August 17, 2012

Sea Dogs: Armed, now dangerous

The pitching continues to impress as Portland extend its second-half surge, completing a sweep.

By Kevin Thomas kthomas@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

PORTLAND - Want to explain the resurgence of the Portland Sea Dogs since the All-Star break?

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Charlie Cutler of the Altoona Curve is cut down at the plate on a throw from left fielder Peter Hissey – a key moment Thursday night in a 2-1 victory for the Portland Sea Dogs. Applying the tag is catcher Christian Vazquez.

Photos by John Ewing/Staff Photographer

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Jeremy Kehrt is 6-0 in his last eight starts for the come-alive Sea Dogs, with a 1.93 ERA in that stretch.

John Ewing

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FRIDAY'S GAME

WHO: New Britain Rock Cats (Luke French 2-0) at Portland Sea Dogs (Stolmy Pimentel 4-6)

WHEN: 7 p.m.

WHERE: Hadlock Field

TICKETS: About 2,700 remaining

Look at the arms.

Portland's pitchers put in another fine effort Thursday night as the Sea Dogs completed a three-game sweep of the Altoona Curve with a 2-1 victory at Hadlock Field.

Jackie Bradley Jr. scored the winning run on a wild pitch in the sixth inning.

Jeremy Kehrt and reliever Jason Urquidez combined on a six-hitter for Portland.

In the series, the Sea Dogs (58-65) held Altoona to three total runs.

"The pitching has really been solid," Sea Dogs Manager Kevin Boles said. "Not only our starting pitching but our bullpen has been strengthened."

The fine pitching has Portland 22-11 since the break. The Sea Dogs have also won seven straight home games, a franchise record as a Red Sox affiliate.

"It's everything," Kehrt said. "The pitching is doing real well. We're coming out and throwing strikes, and giving ourselves a chance. And we have excellent defense behind us."

Left fielder Peter Hissey highlighted the defense, throwing out Charlie Cutler at home as he tried to score from second base on a single in the fifth inning.

Kehrt, who has made 11 starts and 11 relief appearances, continues his finest season. He pitched 51/3 innings Thursday, allowing one run -- a Christian Marrero homer in the second inning -- on five hits and two walks. He struck out four.

Urquidez (3-2), picked up from the independent leagues in June, was lights outs in relief. After hitting the first batter he faced to load the bases in the sixth with one out, Urquidez got out of that jam and retired 11 of the last 12 batters he faced, seven by strikeout.

"It was fun out there," Urquidez said. "Had to keep hanging up zeroes."

The solid pitching was needed because Portland was going against Altoona's touted right-hander, Gerrit Cole, the No. 1 overall draft pick last year, signed by Pittsburgh with an $8 million bonus.

Cole came as advertised, his lively fastball at 96-100 mph, along with a slider and change-up. He struck out nine in six innings and had a perfect game until Xander Bogaerts' two-out double off the wall in right-center in the fifth.

Bradley went 1 for 3 against him.

"Not only does he have the repertoire, he knows how to use it," said Bradley, who played against Cole in college and with him on Team USA.

Christian Vazquez led off the bottom of the sixth with a single. With one out, Bradley hit a chopper over the mound. Former Sea Dogs player Oscar Tejeda, playing shortstop, charged and tried to scoop it on a short hop.

But Tejeda's glove knocked the ball into the outfield. Bradley was credited with a single and both runners advanced on the error.

Vazquez scored on Marquez Smith's groundout to second, tying the game. Bradley made it 2-1, scoring on Cole's wild pitch.

In the ninth, Urquidez faced one more jam after giving up his only hit -- a one-out double to Jarek Cunningham. Cunningham moved to third on a groundout, but Urquidez got Stefan Welch to fly out to center.

NOTES:  Kehrt is 6-0 in his last eight starts with a 1.93 ERA. The all-time home winning streak record for Portland is 12 games, set in 1996 when the Sea Dogs were a Marlins affiliate The announced paid attendance was 6,169.

Staff Writer Kevin Thomas can be contacted at 791-6411 or at:

kthomas@pressherald.com

Twitter: ClearTheBases

 

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