After a disheartening trip to Reading, Pennsylvania, where they lost four games, the Portland Sea Dogs needed a lift.

But Monday night looked ominous for Portland. Not only were the Sea Dogs facing the Yankees affiliate from Trenton, the Thunder were starting 20-year-old prime pitching prospect Deivi Garcia.

“He’s a young kid who has some really impressive stuff,” Portland Manager Joe Oliver said.

Portland needed to scrape together quality at-bats while outpitching Garcia (4-3).

Done, and done. The Sea Dogs topped Trenton 7-1 before 5,212 at Hadlock field.

Bobby Dalbec hit two home runs – off two relievers – and Tanner Houck allowed four hits and one unearned run over seven innings.


The Sea Dogs chased Garcia after four innings, with seven hits, two walks and two hit batters – good for three runs and 90 pitches from Garcia.

Starting pitcher Tanner Houck allowed one unearned run on four hits in seven innings as the Portland Sea Dogs beat the Trenton Thunder 7-1 on Monday at Hadlock Field. Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer

“We were able to take advantage of some mistakes he made,” Oliver said. “We executed our game plan and it put our guys in a better position to hit.”

Dalbec hit it – far. Both home runs were estimated at 405 feet. The first, a high blast over the left-field wall in the sixth, was 110 mph off the bat; the second went 103 mph to center in the eighth.

“Did that (first homer) hit the interstate?” Oliver joked. “It’s nice to see. He had a drought there and I think he was pressing a little bit. He’s getting back to the middle of the field. The big power home run over the light tower was one thing, but the one to center shows he’s back where he should be.”

Dalbec had gone 16 games without a homer (batting .176). He now has three in his past two games and leads the Eastern League with 17. His OPS is .860.

“I’ve been pulling off of stuff,” Dalbec said. This time I trusted my hands.”


Portand’s C.J. Chatham checks the umpire’s call after tagging Trenton’s Brandon Wagner on a pick off attempt during the Sea Dogs’ 7-1 win Monday at Hadlock Field. Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer

Houck (8-5) trusted his fastball (hitting 95 mph), along with his slider and change-up. In his last start, Houck needed 27 pitches to get out of the first inning. He needed only 13 for the first inning Monday and 97 for his outing.

“Being in the zone is definitely more helpful,” Houck said. “Get in advantage counts, mix up the hitters. Able to save the pitch count and go deep in the game.”

C.J. Chatham continues to lead Portland hitters with a .317 average. On Monday he doubled and singled (both off Garcia), with an RBI.

Jarren Duran and John Nunez both reached base three times – both with two singles and a hit batter. Duran stole two bases.

NOTES: The Red Sox have their own 20-year-old pitching prospect, and he was just promoted to Portland. Bryan Mata arrived in Portland on Monday and will pitch Tuesday in Game 1 of the doubleheader, starting at 5 p.m. In Salem, Mata had a 1.75 ERA and 52 strikeouts in 51 innings. … When reliever Trevor Kelley pitched for the Sea Dogs last year, he wasn’t considered a prospect. Now he’s a major leaguer. Kelley, with a 0.96 ERA in Pawtucket, was promoted Monday to Boston. … New England Patriots center David Andrews threw out the first pitch at Hadlock. … For Wednesday’s game with fireworks, only 600 tickets remain.

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