PORTLAND — When Chris Balcom-Miller is throwing his “special” fastball, catcher Dan Butler has an easy time deciding what pitch to request.
And when Reynaldo Rodriguez is swinging the bat like he can, Manager Kevin Boles has at least one simple decision.
Butler’s decision: Call for Balcom-Miller’s sinking fastball.
Boles’ choice: Put Rodriguez in the middle of the lineup.
Balcom-Miller threw a three-hitter over seven innings and Rodriguez clubbed two two-run homers as the Portland Sea Dogs beat the New Hampshire Fisher Cats 8-1 Monday night at Hadlock Field.
Bryce Brentz added a two-run homer in the rout.
Balcom-Miller (2-2) struck out three and induced 13 groundouts.
“He’s got that sinker that’s real special,” Butler said. “He threw his fastball over the plate and let the movement work.
“He just used that thing all night, and threw a couple of off-speed pitches to keep them honest.”
Except for two blowouts this season, Balcom-Miller, 23, has allowed eight runs in five other starts.
“I feel back on track,” he said. “Hopefully keep going, stay strong.”
Rodriguez showed some strength, crushing a curveball over the left-field wall in the first inning, and fastball high off the left-center message board in the third.
“Just working hard in the cage,” Rodriguez said through an interpreter, “and taking what I’m doing in the cage and applying it on the field.”
Rodriguez, 26, a minor league free agent in his third year with the Red Sox, went 3 for 4, adding a double. He is batting .275 with five home runs.
In Rodriguez’s last 13 games, he has a .314 average with four homers, five doubles and 10 RBI.
“He’s picked it up and we need that out of him,” Boles said. “He gives us a lot of protection in the lineup.”
Rodriguez batted fourth, behind Juan Carlos Linares, who was 2 for 4 to improve his average to .341.
Brentz, limited to being the designated hitter because of a sore heel, hit his second home run of the season, sending a hanging breaking ball over the left-field wall.
New Hampshire’s Randy Boone (0-1) took the loss in his first Double-A start since undergoing Tommy John surgery last year.
Sea Dogs reliever Josh Fields pitched two hitless innings, striking out four.
NOTES: The announced paid attendance was 5,563. Third baseman Kolbrin Vitek was scratched from the lineup after batting practice because of a stiff back.
Josh Beckett bobblehead dolls will be given to the first 1,000 fans in the ballpark tonight. The gates open at 4:30 p.m.
Today is All the Hair You Can Spare day at Hadlock. The Sea Dogs are seeking fans with at least 10 inches of non-chemically treated hair to be donated to a program that creates wigs for cancer patients. Stylist from Akari will be at Hadlock providing free styles for those who can donate, from 4:30 to 6 p.m. Contact Liz Riley ([email protected]) or 874-9300) for more information.
Staff Writer Kevin Thomas can be contacted at 791-6411 or at: [email protected]