PORTLAND — Boston Red Sox owner John Henry was greeting fans outside Hadlock Field on a beautiful Monday evening at the ballpark.
Inside, the NESN cameras were being placed, ready to televise a Sea Dogs game to the rest of New England.
And, at the start of the game, Junichi Tazawa stood on the mound, making his return to Portland.
Everything was set for a wonderful night of baseball. And it was, if you were wearing a New Britain Rock Cats uniform.
New Britain chased Tazawa in the first inning and cruised to a 15-5 win.
Tazawa, coming back from Tommy John surgery last year, was making his first Sea Dogs start after a month of rehab appearances in Class A. He could not always control his fastball on Monday, and he hung a few breaking pitches.
Tazawa’s line: Two-thirds of an inning, three hits, six runs, two walks, one hit-batter, one strikeout and one wild pitch (38 pitches, 21 strikes).
“I felt pretty good,” Tazawa said through an interpreter. “Sometimes, I lost the command with my fastball.”
The comeback process will take time.
“Sometimes, I get scared when I release the ball,” he said. “Before the surgery, I had pain when I released the ball.”
Tazawa was scheduled to pitch three innings, and it looked apparent that reliever Miguel Gonzalez was not ready to step in so early.
Gonzalez gave up two runs in the first inning and three in the second.
It was 12-0 and Neil Diamond impersonator Tom Sadge had not even made his first appearance.
He came out after two innings, in glittering blue, to sing ” America.”
Gonzalez lasted 2 1/3 innings. Jeremy Kehrt followed with six innings of work, saving the rest of the bullpen – “a gutsy performance,” pitching coach Bob Kipper said – with the Sea Dogs playing a doubleheader today.
Lost in the rout were some solid offensive efforts, including Chih-Hsien Chiang’s 13th home run of the year, a shot to right center in the second inning.
Chiang rolled his ankle during a ground out in the sixth inning and came out as a precaution.
Tim Federowicz hit his sixth home run in the eighth.
Ryan Khoury homered in the ninth. Jorge Padron had three hits, including an RBI single. Portland recorded 12 hits.
But the offensive numbers belonged to New Britain.
Every one of the Rock Cats reached base by the second inning, and every player had at least one of New Britain’s 18 hits.
NOTES: To make room for Tazawa on the Sea Dogs roster, the Red Sox released Portland reliever Santo Luis, who had a 5.72 ERA. Luis, 27, was claimed off waivers last year from the White Sox To create a vacancy on Boston’s 40-man roster for Tazawa, Rich Hill was placed on the 60-day disabled list The announced paid attendance was 4,285. … Henry sat with Sea Dogs chairman Bill Burke in the early innings Today’s doubleheader will feature two seven-inning games Breakin’ B-Boy McCoy, a break dancing bat-boy, will perform In Lowell, Will Middlebrooks homered for the second straight day. Middlebrooks, on a rehab assignment (sore triceps) with Lowell, was the designated hitter.
Staff Writer Kevin Thomas can be contacted at 791-6411 or at: [email protected]