PORTLAND — When the Red Sox demoted outfielder Franchy Cordero to Triple-A last week after he batted .179 in 34 games for Boston, it only made the Andrew Benintendi trade look worse. Especially with Benintendi batting .337 this month for Kansas City.

But so far there is one bright spot for the Red Sox in that three-team deal, and it can be found in Portland, where Josh Winckowski continues to excel.

Winckowski, obtained from the Mets, allowed one hit over seven scoreless innings Saturday afternoon, striking out nine to pace the Portland Sea Dogs to a 4-3 win over Hartford at Hadlock Field.

Johan Mieses, another offseason acquisition as a minor league free agent, hit a two-run homer in the first inning – his minor league-leading 11th home run. Portland added two unearned runs in the seventh.

Winckowski, 22, appeared to be a minor piece in the Benintendi-Cordero deal that also will include three players to be named going to the Red Sox (two from Kansas City, one from the Mets). Winckowski was a 15th-round draft pick by the Blue Jays in 2016 and was traded to the Mets only two weeks prior to being sent to Boston.

“With the Blue Jays, I thought I had done well enough with them, so (the trade to the Mets) was super unexpected,” Winckowski said. “The Mets told me they were really excited to have me, so (the trade to Boston) was definitely surprising.”

Based on recent results, the Red Sox should be excited to have Winckowski. In five starts with the Sea Dogs, Winckowski is 2-0 with a 1.33 ERA. He has 26 strikeouts and nine walks in 27 innings.

On Saturday, he needed only 84 pitches (60 strikes) to get through seven innings. He walked none and went to a full count only once. His fastball was down a couple notches, sitting at 93 mph – Winckowski cited the 47-degree damp weather as a factor – but he induced eight ground-ball outs with his sinker. He tossed in an occasional slider and change-up.

“He attacked the zone, established his fastball right away and used all his pitches,” Sea Dogs Manager Corey Wimberly said. “His stuff will play.”

Winckowski struck out the side in the first inning on 13 pitches. Two batters reached by error in the second, but he erased one with a double-play grounder. Matt McLaughlin got the only hit, a two-out bouncer down the left-field line for a double in the third inning. Winckowski retired the next 13 batters, the last two by strikeouts.

“I was definitely amped (in the seventh inning). I could sense the finish line,” he said.

Winckowski was drafted out of high school in the Fort Myers, Florida, area – and, yes, he went to Red Sox and Twins spring training games. After a couple of so-so pro seasons, he’s come on with increased velocity (usually at 95, sometimes hitting 97) and a better sense of how to pitch.

“It’s been a mix of things,” he said. “Getting older, stronger – with more velocity – and smarter. Command and velocity are usually a good combination.”

Hartford pitcher Will Gaddis (0-4) pitched five scoreless innings after the first.

But in that first inning, he gave up a two-out double to Joey Meneses (his first of two) and then served a 90 mph fastball to Mieses, who crushed it over the message board in left-center – 108 mph off the bat, an estimated 416 feet.

Mieses, who went 1 for 4, has 11 home runs in 76 at-bats. He’s batting .289 with a 1.116 OPS.

“I see a guy doing damage on pitches in the zone,” Wimberly said. “He’s ready to hit and he makes the pitcher come to him.”

Both Mieses, in left field, and center fielder Jeisson Rosario made impressive, diving catches.

Two unearned runs in the seventh made the score 4-0.

In the eighth, Sea Dogs reliever Joan Martinez loaded the bases with one out, on a hit batter and two walks. Matt Kent relieved and gave up another walk and a sacrifice fly before containing the damage.

Closer Jose Adames got his sixth save in six chances, although he allowed a run.

Second baseman Grant Williams singled twice in four at-bats and still has not struck out this year in 59 at-bats.

NOTES: The attendance was a socially-distanced sellout of 2,087. … The Sea Dogs (14-9) and Yard Goats (7-16) complete their series at 1 p.m. Sunday. … While Winckowski is shining, the top Red Sox pitching prospect on the Sea Dogs roster is looking for medical opinions. Thad Ward went on the injured list May 19 because of a forearm strain and is still being evaluated.


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