Welcome to Coop Scoop coverage of the Mud Hens' game against Buffalo coming to you live from Fifth Third Field. I'll share thoughts, stats, and anything of interest from the game (newest posts are at the bottom, so refresh frequently).
5:30 p.m. -- Welcome to tonight's blog ... The Hens haven't been gone long -- just two days, actually -- but there is a little news to catch you up. Hang onto your hats, here we go ...
5:35 p.m. -- OK, first here is the starting lineup for the Buffalo Bisons of manager Tim Teufel ... Leading off and playing SS is Jordany Valdespin, followed byLuis Hernandez at 2B, Zach Lutz at DH, Valentino Pascucci at 1B, Josh Satin at 3B, Jesus Feliciano in CF, Fernando Perez in LF, Raul Reyes in RF and Raul Chavez at C. On the hill for the Bisons is RHP Chris Schwinden. The Mud Hens are next ...
5:40 p.m. -- Now here is the starting lineup for the Toledo Mud Hens of manager Phil Nevin ... Leading off and playing CF is Jeff Salazar, followed by Danny Worth at 2B, Will Rhymes in LF, Ryan Strieby at 1B, Ben Guez in RF, Scott Thorman at DH, Audy Ciriaco at SS, Argenis Diaz at 3B and Max St-Pierre at C. The starting pitcher for the Mud Hens is LHP Fu-Te Ni. A few more notes are next, if you're ready ...
5:46 p.m. -- First, the biggest news of the day ... Mud Hens C Omir Santos seems to be on his way to Detroit. Tigers 1B Miguel Cabrera is taking paternity leave, and Santos would replace him on the roster. Why Santos for Cabrera? Tigers C Alex Avila is playing practically every day, so calling up Santos -- and giving him the start in Tampa Bay Thursday afternoon -- allows Avila to get a rest.
5:51 p.m. -- Also missing from the Mud Hens lineup tonight is OFs Andy Dirks and Timo Perez. Hens manager Phil Nevin said Dirks has a "hand issue" that makes him day-to-day, while Perez is just getting a day off.
5:55 p.m. -- I don't have a lot of links, but here's an important one ... here is a preview of this four-game series with Buffalo at Fifth Third Field. Click here to read the preview of the Buffalo series.
6:02 p.m. -- I need to sneak in a little dinner before the game starts ... speaking of links, click here to check out today's Mud Hens Mindbender.
6:14 p.m. -- Had to chuckle ... The Marines had a swearing-in ceremony before the game. After the new recruits were officially sworn in, the Hens' PA system played ... "Real American," which you may remember was Hulk Hogan's "entrance" music. In all seriousness, thanks to all of our Armed Forces world-wide for everything they do ...
6:21 p.m. -- Here are the weather details ... the game-time temperature is 91 degrees (where did that come from, by the way? It was warm today, but 91? Man, I wasn't ready for that). The winds are listed at 18 mph out of the southwest, meaning the wind was blowing out to right. The flags behind the right-field fence are moving a little, but not at 18 mph. I don't think the wind is going to be that big of a factor tonight.
6:26 p.m. -- Well, I'm going to get ready to track pitches for Mud Hens starter Fu-Te Ni in a moment ... But the one piece of "news" that I didn't pass along earlier: Toledo's "tragic" number for being eliminated from the Governors' Cup race is ONE. That means one more Mud Hens loss, or one more victory by Lehigh Valley -- the leader in the Wild Card race -- will officially eliminate the Hens from playoff contention.
6:43 p.m. -- Fu-Te Ni struggled in the first inning, allowing three runs on a two-out RBI single by Josh Satin and a two-run double by Jesus Feliciano. Ni threw 18 pitches in the first inning, 12 for strikes. His fastball sat at 86 mph (one at 88, one at 87, four at 86, two at 85 and two at 84), while his curveball sat at 76-77 mph (one at 73, one at 74, three at 76 and two at 77). The Mud Hens come to bat in the bottom of the first trailing 3-0.
6:51 p.m. -- Buffalo starter Chris Schwinden gave up a leadoff single to Jeff Salazar but otherwise retired the Mud Hens in order in the bottom of the first. Schwinden threw 14 pitches, 10 for strikes, in the first. Schwinden threw fastballs with 12 of his 14 pitches in the first, and the fastball sat at 89 mph (two at 91, one at 90, nine at 89). Schwinden's two curveballs sat at 75 and 77 mph, respectively.
7:04 p.m. -- Toledo starter Fu-Te Ni has struggled with his command so far, and it has cost him three runs. Usually Ni has been fairly solid with command, but at this point he has thrown just 58.3 percent of his pitches for strikes (that's low for him, usually at 63 percent). He bears watching the rest of the way.
7:15 p.m. -- MAX POWER! Big three-run second inning by the Hens ties the game at 3-3 at the end of the second. The big hit was a two-run homer by Max St-Pierre, but the big play came on a two-out RBI single by Argenis Diaz. With Scott Thorman at second base, Diaz lined the ball hard into center. Buffalo's Jesus Feliciano got to the ball quickly and threw to the plate, with the ball beating Thorman to the plate. But the ball pushed Bisons catcher Raul Chavez behind home plate, and Thorman tiptoed towards the plate, avoided the tag, and score the run. If he's out, St-Pierre doesn't even bat.
7:42 p.m. -- Hens SS Audy Ciriaco is struggling at the plate. He has struck out twice in this game and is 0-for-14 since joining Toledo. With the two strikeouts, Ciriaco has only three in those 14 at-bats, though. He basically has almost two weeks to make an impression with the Hens, so he needs to get rolling with the bat. We've finished four innings and it's Mud Hens 3, Buffalo 3.
8:01 p.m. -- Reports of Fu-Te Ni's death have obviously been greatly exaggerated ... He has retired 11 of the last 12 batters he faced. His only mistake was getting curve-happy to Jordany Valdespin in the fifth, and Valdespin lined the FIFTH he saw (out of six pitches) into the right-field corner for a double. Through five innings Ni has thrown 77 pitches, 49 for strikes. In the fifth inning, Ni's fastball sat at 85-86 mph (three at 85, two at 86), while his curve sat at 74-76 mph (one at 73, three at 74, one at 75, two at 76, one at 77). The Hens come to bat in the bottom of the fifth in a game that is still tied at 3-3.
8:13 p.m. -- Tonight's Racing With the Stars update ... It was back-and-forth until Jim Flealand took command at the end of the race and claimed the victory. Back to baseball ...
8:25 p.m. -- When Hens starter Fu-Te Ni lost it tonight, he lost it quickly. There were two outs and no one on in the bottom of the sixth when he gave up a hard single to Fernando Perez and a LONG home run to Raul Reyes -- his first home run of the season. After a line double into the left-center gap by Raul Chavez, Ni was replaced by Brendan Wise. Wise got the final out in the top of the sixth, and the Hens come to bat trailing 5-3.
8:43 p.m. -- The Mud Hens nearly let Buffalo off the hook in the bottom of the sixth, but Danny Worth bailed the Hens out with a grand slam! Here was the situation: Toledo got a single, a hit batsman and a bunt single (on a sacrifice attempt) to load the bases with no one out. But the Bisons got Max St-Pierre to fly out to shallow center (shortstop caught the ball) and Jeff Salazar to fly out to shallow center (centerfielder caught) to keep the runners in position. So the Bisons were about to wiggle out of the inning untouched when Worth hammered a pitch from Gustavo Chacin over the fence in left-center for his eighth home run this season. At the end of the sixth it's now Mud Hens 7, Buffalo 5.
8:52 p.m. -- A pet peeve, which you've probably noticed if you've followed the blog this season: allowing runs in shut-down innings. Buffalo violated this rule in the bottom of the sixth, ruining their two-run rally in the top of the sixth by allowing the Hens to score four times in the bottom of the frame. Toledo was a violator in the top of the seventh, though not as badly: After scoring four runs in the bottom of the sixth to turn a 5-3 deficit into a 7-5 lead, Hens reliever Brendan Wise gave up a run in the bottom of the seventh. Yes, the Hens still lead 7-6 as we enter the bottom of the seventh. But it's a little deflating to give up a run after you've just scored, even if you still have the lead. And a two-run lead is better than a one-run lead every time. Just sayin' ...
9:12 p.m. -- David Purcey pitches around a one-out walk to pitch a scoreless eighth, although he got a nifty backhand play by Danny Worth at second base for one out and a bang-bang 5-4-3 double play to end the inning. Purcey threw 12 pitches in his inning and a third of work (he also got the final out in the seventh on one pitch), and six were strikes. Purcey's fastball sat at 92-94 mph (one at 91, two at 92, three at 93, two at 94), while his breaking pitch (looked like a slider) sat at 83-86 mph (one at each of those four speeds). As we head to the bottom of the eighth, the score is Mud Hens 7, Buffalo 6.
9:24 p.m. -- The last time Enrique Gonzalez faced Buffalo he blew a save in a game the Bisons eventually won in 11 innings. No problems tonight, though, as Gonzalez struck out two of the three batters he faced in a 7-6 victory. I'm heading to the clubhouse, and I'll confirm Santos and Kunkel. Talk to you shortly!
9:50 p.m. -- Just confirmed that Omir Santos was promoted to Detroit "only for a day or two," according to manager Phil Nevin as Miguel Cabrera takes a paternity leave. Jeff Kunkel already has joined the Hens and will take Santos' spot on the roster.
9:55 p.m. -- "I think Enrique Gonzalez has blown only two saves all year, and in one of them -- last week in Buffalo -- we felt he had strike three and the game was over," Phil Nevin said. "For me, he's been outstanding in that role. To have a veteran guy like that at the back of the bullpen in that role is huge."
10:15 p.m. -- Just got word that Lehigh Valley beat Louisville 6-5 tonight. With that victory, the Mud Hens have officially been eliminated from the International League's Governors' Cup playoffs.
10:20 p.m. -- I suppose that's the note this should end on, isn't it. Thanks for following along!