April 17, 2013

1995: A dominant regular season

The Sea Dogs won their division by seven games, but were unable to advance in the playoffs. 

It didn’t take long before the Sea Dogs  became a winning franchise. Second-year Manager Carlos Tosca guided Portland to the best record in the Eastern League (86-56) and its first trip to the playoffs as the team won 26 more games than the previous season.

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STAFF PHOTO BY GORDON CHIBROSKI -- Monday, August 11, 1997 -- Seadogs' 2nd baseman, Ralph Milliard, puts the tag on Chan Perry of the Akron Aeros as he tried to stretch a single into a double. Action in second inning at Hadlock Field in Portland.

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FILE PHOTO BY JOHN EWING --APRIL 6,1995-Portland Sea Dogs manager Carlos Tosca takes advantage of a dugout heater during last season's home opener. Next to him is returning catcher Mike Redmond.

Affiliation: Florida Marlins
Manager: Carlos Tosca
Attendance: 429,763 (6,139 average)

Final standings

Northern Division
Team Aff W L Pct. GB
Portland 86 56 .606 -
New Haven 79 63 .556 7
Norwich 70 71 .496 15.5
Binghamton 67 75 .472 19
Hardware City 65 77 .458 21
Southern Division
Team Aff W L Pct. GB
Reading 73 69 .514 -
Trenton 73 69 .514 -
Bowie 68 74 .479 5
Canton-Akron 67 75 .472 6
Harrisburg 61 80 .433 11.5

Notable hitters

Player HR RBI SB Avg.
Billy McMillon 14 93 15 .313
Chris Sheff 12 91 23 .276
Tim Clark 8 88 0 .271

Notable pitchers

Player W L SV ERA
Tom McGraw 5 0 2 1.81
Jay Powell 5 4 24 1.87
Reynol Mendoza 9 10 0 3.43

Gone was star catcher Charles Johnson, who had earned a big league job, but his position was filled by Mike Redmond, who finished the year batting .255 with 3 home runs and 39 RBI. Other key contributors included shortstop Edgar Renteria, who batted .289 with 7 home runs, 68 RBI, 30 steals and solid defense. 

Outfielder Billy McMillon led the offense (.313, 14  home runs, and 93 RBI) and topped the league in hits with 162. Ralph Milliard (.267, 40 RBI), Pookie Wilson (.273, 44 RBI), and Lou Lucca (.276, 9  home runs, 64 RBI) all contributed both offensively and defensively.

Besides a solid offense, the Sea Dogs pitching staff was well constructed. Jay Powell had a microscopic ERA of 1.87 to go along with his 5-4 record and 24 saves.  Bryan Ward posted an impressive 7-3 record with a 4.63 ERA, Will Cunnane was 9-2 with a 3.67 ERA, and Matt Whisenant led the team with 10 wins. 

Antonio Alfonseca was also solid on the mound with a 9-3 record and a 3.64 ERA. Then on the final day of the season, Alfonseca blasted an unlikely home run that was still on the rise when it struck the light tower.

What was so rare? Because he was a pitcher with six fingers on each hand who was hitless in 15 at-bats (including 8 strikeouts) who hit that homer.

By winning the Northern Division, the Sea Dogs earned the right to face New Haven in the first round of the playoffs. Although the Sea Dogs were dominant during the regular season, the playoffs were a different story. 

Portland lost the best-of-five series in four games.

And the fans continued to come out in record numbers, as an average crowd of 6,139 packed Hadlock Field.

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