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Rusney Castillo sighted at Portland as Binghamton forces Game Five with 11-4 win in Eastern League playoffs

Boston Red Sox prospect Rusney Castillo looks out from the Portland Sea Dogs dugout

Boston Red Sox prospect Rusney Castillo looks out from the Portland Sea Dogs dugout

Keury De La Cruz and Rusney Castillo

Keury De La Cruz and Rusney Castillo

(Portland ME) I hoped for better.

I decided to take in Game Four of the Eastern League playoffs because I wanted to be at Hadlock Field when the Sea Dogs reached the EL finals.

I also wanted to get a good look at Red Sox newcomer Rusney Castillo.

Well, the Rusney Castillo part worked out.  The other part fell apart after Portland starter Mike Augliera loaded the bases with Binghamton Mets in the fifth inning with no outs.

Sea Dogs manager Billy McMillon twice signaled for relief thereafter and found none.  Mike McCarthy and Peter Ruiz?  Couldn’t have done worse.  Walks, hit batsmen, and hits, and before you knew it a 2-2 game after four innings was an 11-2 laugher two innings later.  The final score was 11-4.

It was a disappointment but there is tomorrow in this best-of-five series and that decisive game will be played at Hadlock Field.

Rusney Castillo played center field for the Sea Dogs

Rusney Castillo played center field for the Sea Dogs

I did get a good look at recently signed ($72 million) Rusney Castillo.  I would describe him as short, thin-waisted but powerfully built.  He never got on base in this game so I never got a chance to see any of the blazing speed he apparently has.

I am sure that Rusney is a little bit dazed by all that has happened.  He signed the big-money contract on August 23rd and then went to play in A ball in the Gulf Coast League.  Next he joined Portland.  That, so far, has meant two games in Binghamton (NY) and a seven-hour bus-ride to Portland for a 6PM game on Friday and a noon game today.  I suspect after tomorrow Rusney will move on to Pawtucket for the International League finals versus Durham.  At least it has given a lot of Red Sox fans a chance to see a highly-publicized player up close before he starts his career in Boston.  

Rusney smiled at the fans pre-game but didn’t sign autographs.  He seems to have bonded with leftfielder Keury De La Cruz during his short stay in Portland.

Fortunately for me, Rusney spent his in-the-dugout time down the end where the photographer’s were.  That gave this amateur plenty of chances to get a decent picture of him.  

Did it make a difference in the game?  I’m not sure but when I arrived, 1 1/2 hours before game time, the B-Mets were taking batting practice.  The team had just four hits in Friday night’s 6-3 loss.  Normally you don’t see a team taking batting practice before a noon game, but with elimination pending batting practice was called and it paid off with thirteen hits and eleven runs.  Maybe Portland should take BP tomorrow?

I succeeded in getting a picture of the B-Mets Brandon Nimmo.  Brandon was a first-round pick of the Mets in 2011.  The 21-year-old third baseman can hit.  He is from Cheyenne, Wyoming.

Bad start dooms Slugger

Bad start dooms Slugger

Another happy fan gets the best of Slugger

Another happy fan gets the best of Slugger

I have noted the running skills of Sea Dogs mascot Slugger every time I’m at Hadlock.  I always like his chances when I see the size of his around-the-bases running opponent.  They’re always small but never small enough that they can’t beat the easily-distracted Slugger.  Today the very social mascot found a need as the race started to get some batting tips over by the Binghamton dugout.  But he did and off raced his diminutive, full-speed opponent to a big lead.  Slugger was great once he was underway on the bases but that early chat did him in.  Why would he need batting tips anyhow?  My suggestion to the Sea Dogs management would be that his uniform number should be changed from 1 to 2 because that is where he’s finished every time I’ve watched.

Rusney Castillo smiled but didn't sign

Rusney Castillo smiled but didn’t sign

Seriously, another good time at Hadlock. The visit arranged for me late Friday night by the always-affable Chris Cameron.  I really appreciate it.

A crowd of over three thousand was on hand.  The game was originally scheduled for 6PM.  Changing the time to noon avoided the showers forecast but probably forced some fans to miss the game.  

I was surprised by how quiet the crowd was.  I could understand it after the team was down 11-2 but not before that.  I think that the Sea Dogs could use the boost.

Sean Coyle was hit by a pitch.  I think on the forearm.  I predict that Sean will start 2014 at Pawtucket.  Playing second base isn’t going to get him to Boston any time soon but maybe he’ll be a multi-position player like Brock Holt and Mookie Betts.

Good luck to the Sea Dogs tomorrow in Game Five.

(All of the pictures above and below will enlarge considerably if you click on them.)

Rusney Castillo

Rusney Castillo

singer of the National Anthem

singer of the National Anthem

Sean Coyle after getting hit by a pitch

Sean Coyle after getting hit by a pitch

Rusney Castillo

Rusney Castillo

Brian Burgamy

Brian Burgamy

intense Sean Coyle

intense Sean Coyle

Keury De La Cruz

Keury De La Cruz

Heiker Meneses

Heiker Meneses

Rusney Castillo prepares to bat

Rusney Castillo prepares to bat

Catcher Carson Blair homered for Portland

Catcher Carson Blair homered for Portland

Brandon Nimmo

Brandon Nimmo

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Filed under Binghamton Mets, Portland Sea Dogs

My Visit to the Portland Sea Dogs

Boston Red Sox #1 prospect Lars Anderson

Boston Red Sox #1 prospect Lars Anderson

I have been coming to Maine (from Massachusetts) in the summer for many years.  I knew about the Portland Sea Dogs but never got to see a game until June 4th.  They are the Red Sox’s AA team.

I was there to do an interview with Todd Jamison for The Town Common. Todd fills numerous management roles with the Sea Dogs and his hometown is Newburyport.

The Sea Dogs media director, Chris Cameron, was extremely helpful.  He found for me the connection that Todd had with The Town Common readership and set up the interview.  He also gave me a press pass that enabled me to be out on Hadlock Field before the noon game with the Binghamton Mets and get some pictures. 

I suspect that I could have talked with players before and/or after the game but I wasn’t really prepared to do that.  Maybe another time.

In interviewing Todd I got tuned in to some of the prospects on the Portland roster and when I had my time on the field – I walked around the exterior of the park a couple of times – I took some pictures.

One player who had recently moved up to the Sea Dogs from Salem (A) was Ryan Kalish.  He’s a 21-year-old outfielder who is listed as the #8 Red Sox prospect.  Before the game it was announced that he would be sitting at a table signing autographs under the bleachers so, as I had done at Wilmington, I went and got his picture.

One player I watched work out a lot was Junichi Tazawa.  He is a 23-year-old starting pitcher who is Boston’s #5 prospect.  He has won seven games so far with a nice 2.67 ERA.  He isn’t that big – 5’11” – 180 pounds. 

The team trainer, also Japanese, translates for Junichi.  I asked the trainer how Junichi was doing with English and he said, “He is learning it very slowly.”

I was keenest on picturing #1 prospect, Lars Anderson.  Todd told me that he was the #1 first base prospect in the minors.  Lars is a 21-year-old first baseman.  He’s 6’4” – 215 pounds. 

I wasn’t sure which one he was before the game because the team had red shirts on with no names.  When they came out just before the game they wore whites with names on the back.  It was then that I figured out which one was Lars Anderson.  After that, I took a number of pictures of him. In one he’s hitting the ball.  In the other he’s wearing sunglasses.

I am very grateful to the Portland Sea Dogs for making things work for me.  I had a memorable time.

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Filed under Boston Red Sox, Lars Anderson, Portland Sea Dogs