PORTLAND — Drake Britton’s stay in Portland should be coming to an end soon.
Not only is the clock ticking on Britton’s time in the minor leagues, he is pitching too well for Double-A baseball.
Britton, 24, pitched a complete game, seven-inning shutout Tuesday night, as the Portland Sea Dogs topped the Erie SeaWolves 2-0 at Hadlock Field.
The game lasted only seven innings because it was the first game of a doubleheader. The second game was rained out.
That game will be made up today as part of a doubleheader, starting at 6 p.m.
Erie starter Warwick Saupold (4-3) gave up only five hits, but three came in the second inning – singles by Juan Carlos Linares and Tony Thomas, and Peter Hissey’s RBI double off the wall in left.
Thomas homered over the wall in the sixth inning.
Portland improved to 33-28, while Britton is now 5-5 with a 3.25 ERA.
But look at what Britton has done lately:
One earned run in his last four starts (25 innings).
Two straight shutout outings (15 innings).
Both shutouts have been against Erie (32-29), which is not a bad team (sixth in the league in hitting, and in second place in the Eastern League West Division).
Britton is showing command and consistency – one walk in each of his last three starts.
“Some of his early struggles were because of one inning,” Sea Dogs Manager Kevin Boles said. “He’s been able to get rid of that.”
Britton credits his focus to pitching coach Bob Kipper, as well as former Red Sox All-Star Pedro Martinez, who has had conversations with Britton. The bottom line is that Britton is relaxed, unafraid of failure, and confident in his talent.
“I know in the back of my mind I’ve been part of the worst games you can imagine. There’s nothing I can’t handle,” Britton said. “I just let my natural ability take over.”
Boston has always shown faith in the left-hander. Even after he went 1-13 with a 6.91 ERA in Class A Salem in 2011, the Red Sox placed him on their 40-man roster to guard against other teams drafting him.
But 40-man roster players can stay in the minors for only three years. Britton has the rest of this season and the next to hone his skills. He already has 29 games and 1562⁄3 innings in Double-A.
His promotion to Pawtucket should be soon, although the PawSox roster is crowded with starters.
For now, Britton is helping the Sea Dogs stay in second place in the East Division. On Tuesday, Britton mixed his low 90’s fastball with a killer change-up, and effective slider and curve.
“He stayed under control with a great mix,” catcher Matt Spring said. “He’s put 2-3 starts together that have looked really nice.”Britton allowed six hits. Only one runner reached third, on a double and wild pitch in the sixth inning with one out. Britton retired the next two batters. He struck out three batters, which is actually his second lowest total this season. Britton threw 90 pitches, 63 for strikes.
NOTES: Reliever Daniel Bard, who has not appeared in a game since May 15, will be out a while longer. He went on the disabled list Sunday with an abdominal strain … The announced paid attendance was 2,631 … The first 1,000 fans today will receive a Dustin Pedroia bobblehead doll. The gate opens at 4:30 p.m.
Kevin Thomas can be contacted at 791-6411 or at: