It’s too early in the season to say New Hampshire has hit rock bottom. But after blowing a three-run lead in the ninth inning, Sunday’s 13-12 Eastern League loss to host Portland at Hadlock Park certainly added to the Fisher Cats’ misery 35 games into the season.
Heiker Meneses’ walk-off single plated Carlos Rivero with the winning run for the Eastern Division-leading Sea Dogs (22-12), who captured three wins in the four-game series against New Hampshire (15-20). The Fisher Cats, losers of seven of their last 10 games, open a six-game homestand today at 5:35 p.m. against Reading at Northeast Delta Dental Stadium.
New Hampshire will start righty Casey Lawrence (2-3, 3.16 ERA) today, righthander Aaron Sanchez (1-2, 3.05) Tuesday at 11:35 a.m. and right-hander Deck McGuire (3-4, 3.40) in the series finale Wednesday at 10:35 a.m.
New Hampshire is idle Thursday and resumes the homestand with a three-game series against Binghamton. Fourth-place Reading (16-17), which has won only four of its last 10 games and sports a 6-10 road record, enters today’s contest two games ahead of fifth-place New Hampshire in the Eastern Division.
On Sunday, New Hampshire trailed Portland 5-0 before collecting its 12 runs over the next five innings. Leadoff hitter Jon Berti garnered three hits, including a triple and a solo homer. Berti, Andy Burns, Brad Glenn and Gabe Jacobo each drove in two runs for New Hampshire.
The Fisher Cats amassed 19 hits, led by A.J. Jimenez with four and Berti with three. Burns, Glenn, Mike Crouse, Jacobo and Brian Van Kirk each added two hits. Jimenez had three doubles in the game.
Lefthander Matt Boyd (0-0, 10.00 ERA), selected by Toronto in the sixth round of the 2013 first-year player draft, was pulled in the second inning. He was lit up for six hits, five earned runs and four walks on 59 pitches, 31 for strikes.
Portland starter Miguel Pena struggled in his four-inning outing. On 85 pitches, he allowed 10 hits, seven runs (six earned) and one walk. He didn’t record a strikeout.
In the home ninth with New Hampshire leading 12-9, Fisher Cats reliever Dustin Antolin (0-1) was charged with both a blown save and loss. He inherited two runners after fellow reliever Tony Davis walked Mookie Betts and Deven Marrero to open the inning. Betts, who had two hits (both off Boyd), was 2-for-4 Sunday. He is batting .396.
Antolin walked Travis Shaw to load the bases before Carlos Rivero uncorked a two-run single to cut New Hampshire’s lead to 12-11. After Henry Ramos reached safely when his sacrifice bunt was botched on a fielding error by Jacobo at first base, loading the bases, Portland tied the game when Matt Spring’s sacrifice fly plated Shaw and advanced Rivero to third.
Meneses singled to left, scoring Rivero with the game-winner, sending many of the 4,262 Sea Dogs’ fans home happy on Mother’s Day. Portland reliever Robby Scott (4-1) got the win.