Sea Dogs win Futures at Fenway opener
Place hits first Double-A homer, drives in three runs
BOSTON -- Jason Place picked a good place to crack his first Double-A home run.
Fenway Park brought out the best in one of Boston's former first-round Draft picks on Saturday, as Place drove in three runs to lead Portland to a 3-2 victory over Bowie in the opening game of the fourth annual Futures at Fenway doubleheader.
Chosen by the Red Sox out of Wren (S.C.) High School with the 27th overall pick of the 2006 First-Year Player Draft, the 21-year-old Place entered Saturday hitting just .182 with no homers and two RBIs in 13 games since a July 10 promotion from Class A Salem.
Then came a second-inning fastball from Baysox starter Steve Johnson.
Place launched the offering over Fenway's famed Green Monster, scoring Luis Exposito to give the Sea Dogs an early lead.
"It's something you dream of when you're a kid," Place said. "It's such a great feeling that you can't really describe it. When I hit it, I didn't even know if it was going to be high enough to get out. I was just praying, 'Get up, get up. Please, God, get up.'
"When it went out and I saw the umpire twirl his finger, I was like, 'Yeah.' I was elated."
The two-run advantage appeared to be more than enough support for Portland starter Felix Doubront, who tossed four scoreless frames before faltering in the fifth.
After a single by Bowie's Ambiorix Concepcion, Adam Donachie answered Place's blast with a two-run shot of his own, powering a Doubront fastball off the Volvo sign above the Monster.
Ryan Ouellette replaced Johnson after five, but provided nothing in the way of relief. The right-hander walked Daniel Nava before Exposito and Yamaico Navarro both singled to load the bases for Place, the Sea Dogs' No. 9 batter.
Place wasn't at the plate for long, as Ouellette buried his first pitch -- a 95-mph heater -- into the ribs of the Portland left fielder, forcing in Nava.
"It definitely feels better when you get an RBI out of it," Place said of the plunking. "I can't complain about getting a free RBI."
The win came at a price for the Sea Dogs, who lost first baseman Lars Anderson to a right hamstring injury sustained while running out a grounder in the third. One of Boston's touted prospects, Anderson, who came into Saturday batting .243 with eight homers and 49 RBIs in 97 games this season, remains a work in progress after garnering Red Sox Minor League Player of the Year honors in 2008.
"There are so many things I need to work on," Anderson said. "I think sometimes I stress myself out when I don't get those results. I kind of get down and a little bit too panicky. But if I look at it objectively and from an outsider's perspective, this is all part of the developing process.
"I've had great few years, but while the results haven't really been there this year, I'm learning so much. These growing pains are going to be very beneficial."
Also advantageous is the rare opportunity for Anderson and his teammates to grace Fenway's hallowed grounds.
"Getting to the big leagues is the ultimate goal for these guys, whether it's for the Red Sox or another team," Sea Dogs manager Arnie Beyeler said. "It's nice for them just to come here, get that energy and see what it's like. Getting a boost like that should be good for everybody."
"Playing a nine-inning game in front of 30,000-plus fans is just awesome," Place said. "It's motivating. You want to go to the cage right after the game and start working. You want to get back here as soon as you can."
John Barone is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.