They hit three home runs Sunday afternoon, but the Portland Sea Dogs did not power their way to victory.
The Sea Dogs walked and walked and walked.
Portland batters drew eight walks from two wild New Hampshire relievers in the eighth inning. That, and a Jack Lopez two-run double, brought home six runs, giving the Sea Dogs a 12-6 win before a capacity crowd of 1,835.
New Hampshire won the first contest of this season-opening six-game series on Tuesday, but the Sea Dogs have been streaking since with five straight wins.
“A lot of things are going well,” Portland Manager Corey Wimberly said.
Johan Mieses was going well Sunday, hitting two home runs. Joey Meneses added one.
But walks made the difference.
Sunday’s back-and-forth game was tied 6-6 going into the bottom of the eighth.
Fisher Cats reliever Emerson Jimenez (0-1) struck out Lopez, but Triston Casas worked an eight-pitch walk. Jimenez walked three more batters, the last coming to Meneses with the bases loaded and two outs, for a 7-6 Portland lead.
Connor Law relieved Jimenez, and it got worse for New Hampshire. Law walked in three more runs and then gave up Lopez’s double to right. After Law walked Casas to load the bases again, the Fisher Cats brought in infielder Vinny Capra to pitch.
With a 60 mph “fastball,” Capra induced a flyout to left to end the inning.
Despite the Fisher Cats’ wildness, Wimberly was not giving any take signs.
“All our guys go in the box ready to hit,” he said. “We just didn’t get good pitches to hit.”
Mieses got a couple to hit, and he took hefty swings. His first homer – a two-run blast to right-center – left the bat at 106 mph and traveled an estimated 416 feet. His solo homer, which tied the game at 6 in the sixth inning, sailed over the left-field wall, at 111 mph and was estimated at 442 feet.
“Johan is off to a great start, swinging it well,” Wimberly said. “We knew he could hit balls in the zone. That was a focus during spring training (not to chase balls out of the zone).”
Mieses, Lopez and Meneses are all minor league free agents, and all produced this first week. Mieses is hitting .313 and leads the team with four homers. Lopez (.431) leads with nine RBI, and Meneses is batting .294 with four RBI.
Left-hander Dominic LoBrutto (1-0) got the win with two innings of scoreless relief.
Sea Dogs starter A.J. Politi recovered from a shaky first inning to keep the Sea Dogs in the game. Politi, who allowed four runs in four innings in the season opener, was behind 3-0 Sunday in the first inning – after a single, two doubles, and a wild pitch on strike three that led to a throwing error by catcher Ronaldo Hernandez.
But Politi allowed only one more hit and no more runs, retiring 11 of the next 13 batters. He completed 4 2/3 innings, striking out seven.
“He got off to a rough start but battled and found a way to take us deeper in the game,” Wimberly said.
Reliever Joan Martinez showed his stuff with a 95 mph fastball and a slider, but he had little command. He struck out three and walked three. The only hit he allowed was a three-run double by Chavez Young in the sixth.
LoBrutto, a 2017 18th-round draft pick out of Florida International University, gave up two harmless singles and no walks in his two innings.
Jose Adames, another minor league free agent who features a 99 mph fastball, relieved for a scoreless ninth inning.
NOTES: The Sea Dogs, like every other team in this newly constructed minor league system, will take Monday off. Their next two six-game series are away, at Hartford this week, and then next week against the Fisher Cats in Manchester, New Hampshire. Portland returns to Hadlock to host the Hartford Yard Goats from May 25-30. … Outfield prospect Jeisson Rosario doubled on Sunday and is batting .375. Casas, besides the two walks, was 0 for 3 and is hitting .167.