August 11, 2013

Sea Dogs' bullpen left at a loss

Portland's relief troubles continue – this time a 5-1 lead in the eighth turns into a 6-5 setback.

By Kevin Thomas
Staff Writer

PORTLAND - The battery of Matt Barnes and David Ross could possibly play at Fenway Park sometime next year.

click image to enlarge

And the call … was safe as Brandon Waring of the Bowie Baysox beats a tag by Sea Dogs catcher Matt Spring to score in the eighth inning Sunday. The umpire is Roberto Ortiz.

Photos by Tim Greenway/Staff Photographer

click image to enlarge

Garin Cecchini of the Portland Sea Dogs makes it back to first base as Buck Britton of the Bowie Baysox takes the pickoff throw during Bowie’s 6-5 victory Sunday at Hadlock Field.

Tim Greenway


WHO: Sea Dogs (Keith Couch 6-3) at Altoona Curve (Casey Sadler 10-5)

WHEN: 7 p.m. Tuesday

The duo worked just fine Sunday at Hadlock Field. Barnes allowed four hits and one run over five innings.

But the start was wasted when the Portland Sea Dogs' bullpen gave it up again in a 6-5 loss to the Bowie Baysox before a sold-out Hadlock crowd of 7,368.

Portland led 5-1 with two outs in the eighth inning and two Bowie runners on. Miguel Celestino (1-9) came in from the bullpen and gave up a two-run double, walk and a three-run homer to Garabez Rosa.

It was Portland's sixth loss in its last seven games. Bowie beat the Sea Dogs on Saturday with a four-run rally in the ninth. On Friday, the bullpen blew a 7-2 lead with a five-run seventh but Portland rallied to win.

"We've had some struggles with our bullpen," Manager Kevin Boles said. "We need to do a better job of getting outs at the end of the game."

Juan Carlos Linares knocked in four runs Sunday for Portland with a three-run homer and RBI single. Matt Spring added a sacrifice fly.

Ross, the Boston Red Sox's backup catcher on a rehab assignment while on the disabled list, doubled and scored two runs.

He also reached base on a walk and a catcher's interference call.

"Everything went well," said Ross, who has been sidelined with a concussion. "Saw the ball well again -- it was nice to get a hit. And I felt really well behind the dish."

Ross caught four of Barnes' five innings.

"Good, promising young arm," Ross said. "His heater is really good. The change-up was good and the curveball is coming."

Barnes began the game with two walks on 15 pitches. Plate umpire Roberto Ortiz had a tight strike zone early and Barnes got few calls.

"I thought he had a couple of guys struck out," Ross said, "but that's how it goes. The good thing for me is he still tried to make his pitches. He didn't get rattled. Stayed under control."

Barnes used his 94-96 mph fastball effectively. He walked only one more batter and struck out six.

"You just have to attack the zone," Barnes said of adjusting to Ortiz's strike zone.

Barnes ran into some deep counts and used 47 pitches through two innings. He allowed a run in the third on a double, sacrifice bunt and sacrifice fly.

Barnes has 125 strikeouts, which ranks third among all Red Sox organization pitchers, behind Henry Owens (142) and Jon Lester (126).

Linares is on a nine-game hitting streak, batting .400 (16 for 40) during that time with two home runs and eight RBI. He has improved his average to .252.

Portland had chances in the later innings. In the eighth, Matty Johnson singled and stole second. The throw was wild and Johnson made a break for third, but shortstop Niuman Romero backed up the throw. Johnson tried to get back to second base but Romero threw him out.

In the ninth, Garin Cecchini and Linares began the inning with singles. Michael Almanzar put down a bunt, but it was too hard and right back to pitcher Daniel McCutchen. He began a double play, to third and then to first to get Almanzar.

Travis Shaw walked but Derrick Gibson lined out to end the game.

The Sea Dogs (57-63) take Monday off and begin a six-game trip Tuesday in Altoona, Pa. The team returns to Hadlock Field on Aug. 19.

NOTES: Ross will take Monday off and join Triple-A Pawtucket to continue his rehab. He can be activated Saturday. After the game, shortstop Heiker Meneses learned he was being promoted to Pawtucket.

Kevin Thomas can be contacted at 791-6411 or at:

Twitter: ClearTheBases

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