BINGHAMTON, N.Y. — Henry Owens allowed two Binghamton Mets runners before he recorded his first out Monday night for the Portland Sea Dogs.
In one pitch, the infield got him out of trouble with a triple play and Owens worked with a lead the rest of the way.
The Sea Dogs scored at least six runs for the ninth time in 10 games to help Owens remain unbeaten in three decisions with a 7-4 Eastern League victory against the Mets.
Third baseman Sean Coyle fielded Brian Burgamy’s sharply hit grounder near the line, stepped on the bag and sent the ball to second base.
From there, Mookie Betts made the pivot and got the ball to first baseman Travis Shaw to complete the triple play.
“Right when it was hit, I knew we had a shot because it carried Coyle over to the bag,” Owens said. “When I talked to him later, he said he took a step to his left before the pitch, but he anticipated anything to his right, he was going to try to get three because the runner wasn’t that fast.
“It’s kind of bizarre.”
Sea Dogs Manager Billy McMillon said he had seen a grounder turned into an around-the-horn triple play on ESPN’s SportsCenter, but never in person.
“That’s such a rare play that I don’t think you can ever plan for it,” McMillon said. “But in practices we do work on that play where the ball is hit to the third baseman and he steps on the bag. He had the wherewithal to go ahead and try to turn it.
“It was a big momentum boost for us. It was the first inning, it killed a potential rally that they might have had going with the No. 3 hitter up and two runners on. It was something (Owens)could draw on and got him a little more comfortable.”
With the league’s top offense leading the way, the Sea Dogs have won five straight and 9 of 10 games for a league-best 11-4 start.
Betts is leading all of minor league baseball with a .448 average after going 2 for 5 – which actually lowered his average –with a double.
He also made his contribution to the triple play.
“Mookie did a real good job on it at second base,” McMillon said. “It was a low throw.”
Shaw also had two hits, including a homer, and Blake Swihart matched Betts with a single and double. Shannon Wilkerson also hit a homer for the Sea Dogs, who are batting .308 and averaging 5.87 runs per game.
Owens retired eight straight at one point and only allowed two hits while holding Binghamton scoreless through five innings. Working with a 5-0 lead, Owens allowed three runs, two earned, in the sixth before leaving.
Noe Ramirez and Miguel Celestino, who worked a 1-2-3 ninth for his first save, finished off the combined five-hitter.
The Sea Dogs also received a potential boost to the bullpen.
Earlier in the day, Aaron Kurcz was activated from the disabled list.
Kurcz struck out 72 in 501/3 innings, the best ratio in the Eastern League, before having his 2012 season shortened by injury.
Kurcz, who underwent Tommy John surgery on his elbow, has not appeared in a game since July 21, 2012.
McMillon said Kurcz is ready to pitch when needed.
Coyle played just one more inning in the field after starting the triple play.
He was replaced by Michael Brenly in the third inning because of an injury that McMillon said isn’t serious.