PORTLAND — The Portland Sea Dogs entered Hadlock Field for the franchise’s 20th season opener on Thursday. They discovered a renovated playing surface, the best ever at Hadlock. And the Sea Dogs could feel the wind blowing out, about 12 mph to center field.
The surface did Portland little good. The Sea Dogs committed five errors.
As for the wind, the Trenton Thunder teed off into the gusts, accounting for four home runs and a couple booming RBI doubles.
The result was a 13-5 Trenton win on the opening night of the Eastern League season before 5,447 at Hadlock.
The Sea Dogs kept it close until the Thunder bullpen gate opened. Four Trenton relievers held Portland hitless over the last 61/3 innings.
“Very impressive. Their bullpen did their job,” Sea Dogs Manager Kevin Boles said. “They attacked the zone and got strikes.”
Trenton relievers accounted for 12 strikeouts. Shaeffer Hall struck out Stephen Drew looking in the fifth inning.
Drew, the Boston Red Sox shortstop making a rehab appearance with the Sea Dogs, put the ball in play in his other two at-bats, getting one RBI.
Portland center fielder Shannon Wilkerson led off the first with a hustle double, reaching second when the Trenton outfielders were slow to get to his grounder to left-center.
Drew grounded out to second and the hustling Wilkerson never stopped, rounding third and scoring.
Second baseman Heiker Meneses hit a three-run homer in the second inning to give the Sea Dogs a short-lived 4-3 lead, and Christian Vazquez drove home a run in the third with a sacrifice fly.
That was it for the offense.
Meanwhile, Portland pitchers struggled with a combination of the wind, pitch location and poor defense.
“We didn’t take care of the baseball,” Boles said. “We have to protect our pitching. We were going through our bullpen a little bit the first night.”
The first error was made by starting pitcher Drake Britton (0-1). He mishandled a slow grounder in the first inning, putting runners on first and second with two outs.
“Routine comebacker. We practice it every day,” Britton said. “And I took my eye off the ball.”
Kyle Roller made Britton pay. He launched a three-run homer over the center-field wall.
Trenton’s first two batters in the third reached on an error and a walk, and J.R. Murphy hit a three-run homer. One out later, Rob Segedin homered for a 7-4 lead.
“Drake had good stuff but we gave them extra outs,” Boles said.
“He made a couple of mistakes in the zone and the ball got caught up in that jet stream.”
Britton lasted only three innings. Portland used three relievers, including Daniel Bard, the Red Sox reliever sent to Hadlock to work on his consistency.
Bard began the seventh by throwing seven of his first eight pitches for balls. He settled in and got a couple infield outs before Neil Medchill hit a 95 mph fastball out of the park for an 11-5 lead.
“We just need to get him back in sync,” Boles said.
Kevin Thomas can be reached at 791-6411 or: