PORTLAND, MAINE - One four-run blip in the second inning at Hadlock Field on Friday night was the only blemish of the Sea Dogs pitching staff who combined for 17 strikeouts in winning their first game of the season, 7-4, over the Trenton Thunder.
Starter Brandon Workman, minus that second inning, was incredible in his 2013 debut, flashing a 97 mph fastball while tossing 82 pitches over five innings, including nine strikeouts.
“I felt pretty good today,” said Workman of his first outing of the season. “My fastball was pretty good. My offspeed struggled a little bit today, but overall I thought I had a pretty good outing.”
The only three hits Workman allowed came in the second inning, which was capped by a long, two-run homer to center by Thunder designated hitter Neil Medchill, his second in as many games.
“The second inning obviously hurt,” said Workman who needed 30 pitches to get out of his only jam. “I just threw some pitches I shouldn’t have thrown and put them in places they shouldn’t have been put. That home run got hit real hard.”
“Workman was outstanding and settled in after he had that one tough inning,” said Portland manager Kevin Boles. “To be able to come back and finish with five innings and get that last out in the fifth was terrific.
After striking out the side in the fifth inning, Workman gave way to Chris Martin who picked up the baton and sprinted full speed ahead, striking out five of the first eight batters he faced.
“Martin was outstanding and really bridged the gap to Huntzinger,” said Boles. “[Martin’s] fastball-slide mix was pretty impressive.”
Martin finished with seven strikeouts in his three relief innings and Brock Huntzinger added one more as he came on to close the door in the ninth inning.
“Fastball command, I couldn’t ask for anything more,” said Martin who kept his heat around 95 mph for much of his three innings. “The first inning was good [weather-wise], but it was kind of hard to get the motor going again in the second and third [innings]. Adrenaline kicked in and helped me out.”
The Portland bats had jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead in the first inning, thanks in large part to the fielding of the Thunder who suffered through a six-error game.
Xander Bogaerts benefited from three of those errors, scoring on each occasion, including a first inning error by the shortstop on a sure ground ball out and a botched pickoff attempt by Thunder catcher J.R. Murphy at first base in the third.
“The approach he took with two strikes was really impressive,” said Boles of Bogaerts. “That’s something to build on for him. With these [cold weather] conditions, this is something that a lot of these guys aren’t used to and Xander’s one of them.”
Michael Almanzar (2-for-4) was the only Sea Dogs player with a multi-hit game and Tony Thomas chipped in 2 RBI.
NOTES: After playing seven innings Stephen Drew made his way out to the clubhouse in right field with the presumption that he might be called up to Boston in the wake of the right arm injury suffered by Jose Iglesias. Drew looked solid at the plate, going 1-for-3 with a wall ball double and some solid swings across the board. He made a nice play on a slow grounder up the middle, but was otherwise unchallenged in the field. Following the game both Boles and Red Sox Director of Player Development Ben Crockett denied Drew's departure for the time being…Xander Bogaerts went 1-for-5 and scored three runs. In those five at-bats, Bogaerts allowed only one pitch by for a ball and took slide most balls that hit top the opposite field…Heiker Meneses stole second base in the fifth inning, the first for the Sea Dogs of the season. He was then thrown out attempting to steal third…Tomorrow’s 1:00 p.m. matinee will feature Kyle Kaminska’s organizational debut. The right-hander has 42 appearances in Double-A, but only one prior start.
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