The Portland Sea Dogs put together a four-game winning streak entering Tuesday. It may not seem like a big deal since the Sea Dogs were still last in their division, with the second-worst record in the Eastern League (26-40).

But this is the new Eastern League, the one with a split personality. The EL is following other minor leagues, including the other two Double-A leagues, by operating with a split-season schedule. The postseason will feature the first-half division winners and the second-half division winners.

The first half ended Tuesday night, so the Sea Dogs wake up Wednesday with a 0-0 record, along with everyone else.

And Portland enters the second half with momentum. Going into Tuesday night’s game at Erie, the Sea Dogs were 5-2 on their trip.

“I think these guys are picking each other up right now,” Sea Dogs Manager Joe Oliver said by phone Tuesday. “We hoped it would show up in April, but it’s here now.

“Guys are putting together quality at-bats. The pitching has stepped up, giving us a chance to win, and not be worried about having to score a bunch of runs.”

Portland stumbled from the start with a 1-7 record, toward a 7-13 April. By May 30, the Sea Dogs were 16-34.

Since then, Portland has shown life, going 10-6. The spurt was not enough to climb out of the East Division cellar but there is hope for the rest of the schedule.

“That’s really big for the confidence of these guys – knowing we’re going into the second half on a high note and playing much better baseball,” Oliver said.

“It’s exciting to know we don’t have to look from the bottom floor to the top.”

Since winning the division in 2014, the Sea Dogs have had three last-place finishes, and finished in fourth the other year. But, of course, the focus remains on developing prospects.

Here are some players to keep an eye on:

Bobby Dalbec. The corner infielder is batting .242 but his at-bats are must-see because you never know when he’s going to launch one. His 14 home runs are second in the league. He also walks a lot (39 times) and his .872 OPS leads the team.

Tanner Houck. Now that Darwinzon Hernandez is in Triple-A, Houck is the top pitching prospect in Portland. He’s been mostly consistent and sometimes dominant, with a 4.02 ERA, 69 strikeouts and 23 walks in 69 innings.

C.J. Chatham. The shortstop returned Sunday from a four-week stay on the disabled list (hamstring). Chatham is one of the team’s top hitters (.316), and his return helps the team, and his value. He is Rule V eligible at the end of the season. He might be a trading chip for the Boston Red Sox next month.

Durbin Feltman. There was speculation that Feltman had a ticket on the fast track to the Boston bullpen. But 10 games into the season, he sported a 9.90 ERA and whopping 2.00 WHIP (walk plus hits per innings pitched). Since then, his mechanics are back in sync with a 1.18 ERA and 1.09 WHIP.

Jarren Duran. The outfielder, drafted last summer, showed gaudy statistics in Class A this spring (.348 average). He is still adjusting to Double-A (.196 in 13 games). Duran has four hits in his last three games. His on-base percentage is .305 and he’s scored eight runs. “It’s a big jump for guys coming up to Double-A, especially guys relatively new to pro ball,” Oliver said. “We’re starting to see the things he was doing in Salem … when he gets on, he’s a run producer.”

Tate Matheny. An outfielder back for his second Double-A season, Matheny seemed forgotten with a .169 average and no home runs on May 3. Since then, Matheny’s hitting .326 with three homers. He’s pushing for a Triple-A promotion.

THE BULLPEN features some interesting stories. Matt Gorst was quickly promoted to Triple-A in April. The ERA (2.70) was fine, but the WHIP (1.73) a little high, with a walk per inning. He is back in Portland and, seemingly, his fastball/cutter are back in the groove (2.04 ERA/0.91 WHIP) … Jake Cosart was promoted last month, his third season in Portland. He looks ready to stick with 12 strikeouts/four walks in nine innings (0.00 ERA/0.89 WHIP) … Kevin Lenik signed last month after a career with two organizations and two independent leagues. He’s made four appearances for Portland (1.23 ERA/1.36 WHIP).

REINFORCEMENTS may be coming from Salem, following Duran and Cosart. Reliever Eduard Bazardo (1.76 ERA/0.93 WHIP) has 53 strikeouts and nine walks in 41 innings) … Kutter Crawford (3.39 ERA/1.42 WHIP) has been Salem’s best starter … Shortstop Ryan Fitzgerald is batting .315 … Outfielder Victor Acosta is hitting .319.

Acosta will be a minor league free agent at the end of the year, and Bozardo will be Rule V eligible. Crawford and Fitzgerald were Carolina League All-Stars.

THE SEA DOGS return to Portland on Friday, the start of a six-day homestand – only they will not be the “Sea Dogs” on Friday. As a marketing ploy, the team will be called the “Maine Whoopie Pies,” complete with brown jerseys and caps (think the throwback San Diego Padres uniforms). Game time is 7 p.m.


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