HARTFORD, April 29 – A week ago, Portland Sea Dog pitcher Darwinzon Hernandez was in the major leagues with the Boston Red Sox. Called up to pitch in a doubleheader against the Detroit Tigers at Fenway Park, Hernandez struck out four and gave up four hits in 2.1 innings of relief.
Hernandez was returned to the Eastern League after the game at Fenway. His first game back in the EL was nothing to write home about. He lasted just 2/3 of an inning, giving up two hits, three walks and five runs.
But his Sea Dog teammates had his back. Portland hit a pair of home runs and three relievers combined to give up just one run and six hits over the final eight innings as Portland beat the Hartford Yard Goats on Monday night at Dunkin’ Donuts Park, 7-6.
Hartford (11-14) loaded the bases with one out in the bottom of the ninth inning but reliever Andrew Schwabb retired the final two batters of the game to earn his first save of the season in front of 3,994 fans. The Yard Goats have dropped three games in a row.
Portland (7-12) won despite giving up a grand slam to Hartford’s Alan Trejo in the first inning as the Yard Goats raced out to a 5-0 lead.
The Yard Goats were paced by Colton Welker’s two doubles, single, RBI and two runs scored. Welker has 10 hits in his last 18 at bats. Trejo added a bunt single to his slam and had four RBI.
Portland jumped to a 2-0 lead in the first inning on a home run by lefty hitter Brett Netzer that left the ballpark in right field and an RBI-single by Tate Matheny.
However, Hartford rallied for five runs in its half of the first off of Hernandez, the No. 4 pitching prospect in the Red Sox farm system. A walk, a run-scoring double by Welker, two more walks and Trejo’s grand slam led to Hernandez’ demise. The southpaw was pulled after striking out the next batter, having thrown 34 pitches.
The Sea Dogs came back against Yard Goats starter Ty Culbreth in the second inning on a two-run homer by Marcus Wilson – acquired by the Red Sox from Arizona for Blake Swihart – and a sacrifice fly by C.J. Chatham in the fifth inning.
Hartford recaptured the lead in the fifth on a Welker double and a two-out single by Vince Fernandez off of Kent, who allowed the Yard Goats just one run in 5.1 innings in relief of Hernandez.
Portland rallied in the sixth against Hartford reliever Heath Holder, taking the lead for good on run-scoring singles by Netzer and Bobby Dalbec.
Colorado Rockies catcher Chris Iannetta, on a rehab assignment with Hartford, went 0-for-3 in his five-inning appearance. Game two of the three-game series is Tuesday at 7:05 p.m.
Portland 7, Hartford 6
Portland (7-12) 220 102 000 — 7-11-2
Hartford (11-14) 500 010 000 – 6-8-1
WP- Matthew Kent (1-1); LP- Heath Holder (1-1); S- Andrew Schwaab (1)