PORTLAND — The kid can pitch. And he can pitch out of trouble.
Red Sox pitching prospect Drake Britton made his Double-A debut Tuesday night at Hadlock Field, and did not allow a hit through five innings.
Britton did give up six walks, including three in the third inning, but escaped that jam by inducing an infield pop-up.
Britton’s effectively-wild outing and nine Sea Dogs hits made for a 6-1 Portland victory over the Bowie Baysox.
Reynaldo Rodriguez recorded two RBI, Derrik Gibson tripled in a run and Dan Butler added a double and solo home run.
Britton, who turned 22 two weeks ago, was a coveted draft pick in 2007 and was considered one of Boston’s top pitching prospects until he struggled last season in Class A.
A left-hander with a mid 90’s fastball and an assortment of off-speed pitches, Britton looks to have straightened out his game – despite the six walks on Tuesday.
“He has a quality arm with a very smooth delivery,” Sea Dogs Manager Kevin Boles said. “I know he was inconsistent with his (command) early on, but to be able to settle in like he did was pretty impressive.”
Two of the walks came during a downpour in the second inning. Then came the three walks in the third, before Britton retired seven of the last eight batters, the one runner reaching on an error.
“I finished strong,” Britton said. “Obviously, I struggled with my command. But I never gave in. I kept trusting myself when I was out there.
“I was inconsistent with my breaking stuff. When I was inconsistent with my fastball, that didn’t make it any easier. I just kept concentrating.”
Britton got his command back, firing fastballs, while dropping in a handful of curveballs, change-ups and sliders. He threw 88 pitches, 46 for strikes.
“He pounded the zone when he needed to,” said Butler, the Sea Dogs’ catcher.
“He found his off-speed pitches as the game went on. And he was dominant with his fastball — a lot of bad swings on his fastball.”
Will Latimer relieved and gave up a run on two hits over three innings. Aaron Kurcz struck out two in the ninth inning.
Oscar Tejeda’s RBI single and Rodriguez’s walk with the bases loaded gave Portland a 2-0 lead in the third inning against Bowie starter Tim Bascom (3-4).
Juan Carlos Linares and Rodriguez hit back-to-back doubles in the fifth for a 3-0 lead.
In the sixth, Butler doubled and Gibson sent him home with a gap shot to left-center. Gibson scored on a wild pitch. Butler’s third homer of the season came in the eighth, over the left-field wall.
NOTES: Outfielder Ryan Kalish spent only three games with the Sea Dogs, all on the road, during his rehab assignment. Kalish was moved up to Pawtucket, where he homered in the first inning on Tuesday Josh Beckett bobblehead dolls will be given to the first 1,000 fans in the stadium tonight. The gates open at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday’s announced paid attendance was 3,928.
Staff Writer Kevin Thomas can be contacted at 791-6411 or at: [email protected]