BOSTON — Dr. Jekyll was on his game through the first four innings Tuesday. Unfortunately, Mr. Hyde came on for the fifth.
It was that kind of night for Boston Red Sox left-hander Henry Owens, who allowed five runs (four earned) over 7 1/3 innings in his team’s 5-2 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays at Fenway Park.
Owens set down the first 12 Rays he faced on just 38 pitches, keeping Tampa Bay’s hitters guessing with pinpoint control and a good mix of off-speed pitches. The rookie’s outing quickly turned sour, however, as he gave up seven hits over the next 3 1/3 innings while walking two and hitting a batter.
It’d be easy to dwell on the negatives after a loss, but the fact remains that Owens threw just 90 pitches and worked into the eighth inning for the second consecutive start. For interim manager Torey Lovullo, that’s a good sign.
“I think there’s some value to that,” Lovullo said after the game. “I think when a young pitcher understands how to touch late innings, that he’s going to grow up a little quicker. He found himself right in the firing line and was trying to make pitches that wouldn’t allow that situation.
“He’s pitched deep into games, and I think overall he’s going to be in a pretty good place moving forward.”
Let’s break down some more notes from Tuesday’s loss.
— Travis Shaw carried the load offensively for Boston.
Shaw was the lone bright spot for the Sox, driving in both of the team’s runs with a two-RBI single in the first inning. He finished the game 3-for-3 with a walk and now has multiple hits in three of his last four games.
“He’s having a great run,” Lovullo said of Shaw. “He’s in a great hitting position. It doesn’t matter if it’s a righty or a lefty; he’s surveying the strike zone, hitting balls that he’s looking for, not missing the pitches that he’s getting. He just has been a very consistent performer for us.”
Dave Dombrowski and the Red Sox’s front office will have some decisions to make at first base next season, but Shaw doesn’t seem bent on making it easy.
— The Red Sox were victimized by a bit of sloppiness Tuesday night.
Tampa Bay took the lead in the sixth thanks to a throwing error by Mookie Betts. Evan Longoria’s sacrifice fly to right field brought home Richie Shaffer, but Betts’ errant throw home allowed Brandon Guyer to score all the way from second for the go-ahead run.
Xander Bogaerts also was caught twice on the basepaths. He got doubled up at second base in the third after misreading a David Ortiz fly out to left field and was thrown out at second in the eighth trying to stretch a single to a double.
— Boston’s claim on fourth place in the American League East was short-lived, as the Rays moved a half game ahead of the Sox in the division standings with the win.
The Sox now are 72-78 and sit 7 1/2 games out of the second AL Wild Card spot with 12 games remaining on their schedule.
— Pablo Sandoval has a “significant upper respiratory infection,” Lovullo announced before Tuesday’s game, meaning he’ll likely sit out a few more days.
Sandoval has missed Boston’s last two games and four of the team’s last five contests.
— Red Sox pitching prospect Brian Johnson will be re-evaluated on Oct. 1 to determine the next step in his recovery, Lovullo said Tuesday.
Johnson was placed on the minor-league disabled list on Aug. 4 with tendinitis in his left elbow.
Thumbnail photo via Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports Images