Saw Justin Masterson, the top Red Sox pitching prospect, in person last night at a Portland Sea Dogs game. He didn't impress, but he had some valid excuses. On a night that started around 42 degrees and ended long after Jill and I went home to thaw, Masterson encountered as much resistance from Mother Nature and an eerily quiet Hadlock Field as from the Connecticut Defenders.

His line: 5 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 3 BB, 3K

Masterson left with a 4-2 lead but didn't get the decision in the Sea Dogs' 5-4, 11-innings win. Two of the hits were doubles, and all were well-hit. He was behind in a lot of counts, but managed to get a lot of ground ball outs. He never broke 86 on the radar gun, though to be fair, the gun registered many of his pitches at 41 or 42, as if it were more impressed by the temperature than by his arm strength. Masterson's most impressive throw of the night was a pickoff move that nailed a runner straying from second base to get out of some trouble in the fourth.

Much more impressive was Masterson's sixth-inning replacement, Chad Rhoades, who struck out five in two innings, breaking 90 on almost every pitch. Rhoades walked two and gave up a hit, and may not have fooled anyone with an arsenal of fastballs and fasterballs, but on an April night in Maine, I'd rather take my chances with Masterson's junk than Rhoades's lightning.


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