The Sea Dogs get their champagne celebration after winning their first division championship since 2005.
Reaching the postseason is nice. The Portland Sea Dogs did that last week.
Going into the playoffs as division champions is better.
If anything, the Sea Dogs got a second taste of champagne.
Portland broke out the bubbly for the second time in two weeks Friday night after defeating the Harrisburg Senators 3-2 at Hadlock Field.
That win, combined with the Binghamton Mets’ 2-1 loss in Richmond, guaranteed Portland first place in the Eastern League Eastern Division.
“This wasn’t a stated goal,” said Manager Billy McMillon, sitting in his office while his players celebrated. “The goal is to go out and compete every day. With the talent the Red Sox have assembled, if we play well, we should compete.
“We came out ahead a lot more than we lost so far … Even with the all the (roster) movements we’ve had, they all worked hard. I’m happy for them.”
Portland (86-53) leads the Mets (83-56) by three games, with three games remaining. Should the teams finish with the same record, the Sea Dogs win the first tiebreaker, which is head-to-head competition. Portland has a 12-9 record against the Mets.
This is the Sea Dogs’ first division championship since 2005. Portland will play the Mets in the first round of the playoffs, a best-of-five series that begins in Binghamton next Wednesday. After two games, the series shifts to Portland next Friday and, if necessary, Saturday and Sunday.
In the Western Division, Richmond will face Akron or Bowie in the first round. The first-round winners will meet the following week in the championship series.
But before the playoffs begin, the Sea Dogs have more work to do, namely recording the best record in franchise history. Their 86 wins ties the 1995 Sea Dogs for the most in a season. Portland has three games to set a record.
On Friday, Mike Augliera (8-10) got the win with six innings of one-run ball, allowing seven hits and no walks and striking out four.
Portland led 1-0 in the first inning on Keury De La Cruz’s RBI single.
In the fourth, a two-out throwing error by Harrisburg third baseman Matt Skole put runners on second and third. Sean Coyle grounded a single to left, scoring two for a 3-0 lead.
The Mets got one off Augliera. Closer Noe Ramirez allowed a run in the ninth on a leadoff triple and balk but got the next three batters for his 17th save.
NOTES: Before the game, the Sea Dogs added the latest member to the organization’s Hall of Fame: Hanley Ramirez, who played in Portland at the end of 2004 and through all of 2005. Ramirez was traded after the 2005 season in the Josh Beckett deal. Beckett is also a member of the Sea Dogs Hall of Fame.
Former Portland infielder Oscar Tejeda, 24, retuned to Hadlock in a Harrisburg uniform. Tejeda was waived in 2012 and picked up by the Pirates. He signed with the Nationals this year and has been in Class A most of the season, moving up to Double-A on July 28. … Another familiar face in a Harrisburg uniform was Manager Brian Daubach, who played for the Red Sox from 1999 to 2004. … One of the loudest reactions from the Hadlock crowd came when Mookie Betts’ grand slam for Boston was shown on the video board.