Owens dominates in fourth career start

Prospect yields one earned run in career-high eight frames

Owens dominates in fourth career start

BOSTON -- By 2016 or '17, the Red Sox hope that Henry Owens outperforming one of the best pitchers in the American League will be something that happens often.

To do it in just the fourth start of his career, however, that was something to behold. Owens led the Red Sox to a 7-2 win over the Royals on Friday night at Fenway.

In truth, Friday night wasn't about Johnny Cueto at all. He was off his game, and the Red Sox pounded the ace for 13 hits and seven runs.

The story was Owens, who was simply marvelous, going a career-high eight innings while allowing four hits and one earned run.

Though the Red Sox obviously need to make upgrades to their pitching staff for next season, a rotation that includes lefties like Owens, who is ranked the organization's No. 5 prospect, and Eduardo Rodriguez could become pretty dangerous in time.

"He's going to be one of the good ones," said catcher Blake Swihart, a familiar batterymate for Owens over the years. "He's capable of doing that every night. He's a competitor."

The poise and competitive fire is what served Owens so well in his first three starts, when his stuff wasn't necessarily electric. On Friday, he brought his "A" repertoire to the park.

Owens felt it was his best game of 2015.

"Yeah, definitely, collectively, Minors and big leagues," Owens said. "I felt pretty comfortable early on, and just took it inning by inning."

Lovullo on win over the Royals

It would be hard to believe Owens was going to turn in a performance like this when it started with a four-pitch walk.

"Blake did a great job getting me back in the zone and I just tried to roll with it," Owens said. "After that, I had a good changeup and got in some counts, and fortunately we played well."

Amid a stretch run in which the Red Sox are making evaluations for the future, nights like Friday are the most gratifying. Owens has a combination of power and finesse that can be lethal when he commands.

"Quality outing by Henry. What's not to say about what he did?" said interim manager Torey Lovullo. "A two-pitch, at times, three-pitch mix. It just seemed really all clicked for him. He got into a great flow, great rhythm. We wanted him to touch the eighth inning. Those were some of the conversations we were having in the dugout, but he was so efficient, he worked through the eighth. It was a special night."

Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Brownie Points, follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.