TOLEDO – Robbie Ray, a tough left-hander with big league experience, will take to the mound for the Toledo Mud Hens against Dan Johnson and the Buffalo Bisons here tonight at Fifth Third Field.
Judging by results so far, facing a lefty should not be a major problem for Johnson, who is batting .310 against southpaws this season, and half of his team-high 14 home runs have come against them.
Johnson has batted .289 for his last 10 games with the Herd, with five home runs and 10 RBIs. That includes a homer in Tuesday night’s 8-4 win at Syracuse. He is well on pace to exceed his home run totals of 21 and 28 in Triple-A the last two years. The 34-yard-old veteran from the University of Nebraska has hit 131 homers in 641 Triple-A games the last six seasons.
Johnson isn’t the only Bison swinging a hot bat lately. Jared Goedert is batting .375, while Munenori Kawasaki (.364) and Darin Mastroianni (.326) are going strong over the last 10 games. Mastroianni on Wednesday was rewarded with a call-up to the parent Toronto Blue Jays.
The Herd has won four of its last six. A victory tonight would bring Buffalo to .500 (15-15) on the road this season. It’s the first of a four-game set with the Mud Hens, which will be followed by four games against the Clippers in Columbus before the Bisons return home.
After Tuesday’s games, fourth place Buffalo trailed North Division co-leaders Rochester and Syracuse by 4½ games.
Lefty Sean Nolin (2-2, 2.70 ERA) is the Bisons’ scheduled starter in the series opener tonight (7 p.m., Radio 1520 AM). Ray is 3-3 with a 2.45 ERA. Three single night games will follow against the Mud Hens.