TRENTON, N.J. – Besides the thunder, lightning and heavy rain that blanketed Waterfront Park on Saturday night, delaying the start of the opener of Portland’s three-game set in Trenton for 1 hour, 11 minutes, things were back to calm and quiet for the Sea Dogs.
Gone were major leaguers Jacoby Ellsbury, Carl Crawford and Ryan Sweeney, whose presence during seven combined rehabilitation appearances last week with Portland brought extra media attention.
It’s not surprising that all left prior to Portland’s 314-mile bus trek Friday night from Manchester, N.H., to Trenton.
“He was not having that,” a laughing Jackie Bradley Jr. said of Ellsbury, who played Saturday night at Triple-A Pawtucket.
Bradley surrendered his center field position to Ellsbury on Wednesday and Friday, serving as the designated hitter.
“That was good,” he said. “It gave me a break to kind of get recovered. There wasn’t any disappointment.”
But there was disappointment for the Sea Dogs on Saturday as Portland lost to Trenton 4-3 in a game twice delayed by rain for a total of 1 hour, 29 minutes. It was the seventh defeat in eight games for the Sea Dogs, who have lost 16 of 20 games against the Thunder this season.
Sea Dogs starter Jeremy Kehrt (2-3) allowed four runs on 10 hits in 6 2/3 innings. The right-hander has a 6.95 ERA in his last four starts (17 earned runs, 22 innings). The long ball has been a problem recently, as he gave up two homers Saturday night and has allowed five in his last four games after giving up two in his first 15 games over 48 innings.
The Thunder broke a 1-1 tie in the fourth with a pair of homers off Kehrt — a solo shot to right by Zoilo Amonte and a two-run homer off the foul pole in left by Luke Murton.
Portland got a run back in the sixth on Drew Hedman’s sacrifice fly, and another one in the ninth on Bradley’s two-out RBI double.
Bradley went 3 for 5 with a pair of doubles and an RBI, raising his season average to .366.
“He swung the bat very well,” Sea Dogs Manager Kevin Boles said of Bradley. “He knows how to work a count, knows how to manage his (at-bats), has a pretty good idea of the strike zone and seems like he always has a pretty good rhythm at the plate.”
Bradley didn’t necessarily glean any pearls of wisdom about playing center field from Ellsbury; instead they just chatted like teammates do.
“Just small talk, seeing how they were doing and seeing how things were going on with their recovery,” he said, speaking about Crawford and Sweeney as well. “I know Jacoby a little bit. We’re not really talking baseball, just talking and seeing how each other is doing.”
Boles said the three rehab players had a positive effect.
“Obviously, they’re great examples for our young guys to follow because it’s obviously where they want to be down the road,” he said. “The three guys were terrific. It’s a good example.”
NOTES: Sea Dogs right-hander Aaron Kurcz was added to the Eastern League All-Star Game, joining Bryce Brentz and Reynaldo Rodriguez.