Friday, December 6, 2013
By KEN LIPSHEZ Special to the Press Herald
NEW BRITAIN, Conn. - The season may be fading for the Boston Red Sox, but the future is glowing on the farm.
WHO: Binghamton Mets (Cory Mazzoni 5-4) vs. Portland Sea Dogs (Mike MacDonald 1-2)
WHEN: 7 p.m.
WHERE: Hadlock Field
Stolmy Pimentel has been listed among Boston's top prospects for the better part of five seasons with mediocre returns. Bryce Brentz is in the process of fulfilling his destiny as an outfielder of tomorrow.
Their talents blended nicely Wednesday night as the Portland Sea Dogs continued their 11th-hour surge toward Eastern League playoff contention.
Brentz blasted two homers and drove in four runs to back Pimentel's six-inning, four-hit pitching as the Sea Dogs stretched their winning streak to four with a 7-2 victory, completing a three-game sweep of the New Britain Rock Cats.
Portland (63-66) has won eight of its last nine, is 27-12 since the All-Star break and 14-4 in August. It trails New Britain and Reading for the second and last playoff slot in the Eastern Division by 4 1/2 games with 12 left.
Pimentel (5-6, 4.95 ERA) earned his first road win of the season and first in six lifetime starts against New Britain. He was in the midst of a gem (4 innings, 1 hit) against the Rock Cats in Portland on Friday when rain intervened and the game was suspended. This time there wasn't a drop in sight.
"Everybody's putting (Pimentel) on some kind of clock. He's 22 years old," Portland Manager Kevin Boles said. "He's got a big arm. He's a big, solid kid. He's got some weapons -- a fastball with some life, a plus slider at times and an above-average change-up. There's a lot to like with this kid."
The Sea Dogs came out swinging against Luke French (2-1) in the first inning.
Jeremy Hazelbaker lined a single and stole second. A single by Ryan Dent put runners on the corners. Brentz ripped a double to left, scoring Hazelbaker and chasing Dent (7 for 9 in the series) to third, and Xander Bogaerts cracked a two-run single for a 3-0 lead.
After New Britain crept within 3-2, Brentz hit a titanic drive beyond the left-field wall for a 4-2 advantage in the fifth.
"He got me the first time with a fastball inside and got me to ground out. The second time around, I was kind of waiting for it," Brentz said.
The Sea Dogs added three in the seventh.
Zach Gentile walked, took second on a wild pitch and scored on Hazelbaker's double to left. Hazelbaker was picked off, but Dent singled and Brentz launched his 17th homer of the year, tying him with Hazelbaker for the team lead.
"(Brentz) has really established his routines," said Boles of his pregame work habits. "He comes into the ballpark with a plan every day. He's had better strike-zone management."
Chris Martin pitched two hitless innings and Michael Olmsted added a scoreless ninth.
The Sea Dogs won the season series 13-6 and were 7-2 at New Britain Stadium.