A three-day All-Star break seems to have stretched into a period of hibernation for bats belonging to Portland Sea Dogs hitters.

On Friday the Dogs played four innings to complete a suspended game and followed with seven more in their regularly scheduled date with Binghamton.

Through it all, the home team managed only four hits and zero runs as the Rumble Ponies won the nightcap 5-0 before a crowd of 6,661 at Hadlock Field.

Earlier in the evening, Binghamton completed a 2-0 victory in the resumption of a seven-inning game halted by rain in the middle of the fourth Thursday night.

The Sea Dogs, who returned to action Thursday tied for second place in the Eastern League’s Eastern Division, dropped their fifth straight and tumbled into a three-way tie for last at 9-13 in the second-half pennant race.

Still, the Dogs showed signs of life in their final turn at bat in both games. In the early tilt, Bobby Dalbec led off with his league-leading 58th walk to bring the potential tying run to the plate. None of the next three batters managed to hit the ball out of the infield, though.

In the nightcap, Joey Curletta opened the home seventh with a sharp single and Brett Netzer added a one-out double off the wall in right. Binghamton submariner Stephen Villines completed his seventh save by fanning the next two batters to preserve the team’s second shutout of the evening.

Sea Dogs reliever Robinson Leyer, making his Hadlock debut, pitched two scoreless innings in the early game. Right-hander Tanner Houck, whose first 15 appearances this season were as a starting pitcher, tossed a fretful, if ultimately successful seventh inning that included line-drive hits by the first two batters, a pair of wild pitches, a called strike three and no runs.

Houck’s first relief appearance, last weekend in New Hampshire, did not go so well: three hits, two walks, one out and six earned runs. His scoreless one-inning All-Star appearance Wednesday night in Richmond included a pair of strikeouts and one hit.

“The (Red Sox) organization wants to see what he can do out of the bullpen,” Sea Dogs Manager Joe Oliver said.

He’ll be doing it at the Triple-A level. Houck learned after the game that he’d been promoted to Pawtucket.

“I’m just super excited. (Pitching coach) Paul Abbott has helped me a lot in terms of development and helped me turn into the pitcher I’ve become.”

On the transition from starting pitcher to reliever, Houck said, “It’s still 60 feet, six inches. It’s still pitching. It’s still baseball. At the end of the day, it’s just a game.”

Two other tweaks came out of the New Hampshire series. Shortstop C.J. Chatham played a game at second base and Netzer, who normally plays seconds, patrolled left field for two games.

You’re likely to see more of Chatham at second, as the Red Sox explore all options at that position, given the entrenchment of Xander Bogaerts at shortstop.

“I thought it went well,” Chatham said. “A couple things, like on hits to the outfield, I was kind of confused about where I should be. But that’s an easy fix.”

Chatham said playing to the right of second base on defensive shifts made the transition easier, because double play depth as a second baseman is essentially the same spot on the field as where a shortstop stands on a shift against a left-handed pull hitter.

“It’s probably going to be a game or two a week,” Oliver said of Chatham playing second. “We’ll see how that progresses.”

 


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