The 10th anniversary season of the Portland Sea Dogs had an impact that rippled through New England. Season tickets sold quickly and sellout crowds were ready to greet the Sea Dogs, now the Double-A affiliate of the Boston Red Sox.
Then the snow came and wiped out the season-opening series against the Trenton Thunder, the new affiliate of the New York Yankees. Not until April 10, a full week after the season was scheduled to start, did the Sea Dogs finally play.
The Dogs did not play a game in which the temperature was above 55 degrees until May, and they suffered nine postponements in the season’s first month.
Despite the drama, prospects Kevin Youkilis and pitcher Jorge De La Rosa – along with a 7-1 start from Josh Stevens – helped Portland stay near the top of the division. Catching prospect Kelly Shoppach arrived in late April, and the Sea Dogs won 14 of 19 games to take over the division lead. Center fielder Jeremy Owens fueled the run, hitting seven homers and driving in 17 runs.
After sending Youkilis, De La Rosa, Stevens, Shoppach and Owens to the Eastern League All-Star game, the Sea Dogs began the second half of the season with nine wins in 12 games to solidify their hold on the top of the division.
However, injuries, trades and late-season call-ups ravaged the roster, forcing the team to use a franchise-record 50 players. Youkilis was promoted to Pawtucket in late July in the midst of a 71-game on-base streak – which tied the modern day minor-league record set by Kevin Millar. De La Rosa was called up a week later, and Portland went on a slide, losing nine consecutive games to begin August.
Before the month was up, Portland had fallen to third place and would miss the playoffs for a sixth consecutive season. The Sea Dogs finished 72-20, the first winning record by a Red Sox Double-A team since 1999.
Knuckleballer Charlie Zink flirted with two no-hitters, coming within two strikes of the franchise’s first complete-game no-hitter on Aug. 30.