NEW YORK – The Yankees were impressed with Henry Owens on Tuesday night. But they weren't blown away.



Henry Owens may not have aced his big league debut, but there’s nothing wrong with a solid B-plus.

Henry Owens wasn't the problem on Tuesday night in New York.  (Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

Henry Owens wasn’t the problem on Tuesday night in New York. (Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

Henry Owens may not have aced his big league debut, but there’s nothing wrong with a solid B-plus.

Making his first start in a park known for its offense against a lineup that recently exploded for 21 runs in one game and later reached double digits twice in three days against the pitching-rich White Sox, Owens did more than enough to justify another turn in the Red Sox rotation.

Overcoming a slow start that saw him fall behind frequently en route to a run in the first, Owens left in the sixth with two runners on and the Red Sox leading 2-1.

Both inherited runners scored in the span of three Robbie Ross pitches to put Owens on the hook for the loss, but the Red Sox are well beyond caring about wins and losses … which is good, since the Yankees teed off on the bullpen en route to a 13-3 win.

What mattered was how Owens looked, and the answer was simple — like he belonged.

Featuring a fastball that touched 94 mph late in the game but generally sat at 91-92, the 23-year-old left-hander kept the Yankees off-balance with a changeup and sweeping curve. He ended up allowing five hits and three runs in his five-plus innings, walking one and striking out five.

Lanky and angular, Owens did enough to suggest that as he grows and matures physically, his stuff could be tough to handle, especially for left-handed hitters.

He started strongly, striking out Jacoby Ellsbury swinging to open the game. But then he struggled with  his command, bouncing curveballs, missing up in the zone, and falling in frequent 3-1 holes.

Chris Young beat out an infield single to deep short and Alex Rodriguez walked to put Owens in immediate trouble. A Mark Teixeira single made it 1-0 before Owens even knew what had happened.

He settled from there, however, with Brian McCann flying to center and Carlos Beltran popping out.

After Chase Headley led off the second with a single, Owens found his groove, retiring 12 straight before Young singled and A-Rod doubled leading off the sixth.

That was it for Owens, who watched his lead evaporate in short order.

“You can talk all you want, but what he’s going to experience for the first time on this stage, you just hope he’s out there controlling the environment and ultimately controlling the baseball,” said manager John Farrell before the game.

On that score, consider the night a success ‘€“ maybe not a rousing one, but encouraging nonetheless.

PLAYER OF THE GAME: Yankees outfielder Chris Young is a former All-Star who has emerged as New York’s lefty killer, and he lived up to his advanced billing by going 3-for-4 with a homer, four runs, and three RBIs.

WHAT WENT RIGHT

— Owens did not look overwhelmed against a good lineup. That’s a good sign.

— First baseman Mike Napoli remained hot at the plate, recording a pair of doubles against Yankees starter Masahiro Tanaka, though one of them was aided by a miscommunication in the Yankees outfield.

— Third baseman Pablo Sandoval matched his July home run total with one swing against Tanaka in the seventh, blasting a solo shot to right that pulled the Red Sox within a run at 4-3.

— Blake Swihart continues to look more comfortable at the plate, going 1-for-4 with a sharp RBI single and a lineout to end the game.

WHAT WENT WRONG

— Oh, bullpen. First Robbie Ross gave away Owens’ win by allowing two inherited runners to score in just three pitches. Then newly acquired Jean Machi and veterans Craig Breslow and Alexi Ogando combined to allow nine runs in the seventh as the Yankees put it away.

— Shortstop Xander Bogaerts made a low throw on Jacoby Ellsbury’s leadoff grounder in the seventh. Mike Napoli probably should’ve scooped it, but Bogaerts was charged with the error and the floodgates opened.

— Second baseman Brock Holt went 0-for-4 and left three runners on base.

— Did we mention the bullpen?

Blog Author: 
John Tomase

NEW YORK — Red Sox left-handed pitching prospect Brian Johnson will be shut down for the time being with irritation in his ulnar collateral nerve, according to manager

Brian Johnson

Brian Johnson

NEW YORK — Red Sox left-handed pitching prospect Brian Johnson will be shut down for the time being with irritation in his ulnar collateral nerve, according to manager John Farrell.

Speaking before the Red Sox visited the Yankees in New York on Tuesday night, Farrell said that it’s too early to say if Johnson’s injury extends to his ulnar collateral ligament, which would likely end his season.

“Well, he came out of his last start with some elbow irritation,” Farrell said. “It’s in the ulnar nerve area. I don’t know how long of a shutdown he’ll go through. Obviously the elbow situation flared up on him and he’s on the DL with Pawtucket.”

Johnson left his last start at Triple-A on Sunday in Buffalo after four innings with irritation in his elbow. The Red Sox placed him on the minor-league disabled list on Monday, and he underwent further testing on Tuesday.

“I don’t have the specifics,” Farrell said. “The only thing I do know is that it’s in the ulnar nerve area, so whether or not the ligament is completely uninvolved, I don’t have the specifics of that.”

With Johnson sidelined, the Red Sox turned their attention to fellow left-handed prospect Henry Owens, who made his big league debut on Tuesday in New York.

In other pregame news, Farrell said there he hopes second baseman Dustin Pedroia can begin baseball activities with the team in Detroit this weekend. He also expects outfielder Mookie Betts (concussion), to work with the team there, too.

Speaking of Betts, Farrell said that even when he returns, fellow outfielder Rusney Castillo will continue to get every day playing time.

Blog Author: 
John Tomase

Word came down late Tuesday afternoon that the Tigers were relieving Dave Dombrowski of his duties as general manager/president. It was announced that Al Avila will take over the 59-year-old executive’s duties.

Dombrowski’s contract with the Tigers was set to expire after this year.

Word came down late Tuesday afternoon that the Tigers were relieving Dave Dombrowski of his duties as general manager/president. It was announced that Al Avila will take over the 59-year-old executive’s duties.

Dombrowski’s contract with the Tigers was set to expire after this year.

So what does this have to do with the Red Sox. Maybe nothing. But maybe something.

As we pointed out in two separate columns on WEEI.com (and on the Bradfo Show podcast), the Red Sox could be eying someone like Dombrowski to take over a newly-formed role with the team, overseeing baseball operations.

With Sam Kennedy ready to take the reigns as team president, but making it clear that he would not be making player acquisition decisions in the same manner as his predecessor, Larry Lucchino, changes along these lines seem inevitable.

Such a dynamic would allow the Red Sox to keep general manager Ben Cherington and his staff in place, with Dombrowski — who previously worked under principal owner John Henry in Miami — garnering the final say on baseball operations decisions.

It is a structure that has been put in place throughout baseball, with the Cuba, Dodgers, White Sox an Phillies serving as examples.

Here is John Tomase’s take on how Dombrowski might make the most sense for the Red Sox if they decide to go that route.

Blog Author: 
Rob Bradford

ESPN’s Michael Wilbon joined Dennis & Callahan Tuesday to talk about the impact of the false Chris Mortensen report on the Deflategate scandal and how it will impact Tom Brady‘s legacy.

Ryan Cook

Ryan Cook

According to Minor League Baseball’s transaction page, newly-acquired Ryan Cook has been sent to Triple-A Pawtucket in order to make room for the Red Sox‘ Tuesday night starter, Henry Owens.

To make room on the 40-man roster for Owens, the Red Sox released reliever Ronald Belisario. Since being acquired from Tampa Bay last month, Belisario threw 6 1/3 innings for the PawSox, allowing just four hits.

Cook, who was acquired for cash considerations from Oakland at the non-waiver trade deadline, was active for the Red Sox’ game against the Rays Sunday but did not pitch. He has only appeared in four major league games this season, making 30 outings (finishing 20 games) for Triple-A Nashville.

Owens will be making his major league debut Tuesday night at Yankee Stadium, going up against Masahiro Tanaka.

Blog Author: 
Rob Bradford
Alex Rodriguez leads  the Yankees with 24 home runs this season. (David Banks/Getty Images)

Alex Rodriguez leads the Yankees with 24 home runs this season. (David Banks/Getty Images)

One of the premier rivalries in sports will resume Tuesday when the Red Sox head to the Bronx to face the first-place Yankees for a three-game set.

Less than a month ago, the Red Sox sat just five games out of first in the AL East and were preparing to host the Yankees for a pivotal three-game series at Fenway Park before the All-Star break. Now, after losing 2-of-3 to New York and 11-of-13 since the series, the Red Sox have fallen back to double-digit games out and the Yankees have taken control of the division.

The Red Sox have won three out of their last four games as their offense powered them through their last series against the Rays. The Sox scored 20-plus runs in a three-game set for the third time this season en route to their second series win since their last meeting with the Yankees. They are now 47-59 and 13 games out of first in the division.

Over their last seven games, the Red Sox offense owns the MLB’s sixth-best WAR (1.5). As a team, they have slashed .295/.349/.443 with seven home runs and 40 RBIs. The corner infield spots have all of a sudden become home to the Red Sox hottest hitters as Mike Napoli and Travis Shaw combined to hit .333 with four home runs and eight RBIs in the last week. Shaw has been especially impressive as he went 4-for-4 Saturday with two longballs, a double and three RBIs.

“I feel pretty good at the plate,” Shaw said after the game, an 11-7 Red Sox victory. “Just trying to not do too much, just stick with what I’€™ve done down there. I’€™ve been successful down there and trying to carry that up here.”

“I try and control what I can control,” Shaw added. “Each day that I am in the lineup up here try and make the most of and hopefully that speaks for its self.”

While Shaw and the Red Sox offense have streaked of late, so has the Yankees’. During the last 14 days, the Yankees have had the best lineup in baseball, scoring 94 runs and logging a .305/.372/.533 team slash line on the backs of Mark Teixeira (six home runs), Alex Rodriguez (five home runs) and Chase Headley (12 RBIs).

This offensive outburst has helped the Yankees to a 59-45 record and a six-game lead over the Orioles and Blue Jays in the AL East. They have won 10 of their last 15, highlighted by a 21-5 drubbing of the Rangers on July 28 and a 13-6 win over the White Sox last Friday.

Surprisingly, the Yankees didn’t make any major moves at the trade deadline. With speculation circulating that they would try to land a top-tier starter like David Price or Cole Hamels, the Yankees front office told the public to expect a quiet deadline and they followed through on their promise.

Instead of improving via trade, the Yankees have chosen to rely on their farm system to aid in their playoff push. On the day of the trade deadline, they promoted top right-handed pitching prospect Luis Severino, who will make his major league debut Wednesday against the Red Sox, one day after the Red Sox’ Henry Owens makes his. Severino has gone 9-2 with a 2.45 ERA in the minors this season, which includes a 7-0 record and a 1.91 ERA at Triple-A Scranton in 11 starts.

“He moved really fast through the system and obviously had a lot of success,” Yankees GM Brian Cashman said of Severino. “We’€™ll see what the next level is going to be like for him and hopefully he can contribute and add into the cast of characters.”

Here are the pitching matchups for the series:

Tuesday: Henry Owens (ML debut) vs. Masahiro Tanaka (7-4, 3.80 ERA)

Wednesday: Steven Wright (4-4, 4.53 ERA) vs. Luis Severino (ML debut)

Thursday: Eduardo Rodriguez (6-3, 4.34 ERA) vs. CC Sabathia (4-8, 5.54 ERA)

WHO’S HOT: RED SOX

— Shaw has taken advantage of his opportunities at the big league level. Aside from his 4-for-4, two-homer effort on Saturday, he has gone 9-for-23 in 11 major league games, scoring seven runs and posting a blistering 1.136 OPS.

— Xander Bogaerts has not seen his 2015 season-long rejuvenation waver. During his last 36 games, the 22-year-old shortstop has hit .371 with 13 doubles. Against the Rays, he went 5-for-12 with three RBIs and just one strikeout.

— Owens will get the nod Tuesday for the Red Sox as the lefty makes his much-anticipated major league debut. In 21 starts at the Triple-A level this season, he sports a 3.16 ERA and a 1.14 WHIP.

WHO’S HOT: YANKEES

— Teixeira has been key for the Yankees all season. He had back-to-back two homer games on July 30 and 31, accruing eight RBIs in 48 hours. He is 7-for-his-last-15 with six extra-base hits and a 2.112 OPS.

— Not known for his offense, Didi Gregorius has changed his approach at the plate and it is working wonders. Over his last 10 games, the Yankee shortstop is slashing .472/.488/.611 with 13 RBIs and nine runs.

— Severino is impact-ready as he prepares for the big stage Wednesday. He has given up less than two runs in 13 of his last 14 minor league starts.

WHO’S NOT: RED SOX

— Though his defense might be improving slightly, Hanley Ramirez‘s offense has left much to be desired of late. Over his last 23 games, the left fielder has hit just two home runs while striking out 20 times in 94 plate appearances.

— Every time the Red Sox bring up Jackie Bradley Jr., hope abounds that he will overcome the issues with his swing and become a regular in the Sox outfield. Yet, on each occasion Red Sox fans are disappointed. This stint has proven no different. In five games since being called up on July 29, Bradley has reached base three times. For the season, he has five hits in 53 plate appearances.

— Steven Wright has been inconsistent of late in the Red Sox rotation. Despite a seven-inning, two-run effort against the White Sox last Sunday, he has racked up a 5.51 ERA over his last three starts, resulting in two Sox losses.

WHO’S NOT: YANKEES

— All-Star outfielder Brett Gardner has cooled off of late, posting just one hit in his last 18 plate appearances while striking out five times.

Stephen Drew has had an underwhelming 2015 to say the least as he maintains a .199/.268/.390 slash line. Unfortunately, he’s gotten worse lately too. The 2013 Red Sox World Series champion has not walked since July 22 and has just one home run since July 8.

— In the wake of debilitating knee issues, Sabathia’s career appears to have bottomed out completely in 2015. The hulking southpaw has the third-worst ERA among starters with at least 100 innings pitched at 5.54. He has given up five runs in two consecutive starts and opponents have slugged .652 in these outings.

Blog Author: 
Justin Pallenik