The future of Boston Red Sox baseball looked bright Sunday in Detroit.
Jackie Bradley Jr. and Henry Owens were the standouts in the Red Sox’s 7-2 win over the Tigers, with Bradley going off both offensively and in center field and Owens showing some growing pains but doing enough to earn the first victory of his major league career.
Owens’ outing lasted just five-plus innings — the same length as his big league debut — but the left-hander surrendered just three hits and one run. His issues came in the control department: He walked four, threw a wild pitch and needed 63 pitches to get through the first three innings.
Owens also induced just two groundouts, but half of his 10 fly-ball outs did not leave the infield — evidence of the Tigers’ inability to square up the young southpaw’s pitches.
“Early in the game — I think in the fourth inning — I challenged some hitters, and (left fielder Alejandro) De Aza and Jackie made some good plays on balls,” Owens told reporters after the game, as aired on “Red Sox Extra Innings LIVE.” “I was fortunate to get out of those innings unscathed.”
Barring injury or overwhelming ineffectiveness, Owens should be part of Boston’s rotation for the remainder of the season, as the Red Sox continue to shift their focus toward the future. Even after just two appearances for the Sox, he says he’s already becoming accustomed to the majors.
“I think, probably, these first two starts looking back, I kind of can trust myself in the zone more rather than tinkering around the strike zone,” Owens told reporters. “So, it’s first to get these first two out of the way and the first win, kind of set my shoulders back, take a deep breath and move on.”
Some additional notes from Sunday’s win:
— Closer Koji Uehara was sent back to Boston to undergo further testing on his injured right wrist, which was struck by an Ian Kinsler line drive during Friday night’s game.
“Even though the swelling is down, he felt, still, some soreness there,” manager John Farrell told reporters. “We did get the CAT scan. Those results, I don’t have. Those are being reviewed by our doctors. Koji did fly back to Boston to go through a full exam in addition to the CAT scan findings. So, that’s where we are right now.
“… This isn’t what we had hoped to hear today. But the fact that there’s the persisting symptoms, even after there was some reduction in swelling, we’ve got to check him thoroughly.”
— In addition to his big day at the plate (2-for-3, triple, home run, five RBIs), Bradley earned a spot on Sunday night’s highlight shows with a phenomenal over-the-shoulder catch to end the fourth inning.
It was the type of play Owens, who previously played with Bradley in Triple-A Pawtucket, has come to expect from the center fielder.
“He’s one of the best in the game, if not the best,” the pitcher told reporters. “That Willie Mays ball he had over his head, I was kind of walking toward the dugout because I knew he had a read on it. That’s how good he is. That’s how confident I am in him. And he also swung the bat great. It couldn’t happen to a better guy. He’s been working really hard.”
— An interesting tidbit about Bradley’s career day:
Bradley is the 1st #RedSox player with at least 1 triple, 1 home run and five RBIs since Adrian Beltre in 2010 and only the 15th since 1954—
Pete Abraham (@PeteAbe) August 09, 2015
— First baseman Travis Shaw was shaken up in the first inning when former Red Sox shortstop Jose Iglesias stomped on his wrist while running out a bunt attempt.
Rough start to this game for Travis Shaw. http://t.co/RvYbyW1EcM—
Zack Cox (@ZackCoxNESN) August 09, 2015
Shaw had his wrist taped and remained in the game, and Iglesias was called out for straying too far inside the basepath.
— Sunday’s victory gave the Red Sox a series win — their first at Comerica Park since 2011.
Thumbnail photo via Rick Osentoski/USA TODAY Sports Images