If you are Keith Couch, all you can do is wait.
Of course he would like to pitch in Triple-A, but look at the rotation for the Pawtucket Red Sox. It contains five legitimate prospects: Brandon Workman, Allen Webster, Rubby De La Rosa, Anthony Ranaudo and Matt Barnes.
Couch, 24, is in his second season with the Portland Sea Dogs. In his 23 Double-A starts, Couch is 13-1 with a 2.83 ERA, which includes Portland’s 2-0 win Friday night over the Trenton Thunder at Hadlock Field.
Peter Hissey’s two-run double in the second inning provided all the offense Portland needed. Miguel Celestino recorded his third save.
Mookie Betts went 0 for 3 but walked in the first inning to increase his on-base streak to 66 games.
Couch is 5-0 this year with a 2.56 ERA and is tied with two other pitchers for the most wins in the Eastern League. But there is nothing that points to Couch leaving the Eastern League anytime soon.
“What are you going to do? You can’t control that stuff,” Couch said. “Just go out and be me.”
Couch mixes a fastball, slider and change-up. He was coming off a rare shaky start, in which he gave up four runs in 52/3 innings against New Hampshire.
“Last time I tried to do too much and that caused me to overthrow,” Couch said. “Just worked on my timing and got good results.”
After allowing a first-inning double, Couch retired 14 of 15 batters. He worked a season-high seven innings, giving up four hits.
“Got ahead with his fastball and letting it move like it can move,” catcher Blake Swihart said.
Swihart and Carlos Rivero led off the second inning with walks against Trenton starter Caleb Cotham (0-1). With one out, Hissey doubled in two runs with a line drive to left-center. Hissey continues to battle, hoping to emerge from early struggles that have him batting .206 in a part-time role.
“Just trying to be relaxed,” Hissey said. “The season is so young, especially with the amount of at-bats I have (68). I’m just looking to get good at-bats and improve daily.”
Portland managed only three more hits in the final seven innings, but Couch was on.
“This is more typical of what we’ve been seeing of him,” Sea Dogs Manager Billy McMillon said. “Pounding the strike zone, getting ahead of hitters. Steady, steady performance.”
Celestino lowered his ERA to 1.72 with two innings of one-hit ball.
The Sea Dogs (24-14) extended their lead in the East Division to 2½ games over the Thunder.
NOTES: Betts’ on-base streak is 71 games counting five Carolina League playoffs games in 2013, but those games don’t count toward regular-season records. … Catcher Blake Swihart blocked a ball in the dirt and threw out Ben Gamel trying to steal third base in the sixth inning. Swihart leads catchers in the Red Sox organization with a .450 caught-stealing percentage (9 for 20). Christian Vazquez, now at Triple-A Pawtucket, is second (.400). … The announced paid attendance was 6,712. … While 2,000 tickets remain for Saturday’s game, only 500 are left for Sunday.
Kevin Thomas can be reached at 791-6411 or at: