The longest homestand in Coca-Cola Field history continues tonight with a question prompted by an unusual twist: Is a series really part of a homestand if the Buffalo Bisons are the visitors?
The Herd will meet the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees in a 7:05 game (Radio 1520) that will mark the first of four straight where the Bisons bat first while Scranton serves as the home team. The Yankees, remember, are playing their entire season on the road while PNC Field in Moosic, Pa., is undergoing a $43 million renovation.
Scranton is playing 38 of its 72 "home" games at Frontier Field in Rochester and spreading the rest around various venues, including tiny Dwyer Stadium in Batavia. Six of its eight home games against the Bisons will be played here (the others being Aug. 21-22), while the other two will be in Syracuse.
In addition to wearing home uniforms and batting in the bottom of each inning, Scranton will get to take batting practice first. Among other odd sights will be the Bisons listed on top on the scoreboard, Scranton taking the field first and being at its positions for the national anthems, and the potential for the Bisons to lose games in their own park on a walk-off run with the Yankees hitting in the bottom of each inning.
The six games were free additions to the Bisons' season-ticket packages. All stats, both team and individual, will count as home numbers for the Yankees and road ones for the Herd. Teams sometimes are forced to flip-flop home and road designations in an effort to make up games postponed at the other site. The Bisons did it in 2007, playing two "home" games in Richmond after snowouts here.
The Bisons last played as the road team in Buffalo in Games Three and Four of the 2004 Governors' Cup final, also against Richmond. Hurricane damage in The Diamond, the R-Braves' ballpark, prevented the series from moving to Virginia after the teams split the first two games here. Buffalo won both of its games as the visiting team to wrap up the title.
The entire International League was off Wednesday. The Bisons (26-20) are third in the North Division, 2 1/2 games behind Pawtucket, after dropping three of four games with Indianapolis, and are 4-4 so far on the homestand. Scranton (24-20) won three of four in Columbus and is 10-5 in its last 15 games.
Right-hander Matt Harvey, the New York Mets' No. 1 draft pick in 2010, is on the mound tonight for Buffalo. He's 4-1 with a 4.31 ERA for the season and coming off a career-high 11-strikeout game Friday against Gwinnett.
The most familiar names on the Yankees roster with time in the Bronx are catcher Francisco Cervelli, who is batting .231, and infielder Ramiro Pena (.206).
The Scranton pitching staff includes four ex-Bisons: Mets-era starters Nelson Figueroa and Ramon Ortiz and reliever Mike O'Connor, and Cleveland-era reliever Adam Miller, the former No. 1 draft choice of the Indians whose career has been derailed by finger injuries.