By KEVIN THOMAS
MANCHESTER, N.H. — Before the game, shortstop Jose Iglesias and his bruised hand hit baseballs off the tee.
During the game, Iglesias’ Portland Sea Dogs teammates played their own version of T-ball.
The Sea Dogs sprayed balls all over Merchantsauto.com Stadium in a 13-6 rout of the New Hampshire Fisher Cats before 6,946 on Tuesday night.
Portland (48-48) reached .500 by winning its fourth straight. The Sea Dogs trail New Hampshire (57-40) by 81⁄2 games for an Eastern League playoff spot.
All but one starter got a hit among the Sea Dogs’ 18.
The one hitless starter, Che-Hsuan Lin, was ejected during his second at-bat for disagreeing with a called strike on an inside pitch. He said nothing but drew a line in the clay.
Lin’s replacement, Matt Sheely, went 3 for 4 with three RBI, and a solo homer in the sixth.
Catcher Ryan Lavarnway, playing only his fifth game in Double-A, enjoyed a 2-for-5 night, with a double and five RBI.
Lavarnway, 22, was a sixth-round draft pick out of Yale in 2008. Since earning his promotion last week, he’s batting .389 (7 for 18) with the Sea Dogs.
“I’m just trying to stay aggressive at the plate,” Lavarnway said. “I’ve always been a patient hitter. The biggest thing for me is to swing at the right pitches. So far I’ve been doing that.”
Among the other offensive leaders were Ray Chang (3 for 6, two runs) Anthony Rizzo (2 for 6, two RBI) and Luis Exposito (2 for 5, four runs).
Portland starter Jeremy Kehrt (5-8) broke a personal six-game losing streak with six innings, allowing four runs (three earned) on seven hits and one walk. He struck out four.
“Just stuck with my two-seam (fastball) and curveball,” Kehrt said. “I felt good out there. Just tried to attack the zone.”
Kehrt had New Hampshire contained until Travis Snider’s three-run homer in the third inning, closing the score to 6-4.
Snider joined New Hampshire on a rehab assignment earlier this month. He came off the disabled list but was optioned back to Double-A by Toronto.
Portland responded to Snider’s homer immediately, scoring five runs in the top of the fourth for an 11-4 lead.
“We finally got (Kehrt) some runs,” Sea Dogs Manager Arnie Beyeler said. “He could relax and pound the strike zone.”
The five-run rally was highlighted by Lavarnway’s three-run double to deep left.
“He’s got a good strike zone recognition,” Beyeler said. “He has an idea up there at the plate. He’s not just swinging at the rosin bag.”
NOTES: Iglesias continued wearing a brace over his bruised right hand. While he’s swinging off the tee, there is no timetable for hitting live pitching. … Iglesias’ former teammate on the Cuban junior national team, Adeiny Hechavarria, played shortstop for the Fisher Cats. Hechavarria, 21, signed a four-year, $10 million contract with the Blue Jays this past spring. He went 1 for 5 and is batting .270 since his promotion earlier this month.
Former Trenton Thunder and New Hampshire Fisher Cats manager Bill Masse was in attendance as a scout for the Seattle Mariners. … Tuesday’s promotion at the ballpark was a Dustin Pedroia bobblehead doll giveaway. … Utility player Will Vazquez remains away from the team on paternity leave. His wife delivered their first child Sunday.
Sheely’s last home run came in 2007 when he hit two for Class A Greenville. … Reliever Ryne Miller allowed two runs but also struck out four in two innings. … In the Eastern League East Division, first-place Trenton lost 8-3 at Richmond. Portland trails the Thunder by nine games.
Staff Writer Kevin Thomas can be reached at 791-6411 or: firstname.lastname@example.org