Sunday, December 8, 2013
By KEN LIPSHEZ Special to the Press Herald
NEW BRITAIN, Conn. - Fans of the Portland Sea Dogs and Boston Red Sox could be excused for holding their breath Monday night when center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. limped off the field with an ankle injury in the first inning against the New Britain Rock Cats.
WHO: Sea Dogs (Jeremy Kehrt 7-3) at New Britain Rock Cats (Andrew Albers 4-3)
WHEN: 7:05 p.m.
Word quickly spread on Twitter and elsewhere in Red Sox Nation, but it appears the injury isn't serious. Better yet, the Sea Dogs survived a succession of baserunning blunders and a costly error as they continued their summer surge.
Peter Hissey, whose dropped fly ball enabled the Rock Cats to tie the game in the eighth inning, drilled a one-out RBI single in the 10th to deliver a 4-3 victory.
Portland (61-66) has won six of its last seven overall, and five of seven games at New Britain this season. The Sea Dogs are 25-12 since falling 18 games below .500 on July 9.
The dramatic win was stained a bit by the loss of Bradley. The 5-foot-10, 180-pounder smacked a leadoff single and thought about heading to third on a single by Jeremy Hazelbaker. When he stopped suddenly, he fell and scrambled safely back to second but did not get up immediately.
"He just slipped. I think he was more scared than anything else," Sea Dogs Manager Kevin Boles said. "He's going to be fine. It just caught him off guard. The track was definitely pretty wet."
Bradley's ankle was evaluated by Sea Dogs trainer Brandon Henry.
"He was able to put weight on it," Boles said. "We'll check him out (Tuesday) to see how he is, but he should be back sooner than later."
The grounds crew spent the next 22 minutes spreading an absorbent over the infield, although it hasn't rained in days.
The score was 3-3 in the 10th when Travis Shaw doubled off Rock Cats reliever Aaron Thompson (3-8). He went to third on a single by Xander Bogaerts and scored on Hissey's single, Portland's 15th hit.
Jason Urquidez (4-2) pitched two scoreless innings to earn the win.
The Sea Dogs have persevered after a 36-54 start, and they battled through self-inflicted adversity Monday.
"It's the character of this club," Boles said. "We've said since day one this is a resilient group. We had a tough first month but we never got down. The guys kept the bigger picture in mind."
Baserunning problems came into play after Bradley's injury. Shaw hit New Britain starter B.J. Hermsen's second pitch after the delay to the warning track in left. Pinch runner Zach Gentile, who arrived Monday from Class A Salem, was thrown out trying to advance to third.
The delay didn't do much for Portland starter Drake Britton, either. The first four New Britain hitters singled. Leadoff man Aaron Hicks scored on a wild pitch, and Chris Herrmann came around to make it 2-0 on a broken-bat single by Chris Colabello -- his Eastern League-leading 90th RBI of the year.
Britton settled down impressively after the 30-pitch inning. He allowed just one hit over the next six innings and retired his last seven hitters.
Portland countered with a run in the fourth. Bogaerts led off with a single to right and scored on Hissey's double into the left-field corner. Hissey was then thrown out by five feet trying to steal third.
In the fifth, Ryan Dent (3 for 4) singled and went to third on Gentile's double. When Marquez Smith grounded to third, Dent was thrown out at the plate and Smith was doubled up trying to sneak into second.
"We got away with a lot of base-running mistakes," Boles said.