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Friday’s Red Sox-Mets matchups: Henry Owens vs. Matt Harvey 08.28.15 at 9:48 am ET
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Henry Owens

Henry Owens

For their penultimate interleague series of the season, the Red Sox head to Citi Field to play the National League East-leading Mets. For the opening game, Henry Owens will represent Boston on the mound while Matt Harvey hurls for New York.

Now with four starts under his belt, Owens has shown improvement at the major league level. His first two outings yielded just four earned runs on eight hits over 10 total innings for a 3.60 ERA. The following start against the Mariners wasn’t as successful. It lasted six innings with 10 strikeouts but had seven earned runs accompany it, bumping his ERA up to 6.19.

But last Friday was the lefty’s best start yet. Owens pitched eight innings and gave up just one earned run on four hits with as many strikeouts and one walk. Earning the win, the 23-year-old improved his season ERA to 4.50 and his record to 2-1.

“Quality outing by Henry. What’s not to say about what he did?” interim manager Torey Lovullo said after Owens’ start. “A two-pitch, at times three-pitch mix. It just seemed really all clicked for him. He got into a great flow, great rhythm. We wanted him to touch the eighth inning. Those were some of the conversations we were having in the dugout, but he was so efficient, he worked through the eighth. It was a special night.”

Owens hasn’t faced the Mets before, and Friday will be his first major league start against a National League team.

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Even biggest of stages haven’t fazed Henry Owens as left-hander dominates 1st-place Royals 08.21.15 at 11:03 pm ET
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Henry Owens tossed eight solid innings in the Red Sox' 7-2 win over the Royals Friday night. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Henry Owens tossed eight solid innings in the Red Sox‘ 7-2 win over the Royals Friday night. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Left-hander Henry Owens has made four major league starts including his debut Aug. 4 in New York against the Yankees at Yankee Stadium so it’s not like he’s been eased into the big leagues — he’s been thrown right into the fire.

Over those four starts the 23-year-old has faced two first place teams, including Friday night when he went eight strong innings picking up the win in the Red Sox‘ 7-2 win over the Royals and Johnny Cueto.

“Not thinking about really who’s pitching — I’m thinking about who’s hitting more, and that’s a good ball club, they’ve proven it the last two years or three years,” Owens said. “I knew I had a tough task tonight and Wade [Miley] went out and set the tone yesterday so I just tried to compete and try to match him the best I could.”

Against the Yankees — the other first-place team — he went five innings and allowed just three runs, leaving when the score was 2-1, so clearly he hasn’t let who he’s faced effect him on the mound.

The lanky left-hander went eight complete innings and allowed two runs (one earned) on four hits, while walking a batter and striking out four against the AL Central leaders. By going the full eight innings, it was the second-longest outing by a Red Sox pitcher within his first four major league games since 1994. The longest in that stretch was Clay Buchholz‘s no-hitter in 2007.

Owens said it was the best stuff he’s had in any start this season.

“Yeah, definitely,” he said. “Collectively minor leagues and big leagues I felt like I was pretty comfortable early on and just took it inning and by inning and ended up throwing eight [innings.]”

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Closing Time: Red Sox beat another ace in Johnny Cueto as Sox take down Royals for 4th straight win at 9:41 pm ET
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Mookie Betts was one of the offensive starts as the Red Sox took down Johnny Cueto and the Royals Friday night. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Mookie Betts was one of the offensive starts as the Red Sox took down Johnny Cueto and the Royals Friday night. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Ace, what ace?

For the third time in a week, the Red Sox were able to make an opposing team’s ace look like just an average pitcher.

After tagging Felix Hernandez for 10 runs Saturday and Corey Kluber for six runs Wednesday, Friday it was Johnny Cueto’s turn, as the Red Sox scored seven runs off the new ace of the Royals staff.

The Red Sox beat the Royals 7-2 Friday night for their fourth straight win and was the first time they’ve won four straight since July 4-8. It’s the second time all season they’ve won four straight games.

“We beat Archer, we beat King Felix, we beat Cueto tonight, I just think this team is capable of doing special things in any special moment,” interim manager Torey Lovullo said. “It doesn’t matter who is on the mound. Tonight we rose to the occasion. Tonight we hit some quality pitches. I think tonight Johnny gave up a season-high 13 hits. We just had some quality at-bats. Our guys are locked in.”

Five straight base hits in the second inning got the Red Sox three runs. Travis Shaw started things off with a one-out double and then Blake Swihart had a double that scored two runs. Mookie Betts closed the scoring with an RBI-single to left that Paulo Orlando couldn’t come up with.

They added two more in the fourth thanks to some spotty defense in center field by Lorenzo Cain. Rusney Castillo tripled on a ball that had a chance to be caught (although it would have been a nice catch) and then he scored on Swihart’s single. Swihart came around to score when Betts singled to center and Cain kicked the ball around, allowing him to plate the fifth Red Sox run.

Josh Rutledge — who is 5-for-6 lifetime against Cueto — added a two-run homer in the sixth. Cueto departed after the inning, allowing seven runs on 13 hits.

Making his fourth major league start and second against a first place team, Henry Owens was very effective. The lanky left-hander went eight strong innings allowing two runs on just four hits, while walking one and striking out four.

“Quality outing for Henry,” Lovullo said. “What’s there not to say about what he did? Eight innings, one earned run, got into a great rhythm. Him and Blake were solid together. A two-pitch, at times three-pitch mix. It just seemed to really all click for him. He got into a great flow and a great rhythm. We wanted him to  touch the eighth inning, those were some of the conversations we were having in the dugout, but he was so efficient that he worked through the eighth inning. That was a special night for him.”

He got some help with some terrific defense behind him, but the 23-year-old was on his game.

Health Hembree pitched the ninth inning to finish things off.

Here is what went right (and wrong) in the Red Sox’ win:

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Friday’s Red Sox-Royals matchups: Henry Owens vs. Johnny Cueto at 8:15 am ET
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Henry Owens

Henry Owens

Following Thursday night’s victory over the Royals, the Red Sox will look to win their fourth game in a row when they send Henry Owens out to pitch in the second game of the series against Johnny Cueto.

Owens last took the mound on Sunday, tossing six innings and allowing seven earned runs on 10 hits. Though he gave up three home runs, the rookie struck out 10, bringing his total for the year up to 17 through 16 innings of work. Owens struggled in the beginning of his outing and gave up all seven of the runs he was responsible for within the first three innings of his start. After that, he hunkered down and gave the Sox three scoreless frames, during which they were able to begin their comeback, though they ultimately lost in 10-8 in 12 innings.

“I honestly feel like giving up seven runs in the first three innings, it would’ve been easy for a young pitcher to collapse,” acting manager Torey Lovullo said. “But he composed himself. He wanted to go back out there for the sixth inning and executed a good game plan. For a young pitcher to do that, for a young pitcher to go back out there and complete that sixth inning as easily as he did says a lot about Henry Owens.”

The 23-year-old has only faced three teams in his very young career and none of them have been the Royals, though he held their division rival Tigers to one earned run and three hits over five innings on Aug. 9. That performance, plus his first outing that lasted five frames with three earned runs on five hits with as many strikeouts, give him a 1-1 record this season and a 6.19 ERA.

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Sunday’s Red Sox-Mariners matchups: Henry Owens vs. Vidal Nuno 08.16.15 at 8:10 am ET
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Henry Owens

Henry Owens

After scoring 37 runs in two days, the Red Sox will look to close out the Mariners on Sunday when they send Henry Owens to the mound against Vidal Nuno.

Following the Sox’ recent offensive outburst, Owens has to like his odds of picking up his second major league win Sunday in his home debut. The left-hander is 1-1 with a 3.60 ERA through two major league starts. He has tossed 10 innings, striking out seven while walking five.

Most recently, Owens went up against the Tigers last Sunday. He logged five innings on a limited pitch count, allowing three hits and four walks but just one run. Owens didn’t have his swing-and-miss stuff, but he did have the fly ball pitch working, as he generated 13 outfield pops. After the game, he felt a weight get lifted off his shoulders in the form of his first career victory.

“I think, probably these last two starts, looking back, I can kind of trust myself in the zone more, rather than tinker around the strike zone,” Owens said. “It’s good to get these first two out of the way, and the first zone, set my shoulders back, take a deep breath and move on.”

Owens will face the AL’s worst hitting team Sunday in the Mariners, who have posted a .241 batting average in 2015. He will also look to boost his punchout numbers against them as they’ve whiffed at a horrendous 21.4 percent clip.

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Closing Time: Jackie Bradley Jr., Henry Owens lead Red Sox past Tigers 08.09.15 at 4:31 pm ET
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Henry Owens

Henry Owens

This wasn’t something many could have seen coming.

With Henry Owens making his second major league start against former Cy Young Award winner Justin Verlander, and Jackie Bradley Jr. coming into Sunday hitting just .121, it wasn’t a duo one would think could propel the Red Sox to a series-ending win.

But that’s exactly what the pair did.

Owens picked up his first big league victory, while Bradley Jr. notched five RBIs in pacing the Red Sox past the Tigers, 7-2, in Detroit.

For the big lefty, who was coming of a solid debut in Yankee Stadium, gave up just one run on three hits over five innings. He did walk three in his 84-pitch outing, but also struck out a pair.

Owens pitched to one batter in the sixth inning, allowing a leadoff double to Ian Kinsler. But Justin Masterson came on to escape the frame without giving up a run. The righty reliever did allow a solo home run to Jefry Marte in the seventh, cutting the Sox lead at the time to a run.

Earlier in the seventh it was Bradley Jr. who allowed for the Red Sox‘ third run thanks to his first home run of the season. He had already accounted for the visitors’ second score thanks to a bases-loaded walk.

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Sunday’s Red Sox-Tigers matchups: Henry Owens vs. Justin Verlander at 7:28 am ET
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Henry Owens

Henry Owens

Henry Owens will toe the rubber for the Red Sox on Sunday as he looks to build off his relatively successful major league debut against the Yankees last Tuesday. He’ll go up against former AL MVP Justin Verlander and the Tigers.

Owens’ first career start offered a minor silver lining to the Red Sox‘ otherwise underwhelming 2015 campaign. He took to the mound in perhaps the most unfriendly confines possible for a big league pitcher at Yankee Stadium and came just an inning away from a quality start and potentially a victory.

“I was anxious to be out here,” Owens said. “Very excited. I was pleased with the opportunity, and I tried to seize it the best I could. I ran into a couple of tough innings, but hopefully there’€™s more to come.”

The left-hander went five frames, allowing five hits and three earned runs while punching out five. However, Owens’ final line is deceiving as he left with a 2-1 lead intact. Robbie Ross came in to relieve him after he let the first two men reach base in the sixth inning and promptly gave up two hits and the lead. The Sox bullpen never recovered, allowing 10 more runs en route to a 13-3 loss.

Despite the outcome, Red Sox manager John Farrell is optimistic that Owens can continue to master his pitches and perform at the highest level.

“You can talk all you want, but what he’€™s going to experience for the first time on this stage, you just hope he’€™s out there controlling the environment and ultimately controlling the baseball,” Farrell said.

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Closing Time: Henry Owens pitches well in debut, then everything else was awful in loss to Yankees 08.04.15 at 10:36 pm ET
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Henry Owens wasn't the problem on Tuesday night in New York.  (Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

Henry Owens wasn’t the problem on Tuesday night in New York. (Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

Henry Owens may not have aced his big league debut, but there’s nothing wrong with a solid B-plus.

Making his first start in a park known for its offense against a lineup that recently exploded for 21 runs in one game and later reached double digits twice in three days against the pitching-rich White Sox, Owens did more than enough to justify another turn in the Red Sox rotation.

Overcoming a slow start that saw him fall behind frequently en route to a run in the first, Owens left in the sixth with two runners on and the Red Sox leading 2-1.

Both inherited runners scored in the span of three Robbie Ross pitches to put Owens on the hook for the loss, but the Red Sox are well beyond caring about wins and losses … which is good, since the Yankees teed off on the bullpen en route to a 13-3 win.

What mattered was how Owens looked, and the answer was simple — like he belonged.

“I was anxious to be out here,” Owens said. “Very excited. I was pleased with the opportunity, and I tried to seize it the best I could. I ran into a couple of tough innings, but hopefully there’s more to come.”

Featuring a fastball that touched 94 mph late in the game but generally sat at 91-92, the 23-year-old left-hander kept the Yankees off-balance with a changeup and sweeping curve. He ended up allowing five hits and three runs in his five-plus innings, walking one and striking out five.

Lanky and angular, Owens did enough to suggest that as he grows and matures physically, his stuff could be tough to handle, especially for left-handed hitters.

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Tuesday’s Red Sox-Yankees matchups: Henry Owens vs. Masahiro Tanaka at 9:59 am ET
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Henry Owens

Henry Owens

Tuesday will be an exciting day for the Red Sox in an otherwise underwhelming 2015 season as they will send left-hander Henry Owens to the rubber against Masahiro Tanaka and the Yankees. It will be Owens’ major league debut in wake of Rick Porcello’s trip to the DL with tightness in his right triceps, as he was scheduled to start Tuesday.

Owens has excelled in the Red Sox organization ever since his second full season at the professional level in 2013 when he posted an 11-6 record and a 2.67 ERA in 26 starts between High-A and Double-A ball. Drafted in the first-round of the 2011 draft out of Edison High School in Huntington Beach, California, Owens has quickly risen through the Red Sox‘ system. The 6-foot-6 starter has moved up a level each year since 2012, culminating with his call up to the show.

“Well, one we wanted to insert another starter and not move guys up. We wanted to provide an extra day of rest, so Tuesday is Henry’€™s day,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said of the decision to bring up Owens. “It’€™s going to be probably the biggest stage he’€™s going to make his debut on as schedule has it. Ideally having another left-hander going against that lineup in that ballpark. We’€™ll see him on Tuesday.”

Last season, Owens turned heads when he went 14-4 in Double-A Portland with a 2.60 ERA and 126 strikeouts in 121 innings pitched. He finished the year in Pawtucket, going a combined 17-5 between the two levels. His record may not indicate it this year (3-8), but Owens has picked up right where he left off in 2014. He sports a 3.16 ERA and a 1.14 WHIP in Triple-A, allowing just 84 hits in 122 1/3 innings of work.

For such a lanky individual, Owens does not have an other-worldly power fastball. His heater resides in the 88-91 mph range with some late downward movement that helps him produce soft contact. Owens’ money pitch is his changeup. Owens also throws two breaking pitches, a slider and a curveball.

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Red Sox prospect Henry Owens to make major league debut Tuesday at Yankee Stadium 08.02.15 at 5:37 pm ET
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Henry Owens

Henry Owens

It’s one of the biggest stages in all of baseball and Tuesday night it will be the site of Henry Owens’ major league debut, as the 23-year-old will take to the mound for the first time in a big league uniform against the Yankees.

With Rick Porcello scheduled to start Tuesday and going on the disabled list Sunday, that opened a spot for Owens.

“Well, one we wanted to insert another starter and not move guys up. We wanted to provide an extra day of rest, so Tuesday is Henry’s day,” manager John Farrell said. “It’s going to be probably the biggest stage he’s going to make his debut on as schedule has it. Ideally having another left-hander going against that lineup in that ballpark. We’ll see him on Tuesday.”

Owens was the selected in the first-round of the 2011 draft by the Red Sox.

Over 21 starts with Pawtucket this season, Owens is 3-8 with a 3.16 ERA. The biggest issue for Owens has been the number of walks he’s allowed, but he’s cut them down of late, which is the primary reason for him getting the promotion.

In April and May the 6-foot-6 left-hander had 35 walks in 54 1/3 innings. At one point in early June he had the most walks in all of baseball — both Triple-A and the majors. Recently, Owens has commanded his pitches much better as over his last two starts (12 innings) he has a total of two walks and in the month of July he has issued just eight walks in 31 2/3 innings.

“A lot more strikes, repeating his delivery,” Farrell said of what has changed for him. “I think coming out of spring training there was some work needed just commanding his body as well as the baseball and that has been the case over the last four weeks or more. In a nut shell, it’s more quality strikes throughout the entire time he’s on the mound.”

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