Portland Sea Dogs (11-23) vs. Reading Phillies (22-15)

Nice to be back home, and I know it’s only for three games, but it’s very nice to be back in Maine.  I know it’s been a rough ride to start the season, but part of Double-A baseball is developing, making adjustments and playing to the speed of the game.  This level always presents many challenges, but the speed of the game is quicker.   Plus, the rosters feature players that you’ll never see in the levels below.  I know in the age of statistics, we love to judge a team based on numbers.  If you listen to my broadcast, you’ll know this drives me crazy.  I just don’t like hearing a lot of opinions on how a team is playing based on numbers – without actually seeing one pitch.  For example, the Sea Dogs are 4-19 in games decided by three runs or less.  Now, it’s great they’ve been involved in close games, but there’s been many of those games where they had big leads, and ended up losing by one or two runs.  Like Bill Parcells use to say, you are what your record says, and I’ve always believed that.  Taking a different view, New Britain is 16-5 in games decided by three runs or less.  We don’t say the Rock Cats aren’t as good because they’re only winning close games.  In sports, a win is a win!

I’m not trying to paint a negative picture of this start, but I want to be realistic.  Part of being a championship team is winning close games.  It’s no coincidence that all the top teams in the league own the best records in close games.  Now with all this said, this Sea Dogs team has the capability and talent to turn this around.  I live with these guys, and I see how hard they’re working, and I know they will turn this around.

At this point, 25% of the season is over.  I hope to be writing about a tremendous turnaround at the halfway point.

THE BOYS ARE BACK IN TOWN…JUST FOR THREE: The Sea Dogs return home after a 1-6 roadtrip, taking on the Reading Phillies in the opener of a three-game series from Hadlock Field…Portland has dropped 14 of 17, including 16 of 19 on the road…Reading has won 5 of 7 from the Sea Dogs, and trail the New Britain Rock Cats by one game in the Eastern Division Standings…Portland plays 12 of their next 15 games in Maine.

THEY WERE DOUBLE THE TROUBLE: The New Britain Rock Cats swept a doubleheader from the Sea Dogs on Saturday night, taking game one 6-3 and the nightcap 4-0…Alex Hassan homered and reached base five times in the twinbill…Will Middlebrooks added a 2-run single in the first game…Deolis Guerra tossed five innings of 2-hit ball to notch the win in game one…Reliever Ryan Mullins tossed three scoreless frames in relief of Brett Jacobson to earn the victory in the nightcap…Opposing starters on the trip: 3-1, 1.96 ERA (9 ER/41 IP), 25, H, 14 BB, 25 SO…B.J. LaMura tossed 8 innings in a loss on May 10th at New Hampshire.  

STILL WINLESS: Stolmy Pimentel dropped to 0-5 in seven starts after suffering the loss in the opening game…Pimentel surrendered eight hits and five runs over 4.1 innings pitched…Miguel Gonzalez made his Portland debut in the nightcap, but suffered the loss, giving up four runs on seven hits in four innings pitched…Portland is off to their worst start in franchise history after 34 games…As a Marlins affiliate, the 1994 & 1999 team went 12-22, as a Red Sox affiliate, the 2004 Sea Dogs were 13-21 after 34 games.

BEEN SHUTDOWN A LOT: Portland was shutout four times on the trip, and five times this season…After getting swept on Saturday, the ‘Dogs have lost all six road-series this season, and have won series-win (took 3 of 4 from Binghamton, April 25-28 at Hadlock Field) in their first 11.

LOOKING TO THE ACE: Stephen Fife makes his seventh start of the season in today’s game, and his third against Reading…Fife has back-to-back quality starts, yielding only one run in his last 12 IP (0.75 ERA)…The 24-year old righty is 11-8, 4.44 ERA (82 ER/166.1 IP) in 32 career starts with the Sea Dogs…Austin Hyatt is tied with teammate J.C. Ramirez and Harrisburg’s Josh Peacock for the league lead in wins with five…Hyatt is 2-0, 2.45 ERA (3 ER/11 IP) in two starts against Portland this season.

WHAT’S ON DECK: The Sea Dogs continue their three-game series against the Reading Phillies with a 6 PM start…On Thursday; the two teams conclude the series with a special matinee start at 12 PM…Portland leaves Maine for only three days over the weekend, battling the Trenton Thunder (Yankees affiliate) at Waterfront Stadium.

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