Wednesday was a good day at Double-A Portland. It was an ever better day to be named Jeremy.
Designated hitter Jeremy Hazelbaker hit two home runs and plated five, while starting pitcher Jeremy Kehrt completed five perfect innings in the Sea Dogs' two-hit shutout -- and 12-0 victory -- over visiting Reading.
"The Jeremys helped out the team," Hazelbaker said.
Kehrt (4-3) struck out five and threw 39 of his 53 pitches in the zone. He had never before pitched more than three hitless innings during his five-year pro career.
"The fourth inning, when the leadoff guy came to bat, I realized it," he said of his perfection. "I just tried not to think about it and do what I did in the first three innings."
"Early on I was just attacking the zone with my fastball and mixing in the changeup after that. Later, I tried to steal some first-pitch strikes with my curveball. All three pitches were working."
The 26-year-old right-hander, a 47th-round draftee of Boston in 2008, has taken five consecutive turns in the Sea Dogs rotation. Twelve of his 20 appearances this season (16 with Portland) have been out of the bullpen. He said that the plan is for him to be a starter in the interim though he's accustomed to being his staff's swingman.
No matter his role, his results were welcomed. "Absolutely, this is probably the highlight of my career," said Kehrt, who extended Portland's scoreless inning streak to 20 frames. "Everything clicked for me. It's what you dream of."
Kehrt and his relief corps had the benefit of pitching with a lead. The Sea Dogs scored two runs in the opening inning against Phillies starter Trevor May and posted three other crooked numbers over the game's middle innings.
Hazelbaker led the way with his fourth career multi-homer game. Slotted second as the designated hitter, the 24-year-old outfielder struck a two-run homer toward center field on a 2-0 fastball in the first and hit a three-run, opposite-field shot toward left in the sixth. He also drew a walk and stole his 20th base of the season in the third, then singled and scored in the fifth.
A fourth-round draftee of Boston in 2009, Hazelbaker nearly reached his single-game RBI career high. He drove in six runs on July 11, 2011, at New Hampshire.
Through 81 games in his second season at Double-A, Hazelbaker is batting .256 with 30 extra-base hits and 45 RBIs.
"It's been an up-and-down year for me," Hazelbaker said. "Having something positive to work off of, just being comfortable, not trying to press too much. I was hitting around .240 before the last couple games. I got to a relaxed point -- I am doing the same thing physically. It's just a matter of realizing it up there."
May (7-7) yielded six runs on three hits over five innings. Philadelphia's No. 1 prospect also struck out six and walked a career-high eight batters. He has issued at least three free passes in six consecutive outings.
"We faced him before, and he's a good pitcher," Hazelbaker said. "We were all seeing the ball fairly well, and he was having trouble locating."
Sea Dogs right-handed relievers Chris Balcom-Miller and Aaron Kurcz combined on four two-hit, scoreless innings to seal the shutout. Phils leadoff man/left fielder D'Arby Myers singled to start the seventh to break up the perfect game.