Wednesday, March 12, 2014
By MIKE DRAGO Special to the Press Herald
READING, Pa. - The Reading Fightin Phils beat up a little on the Portland Sea Dogs' top pitcher Wednesday, homering twice off Anthony Ranaudo.
WHO: Portland Sea Dogs (Drake Britton 6-5) at Trenton Thunder (Scottie Allen 0-0)
WHEN: 7:05 p.m.
WHERE: Arm & Hammer Park
Thursday it was payback time for the Sea Dogs.
They homered twice off Jesse Biddle, the top prospect in the Philadelphia Phillies system, en route to a 5-2 Eastern League win at FirstEnergy Stadium.
The win gave Portland (37-34) a split of the four-game series.
"We came up with hits, with RBIs and played good tonight," said catcher Christian Vasquez, who gave Portland some breathing room with a two-run homer off Biddle in the sixth that made it 5-2.
The homer was Vasquez's fourth of the season. Two have come off Biddle.
"He's a good pitcher, he's gonna pitch in the big leagues," Vasquez said. "I was waiting for a fastball and got it, had a good swing -- home run."
Tony Thomas also homered off Biddle, snapping a 2-2 tie with a two-out solo shot in the third, his seventh.
The Sea Dogs, who have been slumping at the plate this month, had six hits in six innings off Biddle -- the second-toughest guy to hit in the league (behind only Ranaudo).
Portland entered the game batting just .220 in June.
The Sea Dogs bunched half of their hits off Biddle in the second, when they scored twice to go ahead 2-0.
After a leadoff single by Michael Almanzar and a one-out walk by J.C. Linares, Vasquez singled in the first run.
When right fielder Anthony Hewitt lost Heiker Meneses' liner in the sun, Meneses had a single and the Sea Dogs had the bases loaded. Derik Gibson's sacrifice fly scored Linares for a 2-0 lead.
Winning pitcher Keith Couch gave both runs back in the bottom half of the inning but he came up with a big pitch to stop the bleeding, striking out the rehabbing Chase Utley with the bases loaded.
"We had to make the best pitch to get him out, and we did it," Vasquez said of a change-up Utley swung through. "It was a good pitch."
Couch breezed through the next four innings and earned his fifth win. He allowed five hits and two runs.
"He had good stuff tonight, a good change-up," Vasquez said. "I'm very proud of him. He attacked the zone and was successful tonight."
NOTES: Portland right-hander Jeremy Kehrt was promoted to Triple-A Pawtucket Thursday. His spot on the Sea Dogs roster was taken by righty Michael McCarthy, who returned from Class A Salem ... Philadelphia All-Star Chase Utley continued his rehab assignment going 0-for-5 ... Maikel Franco, who was leading the Florida State League with 16 homers, made his Double-A debut with the Fightin Phils Thursday, going 2-for-4.
Thursday's game was the last of the season between the Sea Dogs and Phils. Portland won the series, 8-5 ... The Sea Dogs stole five bases in consecutive games on Tuesday and Wednesday, one short of the club record ... Despite a mediocre outing, Ranaudo still leads the Eastern League with a 2.43 ERA.