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Wimberly, Lewis a dual threat; Pair of hitters sets up Herd to score

Every good baseball team needs a top-shelf table-setter.

The Buffalo Bisons believe they've got a pair in Corey Wimberly and Fred Lewis.

"They give us a different dimension than we had at the start of the year. We have more speed at the top of the order," Bisons manager Wally Backman said.

Both were at the top of their game Thursday during the Bisons' 4-2 victory over the Gwinnett Braves at Coca-Cola Field in front of an announced crowd of 4,920.

Wimberly went 2 for 3 with two runs scored and a walk, while Lewis was 1 for 3 with an RBI, a run scored and a walk. The Bisons fell behind, 2-0, after Gwinnett hit in the first inning, but jumped on Braves starter Julio Teheran when it was their turn at the plate.

Wimberly led off the game with a single, then burned around the bases to score on a Lewis double.

"My whole thing is to get on and get around the bases," Wimberly said. "That's what I've been taught pretty much my whole career."

The Bisons took advantage of Teheran's inability to find the strike zone. The Gwinnett starter walked three straight batters in the first inning, the last of which to Brad Emaus came with the bases loaded and scored Lewis with the tying run.

The Bisons would go on to chase Teheran after just 2 2/3 innings. Ranked the No. 3 prospect in baseball by, he gave up four runs, seven hits and five walks, throwing 86 pitches.

The Bisons jumped ahead, 4-2, in the second inning. Herd starter Chris Schwinden, who went 2 for 2 at the plate, hit a one-out single. That was followed by a single from Wimberly, a walk to Lewis, and a two-run single by Vinny Rottino.

"[Teheran] was kind of scattering balls all over the zone, so with guys like that, you've just got to wait them out and have them come to you," Rottino said.

Rottino extended his hitting streak to 20 games -- just the fifth Bisons player to reach that milestone in the team's modern era. It proved to be a timely one, as the Herd went hitless and had just two base runners the rest of the game after Teheran was lifted.

"You take them whenever you can get them," Backman said.

Schwinden settled down after allowing a pair of runs in the first to pitch six innings, giving up six hits with four strikeouts.

Elvin Ramirez, Josh Edgin and Fernando Cabrera combined for three scoreless innings out of the Bisons' bullpen to lock down the win. Cabrera escaped a jam in the ninth after allowing the first two hitters of the inning to reach second and third base.

Wimberly made a terrific catch on a full-on sprint for the first out.

"Not may guys can probably make that play because he's so fast," Backman said. "You can't defend against speed."

Wimberly made his season debut for the Herd on Monday when he was activated from the disabled list. He missed the first 37 games of the season because of a fracture of the fifth metacarpal bone in his left hand. He's hitting .353 in four games.

"I'm feeling really good. I stayed in shape while I was rehabbing that hand," he said. "It was an easy transition to get back."

Lewis came to the Bisons as a minor league free-agent signing of the New York Mets on April 25. He spent spring training in the Cleveland Indians' camp before being released April 2.

"When we signed him, he hadn't done anything for almost a month, but I threw him right in the fire," Backman said. "He knows what he's doing. He'll make adjustments."

Lewis, who has 517 games of major league experience with three different teams, is hitting .304 with the Herd.

"He's going to hit very well in this league," Backman said. "He knows how to play the game.

"If our first two guys get on base, we're generally going to score quite a few runs. They can really set the tone for the outcome of the game. It's going to enable [Valentino] Pascucci and those guys in the middle of the order to drive in runs."

The Bisons and Braves finish their four-game series at 7:35 p.m. tonight when Matt Harvey (3-1, 4.29 ERA) takes the hill for the Herd against Eric Junge (3-3, 3.07).


Bisons 4, Gwinnett 2

The pitch: Herd starter Schwinden pitches six innings, goes 2 for 2 at the plate. ... Rottino extends hitting streak to 20 games, just fifth Herd player in modern era to reach that many. ... Braves top prospect Teheran gives up seven hits, five walks in just 2 2/3 innings.

Fast fact: The Bisons stole four bases in a game for the first time since Aug. 3, 2007, at Scranton-Wilkes/Barre.

Up next: Today vs. Gwinnett, 7:05 p.m., Coca-Cola Field (fridaynightbash!)