TRENTON, N.J. — The Portland Sea Dogs’ offense finally went quiet.
After tearing up the opposition on the first seven games of an eight-game trip, Portland limped home to Hadlock Field following an uncharacteristic 8-0 defeat to the Trenton Thunder on Thursday night.
After averaging 7.3 runs to win 6 of 7 against Reading and Trenton, including Wednesday’s victory against the rehabbing CC Sabathia of the New York Yankees, the Sea Dogs managed just three hits Thursday night.
A day after moving 28 games over .500 for the first time since 1995, Portland had to settle for a still-successful 6-2 trip and will look to get back to their clubhouse mantra when they host New Britain for the first of three games beginning at 6 p.m. Friday.
“We mess around before games and after games that, ‘Hey, no one can beat us. We’re the best team in the minor leagues right now,’ ” catcher Blake Swihart said following Wednesday’s win. “We come out swinging. That’s just our team mentality.”
On Thursday, though, the Thunder couldn’t get the bats going against Matt Tracy (8-2) and four relievers. Tracy allowed only Michael Almanzar’s fourth-inning single in five impressive innings.
Portland’s best chance came in the second when it loaded the bases with two outs for Shannon Wilkerson, who had to wait out a 55-minute rain delay before striking out looking to end the inning.
The Sea Dogs had gotten runners on with a pair of walks and a hit batsman. Tracy retired eight of the next nine batters to finish his evening.
Meanwhile, Mike Augliera (3-7) was continuing his struggles for Portland. Pitching about 45 minutes from his Old Bridge, New Jersey, home, Augliera surrendered six runs on 11 hits – both of which matched season worsts – in four innings. The left-hander is winless in his last eight starts, going 0-3 with a 7.02 ERA over that stretch.
The Thunder knocked Augliera around in the first for three runs on five hits. He also got some bad luck in the inning when right fielder Jonathan Roof misjudged Peter O’Brien’s pop fly single that loaded the bases. Roof left the game after injuring his hand when he dove trying to make the catch.
Rob Segedin’s two-run double and Zach Wilson’s RBI single followed, giving Trenton more than enough runs.
Swihart hits CC: Of the five hits the Sea Dogs got off of Sabathia in 32/3 innings during the lefty’s start Wednesday, Swihart’s two doubles stood out. He doubled to left in the first and drove the ball to deep center for an RBI double in the third in Portland’s 8-6 victory.
“It’s not the first time I faced a big leaguer, so I just went up there with the same approach I always have and it just worked out for me,” he said. “Just put the bat on some good pitches.”
The catching prospect, who entered Thursday batting .303 with nine homers and 44 RBI, certainly gained some confidence from his success against the six-time All-Star and 2007 AL Cy Young winner.
“If you can prove to yourself that, ‘Hey, I can put a good swing on a ball against him,’ I feel like I can do it at the next level,’” he said.