PORTLAND – The Portland Sea Dogs hoped that a return to the friendly confines of Hadlock Field would snap them out of an early-season offensive funk.
But busting out of a slump isn’t something that can be cured with a little home cooking, especially when a crafty southpaw is serving up the grub.
William Collazo pitched seven shutout innings and three Binghamton pitchers combined to limit Portland to just three hits as the Mets blanked the Sea Dogs, 3-0, in Thursday night’s home opener before a crowd of 5,409.
Carlos Gomez’s third-inning two-run homer was more than enough for Collazo (2-0), who allowed just two hits while fanning six in seven innings. A Miami resident who pitched for his native Puerto Rico in the World Baseball Classic, Collazo threw 59 of his 75 pitches for strikes.
“I was hitting my spots,” Collazo said. “I was hitting my fastballs away and they couldn’t make an adjustment (because) I kept them off-balance with my change-up.”
“It was a very professional, veteran outing from him,” said Portland manager Todd Claus. “He got ahead of every single one of our hitters and he dominated. He wasn’t throwing hard, but you don’t have to throw hard. It was very Jamie Moyer-esque.”
The Sea Dogs (3-4) didn’t reach a three-ball count on Collazo until there was one out in the seventh inning. He retired seven Portland hitters on the first pitch and allowed only three fly balls. Chad Spahn, Jeremy West and Zachary Borowiak had the hits for Portland, which only got two runners to second base. The Sea Dogs came into the game batting just .224 on the season.
“The bats come and go,” Claus said. “That was our seventh game of the season. It’s not alarming. Brandon Moss and David Murphy and (Chris) Durbin and (Luis) Jimenez, these guys are going to hit.”
The Dogs’ best scoring chance came the inning after Collazo hit the showers.
Reliever Anderson Gomez surrendered a single to Borowiak, a wild pitch and a walk to David Bacani, but he got Moss to fly out to left to end the threat. Henry Owens struck out the side in the ninth to pick up his third save.
A brief fit of wildness got Portland starter Chris Smith (6 1/3 IP, five hits, two earned run, four Ks, no walks) into trouble in the second. He plunked back-to-back batters, Brett Harper and Jay Caligiuri, to start the inning, but quickly regained his control and fanned Bobby Malek on three pitches. Corey Ragsdale’s fly-out to deep center put runners at the corners, but that just allowed Smith to pull the ancient fake to third, throw to first trick and catch Caligiuri leaning for the third out. Harper, who was hit on the elbow, had to leave the game an inning later.
Three Sea Dog pitchers combined to hit five Mets. The fourth hit batsmen provided Binghamton an insurance run in the ninth. With one out, reliever Randy Beam beaned Ragsdale, who promptly stole second and third and then scored on Jonathan Slack’s sacrifice fly to right.
The Mets got all the runs they needed in the third inning. Following a one-out double by Slack, Gomez clubbed the first pitch from Smith (0-1) to left field over the Maine Monster.
“We didn’t hit the ball that well, but Carlos Gomez came up big for us and we manufactured a third run to give us a little breathing room,” said Mets manager Juan Samuel, whose team has won seven of its first eight. “But it’s always a plus when you get this kind of pitching.”