Wednesday August 07, 2013 | 06:00 AM

Matt Barnes retired the first two batters Tuesday night, but both required full counts and a total of 15 pitches. Eventually, Barnes' pitch count ran up to 101 and he did not make it out of the sixth inning.

As Barnes mixed in his curveball, he got more swings and misses. Five of his seven strikeouts came on curveballs.

If you look at Barnes' record with the Portland Sea Dogs (5-8) and his ERA (4.40), you wonder why Baseball America listed him as Boston's top pitching prospect, especially with the promotions of his Portland teammates, Brandon Workman, Drake Britton and Anthony Ranaudo.

But that is where hype is getting in the way of perception. Britton was drafted out of high school in 2008, Workman and Ranaudo out of college in 2010. All three are ahead of Barnes (drafted out of UConn in 2011) in their development.

Barnes shows the stuff (120 K's in 94 IP) - and he did have a 1.74 ERA in July - but he is still developing.

For more on Barnes' start on Tuesday, see today's story.

Barnes' start was a marathon, in comparison with the one-inning performances by Boston's Steven Wright (1 H, 3 R, 2 BB, 1 HBP, 1 K) and Pawtucket's Keith Couch (3 H, 4 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 3 K).

Boston, Pawtucket and Portland gave up a total of 30 runs on Tuesday.

And Boston won, 15-10. Jacoby Ellsbury homered twice (insert the sound of a cash register as agent Scott Boras adds to his "case" for a 9-figure contract in free agency).

Rays lost, Orioles won. Yankees lost. Here are the standings: 

Red Sox 69-46
Rays 66-46 (1.5 games back)
Orioles 62-51 (6)
Yankees 57-55 (10.5)
Jays 53-60 (15)

Pawtucket got two home runs from Jeremy Hazelbaker (.269), giving him 10 ... Will Middlebrooks (.259) also hit his 10th home run.

Portland catcher Christian Vazquez (.277) went 2-for-3 and is batting .343 in his last 28 games ... Despite their loss, the Sea Dogs remain in the Eastern League playoff hunt: 

EL East Wild Card Race
Trenton 59-56
Portland 56-59 (3 games back)
New Britain 55-60 (4)
New Hampshire 54-59 (4)

Left-handed pitcher Brian Johnson, a first-round pick out of the University of Florida last year, seemingly has been on the DL more than the mound in his early career. He made a nice start with Greenville on Tuesday: 6 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 5 K.

Tonight, Boston's Ryan Dempster (6-8, 4.54) tries to get back on track, while Houston throws rookie right-hander Jarred Cosart (1-0, 0.96 in his four major league starts).

Chris Hernandez, recently sent down from Pawtucket, starts for Portland.






About this Blog

Kevin Thomas covers baseball and basketball for the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram. He wisely moved to Maine in 1994 after working for the St. Petersburg Times. He is married to Nancy and they have nine children.

Follow his thoughts on the Boston Red Sox and Portland Sea Dogs on Clearing the Bases

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