The Boston Red Sox enter their final series of the season with reason for optimism for the future. Henry Owens will try to give them another glimpse of what they can expect Friday night against the Cleveland Indians.
Tied with Baltimore and Tampa Bay, Boston (78-81) only has third place in the AL East to play for heading into the final three games of the season.
The Red Sox, however, have an array of promising young players that have them looking forward to 2016.
Owens (4-3, 3.84 ERA) is certainly among them, and he looks to cap his year with another strong performance in his first meeting with Cleveland. The 23-year-old rookie left-hander is 2-1 with a 1.61 ERA over his last four starts, reaching the eighth inning in each of the last three.
He was 2-2 with a 5.87 ERA over his first six starts after being called up from Triple-A Pawtucket two months ago.
"I am a lot more comfortable than I was at the start of the season," Owens told MLB’s official website. "Even last year, I got in a groove where I was comfortable towards the end of the at-bat. This year early on, I was struggling with my mechanics. I was just trying to take it outing to outing."
Owens has been very comfortable on the road, going 2-0 with a 1.02 ERA over his last three starts.
Second-year shortstop Xander Bogaerts leads Boston with a .322 average while his 82 runs and 81 RBIs rank second in both categories. He is hitting .353 while scoring 19 times over the past 20 games, but he’s batting just .233 in eight career meetings with Cleveland (78-80).
Bogaerts turned 23 on Thursday and Mookie Betts celebrates his 23rd birthday next week. The center fielder is already proving to have a bright future in the leadoff spot, scoring a team-best 92 runs. He’s hitting .413 with three homers and 12 runs in the past 11 games.
Betts has two hits in five of his last six games, including Thursday’s 4-1 loss to the New York Yankees that ended the Red Sox’s six-game winning streak.
David Ortiz, however, may be shut down for the final series after being out of the lineup for the third time in six games Thursday. His 36 homers are the most he’s hit since a career-high 54 in 2006.
"Some general soreness, the body is tired," interim manager Torey Lovullo said. "He’s had a really, really good season. And I don’t want to put him in a situation where he’s going to run up against an injury, out of fairness to him."
The Indians have dropped four of their last five games after falling 4-2 to Minnesota on Thursday.
They’re turning to Josh Tomlin (6-2, 3.03), who is trying to bounce back from his shortest of nine starts since returning from shoulder surgery. The right-hander allowed five runs and seven hits in 3 2-3 innings of Saturday’s 9-5 win at Kansas City.
Tomlin was 4-1 with a 1.98 ERA over his previous five starts with two complete games.
He’s 1-2 with a 6.67 ERA in five games – four starts – against the Red Sox with the most recent matchup coming in a road loss on June 12, 2014.
Cleveland swept the last series with Boston at Progressive Field from June 2-4, 2014.