Red Sox

Owens finishes rookie season on a low note

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Owens finishes rookie season on a low note

CLEVELAND -- In a perfect world, Henry Owens would have finished his rookie season with a standout start, one that would send him into the off-season on a mental high, a fitting end to a promising first half-year in the big leagues.

The world isn't perfect, however, and neither was Owens Friday night.

In fact, he was far from it.

Owens was rocked for seven runs on 10 hits and couldn't get out of the fifth inning, part of a lopsided 8-2 shellacking by the Cleveland Indians.

"His fastball command wasn't as consistent as it has been,'' bemoaned interim manager Torey Lovullo. "They did a good job. They would wait for a particular pitch in a certain zone and they waited him out.''

"Definitely (an issue with fastball command),'' agreed Owens. "It was more mechanical and it's something I'll continue to work on in the off-season and be better at.''

Even as Owens was allowing a walk and a string of hits in the fifth, the Sox stayed with him, to see if he could work his way out of trouble.

But Owens was laboring, his pitch count over 100, and when Abraham Almonte dropped a bloop single into left to score the third run of the inning, that was it for Owens.

In 11 starts, Owens finished 4-4 with a 4.54 ERA -- hardly dominant numbers. But those were inflated by three poor starts -- Friday night, one vs. New York a month ago and another in August against Seattle -- during which Owens allowed seven runs each time.

In the other eight starts, only once did Owens allow more than three runs, and it's those that Owens will focus on this winter.

"That's how I play this game,'' he said. "I'm never going to (concentrate) on the negatives; I'm only going to focus on the positives and there's a lot of learning experience I've had in those 11 outings, good stuff for the off-season and bringing to spring training.''

Owens added some weight in the off-season, and it took him almost a month or so into the minor league season at Pawtucket before he became comfortable with his bigger body and refine his mechanics.

That remains an ongoing project as Owens vowed to "continue to refine my delivery and make it as repeatable as possible and make it muscle memory. Everything drives off the fastball. That's what I've been doing in the five years of playing professional. Now, I'm here and you're constantly trying to refine your delivery and get better.''

Asked if he felt he proved anything this season, Owens didn't hesitate.

“I believe I belong (in the big leagues), yes,'' he said.

Owens will be a candidate for the rotation next spring, along with fellow young lefty Eduardo Rodriguez, along with returning veterans Rick Porcello, Joe Kelly, Wade Miley and Clay Buchholz. 

"I think he's done a great job,'' said Lovullo. "Everyone who's watching him and evaluating him is very impressed with what he's doing. As far as his development goes, he just keeps getting better. What I said to him after the game was, he should be very proud. He did a very good job while he was here. He grew up a little bit and it will prepare him for a better 2016.”

Red Sox bullpen runs into trouble with Twins in 6-2 loss

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Red Sox bullpen runs into trouble with Twins in 6-2 loss

MINNEAPOLIS -- Eduardo Escobar, yet again, gave the Minnesota Twins the go-ahead hit.

Two of them, of course. He's become a doubles machine.

With a two-base hit that drove in two runs off Chris Sale in the sixth inning and another that launched a four-run eighth, Escobar led for the Twins to a 6-2 victory over the Boston Red Sox on Tuesday night.

"I don't know if he can keep up that kind of torrid pace, but we're seeing a guy who is supremely confident," Twins manager Paul Molitor said.

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Robby Scott (0-1), just recalled from Triple-A, relieved Sale to start the eighth and walked the first two batters. Joe Kellyentered, and Escobar's one-out line drive bounced in front of Jackie Bradley Jr. and skipped past the center fielder as two runs scored. The official scorer later changed his ruling from a single to a double, giving Escobar a majors-leading 32 for the season. Robbie Grossman broke the game open with a two-run triple.

Escobar is on a season-long pace for 75 doubles, which would blow by Earl Webb's record of 67 doubles in 1931 for the Red Sox.

"Let me tell you: If they don't catch the ball I'm going to run to second base, 100 percent," Escobar said. "My mentality when I make contact with the ball is to run all the way to second base."

Escobar, who will be a free agent in the fall, has for the fourth straight season been slated for a utility role only to hit his way into regular duty after a setback in the infield. This year, injury and ineffectiveness for third baseman Miguel Sano paved Escobar's way into the everyday lineup.

"If he doesn't have a double a day, it's like a disappointment right now. He's unbelievable. He always finds a barrel," said teammate Trevor Hildenberger, who struck out American League RBI leader J.D. Martinez with runners at second and third to end the seventh after relieving Jose Berrios.

The Red Sox went 2 for 13 with runners in scoring position and left 11 men on base.

"Whenever you have a chance, you have to catch him," Boston manager Alex Cora said.

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MOUND MASTERY

The late surge masked a classic pitching duel between Sale and Berrios, the six-time All-Star against the budding ace. Sale retired the first 14 batters he faced before Ehire Adrianza's soft roller to Rafael Devers at third base went for an infield single.

With a two-out home run by Devers in the sixth off Berrios, the Red Sox were in control. All it took was a single by Ryan LaMarre and a hit by pitch for Joe Mauer, though, to start a rally in the bottom of the inning. With one out, Escobar drove a 1-1 slider near the dirt from Sale down the left-field line for a 2-1 lead. Escobar pumped his arms back and forth before clapping and pointing at his teammates in the dugout.

"You know this guy. Every pitch is nasty," said Escobar, once a minor league teammate of Sale's in the Chicago White Sox system. "I guess I made good contact."

Sale finished seven innings, the 12th time in 16 starts this season he has logged at least six. This was the 11th turn in which he's yielded two runs or fewer and his fifth double-digit strikeout performance. In his last three starts, he has allowed only 11 hits in 21 innings. Yet the Red Sox are only 8-8 with him on the mound.

"I'm not going to hang my head about it. I know these guys in here want to win. I know they're not doing anything different on my day," Sale said. "Maybe I'll bring popsicles or something for the boys."

REED RELIEF

Struggling Twins right-hander Addison Reed, who has appeared in only one of the previous six games, has been at least temporarily removed from his setup role. Zach Duke (3-2) took the eighth inning instead and, with two outs, surrendered Sandy Leon's tying single that drove in Devers.

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TRAINER'S ROOM

Red Sox: 2B Dustin Pedroia, who has played in only three games this season because of inflammation in his left knee, has still not been cleared for baseball activities since returning to the DL three weeks ago. The lack of progress has been concerning, Cora acknowledged. "It was major surgery. We didn't know what to expect. So we are where we are now, hoping that, yeah, he'll be back. When? We don't know," Cora said.

Twins: RHP Ervin Santana, yet to appear this season because of a slow recovery from surgery on his middle finger, threw a 35-pitch bullpen session before the game. He'll face live hitters on Friday, another step forward after his setback last month.

UP NEXT

Red Sox: LHP David Price (8-4, 3.76 ERA) pitches Wednesday night. He is 6-0 in his last seven starts, with two runs or fewer allowed in all but one of those, when he gave up three runs. Price is 10-3 with a 2.52 ERA in his career against the Twins.

Twins: RHP Lance Lynn (4-5, 4.98 ERA) takes the mound in the middle game of the series. He's 3-1 with a 2.01 ERA over his last five turns, with a .195 batting average against him and 30 strikeouts in 31 1/3 innings.

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Padres' asking price from Red Sox for reliever is reportedly Devers

Padres' asking price from Red Sox for reliever is reportedly Devers

The Red Sox are interested in upgrading their bullpen by the July 31 trade deadline, but in seeking Padres lefty closer Brad Hand, Jon Morosi of MLB Network and FOX Sports reports that Rafael Devers would be San Diego's asking price.

Hand, 28, leads the National League with 28 saves, has a 2.25 ERA and 53 strikeouts in 36 innings pitched. Devers (.240, 12 HR, 36 RBI), the 21-year-old third baseman mentioned in trade rumors for the Orioles' Manny Machado, has heated up lately - he hit his third homer on the road trip Tuesday.

On Monday, Morosi reported that with Dustin Pedroia still out as he recovers from offseason knee surgery, Colorado Rockies second baseman D.J. LeMahieu "could be a trade match" for the Red Sox. 

With Pedroia still experiencing pain and swelling in his knee and shut down from baseball activity, the Sox could be in the market for infield help. LeMahieu, 28, has seven homers, 23 RBI and a slash line of .281/.327/.453. The right-handed hitter is batting .351 against lefties. 

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