The Portland Sea Dogs managed just fine without Shane Victorino.
While the Boston Red Sox decided not to send Victorino to Hadlock Field for a rehab appearance on Saturday, the Sea Dogs beat the New Hampshire Fisher Cats 5-2 in the first game of a doubleheader, before a sold-out Hadlock Field crowd of 7,368.
New Hampshire won the second game 2-0.
Center fielder Shannon Wilkerson had three hits in the first game, including a two-run single.
Sea Dogs left-hander Brian Johnson (8-2) rebounded from a rare poor start last week to throw a complete-game three-hitter. Johnson allowed two runs (one earned) and two walks. He struck out four over seven innings.
Johnson has allowed two earned runs or less in every one of his starts, except for an outing in Binghamton last Monday, when he gave up seven runs in 21/3 innings.
“I was ready for this one,” Johnson said. “I couldn’t wait to get back out there.”
And what changes did Johnson make?
“Nothing,” he said. “I prepared just as hard after a win as after a loss. Just stick to my routine.”
Johnson showed his normal control (84 pitches/55 strikes), spotting his 88-91 mph fastball, while mixing in curves, change-ups and a dozen cutters. He got all his swing-and-misses (nine) on the off-speed pitches.
Johnson, 23, is an emerging prospect. Conversely, the New Hampshire Fisher Cats threw former major leaguer Radhames Liz, 30, who was signed by the Blue Jays in the offseason. Liz pitched for Baltimore from 2007 to 2009. He then bounced around and finally landed in Korea for the past three seasons.
Portland got to Liz in a wild third inning, which Ryan Dent started with a double. The next six Sea Dogs also reached – three were hit by a pitch – as Portland took a 4-1 lead.
Blake Swihart made it 5-1 with a RBI double in the fourth.
Johnson’s one earned run allowed was a Michael Crouse home run on a 2-0 fastball to lead off the seventh inning.
In the second game, New Hampshire’s John Anderson and reliever Gregory Infante one-hit Portland – a Peter Hissey leadoff single in the first inning. Errors led to two unearned runs for the Fisher Cats against Wilfredo Boscan (1-3). Reliever Aaron Kurcz struck out six in 21/3 innings.
NOTES: Hours after the Sea Dogs announced that Victorino was coming to Hadlock Saturday, the Red Sox changed their minds, saying Victorino would take Saturday off and likely play for Lowell during Sunday’s annual Futures at Fenway game. Victorino also played for Lowell on Thursday and Friday. Victorino has been on the disabled list with back and hamstring issues. The Red Sox emphasized that not playing Saturday in Portland did not indicate a change in his progress. … Sea Dogs center fielder Derrik Gibson was transferred to Triple-A Pawtucket. He was replaced on the roster by catcher Danny Bethea up from Lowell to fill in. Gibson could be back for the Eastern League All-Star Game Wednesday.
Kevin Thomas can be reached at 791-6411 or at: