May 9, 2013

A day makes a difference as Dogs' success goes on

After four regulars are given a day off Tuesday, Portland rebounds by beating Reading, 10-4.

By Glenn Jordan gjordan@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

PORTLAND - His mind wanted in. His manager told him to relax.

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J.C. Linares of the Portland Sea Dogs, right, is welcomed by Xander Bogaerts after both scored in the fifth inning Wednesday – all part of a 10-4 win over Reading.

Gordon Chibroski/Staff Photographer

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Franklin Morales, on rehab from the Red Sox, and Xander Bogaerts of the Portland Sea Dogs run down Derrick Mitchell of Reading, who was caught off first base Wednesday night.

Gordon Chibroski/Staff Photographer

THURSDAY'S GAME

WHO: Portland Sea Dogs (Charlie Haeger 0-0) at New Britain Rock Cats (Trevor May 1-1)

WHEN: 6:35 p.m.

So Tony Thomas took Tuesday off from baseball. Shagged a few flies but not much else.

Returning to the lineup Wednesday night at Hadlock Field, Thomas went 4 for 4 with three extra-base hits to lead the Sea Dogs to a 10-4 victory over Reading to wrap up a 4-2 homestand for the leaders of the Eastern League's Eastern Division.

"It's a long season," said Thomas, who is making a position switch from infield to outfield. Tuesday was "one of those days where, at the moment, I want to go out there and play, but I know it's good for my body to have the day off."

Thomas singled, doubled and tripled in his first three plate appearances. Needing a home run for the cycle, he scorched a sinking liner that one-hopped off the shortstop's glove and trickled into left field.

Never hesitating, Thomas sprinted around first and slid into second base with a double.

"He earned that double, no doubt," said Sea Dogs Manager Kevin Boles. "He was hustling on that play."

Thomas was one of the four regulars given the day off Tuesday. Among those returning to action was shortstop Xander Bogaerts, who showed no ill effects of the midsection tightness that had kept him on the bench since Friday night.

"It was nice to see him back in the lineup," Boles said of Bogaerts, who legged out a two-run triple to right-center and drove in another run with a hard grounder to short that was muffed. "He loves to play."

The Sea Dogs collected 13 hits and won for the ninth time in 11 games. Peter Hissey had three singles and Heiker Meneses two.

Portland took a 4-0 lead after three innings and 9-0 after four.

Rehabbing Red Sox left-hander Franklin Morales opened the game with two scoreless innings before giving way to Drake Britton (3-2). Morales struck out three, picked a runner off first base and allowed two singles.

"I feel very good with my command," said Morales, whose three whiffs came on a curveball at 72 mph, a splitter at 82 and a fastball at 92. "I used all my pitches (including a slider)."

Reading managed two singles off Morales, including a sharp liner to left by Albert Cartwright on the game's first pitch. Morales also used a sneaky pick-off move in the second to catch Derrick Mitchell flat-footed.

"Oh boy, I didn't know he had that," Boles said. "You've got to hang tight on that move. That's pretty impressive."

Reading managed seven hits off Britton, who struck out five and walked one in six innings. He also contributed to Reading's three-run sixth by failing to cover first base on one play and failing to back up home on an errant throw to the plate.

"We're on that," Bole said. "That's why we're here."

The Sea Dogs are scheduled to play five games in New Britain, Conn., and three in Manchester, N.H., before returning to Hadlock on May 17. The team will take next Monday off.

"That whole day off is a huge advantage," Thomas said. "You definitely feel refreshed. My legs feel a lot better and my hands felt quick at the plate."

NOTES: Morales said he experienced none of the pectoral tightness that followed his April 17 rehab appearance in Greenville. "I guess I need to pitch maybe two more times" before returning to the Red Sox," he said. "I don't know where. I'll throw a bullpen in two more days and pitch again Monday."

The Sea Dogs kicked off their annual Strike Out Cancer in Kids fund raiser earlier Wednesday with the introduction of this year's Slugger's Kid, 7-year-old Nate Gallant of Mexico. More than $4 million has been raised for the Maine Children's Cancer Program since the Sea Dogs began the fund raiser in 1995.

Pitching coach Bob Kipper announced his staff would donate $1,000 to this year's effort. The Sea Dogs added another $1,195 from the results of a batting practice session with the Gallants, program supporters and local media members.

Patriots defensive end Rob Ninkovich threw out the ceremonial first pitch -- well wide of catcher Christian Vazquez -- and it skipped to the backstop.

The paid attendance was announced as 3,138. 

Glenn Jordan can be contacted at 791-6425 or at:

gjordan@pressherald.com

Twitter: GlennJordanPPH

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