Saved Portland for last... since this will contain first hand observations. In any case, Portland defeats New Britain 7-3.
The Nicaraguan Mystery Man, Devern Hansack, started for the Seadogs, going the first 4 innings, giving up 5 hits (1 HR... at least officially) and 2 walks (1 intentional), allowing 3 runs while striking out 4. Hansack was hit with bad luck in the first. The first batter hit a squibber that started foul, bounced fair and was likely going to end up foul (based on my view of the play)... but Concepcion touched the ball to early. Props to the Umps on this one. Unfortunately, 2 batters later, Dan Deeds crushed a ball to just right of center. Murphy made a valient leap but could not catch the ball. It hit off the wall, Murphy got it and kept Deeds to a triple. Or, so everyone in the park thought. Apparently the Home Plate Umpire thought differently, and called it a HR. Now, perhaps I didn't see the ball as well as I thought I did (which would have meant it hit the Pitch Speed Indicator) or there are ground rules that indicate a ball hit above a certain point is a HR (something I doubt. Unlike Norwich, there is absolutely no gap between billboards). In any case, I liked what I saw from Hansack. His line looks worse than it actually was.
After Hansack came the pitcher everyone was waiting for, Craig Hansen. Hansen went 2 innings, giving up 2 hits. 3 walks and a HBP... but somehow getting out of consecutive bases-loaded innings to allow no runs. Hansen struck out one. Hansen was nowhere near as effective as he was on Thursday. His first pitch went to the backstop (and immediately caromed back into fair play)... and then on his 4th pitch, he hit a batter with another ball that went to the backstop. (I've seen more balls thrown to the backstop by Hansen over 2 appearances, I think I may nickname him Choate). He was then able to get a nifty Double Play, started with an excellent play by David Bacani. Hansen then gave up a solid single, a ground ball to Chad Spann that Chad came in on like he had never played 3rd in his life (the second consecutive game I've seen him do an ole - a nice play by Keoni De Renne kept the runners at 1st and 2nd)... and then anothe solid single loaded the bases. Hansen was then able to enduce a dribbler to third to get the 3rd out on a bang-bang play. Hansen started the second inning strongly before walking the bases loaded. He was then able to enduce a grounder to 1st and got the putout on another bang-bang play. He then left to a smattering of applause from the frozen crowd that had come to see him. Much of the crowd then left to go to the warmth of their cars. Although I don't believe the umps did a great job tonight, Hansen really was throwing a bunch of balls. Many were up and away. He topped out at 94 on his second pitch of the game. He still has much work to go to get his secondary pitches at a decent level.
Fortunately, my frozen carcass stayed in his seat and was treated by 2 innings from Big Edgar Martinez. In terms of prospects, Edgar showed far more than Craig on this day. He did give up a solid line drive single... but that was all. He also struck out 3. Victor Ramos threw a perfect final inning, striking out one. Victor seemed to throw a whole bunch of junk... but it seemed to be really good junk. The Final out should be noted, as the box score will simply say Ground Out 4-3. David Bacani made an excellent play ranging to his right, and quickly reacted to a bad hop which many would have missed... and easily getting the final out at 1st.
Offensively, Chris Durbin had a nearly perfect day, going 4/5 with a double. Alberto Concepcion, Brandon Moss and David Bacani each went 1/4, Bacani with a walk. David Murphy went 1/5 with a double. Luis Jimenez went 0/3 with 2 walks. Matt Van der Bosch went 0/2 with 2 walks and a SB. Keoni de Renne went 0/4 (and looks absolutely lost at the plate). Chad Spann went 0/3.
I already mentioned the most egregious Umpire Error. There was a second. Luis Jimenez caught a pop up in the 2nd inning. On the transfer out of the glove, he dropped the ball. The Umpire called no catch. Luis was not happy, going after the Ump. Lucky, the manager got out there quickly to take over the discussion. There were also a couple of fair/foul calls which they may not have gotten correct. Not a good day for them.
As for the rest of the defense... De Renne and Bacani make up an excellent middle infeld combo. Luis made a very nice pick on a low throw (by Spann, if I recall correctly). The OF was not tested in any way to rate them (they made all the plays they should have)... but there was a Texas Leaguer down the LF line (off of Hansack) where VdB might have started late, leaving de Renne with a poor angle play (which he did not make).
Overall, a good day at the ballpark. But, I need to remind myself that for the next month, bring gloves. My hands have just started to thaw out.Boxscroe