The Red Sox and the Rays are having the last series against each other this season and after Boston won the first game, Tampa was looking to even things out. Even though the Red Sox took an early lead and Henry Owens began the game with four perfect innings, the Rays’ offense was slightly better.
Mookie Betts began the bottom half of the 1st with a leadoff double, while Xander Bogaerts and David Ortiz loaded the bases with back-to-back walks. Travis Shaw allowed Betts and Bogaerts to score thanks to a long single, but those ended up being the only Red Sox runs of the game. After the Red Sox attacked first, Owens was fairly dominant at the mound with four strikeouts and no walks or hits allowed in the first four innings.
The Rays got their first hit of the game in the top half of the 5th with a double from Logan Forsythe, who ended up scoring after a bunt groundout from Asdrubal Cabrera and a sac fly from Steven Souza Jr. The Red Sox lead was shortened again in the next inning after Owens issued a leadoff walk to Richie Shaffer and hit Brandon Guyer with a pitch. Tampa loaded the bases with a single from Mikie Mahtook and Evan Longoria hit a sac fly that cut the Red Sox lead to 3-2. Thanks to ending his first four innings on just 38 pitches, Owens was able to continued until the 8th inning even with having a little trouble in the 5th and 6th. However, he began the 8th by giving up a single to Guyer and two-run homer to Mahtook that gave the Rays a 5-2 lead. He continued to struggle by giving up a hit to Longoria and a flyout to Forsythe, and Matt Barnes replaced him with only one out. Barnes quickly ended the inning with a groundout to Cabrera and a strikeout to Souza Jr.
Even his numbers do not give him any justice, Owens had a pretty decent outing and maybe his best in his short rookie season. The concerns surrounding him after his first three starts are long gone, and now he seems to be a decent and consistent Major League pitcher. Most of his success is thanks to him working again with his fastball and the changeup in the late count. Another proof of his success is the 21 swing and misses he induced to the Rays on just 90 pitches.
Owens is showing to be a valuable asset for a trade or years to come. With every game he pitches, his value just goes up. He was drafted in Epstein’s last draft with the Red Sox in the first round (36th overall). It amazes me how Epstein’s impact is still with the Red Sox, even though he left the team four years ago.
- Pablo Sandoval is dealing with a significant upper respiratory infection that will keep him out of the lineup for at least a few more days.
- Bogaerts is now batting .437 against LHP since the All-Star break.
- Owens is now oficially a rookie with 51 IP. 50 IP is the mininum requirement.
As I mentioned before, it’s unfair to grade Owens based on his numbers. This outing showed a lot of improvement on his part, and that’s the most important thing on a pitcher’s rookie season. Forget about his 4+ERA, he is now a decent and reliable pitcher for the Red Sox.
It’s nice to see that the bullpen can handle at least one inning without breaking down. Even if it was at the middle of the 8th inning, the bullpen’s work as solid enough to stop the Rays from scoring more runs.
Maybe if Owens had recieved more run support after the first inning, the Red Sox could have a real shot at winning this game. Now they are back again in last place. However, it’s nice to see Betts and Shaw still hitting like this team has a real chance of reaching the playoffs.
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