PORTLAND — The Portland Sea Dogs’ 13-5 loss Thursday to Akron demonstrated why the team is 49-68.

Portland leads the league in batting and outhit Akron, 13-9.

But the hitting is not always timely (10 runners left on; Akron left six on).

The base running can be troublesome (two runners ran into outs, another was doubled up on a line drive).

Fielding can be an issue (one error led to five unearned runs in the seventh).

And the pitching is definitely inconsistent. Sporting the second-worst ERA in the league, the Sea Dogs gave up eight walks and hit a batter.

There were also two Akron homers, and two runs scored on wild pitches.

“The walks, giving the free passes, and our base running hurt us,” Portland Manager Kevin Boles said. “The offense swung the bats, but we gave them extra outs with base running.”

Now for the three bright spots: four hits by outfielder Ronald Bermudez, three by Will Middlebrooks, including a solo homer, and the promise of starting pitcher Chris Balcom-Miller (2-6).

Never mind Balcom-Miller’s 5.12 ERA. He shows the tools of a future reliever — an ability to get grounders and strikeouts, using his sinking fastball and sweeping slider.

In his five innings, Balcom-Miller allowed two balls hit to the outfield in the air (one was caught, the other a double). The other three hits he allowed were ground singles. And he struck out eight.

“Balcom-Miller had some pretty good stuff at times,” Boles said. “But we gave up too many free passes.”

Balcom-Miller gave up a run in the first, then suffered a momentary collapse in the fourth. He loaded the bases on two walks and a hit batter before yielding a two-run double and two-run single.

He finished his outing by retiring five straight, three by strikeout, but left with Portland down 5-4.

Relievers Eammon Portice and Michael Lee both gave up three-run homers as Akron (62-56) broke it open.

The most impressive Portland performance was by Bermudez, 23, who has toiled in the lower levels of the minors for five years. Bermudez, in his second game with the Sea Dogs, went 4 for 5 with a double and RBI. He also made a nifty over-the-shoulder catch in center field.

NOTES: Middlebrooks’ home run was his team-leading 16th. … Ryan Khoury scored in the third and fourth innings to set a Sea Dogs record for runs (166), passing Kevin Millar (164). … Khoury walked in the fourth and sixth, adding to his franchise career lead with 154. … Reliever Jeremy Kehrt returned from Triple-A to replace Caleb Clay, who went on the disabled list with a sore back. … The paid attendance was 6,584.

Two Sea Dogs were named to Baseball America’s “Best Tools” list, based on a survey of scouts and minor league managers. Middlebrooks was named the best batting prospect in the Eastern League, and Alex Hassan was deemed to have the best strike zone judgment. Three former Sea Dogs made the Triple-A list: Pawtucket’s Ryan Lavarnway (best power prospect) and Jose Iglesias (best defensive shortstop) in the International League, and Tucson’s Anthony Rizzo (best power prospect) in the Pacific Coast League). Future Sea Dogs outfielder Bryce Brentz was named the best power prospects in the advanced Class A Carolina League.

The Sea Dogs welcome the Erie SeaWolves — a Detroit Tigers affiliate — this weekend for their only visit to Hadlock Field this season. The Tigers’ top prospect, pitcher Jacob Turner, was promoted from Erie to Triple-A last week.

Tonight is “Green Night” at Hadlock. Fans get two-for-one ticket deals if they ride their bike to the game. The first 1,000 fans receive a reusable Hannaford shopping bag.

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

[email protected]

Twitter: ClearTheBases