HARTFORD, August 16 – With just two weeks remaining in the regular season, the Hartford Yard Goats still have an eye on an Eastern League playoff berth.
The Yard Goats won their second straight game and their sixth in the last 10 games with a 5-3 Eastern League victory over the Portland Sea Dogs Thursday night before another sellout crowd at Dunkin’ Donuts Park.
Hartford (62-58, 25-28 second half) is six games behind first place Reading with 15 games left in the regular season. The Eastern League has adopted a split schedule this year. Trenton won the first half in the Eastern Division and has secured a playoff berth.
Mylz Jones hit a two-run home run in the second inning and stellar pitching from the bullpen allowed the Yard Goats to close out the series with a victory. Hartford took three of four games from the Sea Dogs this week and 12 of 18 this season.
The Yard Goats took a lead they never relinquished with three runs in the third inning against Portland starting pitcher Denyi Reyes. Jones cranked a two-run homer into the left-field seats, his sixth of the year. Later in the inning, Hartford’s Manny Melendez drove in Carlos Herrera, who had reached on a double, with a single to left.
Portland (27-27) touched Yard Goats reliever Alexander Guillen for a run in the fifth inning on Charlie Madden’s home run. Guillen took over for starter Jack Wynkoop, who was removed after three scoreless innings for an undisclosed injury.
Hartford added to their lead in the bottom of the fifth inning. With the bases loaded, Reyes hit Hartford’s Brian Serven with a pitch to give Hartford a 4-1 lead.
But the Dogs took a bite out of the advantage with two runs in the sixth off of Yard Goats reliever Justin Lawrence on Madden’s sacrifice fly and an RBI-single by Nick Lovullo to trim the lead to 4-3. Hartford tacked on an insurance run in the seventh inning on an RBI fielder’s choice grounder by Colton Welker.
Hartford southpaw Mitch Horacek improved to 4-0, retiring six of the seven batters he faced. Yard Goats closer Scott Griggs nailed down his 12th save, inducing Portland pinch hitter Jerry Downs to hit into a game-ending 5-4-3 double play.
Vizcaino had a single, double and two runs scored for the Yard Goats, while Jones added a two-run homer. Madden had a home run and two RBI, while Jarren Duran added two hits for Portland.
Reyes, who had pitched six or more innings in 14 straight starts, lasted five innings. He allowed four runs on six hits, walked one and struck out two, as he dropped to 7-10.
It was the 43rd sellout of the season and 21st consecutive sellout at Dunkin’ Donuts Park. Hartford, which has played to 25 capacity crowds, has drawn 361,756 fans to lead the Eastern League in attendance.
Hartford heads to Binghamton for a weekend series in New York beginning on Friday night.