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.”