If Henry Owens does eventually develop into a top-tier major league starting pitcher, Thursday night’s outing against the Chicago White Sox won’t be looked back on as a bell-weather type of start.
Owens spot in the Red Sox starting rotation is at-best tenuous. Eduardo Rodriguez figures to be inserted back into the rotation once he’s finally activated from the disabled list. Owens could have used a solid outing Thursday. Instead he was plagued by control problems.
White Sox designated hitter Avisail Garcia led off the bottom of the fourth with a solo home run to left field and that was it for Owens. His final line was three innings pitched, two hits, two earned runs, two strikeouts and six walks. The lanky lefty threw 64 pitches and only 33 were for strikes.
It wasn’t just not his night, it was not his night and for reasons that have become all too familiar for Owens and the Red Sox. Control issues.
The good news for the Red Sox?
Go back to Wednesday night’s outing by Clay Buchholz. The efficient outing by the veteran meant that the Red Sox bullpen only needed to use two pitchers and work two innings. That left them rested and ready to take over Thursday night’s game with no outs in the fourth.
Take-over they did.
Heath Hembree, Matt Barnes, Junichi Tazawa, and Robbie Ross combined to work six innings. They allowed six hits, one earned run, walked three and struck out six White Sox batters.
The rest was up to the Red Sox offense, and as has been the case on so many occasions this season, they were more than up to the task.
Remember when the Red Sox were last in the American League in home runs? Thursday night they hit three long balls, as of Friday morning they’re ranked ninth in the 15-team league in home runs.
Dustin Pedroia (1st inning,) Hanley Ramirez (3rd inning,) and Jackie Bradley Jr (6th inning) all hit solo shots. The Red Sox knocked White Sox starter Erik Johnson out of the game after scoring four earned runs over five innings. Boston was able to score three more runs against White Sox relievers Matt Albers and Dan Jennings.
The Red Sox are reaping the benefits of more efficient starting pitching and a deeper bullpen. Red Sox starters had gone six or more innings in nine straight games, that type of consistent durability makes the bullpen stronger. Add in a healthy Carson Smith and the bullpen has more talent and depth too.
Red Sox manager John Farrell can go to the mound with the knowledge that whatever reliever he’s about to call upon, he’s probably rested and ready to go. The Red Sox bullpen once led the AL in innings pitched, now they’re ranked fourth. Their starters once owned the worst ERA in the league, now it has dropped to 4.52, good for 10th out of 15.
Boston is 17-11, they’re a half-game ahead of second place Baltimore in the AL East, they’ve won 11 of their last 15, and they just took two of three on the road against the league’s best team, the Chicago White Sox.
Things are going well for the Red Sox.
They’re heading to New York City to play three road games against their struggling rivals, the New York Yankees.
Talk about a tale of two rivals.
As hot as the Red Sox are, the Yankees are every bit as cold.
New York is 9-17, they’re in last place in the AL East, seven games behind the Red Sox. The last time the Yankees had a .500 or better record was when they were 4-4 on April 14th. Since then they’ve gone 5-12.
New York is last in the American League in runs scored, total bases, team batting average and team ops.
After a terrible first month of the season, veteran designated hitter Alex Rodriguez had just started to find his groove at the plate. Last weekend against the Red Sox ARod went 3-for-11 with two home runs and 5 runs batted in. Tuesday night he pulled his hamstring, and Wednesday he landed on the 15-day disabled list.
Rodriguez’s absence makes an already weak Yankees offense that much weaker. The pitching has been better than the hitting, but it hasn’t been that good. The Yankees have the third highest team ERA in the American League and opponents are hitting a robust .260 against them.
Friday night the Red Sox will send Rick Porcello (5-0, 2.76) to the mound. The Yankees will counter with inconsistent Michael Pineda (1-3, 6.33.) First pitch at Yankees Stadium is scheduled for 7:05pm ET.