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Forget scoreboard watching, Bisons focus on winning to stay in wild card race

ROCHESTER -- Their destiny is no longer entirely in their hands.

The Buffalo Bisons Tragic Number is now three. Which means if Pawtucket wins three out of its last four games, the Herd is done, regardless of what Bisons do.

Then there's Rochester, the Herd's opponent tonight and Saturday, sitting two games back in the wild card who could take the playoff spot if they win out their last four games. (That's because the Red Wings final two games are at Pawtucket and Rochester holds the tiebreaker over the PawSox.)

Welcome back to the confusing world of baseball wild card math. The Bisons haven't been in this position since 2007 when they were eliminated on the second last day of the regular season.

Play out all the scenarios you want. The Bisons know one thing -- they need to keep winning.

"We just try to focus on today’s game," outfielder Dalton Pompey said. "We can’t look at what the other teams are doing or look to tomorrow until we take care of today."

Pompey has been a key factor in the Bisons' offensive outburst which has rallied them into the wild card race. He made his Triple-A debut Aug. 21 at Coca-Cola Field and in his eight games since has been impressive. He's reached base in seven out of the eight games with 11 hits and three walks. He has four stolen bases, driving in four runs and is batting .314 in the leadoff spot.

He'll be back in that position tonight when the Herd faces Rochester at Frontier Field (7:15 p.m.).

Sean Nolin makes his 17th start for the Bisons. His last outing was a quality start, giving up two runs in six innings on Sunday against Pawtucket. He has only given up more than four runs in one start this year, but that was against Rochester. He surrendered six runs in four innings to the Red Wings on Aug. 19.

Other notes:

  • As our baseball partner in crime Mike Harrington reported on Twitter from Rogers Centre, Toronto Blue jays pitcher Brandon Morrow will join the Bisons in Rochester on Saturday and throw in relief. Morrow has been out since May 2 with a torn tendon sheath in his right index finger. Word from Toronto is that his role would be a return in the bullpen rather than as a starter.
  • Anthony Gose may have struggled in his first few at-bats back in Buffalo. (If you recall, he went on an 0-for-8 streak with eight straight swinging strikeouts.) His groove is back. He drove in six runs for the Herd in its 11-3 win at Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Thursday. Gose drove in those runs with a three-run home run and a three-run double. In 10 games since his return from Toronto he is batting .302 with 14 RBI.
  • The Herd remains in second place in the Thruway Cup standings, one game behind Syracuse. To retain the Thruway Cup, the Bisons need to win at least one game in Rochester and then sweep the Chiefs in their two-game series to end the regular season.

Tonight's Bisons' lineup:
Dalton Pompey -- CF
Anthony Gose -- RF
Cole Gillespie -- LF
Matt Hague -- 3B
Dan Johnson -- 1B
A.J. Jimenez -- C
Ryan Goins -- SS
Darin Mastroianni -- DH
Jonathan Diaz -- 2B

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