It was not like Jalen Beeks was facing Giancarlo Stanton, which Beeks did during spring training.

But the pressure was still on Saturday afternoon at Hadlock Field.

With the Portland Sea Dogs holding a 1-0 lead in the fifth inning, the Reading Fightin Phils had a runner on second base with one out and the top of the order up.

Beeks struck out prospect Scott Kingery on a 90 mph fastball, then amped it up to 93 mph to strike out Andrew Pullin.

It was an impressive 2017 debut for Beeks, 23, a left-hander who is putting himself on the Red Sox radar. Boston could use starting pitching depth, and Beeks may be one of the answers.

He threw five innings Saturday, allowing no runs, two hits and two walks while striking out eight in a 4-1 win.

The fastball ticked up to 94 mph on both sides of the plate. The change-up and curve caused swings and misses, and he threw an occasional cutter.

“No complaints,” Beeks said.

If Beeks keeps pitching like this, he will become more than the answer to the trivia question: Who is the other University of Arkansas product in the Red Sox system?

The more famous Razorback, of course, is outfielder Andrew Benintendi, who was Beeks’ college teammate for one season, before Beeks was drafted in the 12th round in 2014.

Last year, Beeks split time with Salem and the Sea Dogs, with mixed results in Portland (4.68 ERA).

“You just have to simplify things,” Beeks said, “and you’ll have success.”

Glimpses of that success showed up in spring training, especially on March 9.

Beeks was called over to the major league spring training camp to pitch in an exhibition game between the Red Sox and the U.S. team in the World Baseball Classic. Both teams were going to use Boston’s minor league pitchers, and Beeks was supposed to pitch in relief against the Red Sox.

Roenis Elias, who was scheduled to start for Boston, strained a rib-cage muscle during warm-ups. The call went to Beeks to face Team USA.

“I had about 10 to 12 minutes to warm up,” Beeks said. “You just start throwing. I didn’t have much time to think.

“I came over to (the Red Sox) and got to face the big dudes.”

Beeks began his outing by striking out Christian Yelich and Adam Jones.

Just that easy?

“I wasn’t thinking that,” Beeks said. He then gave up a double (Nolan Arenado) and a walk (Paul Goldschmidt) before getting Daniel Murphy to pop up to third.

Beeks pitched a 1-2-3 second inning, starting with an at-bat by Stanton, the 6-foot-6, 245-pound slugger for the Miami Marlins.

“He looks big on TV, but he looks even bigger when he’s standing in the box, let me tell you,” Beeks said. “I threw a big hanging curveball to him. And he took a hack at it. He fouled it off, just missed it. That was a scary pitch.

“Sandy (Leon, the catcher) kind of smiled at me. He knew what happened.”

Stanton grounded out to Beeks, on a change-up.

“My stuff was working that day, and it was a good day for it to be working,” said Beeks, who also retired Jonathan Lucroy (fly out) and Brandon Crawford (groundout).

Beeks was in the spotlight, and he came through.

“Beeks had that opportunity to show himself in the big league camp and they spoke highly of him,” Sea Dogs Manager Carlos Febles said.

On Saturday, Beeks was in command from the start.

“His stuff was good,” Sea Dogs pitching coach Kevin Walker said. “A lot of swings and misses. Able to move his fastball in and out. He’s pitching with a lot of confidence.”

SPEAKING OF Benintendi, his game-winning homer for the Red Sox on Opening Day drew lots of attention, but his defense in left field is bringing acclaim from teammates, including Chris Sale. In Sale’s Red Sox debut last week, he gave up a line drive off the left-field wall by Josh Harrison. Benintendi went back on the ball and, when he realized he was not going to catch it, turned and fielded the ball perfectly off the wall, then threw to second base to hold Harrison to a single. Josh Bell then hit into a 4-6-3 double play.

“Benny made that double play happen,” Sale said. It doesn’t happen “without him getting that ball in quick off the wall, and keeping that guy on first.

THE HUMBLE quote of the week comes from Sale, who threw seven scoreless innings and then praised catcher Sandy Leon.

“Credit goes to Sandy. He was the one calling the pitches. I was just the one throwing them,” Sale said.

Is that all he did?

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