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Going soft in middle costs Herd runs

The middle of the lineup was a black hole for the Buffalo Bisons during the Governors' Cup semifinals and that was the big reason the Herd's season is over.

Jason Cooper finished the series 1 for 18, Ernie Young was 3 for 17 and Andy Abad was 3 for 21. That's 7 for 56 with just four RBIs for Buffalo's No. 4-5-6 hitters

"Everybody is disappointed," Cooper, a 100-RBI man during the regular season between Buffalo and Double-A Akron, said after Sunday's 6-4 Game Five loss to Indianapolis. "From an offensive standpoint we've been a lot better throughout the year. We put together two good games in Indy and we were expecting to bring more to these games and it didn't happen."

"We didn't have a chance to score a lot of runs," Young said. "It's tough to know you're a better hitting ballclub than we showed in this series."

The finish was particularly bitter for Young, who had a 20-home run season -- but didn't go deep after July 17. The 36-year-old finally came clean after this one, admitting what had long been suspected that he was dealing with back pain the entire second half.

"It was a grind," Young said. "I don't like to make excuses why I didn't hit well the last six weeks. I wasn't healthy but I played and that's what you have to do.

"(The pain) was real bad. It made it tough to generate power and to stay loose. I'm 36 years old. I guess that was one of the bumps in the road I had to overcome."

The Bisons hit just .256 in the series and went 22 innings without an extra-base hit until Abad's leadoff home run in the fourth inning Sunday.

"We got a big home run out of Andy that gave us a little momentum tonight but overall we had our struggles after the All-Star break with our middle guys," said manager Marty Brown. "Andy was pretty consistent all year (with a team-high 85 RBIs) but Ernie never really got back on track."

Buffalo's last big chance came in the seventh when Abad flew out against lefty Mike Connolly with two out and the bases loaded. It was a lost chance to provide some insurance that was magnified when Indy won the game in the eighth on Ronny Paulino's three-run homer.

"They got the big hit and we didn't," Brown said.

***

After the game, pitchers Jason Davis and Fausto Carmona were called up to Cleveland. None of the Buffalo hitters were called up. . . . The Bisons' final attendance figure is 609,639, an average of 8,586 per opening. Last year's figures were 604,156 and 8,276. It's the first time since 1991 the team has had an increase in the per-game average. The total attendance rose for the first time since 1998.

e-mail: mharrington@buffnews.com

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