PORTLAND — Three batters into the game, the Portland Sea Dogs already trailed 2-0, with a New Hampshire runner on second base.
It seemed like a good time for Hadlock Field announcer Dean Rogers to tell the local fans that three former Sea Dogs were called up to the major leagues on Monday – Ryan Lavarnway, Kyle Weiland and Nate Spears.
Applause followed, one of the few moments to cheer at Hadlock on Monday, as the 2011 Sea Dogs season came to a close.
The playoff-bound New Hampshire Fisher Cats beat the Sea Dogs 8-3, completing Portland’s franchise-worst record at 59-83.
The Sea Dogs’ offense showed little spark, save for home runs by Jeremy Hazelbaker and Oscar Tejeda.
Besides the player promotions, the Sea Dogs could celebrate one individual milestone. Reliever Blake Maxwell pitched three innings Sunday, giving him 6001/3 for his career (216 of them with the Sea Dogs).
“It’s definitely an accomplishment,” Maxwell said. “I’m a 40th-round (draft pick) and to stick around that long, it feels really good.”
Maxwell bounced between Portland and Pawtucket this year, constantly returning to Hadlock, despite a 2.50 ERA in Triple-A.
“It was a real mental grind, going up and down,” Maxwell said. “I’d have success, then come back. It was tough to deal with. But I kept the uniform on my back all year and had success.”
That Maxwell was the third pitcher on Monday and already entering in the fifth inning demonstrated the day for Portland.
Sea Dogs reliever Caleb Clay (1-5) made only his second start of the year, filling in for scratched starter Brock Huntzinger.
Huntzinger, 23, has already pitched a team-leading 124 innings and, with an impending assignment to the Arizona Fall League, he was given the day off.
Clay, a supplemental-round draft pick in 2006, moved to the bullpen this season and has had a trying year. Monday’s outing bumped his ERA to 7.47.
Clay retired only three of nine batters he faced. He left in the second inning with no outs. He was charged with five runs on five hits (two homers) and a walk.
Hazelbaker’s homer was his 12th as he continued to show improvement since his promotion on May 21. Tejeda hit his fifth home run in the ninth inning.
Ronald Bermudez followed with a ground-out to end the game, and the season.
“We saw some improvements, but the record is definitely not what we’re looking for,” Sea Dogs Manager Kevin Boles said. “We have to look at the big picture, the individual stories.
“Players involved in trades, guys who moved up. There are a lot of positives to take from this group. But we’re always going to look to improve.”
NOTES: There were plenty of moves in the Red Sox system the past two days, including former Sea Dogs infielder Spears reaching the majors. Spears, who played in Portland last year, was moved up Monday, along with catcher Lavarnway and pitcher Weiland. To replace Lavarnway and Spears on the Pawtucket roster, Sea Dogs catcher Dan Butler and utility player Ryan Khoury were promoted to Triple-A.
To replace them on the Sea Dogs roster, utility player Jon Hee was activated off the disabled list, and infielder Matt Gedman was called up from Lowell. Gedman, a 45th-round draft pick this year, is the son of former Red Sox catcher (and Lowell hitting coach) Rich Gedman. Matt went 0 for 3 Monday. …
Before the game, the Sea Dogs announced their annual award winners: Chih-Hsien Chiang (MVP), Alex Wilson (Pitcher of the Year), Jon Hee (10th Man Award), Jeremy Kehrt (Citizen of the Year) Manager Kevin Boles will have a busy off-season. He has accepted an offer to manage in the Australian Baseball League, which begins in early Novembe. The announced paid attendance was 4,763, giving the Sea Dogs a 5,510 average attendance this year.
Staff Writer Kevin Thomas can be contacted at 791-6411 or at: [email protected]