PORTLAND – The Portland Sea Dogs celebrated their Hall of Fame Friday night, so it’s only fitting to recall the words of previous inductee Kevin Millar:
“Don’t let us win one.”
It’s the rally cry of teams needing a comeback. Millar uttered that statement before Game 4 of the 2004 American League Championship Series, with Boston trailing the New York Yankees three games to none. Maybe you’ve heard how that turned out, with Boston winning four straight.
On Friday night, before a sold-out Hadlock Field crowd of 7,368, the Trenton Thunder, Double-A affiliate of the Yankees, allowed the Red Sox-affiliated Sea Dogs to win one.
Now the Dogs have four to go.
Portland beat Trenton 8-1 behind the pitching of Chris Hernandez and the power of Juan Carlos Linares, Michael Almanzar, Travis Shaw and Christian Vazquez.
With the victory, Portland (68-70) moved to three games behind Trenton (71-67) for the final playoff spot in the Eastern League’s East Division.
The teams play each other four more times this weekend, including a doubleheader Saturday. Portland must win all four to make the playoffs.
“It’s a playoff push. Maybe we can get in,” said Hernandez (2-0), who was stellar with seven scoreless innings of three-hit ball. In five starts since coming back from Triple-A, he has a 1.64 ERA.
Vazquez recorded two doubles and two RBI, while Linares, Almanzar and Shaw supplied home runs.
Almanzar and Shaw remain tied for the team lead in homers (16), and Linares is one of the hottest hitters in minor league baseball. In his last five games, Linares is batting .565 (13 of 23) with four home runs and 12 RBI.
After a slow start this season, Linares is batting .273 with eight home runs.
“He had some struggles early on and then his playing time was limited,” Portland Manager Kevin Boles said. “It’s a credit to him. He got himself back in the lineup and he’s taking off.”
Good time for a takeoff, with the Sea Dogs needing to win every game.
“This is a good team. We want to get in (the playoffs),” Vazquez said.
NOTES: The Sea Dogs announced the induction of Kevin Youkilis into their Hall of Fame. Youkilis becomes the first player from the Red Sox-affiliated Sea Dogs to be inducted. He played for the Sea Dogs in 2003, the first year Boston was affiliated with Portland, and hit .327 with six home runs in 94 games, with a franchise-record .487 on-base percentage. Youkilis reached the majors the next year. …
The Sea Dogs also announced their 20th anniversary All-Time team, voted by the fans: starting pitchers Josh Beckett and Clay Buchholz; reliever Daniel Bard; catcher Charles Johnson; first baseman Kevin Millar; second baseman Dustin Pedroia; shortstop Hanley Ramirez; third baseman Kevin Youkilis; outfielders Jacoby Ellsbury, Josh Reddick and Mark Kotsay; designated hitter Adrian Gonzalez; utility player Edgar Renteria; and manager Carlos Tosca. …
Garin Cecchini extended his on-base streak to 39 games, surpassing Jed Lowrie on the all-time Sea Dogs list. Cecchini has the third longest streak, behind Millar (62) and Youkilis (47). Saturday’s doubleheader features a food drive for the Good Shepherd Food Bank, music by the Kastaways, and an appearance by Boston Bruins forward Daniel Paille.
Kevin Thomas can be contacted at 791-6411 or at: