PORTLAND – In the wake of winning only 59 games last season, the Portland Sea Dogs introduced themselves to the patrons of Hadlock Field on Thursday night, full of promise and hope for better days.
They still may come.
But not Thursday.
The Sea Dogs showed glimpses of good times ahead, but not nearly enough of them, losing 5-1 to the Binghamton Mets in the home opener at Hadlock.
Binghamton (3-3) jumped on Portland starter Brock Huntzinger (0-2) for five runs in the first three innings, and that was plenty to drop the Sea Dogs to 1-7.
Portland outhit the Mets 9-7, but the Sea Dogs didn’t score a run after the first pitch. Juan Carlos Linares homered on that first pitch, to left- center field.
“He’s an aggressive hitter and ready to hit from Pitch 1,” Portland Manager Kevin Boles said.
The Sea Dogs loaded the bases with one out, on three singles after that homer, but stranded them
“Good (at-bats) that first inning. We just didn’t get the timely hit,” Boles said.
Huntzinger, 23, is one of those glimmer-of-hope guys in the Red Sox system. With a normally effective fastball, slider and change-up, Huntzinger is hunting for consistency.
Take the first inning. Huntzinger cruised through two batters (12 pitches, nine strikes), but then gave up a walk, single, walk and two-run single.
“I came out of the gate strong and (then) I shot myself in the foot,” Huntzinger said. “I don’t know what happened. I got out of my rhythm.”
Huntzinger retired the side in the second, but allowed three hits and three runs in the third.
“He elevated his pitches,” Boles said, “but he kept competing. We’re hoping to see better signs from him in the future.”
Jeremy Kehrt relieved Huntzinger and provided one of those bright spots: four innings of one-hit, shutout relief, striking out five. Josh Field pitched a perfect ninth.
“Bullpen did a terrific job,” Boles said. “Jeremy Kehrt had some life to his fastball and threw his off-speed in timely counts.”
Meanwhile, Binghamton starter Collin McHugh (1-1), the pride of the Berry College Vikings in Mount Berry, Ga., stymied the Sea Dogs, scattering seven hits and one run over 62/3 innings. Using an inside fastball and a killer curveball, McHugh struck out six and walked none.
“He gave up four hits in the first inning but then started mixing up his pitches more,” Mets pitching coach Glenn Abbott said.
NOTES: The announced paid attendance was 5,227. Linares went 2 for 5 and is batting .406 Heiker Meneses, a 20-year-old second baseman, also had two hits and upped his average to .350. Today’s game features a good pitching matchup with the Mets throwing their top prospect, Zack Wheeler, against Portland left-hander Chris Hernandez. Wheeler, 21, was the Giants’ first-round pick in 2009, then was traded in the Carlos Beltran deal. Hernandez, 23, lost his first Double-A start Saturday, allowing three runs in the fourth inning.
Staff Writer Kevin Thomas can be contacted at 791-6411 or at: