Portland 9, New Hampshire 1: Britton Shines, ‘Dogs Display Power in Rout of Rival Fisher Cats
MANCHESTER, N.H. – One night after coming back from an eight-run first inning to win in extras, the Portland Sea Dogs did not waste any time getting a comfortable lead on Saturday night as they cruised from start to finish in a 9-1 victory over the lowly New Hampshire Fisher Cats (TOR) at Northeast Delta Dental Stadium.
After spending a significant amount of the first half in the cellar of the Eastern League, the Sea Dogs have now won 14 of the first 21 games against their division rival and have improved to 15-15 in their last 30 contests overall.
‘Cats starter Yohan Pino made his return to the mound after being placed on the disabled list following participation in his first EL All-Star Game in five seasons on July 11.
Things started out well for the 28-year-old Venezuelan as he retired the top of the Sea Dogs order 1-2-3 but C Matt Spring took him way deep to left field with one out in the second inning, smacking a three-run home run into the patio beyond the fence.
With lefty Drake Britton starting for the ‘Dogs, New Hampshire had trouble getting the offense going as it managed just two hits over the first three innings while grounding into a pair of inning-ending double plays.
The home team was able to score a single run in the fourth inning as RF Kenen Bailli brought in DH Brad Glenn on an easy groundout after Glenn opened the frame with a single back through the box.
Portland extended its lead with three more in the fifth inning as 3B Marquez Smith singled home CF Jackie Bradley, Jr. before 1B Reynaldo Rodriguez mashed his 14th home run of the season – tied with Jeremy Hazelbaker for the team-high mark – to bring in two more on one swing and make the score 6-1.
Pino was lifted after five innings and lefty Les Walrond was called upon to make his third appearance since being signed from the Atlantic League’s Lancaster Barnstormers. The Oklahoma native induced a 6-4-3 double play to SS Derrik Gibson and finished his outing of 1.2 innings, allowing three hits and three unearned runs.
In the seventh, the ‘Dogs added another trio as the 3-4-5 batters – Smith, Rodriguez and DH Bryce Brentz – each drove in runs after two outs were recorded. Rodriguez roped a double down the right field line while Brentz beat out an infield hit that was stopped on a bounce by Fisher Cat 3B Kevin Howard.
Britton was masterful over a career-high seven innings as he allowed just one run on six hits, fanning a season-best eight Fisher Cats. LF Brian Van Kirk reached on a passed ball but was one of four to strike out against the Texan in the frame – a rare baseball feat.
Pino suffered his fifth loss of the season and fell to an even mark through 17 appearances. He allowed nine hits and six earned runs over five frames while fanning four and surrendering two home runs in a game for the third time this season.
Matt Daly and Ronald Uviedo held the Sea Dogs quiet through the final 2.1 innings as the duo allowed just two hits and fanned one.
Aaron Kurcz, who has pitched scoreless ball in seven of his last eight outings with Portland, relieved Britton with two strong innings of relief, allowing just one baserunner in the form of 1B Mike McDade, who walked in a lengthy 11-pitch appearance. The Las Vegas native also leads the Sea Dogs pitching staff with 72 strikeouts and leads all EL relievers with at least two in 21 of 28 appearances.
Kurcz worked fast in the ninth, inducing a grounder, a flyout and a strikeout of Bailli to end the game and give Portland just its 20th road win of the year.
Portland goes for its first-ever sweep of exactly four games against the Fisher Cats on Sunday afternoon at 1:35 p.m. Camden, Maine native Mike MacDonald makes the start for the Sea Dogs, opposing highly touted Blue Jays prospect John Stilson.