As the Boston Red Sox unraveled with another loss Monday night, its Double-A affiliate in Portland is looking more and more playoff-bound.
The Sea Dogs got a formidable performance from starter Mike Augliera and beat the Reading Fightin Phils 2-0 at Hadlock Field.
Augliera (5-9) pitched a two-hit shutout over eight innings – which included an 80-minute rain delay – to give Portland its 69th victory (Boston has 48 wins).
Catcher Blake Swihart and designated hitter David Chester homered for Portland. Robby Scott pitched a perfect ninth for his third save.
It’s still July and the Sea Dogs already can talk magic numbers. Portland (69-40) leads the Eastern League East Division by 5½ games over Binghamton, and leads third-place New Britain by 16 games.
The top two teams in the division reach the playoffs. With 33 games to play, Portland’s magic number to be in the postseason is 19 – the combination of Sea Dogs wins and New Britain losses needed.
Portland hasn’t reached the playoffs since 2008.
Coming into Monday’s game, the Sea Dogs needed an extended effort from Augliera. Portland played a 12-inning game Sunday, has a doubleheader Tuesday, then turns around for a noon game Wednesday. The bullpen was going to need a break.
“He came up big for us,” Swihart said. “He filled the strike zone with all his pitches.”
Augliera needed only 87 pitches (59 strikes).
Augliera retired the first 10 batters. Carlos Alonso broke up the no-hitter with a single with one out in the fourth. And then the skies opened and players retreated to their clubhouses.
It didn’t figure Augliera would continue when play resumed, but during the delay he kept warm by throwing in the indoor batting cage.
“I kept trying to move around, stay loose and ready,” Augliera said. “Glad I was able to (pitch eight innings). All of the starters take pride in going deep in the game.”
Augliera faced the minimum 24 batters, erasing the two base runners with double plays. Of his 24 outs, 17 came from grounders, four from strikeouts and three in the air.
“When he gets a lot of ground balls, that’s his game,” Swihart said.
Swihart’s 12th home run of the season came in the first inning on a fastball from Severino Gonzalez (6-12).
He hit it to right-center, the same place Chester swatted a fastball in the second inning for his fifth home run.
NOTES: Swihart went 2 for 4 to improve his batting average to .306 and leads the team with 54 RBI. He also tied Sean Coyle for the team lead in home runs (12). …
Center fielder Derrik Gibson, second baseman Coyle and third baseman Michael Almanzar made diving catches behind Augliera. …
Scott lowered his ERA to 1.80. …
The announced paid attendance was 4,124. … Tuesday’s doubleheader will begin at 6 p.m. … The Sea Dogs announced that their Sunday 1 p.m. game will be on NESN.