August 3, 2013

Owens makes a solid first impression with Sea Dogs

Henry Owens strikes out 11 in six scoreless innings in his Double-A debut as Portland beats Bowie, 6-1.

By HARVEY VALENTINE Special to the Telegram

BOWIE, Md. - Henry Owens admitted he had some jitters in his Double-A debut Saturday night for the Portland Sea Dogs.


WHO: Portland Sea Dogs (Jeremy Kehrt 1-3) at Bowie Baysox (Tyler Wilson 6-1)

WHEN: 6:05 p.m.

They didn't last long.

Owens pitched six scoreless innings with a career-best 11 strikeouts and Travis Shaw hit a two-run homer as the Sea Dogs defeated Bowie 6-1 in the rain at Prince George's Stadium.

Christian Vazquez added three hits and scored twice, and J.C. Linares had two doubles and two RBI for the Sea Dogs, who are 2-3 on a six-game trip.

Owens, who threw 95 pitches, walking two and allowing four hits, credited Vazquez, his catcher.

"I was pretty impressed we were on the same page because he had only caught me in spring training and a couple bullpen (sessions)," Henry said. "The fact that we were on the same page and he was putting down the right fingers was awesome."

Owens, a 21-year-old left- hander, pitched out of trouble in each of the first three innings and retired 15 of his last 17 hitters.

"It was jitters but Vasquez was keeping me calm, kind of just coming out and talking to me, slowing me down, keeping me on track," Owens said. "Then we got in a nice rhythm."

The 36th pick in the June 2011 draft, Owens is rated as the fifth-best prospect in the Red Sox organization by Baseball America.

He was 8-5 with a 2.92 ERA in 20 starts for the Salem Red Sox, leading the Carolina League with 123 strikeouts in 1042/3 innings.

"For being such a young age, (he has) a feel for three pitches -- fastball, curve, change-up," Sea Dogs Manager Kevin Boles said after seeing Owens for the first time. "The secondary pitches are weapons, there's no doubt about it. He utilized a mix and was pretty impressive."

Portland took a 2-0 lead in the second. Vazquez singled and Shaw hit a 2-2 pitch from Bowie starter Eduardo Rodriguez (1-3) over the wall in right-center for his 15th home run.

Shaw is 12 for 40 (.300) with four homers and seven RBI in his last 10 games.

Owens allowed base runners in each of the first four innings, but Bowie hitters went 0 for 9 with runners in scoring position in that span.

In the first, he allowed a single and a walk with one out before striking out clean-up hitter Caleb Joseph and getting Brandon Waring to fly out.

Bowie had runners on first and second with no outs in the second, but Owens retired the next three hitters, two on strikeouts.

"He's a great pitcher," Vazquez said. "His stuff was there tonight. Change-up was down in the zone, his curveball, too."

In the third, Trayvon Robinson of Bowie led off with a double but was stranded.

Portland made it 3-0 in the fourth when Linares doubled, went to third on an infield hit and scored on a fielder's choice.

The Sea Dogs broke it open with two outs in the fifth.

Vazquez doubled and Shaw walked. Tim Bascom of Bowie came on to face Linares, who hit a routine fly to center. Baysox center fielder Kyle Hudson couldn't find it and as the ball landed about 15 feet away, Vazquez and Shaw scored while Linares raced to second.

After Derrik Gibson walked, Heiker Meneses singled home Linares to make it 6-0.

Bobby Lanigan pitched the final three innings for his third save.

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