PORTLAND – The Portland Sea Dogs rode a four-run first inning and solid pitching by Matt Barnes to a 12-1 win over the New Britain Rock Cats Friday night at Hadlock Field.
Portland quickly turned the tables on the Rock Cats just one day after suffering a 17-1 loss.
Xander Bogaerts started the first-inning rally with a one-out double to right. Travis Shaw followed with an RBI single. Juan Carlos Linares, who arrived from Triple-A Pawtucket earlier in the day, made an early impression as he stroked a two-run home run to left center to make it 3-0. Michael Almanzar capped the inning with a solo shot over the scoreboard in left center — his team-leading fourth of the season — for a 4-0 lead.
“To see them bounce back, that’s a credit to their character,” said Portland Manager Kevin Boles. “We’ve got guys that want to play in the big leagues and each day is a new day and the way these guys bounced back shows a lot of toughness.”
Barnes stymied any hopes of a New Britain response. The Red Sox top pitching prospect made quick work of the Rock Cats early, needing only 20 pitches — 16 for strikes — to retire the first six batters he faced. Three of the six outs were strikeouts, which paved the way for the right-hander to advance beyond the third inning for the first time in three starts.
“Obviously the first two games didn’t go how I wanted them to but I kept working and got after it this week in every aspect,” said Barnes. “Tonight I felt like my mechanics were a little bit more in sync. I was able to throw my secondary pitches for strikes consistently and any time your team gives you four runs in the first inning it kind of gives you a bounce.”
Barnes, who allowed only one run on five hits in six innings while striking out seven, experienced a slight hiccup in the third. He allowed a walk and a single with one out but recorded his fourth strikeout of the game and a fly ball to left to emerge unscathed. New Britain had runners on first and third with two outs in the fifth before he got Danny Santana to ground out to short to end the inning.
“(Barnes) was efficient, No. 1,” said Boles. “He was attacking with his fastball and when he missed, he missed down and that was good, especially in the conditions tonight with the wind blowing out quite a bit.”
New Britain (8-7) scored its lone run in the fourth when Danny Ortiz hit a two-out, solo homer to make it 4-1.
Portland added to its lead in the fifth off Rock Cats reliever Marty Popham. A walk and two singles loaded the bases for Christian Vazquez, who drove in a pair with a double to make it 6-1. Bogaerts chipped in a two-run single as the home side totaled six runs in the inning for a 10-1 advantage.
The Sea Dogs added single runs in the seventh and eighth innings to complete the scoring.
NOTES: Portland’s Travis Shaw extended his on-base streak to 13 games with a first-inning RBI single … To make room for Linares, Portland placed outfielder Ronald Bermudez on the disabled list with a left foot contusion … Announced attendance was 4,549.