eight of their last ten games, and are fresh off a six game win streak. The win streak was their longest win streak of the season. The Knights had previously won three straight games on six separate occasions throughout the season. Over the course of the past ten games the Knights have improved from 28-37 (11.5 games out of first place) to 36-39 (8.0 games out of first place).

PITCHING STAFF HONORS: Charlotte Knights pitcher Matt Zaleski was named the International League Pitcher of the Week this past week. Zaleski made one start for the Knights last week pitching 7.0 shutout innings on June 18th at the Rochester Red Wings en route to his fifth win of the season. The 28-year-old right hander from North Aurora , Illinois set a season high with eight strikeouts against the Red Wings. Zaleski is the second Knights pitcher to be named the League’s Pitcher of the Week, his teammate Carlos Torres has been honored twice this season.

THE FLEET FOOTED CATCHER: Knights catcher Tyler Flowers hit an inside the park home run in Tuesday night’s win at Syracuse. It was the first inside the park home run of Flowers’ career and his team-leading 15th home run of the season. The Knights power hitting catcher is now tied for the third in the IL in home runs.

ALEJANDRO GOES GAGA: OF Alejandro De Aza has hit safely in ten straight games (not to mention 16 of 17 games) dating back to before he was placed on the Knights disabled list May 3. Over his last ten games played, he has gone 18-37 (.486), with one home run, double and 5 RBI.

Looking Back at Buffalo & Indy: Series I
5/18/10: CHA 8, BUF 6 (11 innings)
Valentino Pascucci’s ninth inning opposite field home run tied the game at six and sent the game into extra innings, but the Herd could not provide any more offense in the extra frames, losing 8-6 against the Charlotte Knights. The Knights struck in the eleventh when Robert Hudson scored off of a Jordan Danks single. The Knights then extended their lead when Dayan Viciedo doubled to center to drive home Danks and give the Knights a two run lead they would not relinquish. Third baseman Mike Hessman was one of the bright spot for the Herd in the losing effort. Hessman, going 2-3, added to his league high totals in home runs and RBI’s when he hit a two-run home run in the first and drove in another run in the third. Hessman launched a 1-1 pitch to left field to bring his season total of home runs to 13, two more than Dan Johnson of Durham. Hessman is also now eight RBI ahead of Colorado’s Carlos Santana. John Lujan (1-1) was charged with the loss in relief. For the Knights, Kyle McCulloch (1-0) was credited with the win, and Greg Aquino picked up his fifth save of the season. Tobi Stoner started the game for the Bisons, completing five innings while allowing six runs (two earned) on six hits. BISONS NOTES: Pridie left the game in the sixth when he was injured running to first off of a bunt. Manager Ken Oberkfell said after the game that he expects the centerfield to miss some time. Josh Thole also left the game with an injury in the eleventh. While catching, Thole tripped over a bat when trying to make a tag on the eventual game-winning run. Oberkfell was more optimistic on the status of Thole’s injury. Buffalo left 12 men on base.

5/19/10: BUF 10, CHA 6
Mike Hessman continued his hot streak Wednesday night in a 10-6 Bisons win over Charlotte. Hessman added to his league high totals of home runs and RBI, hitting his 14th home run in the first inning and now has 47 RBI. The Herd’s offense then erupted in the seventh inning. Batting around the order, the Bisons had the first seven batters get on base. Right fielder Jesus Feliciano and second baseman Russ Adams led off the inning with back to back doubles. First baseman Valentino Pascucci added another double when he drove the ball to right field allowing Adams and Mike Jacobs to score. Left fielder D.J. Wabick recorded his first three RBI of the season when he hit a bases clearing double to extend the lead to 10-3. Jesus Feliciano went 1-5 on the day to bring his league leading average down to .368. Starting pitcher Dylan Owen had a solid outing in his Triple A debut. Picking up the win, Owen pitched seven innings and gave up six hits while allowing only three runs. Owen also struck out seven in his debut.

5/20/10: BUF 3, CHA 1
Pat Misch was once again dominant as he pitched another gem in a 3-1 win for the Bisons Thursday night over Charlotte. Over seven innings of work, Misch gave up only three hits and allowed one run, when designated hitter Donny Lucy hit a solo shot. Lucy’s home run ended Misch’s streak of 14 consecutive scoreless innings pitched. The Herd answered in the bottom of the fifth inning, shortstop Ruben Tejada led off the inning with a single to left field and would eventually score on Jesus Feliciano’s double to right to give the Herd a lead they would not relinquish. The Herd would add an insurance run in the seventh inning when Tejada was again driven home by Feliciano on a sacrifice fly. Tejada finished 2-3 with a single and a double and Feliciano went 1-3 with two RBI and extended his hitting streak to nine games. After going 1-3 Feliciano’s league high batting average dropped one point to .368. Right handed pitcher Ryota Igarashi pitched one inning for the Herd in his rehab assignment for the Mets. In his inning of relief, Igarashi allowed only one hit when shortstop Brent Lillibridge doubled to center field. Igarashi threw 19 pitches in his inning of work and made the most of them as 13 were for strikes.

5/21/10: BUF 7, CHA 1
Bisons catcher Josh Thole had perhaps his best day at the plate so far this season in a 7-1 win Friday night at Coca-Cola field. Thole was a triple away from the cycle and went 3-4 with two RBI and two runs for the night. Thole started off the game with his first home run of the season when he sent a 0-1 pitch to right field to give the Herd a 2-0 lead in the second inning. Thole continued to rip the cover off the ball as he doubled to left after the ball just went passed the outstretched glove of Knights left fielder Josh Kroeger. Bisons left fielder Andy Green also had a productive night at the plate. Batting behind Thole, Green also went 3-4 on the night with three singles and drove in one run while accounting for another in the fifth. Second baseman Russ Adams added to the Herd’s offensive production, doubling twice as the Herd got to the Knights pitching staff for 14 hits as a team. The Herd got seven strong innings from their starting pitcher for the second night in a row. After Pat Misch limited the Knights to one run and only three hits in seven innings last night, starting pitcher Bobby Livingston turned in a similar performance. Livingston pitched seven strong innings and only gave up two hits while allowing one run to end his personal three game losing streak. Livingston also struck out six Knights, a season high for the left hander. Providing Livingston with run support was a problem the Herd faced all year. In his previous seven starts Livingston was only provided with 12 runs of support by his teammates. That statistic was not a factor tonight as all of the Bisons seven runs came during Livingston’s seven innings of work. In his second day of his MLB rehab assignment, relief pitcher Ryota Igarashi pitched another inning of scoreless relief. In his one inning Igarashi gave up no hits and struck out one while throwing 16 pitches and having ten of them count for strikes. For the Knights, starting pitcher Jeff Marquez was jumped on early and often. After right fielder Jesus Feliciano led off the game with a single, Marquez had trouble recording outs against the Herd. Over four and two thirds innings Marquez gave up ten hits to the Bisons and allowed six runs, five of them earned. With the win the Bisons climb to 25-17 and remain a game back of the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees in the division. The Bisons are now 16-6 at home and are tied for most home wins in the International League with the Yankees. BISONS NOTES: By going 2-4 with a walk on the night, right fielder Jesus Feliciano improved his league high batting average to .371. After an eight game home stand where the Herd went 6-2 they will travel for a four game series with the Leigh Valley Ironpigs before returning home for another eight game home stand.

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