PORTLAND – This Portland Sea Dogs rotation features plenty of big-name prospects, like Anthony Ranaudo, Drake Britton and Stolmy Pimentel.
Performing in the shadows is Chris Hernandez, and he is performing just fine.
Hernandez, 23, pitched seven shutout innings Saturday as the Portland Sea Dogs beat the Richmond Flying Squirrels 3-1 before 5,191 at Hadlock Field.
The Sea Dogs finally broke a scoreless tie with three runs in the sixth inning, capped by a two-run homer from Reynaldo Rodriguez.
Brock Huntzinger gave up a run on two hits over two innings to earn his first save.
Hernandez (3-5) used all four pitches — fastball, cutter, curve and change-up — to allow only four hits and three walks (one intentional), striking out four.
“Just had a good mix of (inside and outside), mostly in,” Hernandez said. “Going seven (innings) feels good.”
Hernandez, a seventh-round draft pick in 2010 out of the renowned University of Miami program, is not among the top 30 Boston prospects, according to Baseball America. And his fastball does not crack 90 mph on the radar gun.
All the left-handed Hernandez does is pitch effectively, commanding all his pitches. He had a 3.18 ERA in Salem last year, and carries a 2.88 mark in Portland (second only to the 0.00 ERA of Britton, who has made only one start).
“He was very efficient tonight,” Sea Dogs Manager Kevin Boles said. “He kept his composure the whole night.”
Hernandez has only three wins because he rarely gets offensive support — Portland did not score in his previous two starts.
“He doesn’t let it bother him,” Boles said. “He was in a tight game again. He just kept attacking the zone and doing his part.”
Hernandez was locked in a duel with Richmond’s Justin Fitzgerald (3-5), who held the Sea Dogs to one hit over five innings.
In the sixth, Heiker Meneses led off with a walk. Jeremy Hazelbaker put down a great bunt. Hazelbaker looked like he was going to be safe, but it didn’t matter. Third baseman Daniel Mayora threw wildly to first and the ball ended up in foul territory.
Meneses raced around to score for a 1-0 lead, and Hazelbaker went to second. Rodriguez came up and crushed a hanging slider over the left-field wall for his team-leading 12th home run, and a 3-0 lead.
“He’s been having some success pulling the ball. That’s for sure,” Boles said.
In the top of the seventh, an error and single put runners on first and third with one out. Hernandez threw his curve for a called third strike, and then got a groundout.
Huntzinger retired five straight batters and then yielded back-to-back doubles before ending the game with a strikeout.
NOTES: Still on the disabled list, infielder Ryan Dent (hamstring) worked out and reliever Chris Martin (back) threw a bullpen. Both are close to coming back. Former Sea Dogs outfielder Ryan Kalish finished his rehab and was assigned to Pawtucket. Future Sea Dogs pitcher Matt Barnes pitched a seven-inning shutout for Salem, lowering his ERA to 1.32.
Staff Writer Kevin Thomas can be reached at 791-6411 or: