TRENTON, N.J. — The Portland Sea Dogs treated CC Sabathia as they have most every other Eastern League pitcher this season. They hit him hard.
Portland – which beat Trenton 8-6 on Wednesday night – scored five runs, three earned, on five hits off the New York Yankees’ left-hander who was making a second rehab start while trying to come back from a right knee injury that has sidelined him since May 11.
Sabathia ended up tossing 32/3 innings, striking out two and walking one, on 55 pitches, 33 strikes. He left just before a thunderstorm halted the game for 1 hour, 41 minutes.
Sabathia left feeling good about his health and impressed with Boston’s young hitters in Portland.
“Good hitters,” Sabathia said. “Obviously it’s a tough league, Double-A.”
Blake Swihart, a 2011 first-round draft pick, did the most damage against Sabathia with a pair of doubles and an RBI. Derrik Gibson, who hit .404 in June, tripled against him.
Sabathia said Gibson’s hit was the only one that came against his fastball.
“My secondary pitches weren’t that good but my fastball felt good,” he said.
Sabathia looked fine when leaping to field Michael Almanzar’s high chopper in the third, bare-handing it and throwing to first for an out. Sabathia walked back to the dugout without any noticeable limp.
“Felt good healthwise,” he said. “Ready to go.”
The Sea Dogs came out swinging against Sabathia in the first. A one-out single by Shannon Wilkerson followed by Swihart’s first double set up Sean Coyle’s sacrifice fly that put Portland up 1-0.
The Sea Dogs added a pair of runs in the third. Gibson led off by driving a Sabathia fastball down the right-field line for a triple, then scored when the relay throw went into the Sea Dogs’ dugout. After Wilkerson walked, Swihart doubled over the center fielder’s head to the fence to drive in Wilkerson and make it 3-0.
Brian Johnson, bidding to join Portland teammate Henry Owens as the only 11-game winners in the minors, gave up a single and RBI double to start the third but limited the damage to one run. That was it for Johnson, who didn’t come back after the delay. He allowed one run on five hits with two strikeouts and no walks. Johnson remained 10-2 in 15 starts this season, and his ERA rose to 2.35.
With Portland leading 3-1, Dave Chester led off the fourth with a single to left before Sabathia got the next two outs. Sabathia looked like he was out of the inning when Heiker Meneses grounded to third, but Rob Segedin booted the routine grounder to keep the inning going.
But that was the end for Sabathia, and it was at just the right time for him to stay dry.
“Perfect timing, perfect timing,” he said. “I really wanted to face the hitters and not have to finish it up in the bullpen.”
NOTES: Besides shortstop Deven Marrero, the Red Sox promoted right-hander Miguel Celestino to Triple-A Pawtucket. The Sea Dogs also placed right-hander Keith Couch on the disabled list, received right-hander Jeremy Kehrt from Pawtucket and right-hander Pete Ruiz from Class A Greenville. Also, Baltimore returned Almanzar, an infielder it took in the Rule 5 draft in the offseason, and the Red Sox assigned him to Portland.