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Long first inning dooms Barnes debut, Sea Dogs fall in ninth

Posted by Craig Forde  April 8, 2013 09:40 PM

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photo (15).JPGPORTLAND, MAINE – It was a magic number that Matt Barnes was probably hoping he wouldn’t hit in his first game with the Portland Sea Dogs, let along the first inning.

Yet despite three strikeouts in his first frame of work in Double-A, the 22-year-old right-hander needed 33 pitches to get out the inning, reaching an organizational pitch count (normally 30 pitches in an inning) that saw him removed from the game with a 2-0 deficit after just one inning of work.

“He was throwing the ball extremely well,” said Sea Dogs pitching coach Bob Kipper of Barnes’ efforts. “You don’t punch out the side without throwing the ball extremely well. There were some unfortunate circumstances that led to a pitch count.”

Following a spirited comeback, the Sea Dogs could not gain a lead and ultimately fell to the Reading Fightin’ Phils, 7-4, at Hadlock Field on Monday night.

With his Double-A debut pushed up a day due to a postponement of Saturday’s game because of cold, Barnes, the Red Sox top pitching prospect, came out throwing a steady diet of fastballs
that were consistently in the mid-90s.

After a strikeout of Albert Cartwright to start the game, Barnes walked Edgar Duran with seven pitches, then two batters later gave up a single to Jim Murphy after missing the corner of the plate with two straight knee-bending breaking balls.

Tyler Henson followed up with a triple and the Fightin’ Phils had a two run lead having chased Barnes from the game.

“We had to remove him,” said Portland manager Kevin Boles. “Obviously we are very pleased with how our middle relief did. They really bridged the gap with Couch and [Will] Latimer.”

Coming on for Barnes was Keith Couch who, in his second appearance of the season, gave Portland four solid innings of work with his only real blemish coming on a 1-0 pitch that hung up for Henson who took it to left field for a solo home run.

“Couch has done a great job for us,” said Boles. “I thought his second time out, he gave us some length. He commands the zone and he is efficient . He’s really done a nice job in his first two appearances.”

Down 4-1, the Sea Dogs mounted a rally in the bottom of the sixth inning, set off by a solo home run from the rehabbing Stephen Drew.

Michael Almanzar (2-for-3, RBI, run) followed up Travis Shaw’s double with one of his own to bring Portland within one, 4-3, then Xander Bogaerts tied the game with a single in the seventh inning scoring Shannon Wilkerson.

“You see adjustments from pitch to pitch,” said Boles of a red-hot Almanzar. “He takes his chances early on in the count and then when he gets to two strikes he kind of shortens himself up a little bit, stays under control. He’s managing his [at-bats], really working counts and I think that he’s using all the fields too. It’s been very impressive watching him swing.”

After a scoreless eighth, Reading took to Portland reliever Brock Huntzinger like glue, scoring three in the top of the ninth, highlighted by a Duran two-out, two-run homer that put the Fightins' in the drivers seat.

Portland went down without a fight in the bottom of the ninth as the top three batters were retired in order.

NOTES: Xander Bogaerts looked more patient at the plate tonight, despite a few cuts at first pitches. He worked his first walk of the season in his first at-bat and generally took more pitches than in his previous three games. “He’s a guy we want to be aggressive,” said Boles of Bogaerts. “He had three well hit balls and a walk tonight, so it looked like he’s got better balance at the plate, is taking pitches with a little more balance. He’s got really good hand speed.”…The Sea Dogs 6-7-8-9 hitters accounted for only one hit in the game, a second inning single from Peter Hissey…Will Latimer worked 3 1/3 inning of relief allowing one run on 3 hits and a walk while striking out 3…Stephen Drew finished his rehab stint going 2-for-13 with a double and a home run. He is schedule to return to the Red Sox in time for Wednesday’s game versus Baltimore...Anthony Ranaudo makes his first start of the season tomorrow against Reading’s David Buchanan.

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About the author

Craig Forde covers baseball talent as it develops into the next big thing. He has covered high school and college sports for the Boston Globe, and the minor league teams More »

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