Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Indianapolis Indians 6 at Buffalo Bisons 11 - May 19, 2012

With the Blue Jays playing an afternoon game, Saturday night was left wide open. Of course, with sports roadtrippers Gary and the King in attendance along with Andrew of the USRT, open meant we had to find another sporting event to attend. Fortunately, the AAA Buffalo Bisons were hosting a game against the Indianapolis Indians and so we all made the two-hour drive to Coca-Cola Field to complete the two-country doubleheader.

Coca-Cola Field

Built in 1988 in those heady days when Buffalo thought they might get an MLB expansion team, Coca-Cola Field is celebrating its 25th anniversary this season. With the MLB dream dead, the park has been reconfigured with a number of seats being removed and it is now a fairly typical AAA park with two levels of seating and lots of room for fans.

Located right in downtown just a few blocks from the First Niagara Center, the ballpark is easily reached from I-190, just a couple of miles from the Peace Bridge. Parking in the neighbourhood is $5 although you can find free parking a block or two away. General admission tickets are $9.50 and the seating bowl is large enough that you can sit anywhere.

The signature food item here is the Beef on Weck for $7.25 and of course Buffalo Wings are also available. There is also a designated driver program so you can get your free pop.

As I was part of a larger group, I didn't do my usual tour, instead sitting above home plate with the rest of the sports travellers. Andrew was kind enough to point out that the scoreboard in centre field was new and it was quite nice as you can see below. I took this picture early in the game, note Vinny Rottino's home run total during his first at-bat.

Coca-Cola Field is a nice venue that suits its purpose well. There are no bells and whistles to distract you from the game (although I could have used some on this occasion, more on that below) and with capacity just over 18,000, it gives you plenty of room to sit back and relax.

The Game

After the wonderful game in Toronto, it would stand to reason that the nightcap would be less than ideal. Turns out it was one of the worst games I have seen. Jeurys Familia (below) got the start for Buffalo and gave up an unearned run in the first when Oswaldo Navarro misplayed a 2-out grounder that allowed Matt Hague to score. It was the first of 4 Buffalo errors on the evening but their offense made up for it.

In the bottom of the second, Michael Fisher doubled home Josh Satin (below) and Navarro to give the Bisons the lead. Rottino and Val Pascucci (who played for the Expos in their last season in 2004) hit back-to-back homers in the third to extend the lead but Indianapolis tied it in the fourth with Chase D'Arnaud's double the key.

Neither starter lasted 4 innings but the Bisons's bullpen was better as reliever Justin Hampson pitched 2.1 scoreless innings. Meanwhile, his teammates added three runs in the 6th including a 2-run homer from Rottino and then four more in the 8th as Rottino hit another 2-run shot, his 3rd homer on the night totalling 5 RBI.

Indianapolis managed a couple of runs in the top of the ninth to extend the game to 3:50 but they fell well short, losing 11-6. Despite giving up 8 walks and committing 4 errors, the Bisons won in a rout with six total home runs which proves that good offense makes up for poor defense.

Indy's Anderson Hernandez fouls one off


The 2012 AAA All-Star Game will be held in Buffalo on July 11, making for a great chance to see the ballpark and the best players not yet in the majors.

The Bisons hold a mascot race every game, with a chicken wing, blue cheese, and a stalk of celery the usual competitors. Celery has never won, apparently the aerodynamics of the costume make it too difficult to overcome the shorter entrants. Sure enough on this night, chicken wing won as blue cheese was ambushed by the two regular mascots who don't participate.


Thanks to Sharpy for the drive to and from Buffalo. With the game taking nearly 4 hours, the return trip was a tough one and my jet lag saw me nodding off on occasion, so well done Sharpy!

Thanks to Andrew for arranging to have our names in lights!

Thanks to the King for his signature strikeout call, performed 9 times on the evening, which had fans in our section both bemused and amused. That's him below with his arm outstretched as he yells "Heeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee" for about 20 seconds before finishing with a "Struck. Him. Out!!!!!" By the end of the evening, much of the crowd was joining in.

Next Up

I'm on my way back to Singapore tomorrow. No games planned during my two weeks there but June will see me in Florida to do the entire Florida State League as well as seeing the Jays in that new ballpark in Miami. Check back for more then.



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