MANCHESTER, N.H. — The touted pitching duel did not match the hype. But Henry Owens held up his end.
Owens (13-3) limited the New Hampshire Fisher Cats to two runs as the Portland Sea Dogs beat New Hampshire 10-3 Saturday night, before 7,850 at Northeast Delta Dental Stadium.
Owens not only became the first minor league pitcher to reach 13 wins (with a 2.25 ERA), he broke a Sea Dogs franchise record for consecutive victories (nine).
But the tall left-hander was not quite untouchable Saturday, although he did control the damage, striking out six while giving up nine hits and a walk over 61/3 innings.
“Game management,” Portland pitching coach Bob Kipper said. “He strung together quality pitches when he had to. That’s development.”
Owens shared the spotlight with his offense, which knocked out Blue Jays prospect Daniel Norris (1-1) after three-plus innings.
Norris, who had not lost a game this season in Class A or Double-A, retired the first eight Sea Dogs, four by strikeout.
But Portland then pounded Norris with hits, including a three-run homer from catcher Blake Swihart.
Later, Swihart added an RBI single. Both Ryan Dent and Shannon Wilkerson enjoyed three-hit nights.
Norris had his worst outing since rookie ball, giving up eight runs on eight hits.
Both Owens and Norris were left-handed bonus babies out of high school in 2011 – the Blue Jays giving Norris $2 million, the Red Sox handing $1.55 million to Owens. Both pitched well in the All-Stars Futures Game last Sunday in Minnesota, in which the U.S. team beat the World team, 3-2.
Owens hadn’t started for the Sea Dogs since July 6.
“Good to get out for a full game with the team,” Owens said. “There were some misfires. I thought I made key adjustments at key times.”
Owens, who turns 22 on Monday, continues to dominate. Counting his six starts last season for Portland, he is 16-4 overall in Double-A, with a 2.23 ERA in 24 starts.
Owens is in good company with other young prospects who pitched in Portland.
Jon Lester was a 21-year-old in 2005 (26 starts, 11-6, 2.61). Clay Buchholz was 22 in 2007, when he made 15 starts (7-2, 1.77). Felix Doubront came to Portland as a 21-year-old (34 starts in 2009-10: 12-6, 3.13).
With the win, Portland (64-36) moved to 4½ games ahead of the Binghamton Mets (59-40) in the Eastern League East. New Hampshire is fourth at 46-53.
NOTES: Reliever Noe Ramirez allowed one run in 21/3 innings … Swihart leads the team with 53 RBI and is tied for first in home runs (11) with Sean Coyle … Michael Almanzar was hit in the left arm by a pitch in the sixth inning and had to leave the game … Third baseman Jonathan Roof nearly fell over the dugout railing while reaching for a foul ball, and later dove for a scorching ground ball and threw the runner out … Center fielder Derrik Gibson made two fine running catches