Henry Owens, the Red Sox’s top pitching prospect, has been performing well after a slow start to his season. But Pawtucket’s performance when Owens pitches would not be surprising. Going into Saturday’s game, the team had lost four consecutive Owens starts, three of which were complete losses.
Owens made three strong starts after a difficult outing in Columbus on May 10, where he walked six batters, and was then pulled after throwing 13 consecutive balls in the fifth. He has managed to keep the PawSox in games despite poor run support by pitching at least five innings and keeping his offense close to home. Although his 2-3 record isn’t impressive, his hot streak has brought his ERA down to 3.00 for the first time ever since opening day.
Many wonder why Owens isn’t getting his chance with a Boston rotation that is struggling. He will be able to pitch again if he pitches well, but this 22-year-old lefty has been having his command problems. He has walked at least four batters in six of his 10 starts, which is something that a major league team will appreciate more than anything.
Owens made a positive step Saturday with his walks. He pounded the strike zone often and early. 64% of his 94 pitches went for strikes. Through five innings, he was in complete control. He worked well with his fastball and got many outs with the pitch. He had allowed only one three-ball count, and he did not allow any walks.
In his sixth inning, he allowed three runs, including a two-run homer from Eugenio Sugarez. Owens gave his first walk of night after the home run on a 3-1 count. Pawtucket won 5-4. He did not factor in the decision. The team was happy with his pitching, despite his sixth-place finish.
Owens stated that he felt great, despite a few misfires. “But other than those, I felt comfortable going both inside and out.” I felt that my curve was a plus and I threw it much more than usual. I found the slider to be very useful in certain situations. It’s also a pitch that is moving me forward. It’s something I have used sparingly. I try to concentrate more on my fastball command before I use it too much. But it was great when I did use it.
Manager Kevin Boles stated that he had more control over the zone. He left some pitches that were impacted but it was a shame for him. Overall, I thought it was a significant improvement for him tonight. His lower half was better in sync, and his timing was excellent with his delivery.”
Owens had seven hits in the strike zone, a season record. He tied his season-low with one walk. This was also the first Owens win Pawtucket had since May 5, at Toledo.