PORTLAND — Not sure what was more impressive for the Portland Sea Dogs on Tuesday night: the dazzling knuckleball of Charlie Haeger or the fact that Dan Butler caught it.
Haeger allowed two hits over seven innings and Alex Hassan hit two home runs Tuesday night as the Sea Dogs enjoyed a 9-2 victory over the Akron Aeros before 6,811 at Hadlock Field.
Butler, called up from Class A a week ago, was catching a knuckleball pitcher for the first time and handled it fine, with only one passed ball.
“He did a heck of a job,” Haeger said of Butler. “I threw some pretty good ones in there and he had no problem.”
Butler called the experience “very interesting,” saying he settled in after the first inning.
Offensively, Portland poured it on with 14 hits, including a 3-for-3 night from Hassan. He had four RBI with his ninth and 10th home runs. In his previous nine games, Hassan was getting down on himself, batting only .125.
“The coaching staff believed in me and that gave me confidence,” said Hassan, who is batting .292 with a .413 on-base percentage.
Designated hitter Mark Wagner went 3 for 4, including a two-run triple in the first inning.
Will Middlebrooks was 2 for 4 with an RBI.
Butler contributed at the plate with a single and double.
Matt Spring, the third catcher on the roster, played first base and went 2 for 4 with an RBI.
Haeger, 27, signed by the Red Sox last month after being released by the Mariners, made his third start for Portland, and is 2-0 with a 3.71 ERA.
After giving up a walk, double and sacrifice fly in each of the first two innings, Haeger allowed only two more runners, both hit batsmen. He struck out a season-high nine, throwing 115 pitches.
“They were dancing all over the plate,” Butler said.
Reliever Kyle Fernandes pitched two scoreless innings, escaping a bases-loaded jam in the ninth.
NOTES: The Sea Dogs’ roster underwent quite a change since the team was last in Portland on July 31. Three players left via trade, with catcher Tim Federowicz, outfielder Chih-Hsien Chiang and pitcher Stephen Fife gone in the Erik Bedard deal. Replacing them were pitcher Josh Fields (acquired in the Bedard deal), Spring and Butler. Both Spring and Butler came from advanced Class A Salem.
On Monday, pitcher Junichi Tazawa was promoted to Triple-A Pawtucket and infielder Heiker Meneses was sent to Salem. Outfielder Ronald Bermudez was sent to Portland from Triple-A. Bermudez, 23, was in Salem before being called up to Pawtucket as a fill-in. He ended up staying for 57 games (.261 average).
Bryan Price, the 2008 supplemental round draft pick for the Red Sox, pitched a 1-2-3 eighth inning for Akron. He was traded to the Indians’ organization in the 2009 deal for Victor Martinez.
Former Sea Dogs catcher Juan Apodaca is with the Aeros, though on the disabled list with a broken toe.
Staff Writer Kevin Thomas can be contacted at 791-6411 or at: firstname.lastname@example.org