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

Even biggest of stages haven't fazed Henry Owens as left-hander dominates 1st-place Royals

Ryan Hannable
August 21, 2015 - 7:03 pm

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.]" The Royals scored a run in the fourth inning when Hanley Ramirez was charged with an error in left field allowing the runner to score, so the only real mistake Owens made was a solo home run to Alcides Escobar to leadoff the sixth. What impressed interim manager Torey Lovullo most was Owens' ability to bounce back. "He put it behind him and was attacking the zone," he said. "A lot to be said for a guy who makes a mistake on a fastball out over the plate, gets back on the mound and starts driving pitches through the zone. He's got great mound presence, we can all see that. He's unphaseable. He makes quality pitches when he needs to. He feels like he's in any count at any time and it's very rare for a pitcher to be able to do that." Owens' biggest issue in the minor leagues was his command, as at one point in June he led all of the majors and International League in walks, but in four big league starts he's allowed one walk in three of the four and that just builds on allowing just 14 over his last eight starts in Triple-A. As the player evaluation begins with Dave Dombrowski coming on board as president of baseball operations, the last 40-plus games are important for a lot of the young players, including Owens as he would like to prove he can be a successful major league pitcher and be a player the organization can count on to be part of the 2016 starting rotation. Being as laid back as he is, Owens isn't even thinking about that. He's just looking at it as one start at a time and letting the Red Sox offense keep carrying the team. "Every fifth day I have confidence with this lineup coming out there getting 10-plus hits every single day. So I'm just going to try to roll with it and in another five days in Chicago I'll throw and hopefully our bats are still there."