Lockers emptied. Gear bags stuffed. Goodbyes said.

The 2019 version of the Portland Sea Dogs left town Monday after finishing the season with an 8-7 loss to the New Hampshire Fisher Cats in 10 innings. The announced paid attendance at Hadlock Field paid was 6,023, but early rain kept some fans away.

It was the fifth straight losing season for Portland, the 62-77 record the third-worst in the Eastern League. The franchise has had one winning season since 2008.

“It’s been good and a little disappointing,” said first-year Sea Dogs manager Joe Oliver.

The disappointment included Monday’s game, although the Sea Dogs made it interesting. Austin Rei’s RBI single tied the game in the bottom of the ninth but Christian Williams’ two-run homer in the 10th clinched it for New Hampshire. Luke Tendler and Jeremy Rivera homered earlier for Portland.

But Monday was just another loss. Where the season went wayward was at the beginning, in the cold, early weeks. Portland muddled its way to a 12-29 record, which included an eight-game losing streak.

“It was a reality check on how important it is to get off on a good start and we didn’t,” Oliver said. “I don’t want to blame the weather because both teams play in it, but I think it was an eye-opening experience for me and a lot of players who had never been here.

“I’ll have that conversation, if I’m back, with the guys next spring. They have to mentally prepare for playing in frigid weather … You’re going to deal with cold weather in (Triple-A) Pawtucket and Boston.”

The good part of Portland’s season, as always, refers to player development.

Oliver enjoyed his first experience of telling a player he’s headed to the big leagues – “something I’ll never forget” – when he informed pitcher Darwinzon Hernandez he was Boston-bound in April. Hernandez came back to Portland but eventually moved back up.

Pitchers Kyle Hart, Tanner Houck and Daniel McGrath, corner infielder Bobby Dalbec and middle infielder C.J. Chatham received promotions to Pawtucket.

Besides Hernandez’s big-league call-up, the Sea Dogs’ highlights included:

• Hart, McGrath and Adam Lau combined for a no-hitter April 25 in Binghamton, the fourth no-no in franchise history.

• Dalbec homered three times in Trenton on May 11. He ended with 20 homers for Portland and seven in Triple-A.

• Chatham batted .297 in 90 games with Portland and won the Eastern League batting title.

• McGrath won the ERA title. His 1.68 mark was not only a franchise record but the lowest in the league since 1985.

The Sea Dogs again ranked fourth in the 12-team league in average attendance (5,676), virtually the same as last year’s 5,678. They had seven games postponed or canceled because of weather compared to nine last year.

“Very happy (with the year),” said the team president and general manager, Geoff Iacuessa. “Attendance has been strong. We had the most sellouts (15) since 2009 … One of these years, Mother Nature will let us get in 70 games.”

The Sea Dogs introduced a new promotion, changing their name and uniforms for one game, June 21, when they became the Maine Whoopie Pies, complete with brown jerseys.

“We were up 25 percent (7,080) for that night,” Iacuessa said. “It got us some really good publicity and we got merchandise sales from it. I think it was fun for our staff and for our fans.”

Iacuessa said the Sea Dogs again would feature their popular themed bobblehead giveaways next season. This year featured Mookie Betts, Jackie Bradley Jr., Brock Holt and Andrew Benintendi, who all starred in Boston’s World Series run of 2018.

“We’re lucky because we’ve had so many guys come up through here to Boston,” he said.

NOTES: The team awards were announced Monday with Dalbec named MVP, McGrath Pitcher of the Year, Rivera receiving the Tenth Man award, and pitcher Matthew Kent named Citizen of the Year. … Oliver begins his drive home to Orlando, Florida, on Tuesday, but Hurricane Dorian may cause a re-route. “If the weather gets crazy we’ll have to head a little west,” he said. … The Eastern League playoffs begin Tuesday. Harrisburg is at Bowie and Trenton is at Reading.

 

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