BINGHAMTON, N.Y. – At this point in the season, Anthony Ranaudo was coming out after 75 or fewer pitches, regardless the situation.
What Ranaudo did with those 75 pitches Monday night, however, gave the Portland Sea Dogs and the Boston Red Sox reason to be hopeful.
Ranaudo threw five no-hit innings and the Sea Dogs took a combined one-hitter into the bottom of the ninth before holding on for a 7-4 win over the Binghamton Mets in an Eastern League game.
“I think you’re seeing a healthy version of me,” said Ranaudo, a first-round draft pick in 2010 who struggled mightily in his first season at Double-A last year. “I made some changes this offseason after all the injuries last year and came into spring training a little heavier, a little stronger.”
Ranaudo has won his first two starts, allowing one run in 10 innings (0.90 ERA).
“So far, so good,” he said.
Sea Dogs Manager Kevin Boles said it seems that the groin and shoulder problems Ranaudo experienced last year were a major reason for a 1-3 record, 6.69 ERA and 27 walks in 372/3 innings.
“Last year, he just wasn’t right from a health standpoint,” Boles said. “He just was never completely 100 percent.”
But the 6-foot-7 right-hander allowed just two runners on base Monday night, hitting one and walking another while throwing 44 of 75 pitches for strikes. He struck out three of the last four batters for a total of six.
Daniel Bard followed Ranaudo with a hitless sixth inning and Pete Ruiz extended the combined no-hitter through 62/3 innings. Binghamton managed three of its four hits while scoring twice in the bottom of the ninth after falling behind by five.
Tony Thomas and Michael Almanazar each homered and drove in two runs to lead a 13-hit attack for the Sea Dogs.
Travis Shaw doubled to start the third and Thomas followed with a two-run homer to right-center for a 3-0 lead.
Almanazar singled in a run in the fourth and hit a solo homer down the left-field line with one out to start the three-run ninth.
Peter Hissey had three hits and a ninth-inning sacrifice fly for the Sea Dogs.
The three-run ninth gave Portland a necessary comfort zone when Binghamton got its offense going in the bottom of the inning against Brock Huntzinger.
“It’s the first time we’ve seen this lineup,” Boles said. “They have a lot of weapons, a lot of high-quality athletes.”
But Ranaudo still shut them down, showing off new-found power after working with Boston’s strength staff in Florida.
“The first thing you’ll always hear a pitcher say is your fastball command and your ability to throw off the fastball,” said Ranaudo, who also has been throwing a change-up for strikes and getting outs with a more effective curveball.
“This year, I’ve had a much better fastball from life and velocity to command of the pitch. Everything builds off that.”