A huge game at the plate from Jackie Bradley Jr. powered a seven-run attack for the Red Sox Sunday afternoon, proving more than enough behind a solid outing from Henry Owens to earn a 7-2 win in Detroit.
I say "solid," but that's really not quite the word for Owens today. And to be perfectly honest, I don't know what is. In many ways, he looked like he did in his first outing. A lot of high pitches, a lot of "waste" pitches, if you will, that Owens probably did not intend to be quite so obviously balls. In fact, if you look at his chart for the night, there's relatively little going on in the zone. The sheer stuff was still working for him in the first, producing strikeouts of Rajai Davis and Victor Martinez to mitigate a double from Ian Kinsler, but those were the only two he managed on the day.
It's not that the Tigers were being too aggressive, either, with Owens preying on that aggression by throwing outside the zone. In fact, Detroit drew two walks in the very next inning, and managed four on the day. Owens wasn't taking advantage so much as being taken advantage of.
But the Tigers also just didn't hit the ball very well off of him. That first-inning double was one of just three hits against him on the day, and the only one to go for extra bases. He had some hard contact turn into outs--case in point--but generally didn't get into much trouble. It was a start more reminiscent of Owens in his more difficult months in Triple-A--effective, but unimpressive. The kind of start that's nice to have, but can't be relied on.
The one run Owens did allow came in the third, when Victor Martinez drove in Rajai Davis after a leadoff walk and Davis' usual antics on the basepaths left the outfielder at third. By then, though, it was only enough to cut Boston's lead in half, with Jackie Bradley Jr. having drawn a bases loaded walk off a struggling Justin Verlander in the second, and Brock Holt beating out an infield single to add one more before Rusney Castillo grounded out to end the inning.
The Sox would briefly pad their lead to two runs in the seventh, with Jackie Bradley Jr. once again the author, this time by clubbing a high fastball into the stands in right field for a rare home run. But Jefry Marte repaid the favor with a solo shot of his own in the bottom of the inning against Justin Masterson.
The top of the eighth, though, would see the Red Sox step on Detroit's throat. Singles from David Ortiz and Travis Shaw put Ian Krol in trouble in a hurry, and while Blake Swihart wasn't able to cash in after Alejandro De Aza set him up with a sacrifice bunt, Brad Ausmus made the awfully questionable decision to intentionally walk Josh Rutledge to load the bases with two outs for Jackie Bradley Jr. And while over the season as a whole pitching to Bradley might seem like a wise choice, today he was on fire, and not letting up. A line drive into the corner in right gave the Red Sox plenty of time to clear the bases, and for Bradley to go into third with the triple. Brock Holt would knock him in to make it 7-2, putting the Tigers away once and for all.