Owings' solid afternoon
Fifth starter candidate Micah Owings had another decent start for the most part against the Red Sox. His line: 3.2 IN, 3H 2ER, 1BB 4K…51 pitches/32 strikes
Owings started his outing by giving up back-to-back singles in the first inning but struck out Brad Wilkerson and induced a 4-6-3 double play by Rocco Baldelli. In the 1-2-3 second inning, his strikeout of Jason Varitek appeared to be a high fastball. Two batters later, he fooled Lars Anderson with a nice changeup.
With a lot of lefties in the Boston lineup, Owings used his changeup quite a bit. He’s also been working on his two-seam fastball.
“It was nice to see that,” Owings said of the Anderson strikeout. “It’s something I’ve worked more and more on in the course of the big leagues. It’s something I know is going to help me and another thing I can mix to keep hitters off-balance. I threw it a good bit today.”
After a 1-2-3 third inning that required only 10 pitches, Owings was at 35 pitches and allowed to return for the fourth. Jed Lowrie led off with a ground-rule double and Varitek reached on a two-out walk. Jared Burton gave up the inherited runs on Paul McAnulty two-run double.
“He looked really good,” manager Dusty Baker said. “He didn’t have that many pitches. We were trying to take him to 50 pitches and he lost it there for a minute. He threw the ball very well today. He got the double play when he needed it.”
Through two starts totaling 6 2/3 innings, Owings has a 2.70 ERA with five hits, one walk and six strikeouts. The right-hander was asked if he was where he wanted to be at this point of camp:
“I don’t ever like to say that,” he responded. “I always feel like I can be better. I feel good about where I’m at but I’m going to keep working hard and not let up.”
With Homer Bailey doing very well and Owings looking good, the fifth starter battle could continue to be interesting for a while. It will still be one of the main subplots to watch.
Other items of note from a 9-8 Reds win:
Norris Hopper pushed a nice bunt past the mound in the fourth. Hopper was almost picked off of first base but out dashed the rundown and slid safely into second for the steal.
Jay Bruce was batting when Hopper was on base. First a dropped foul pop up in left field kept him alive. He was able to smoke a 3-2 Ramon Ramirez (a different one) pitch to right field.
Two batters after Bruce, Edwin Encarnacion had his first homer of spring. It easily cleared the left field wall.
Left field candidate Jonny Gomes hit an opposite field grand slam to right field in the five-run seventh. Gomes is batting .400 (4-for-10) with seven RBIs through five games.
Gomes’ slam wound up providing the deciding run. The Reds had a 9-2 lead after the top of the 7th. Boston scored three in the seventh off Jeff Kennard and three more in the eighth off Adam Pettyjohn to make it a one-run game.