Saturday, March 8, 2014
By Kevin Thomas email@example.com
PORTLAND - Maybe the Portland Sea Dogs and Harrisburg Senators will continue their excitement in Fenway Park.
WHO: Sea Dogs (Keith Couch 7-3) vs. Senators (Taylor Hill 2-3)
WHERE: Fenway Park
TICKETS: Plenty available
The Sea Dogs, however, would like a different outcome.
For the second straight night, the Sea Dogs lost a close, competitive game to the Harrisburg Senators, 7-5 on Friday, before 6,379 at Hadlock Field.
The Sea Dogs tied the game in the bottom of eighth, only to watch Harrisburg score two in the top of the ninth on three hits, including a Brian Goodwin lead-off home run. Harrisburg took a 2-1 decision on Thursday.
On Saturday the teams take their act to Fenway for a noon game in Boston's fabled ballpark.
"Looking forward to it," said Harrisburg catcher Jeff Howell, who was in the Red Sox organization briefly in 2011.
One factor that today's fans should count on is solid starting pitching.
The Senators will throw Taylor Hill (1.82 ERA). Portland counters with Keith Couch (7-3, 3.90), who has been stellar since joining the rotation last month.
Harrisburg leads the league in pitching and its starters have kept the Senators (59-48) in first place in the Eastern League West Division.
"We're winning because our staff is good night in and night out," Howell said.
On Friday, Harrisburg started left-hander Robbie Ray (3-1), the Nationals' seventh-best pitching prospect according to Baseball America.
He was perfect through three innings before allowing three runs over the next two frames.
The Sea Dogs (52-54) started Mike McCarthy, who gritted through six-plus innings, allowing five runs on nine hits and three walks.
McCarthy allowed base runners in all but one inning, but escaped big trouble, keeping Portland in the game.
"He limited the damage," Portland Manager Kevin Boles said.
Reliever Pete Ruiz pitched two hitless innings as Portland rallied.
The Sea Dogs were led by Garin Cecchini, Ronald Bermudez and Michael Almanzar, each with an RBI, and Derrick Gibson (two hits, three runs).
In the eighth, with Portland down 5-3, Heiker Meneses and Gibson reached on a walk and a single.
Meneses scored on Cecchini's grounder, which was muffed by the first baseman. Almanzar singled in Gibson to tie the game.
Newly signed reliever Bobby Lanigan (3-3) entered in the ninth. Goodwin led off and crushed a home run into the wind to right field. A double and a single later, Harrisburg led 7-5.
Left-handed batter Travis Shaw led off the bottom of the ninth by crushing a ball to left center.
The wind held it up on the warning track for a fly out. Shaw, who went 1 for 4, had another blast stifled by the wind in center field.
"The wind was not cooperating today," Shaw said. "That was as well as I can hit it to left-center."
Maybe Shaw and teammates will find the Green Monster with a blast or two today.
NOTES: Friday's game was a battle of Brentwoods. McCarthy is from Brentwood, Calif., while Ray hails from Brentwood, Tenn. The Sea Dogs will leave at 6:45 a.m. to bus down to their "home" game at Fenway Park. The game will be on NESN with Tom Caron and Tim Wakefield behind the microphones. The teams return to Hadlock Sunday for a 1 p.m. game.
Kevin Thomas can be contacted at 791-6411 or at: