April 20, 2013

Sea Dogs pitcher finds the zone

Anthony Ranaudo continues a fine pitching start to the season, and Portland goes over .500.

By Kevin Thomas kthomas@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

PORTLAND – Anthony Ranaudo wanted to go inside with his fastball on a 2-2 count to left-handed leadoff batter Danny Santana.

click image to enlarge

Second baseman Heiker Meneses of the Portland Sea Dogs vaults over Dan Rohlfing of the New Britain Rock Cats, throwing to first to complete a double play Saturday during a 7-1 victory. Portland moved over .500 for the first time this season.

Photos by John Ewing/Staff Photographer

click image to enlarge

Xander Bogaerts of the Sea Dogs goes to his backhand in the shortstop hole to nab a grounder that went for an infield hit by Dan Rohlfing of New Britain at Hadlock Field.

SUNDAY’S GAME

WHO: Portland Sea Dogs (Drake Britton 1-2) vs. New Britain Rock Cats (Trevor May 0-1)

WHEN: 1 p.m.

WHERE: Hadlock Field

TICKETS: About 2,500 available

"But it ran over the middle," Ranaudo said. Santana smoked it for a triple down the right-field line.

"I thought I did a pretty good job after that," Ranaudo said.

He did. Ranaudo didn't feature his best command but still limited New Britain to only three more hits in a 7-1 Portland Sea Dogs win Saturday before 5,066 at Hadlock Field.

The win not only improved Ranaudo to 2-0 with a 1.15 ERA, but it bumped the Sea Dogs over .500 for the first time this year at 8-7. New Britain dropped to 8-8.

Portland recorded 13 hits. Ryan Dent went 2 for 3 with three RBI.

Ranaudo, one of Boston's top pitching prospects, lasted 52/3 innings, allowing four hits, one run and three walks, with five strikeouts.

Santana scored on a sacrifice fly. Ranaudo didn't allow another runner to third base. He was backed by three double plays, two started by third baseman Michael Almanzar.

In the second inning, Almanzar made a strong off-balance throw and second baseman Heiker Meneses pivoted with the runner sliding into him, for a double play. Later Almanzar snagged a line drive and fired to first to double up a runner.

"The defense really picked me up and allowed me to pitch deeper into that game," said Ranaudo, who threw 86 pitches. "I didn't have great command but I made pitches when I needed to."

Ranaudo began the third by walking Jason Christian, then got a strikeout/throw-out double play when catcher Christian Vazquez easily threw out Christian trying to take second.

Vazquez, the best defensive catcher in the Red Sox system, has thrown out 8 of 16 base-stealers.

"To have a catcher like that in Double-A is pretty special," Ranaudo said. "He makes every pitcher better. Everybody loves throwing to him, the way he receives, the way he throws people out."

Vazquez is also starting to hit. He went 1 for 2 with two walks Saturday. In his last eight games, he's batting .333 (8 for 24). His overall on-base percentage is .372.

"It's coming," Vazquez said of his offense.

Others also are coming along. Four Sea Dogs had two hits: Dent, Meneses, Travis Shaw and Tony Thomas. Juan Carlos Linares recorded two RBI.

Shaw, who went 2 for 5, continues to lead the Sea Dogs with a .327 average and an on-base percentage of .476.

Portland took a 2-1 lead in the first (RBI by Linares and Almanzar). Shaw doubled in the third and Linares singled him in.

Peter Hissey doubled in the fourth, stole third and came home later on an errant pick-off throw by the catcher. Dent doubled in the final two runs in the sixth with a shot to right- center.

Will Latimer relieved Ranaudo and retired seven of his eight batters, three by strikeout. Chris Martin pitched the ninth, allowing a harmless double. Martin's ERA remained 0.00, now through 12 innings.

NOTES: Another former Sea Dogs player will make his major league debut. Allen Webster, who pitched two games for Portland after his trade from the Dodgers last year, will start Game 2 of Sunday's doubleheader at Fenway.

Kevin Thomas can be reached at 791-6411 or:

kthomas@pressherald.com

Twitter: @ClearTheBases

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