Through the first three months of the 2006 season, the Sea Dogs were on pace for their best season ever, with a 47-28 record. Then they struggled the next two months and didn’t clinch a playoff berth until the final day of the season.

After losing Game 1 of the Northern Division championship series to the Trenton Thunder, Portland won three straight, clinching the final game on Brandon Moss’ walk-off home run. The Sea Dogs faced Akron in the Eastern League championship series and won the first two games in Akron.

Portland returned home one win away from a championship, only to lose the next two games. But on Sept. 17, Sea Dogs reliever Jon Searles got Akron’s Trevor Crowe to fly out to left fielder Chris Durbin for the final out of the season, and the Sea Dogs won their first Eastern League championship.

Moss was named MVP of the playoffs, hitting .361 with five home runs and 10 RBI. He finished the regular season with a .285 average, 12 home runs, 83 RBI and a franchise-record 36 doubles.

The pitching rotation went through a series of changes. At one point, the staff consisted of Kason Gabbard, Craig Hansen, David Pauley, Phil Seibel and Charlie Zink – all of whom were promoted by season’s end. Hansen set a franchise record with 201/3 consecutive scoreless innings, only to have Seibel break the record two months later at 222/3.

Boston signed pitcher Frank Brooks as a free agent, and he became an instant clubhouse leader. Top prospect Jacoby Ellsbury hit .308, with three homers and 19 RBI in 50 games. Andrew Dobles and Tommy Hottovy provided depth in the starting rotation when they were promoted from Single-A at the end of July.

A key element of Portland’s season was a trade made by the Red Sox in late July.  The Sox sent pitcher David Wells to San Diego for one of the Padres’ top prospects, catcher George Kottaras. He made his Portland debut during the playoffs and finished the postseason with a .276 average, two home runs and eight RBI.

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