August 27, 2012

Sea Dogs take a step back

Portland sputters in its drive toward the .500 mark, losing on two unearned runs.

By Kevin Thomas
Staff Writer

PORTLAND - Corner outfielders Jeremy Hazelbaker and Bryce Brentz continue to impress.

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Xander Bogaerts tags out Binghamton’s Eric Campbell on a stolen-base attempt. Sea Dogs catcher Christian Vazquez threw out two base stealers, and has caught more than 40 percent of opposing base stealers this season in 91 total games in high Class A and Double-A.

Photos by Derek Davis/Staff Photographer

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Sea Dogs shortstop Xander Bogaerts avoids Binghamton’s Dustin Martin while completing a double play Sunday. The Sea Dogs lost in 10 innings, 5-3, leaving them 5 1⁄2 games behind the Reading Phillies in the race for a playoff spot.

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WHO: Portland Sea Dogs (Stolmy Pimentel 5-6) at N.H. Fisher Cats (Fernando Hernandez 4-7)

WHEN: 6:30 p.m.

But their efforts were not enough for the Portland Sea Dogs in a 5-3 loss to the Binghamton Mets in 10 innings Sunday afternoon before 5,766 at Hadlock Field.

Hazelbaker stroked his team-leading 18th and 19th home runs, driving in all three Portland runs.

Brentz, serving as the designated hitter, also went 2 for 4, raising his average to .300.

But the Mets scored two unearned runs off Michael Olmsted (1-2) in the 10th.

Olmsted loaded the bases with one out in the 10th on a walk, his own error (his missed first base when covering on a ground ball) and another walk.

Wilfredo Tovar hit a bloop single to center, scoring one run. Another run came home on center fielder Shannon Wilkerson's errant throw.

"(Olmsted) wasn't at his best today, but we believe in Michael Olmsted. That's for sure," Portland Manager Kevin Boles said.

The Sea Dogs dropped to 65-68, and need to go 6-2 in their final eight games to finish with a winning record.

Portland missed out on a chance to gain ground in the Eastern League's East Division, as third-place New Britain (68-66) and second-place Reading (71-63) both lost.

The Sea Dogs' long-shot chances of finishing second and reaching the playoffs depend on those two teams losing most of their remaining games, and the Sea Dogs winning nearly all of theirs.

Portland, after a four-game series in New Hampshire starting tonight, will finish its season at home with four games against Reading next weekend.

On Sunday, Portland starter Jeremy Kehrt gave up 12 hits in five innings, but only three runs.

"They found holes all over the place," Boles said. "Jeremy Kehrt did a great job battling. He kept his composure."

Hazelbaker's home run in the first inning and two-run shot in the third kept the Sea Dogs in the game.

After getting off to a slow start this year, Hazelbaker is batting .295 since June 1 with increased power.

"He just keeps getting better and better," Boles said.

But the Mets' pitching shut down the Sea Dogs. After the third inning, Portland got only two runners to second base -- a Brentz double in the sixth, and Xander Bogaerts' single and stolen base in the ninth.

Brentz, who is second on the Sea Dogs to Hazelbaker in home runs (17), leads the teams with 30 doubles. He has an .848 OPS.

Since Kevin Youkilis batted .327 in 2003, only three Sea Dogs have batted .300 or better -- Zach Daeges (.307) in 2008, and Chih-Hsien Chiang (.340) and Will Middlebrooks (.302) last year.

NOTES: Pitcher Allen Webster, obtained Saturday in the nine-player trade with the Dodgers, reported to Portland and was activated. Webster has already thrown 121 2/3 innings (6-8, 3.55 ERA), but will likely get at least one start with the Sea Dogs. ... Catcher Christian Vazquez was 2 for 2 throwing out base stealers.

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

Twitter: ClearTheBases


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Additional Photos

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Jeremy Hazelbaker watches his second home run of the game sail out of Hadlock Field. Hazelbaker leads the Sea Dogs with 19 homers.


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