The Portland Sea Dogs turned their game around during the second half of the season.
From left, Wyatt Smith, 17, of Waterville, Tessa Dutil, 9, of Sidney and their grandmother Anne Smith of Waterville react to a hit during the game between the Portland Sea Dogs and the Hartford Yard Goats on Aug. 28, 2022, at Hadlock Field in Portland. Credit: Josh Reynolds / AP

The Portland Sea Dogs are returning to the playoffs for the first time since 2014.

They call themselves the “Second Half Dogs,” but why?

The Sea Dogs play in the Eastern League. The playoff format for this league divides the season into two halves. The team with the best record in each division in the first half plays the team with the best record in the second half in the first round of the playoffs.

The Sea Dogs got off to a slow start. Their record in the first half was 30-39. But as the calendar flipped to July, a figurative switch flipped for the team, too. Portland went 45-24 in the second half of the season.

Many of those 45 wins can be traced back to three different eight-game winning streaks since July 3. These streaks were thanks in part to team most valuable player Christian Koss, who led the team in multiple categories, including hits.

Top-100 MLB prospect Ceddanne Rafaela has been turning center field at Hadlock Field into a “no-fly zone,” at least for baseballs. The Sea Dogs dubbed him defensive player of the year because of his incredible catches.

Outfielder Izzy Wilson was important down the stretch, too.

The first pitch will be at 6 p.m. Tuesday. The Somerset Patriots will host Game 2 and Game 3 — if necessary — Thursday and Friday.