The first two weeks of April had not been the best for pitcher Teddy Stankiewicz or slugger Josh Ockimey.

Stankiewicz’s first two starts yielded two losses and 13 earned runs. Meanwhile, Ockimey was stuck in extended spring training in Florida with a hamstring strain.

The two enjoyed Thursday, however.

Stankiewicz (1-2) pitched six shutout innings, allowing two hits and striking out seven.

Ockimey broke open a close game with a seventh-inning grand slam as the Portland Sea Dogs beat the Hartford Yard Goats 5-0 at Hadlock Field.

Sea Dogs pitcher Teddy Stankiewicz relieved in the second inning and pitched six shutout innings. Staff photo by Ben McCanna

“Fastball middle-away. Got to a good count, 3-1, and made sure I got a good pitch to hit,” said Ockimey, one of the Red Sox top prospects (ranked No. 11 by milb.com).

The Sea Dogs scored their first run in the first inning on doubles by Cole Sturgeon and Esteban Quiroz.

Red Sox reliever Bobby Poyner started the game on a rehab assignment, pitching a scoreless first inning after yielding a leadoff single.

Stankiewicz, the original scheduled starter, entered in the second inning and was in sync. He gave up a walk in the second inning and began the third by yielding two ground singles. He then retired the next 15 batters.

Cole Sturgeon, right, and Jeremy Rivera of the Sea dogs high-five after Josh Ockimey hit a grand slam in the seventh inning. Staff photo by Ben McCanna

“You’re going to have days when you don’t feel good. But today was luckily a day where everything felt good,” Stankiewicz said. “Just located everything well.”

Stankiewicz, in his third year in Portland, likes to stay even-keeled but the relief of Thursday’s solid outing was obvious on his face – “oh, 100 percent. It’s a good feeling.”

Daniel McGrath finished with two scoreless innings (two hits, a walk, four strikeouts), lowering his ERA to 2.25.

Hartford starter Ryan Castellani (1-1) allowed one run over 52/3 innings. Right-hander Jason Garcia was on the mound in the seventh and got in trouble quickly.

Jeremy Rivera and Sturgeon walked. After a Danny Mars sacrifice, the left-handed hitting Quiroz was walked to face another lefty, Ockimey.

Portland’s Josh Ockimey is caught stealing at second by Hartford’s Brendan Rogers. Staff photo by Ben McCanna

Loading the bases for a cleanup hitter?

“Strategy made sense,” Ockimey said. “Bases loaded, one out. He was making good pitches earlier in the count to get that ground ball (for a double play).”

But Garcia’s 3-1, 91 mph fastball was in Ockimey’s wheelhouse, and he didn’t miss. The ball sailed over the center-field wall, with an exit velocity of 107 mph, traveling an estimated 411 feet.

Ockimey went 3 for 4, upping his average to .444 (4 for 9) over three games.

NOTES: Poyner wasn’t the only major league pitcher rehabbing in Portland. Steven Wright, coming back from knee surgery, was getting work in at Hadlock. He’s headed to Triple-A Pawtucket for a rehab start Friday. … Also in town was corner infielder Mike Olt to pack up his locker and head to Pawtucket. Olt was sent to Triple-A on April 10. It appeared to be only a temporary move, but Olt is hitting .350/1.286 OPS and will now stay with the PawSox, who had an off day Thursday. … The announced paid attendance was 2,718. … The Sea Dogs left after the game for Trenton, New Jersey. Portland will play three games against the Thunder, then three games in Hartford before returning to Hadlock Field next Friday, April 27, to face Reading.

Kevin Thomas can be reached at 791-7411 or:

[email protected]

Twitter: @ClearTheBases