Print and Go Back BlogsColumns [Print without images]

Wednesday, July 21, 2010
Bowden has one get away

By Joe McDonald

OAKLAND, Calif. -- Red Sox pitching prospect Michael Bowden has a bulldog mentality when he takes the mound.

Nothing fazes the right-hander, no matter the situation. The starter-turned-reliever was recalled from Triple-A Pawtucket on Sunday and he made his second appearance of the season for the Sox on Tuesday night in the bottom of the 10th inning against the Oakland Athletics.

Tim Wakefield
Tim Wakefield covers the plate as Kurt Suzuki scores on a passed ball in Oakland's four-run third inning.

The game was knotted at four apiece and the A's had runners on first and second when Bowden was summoned from the bullpen to face Kevin Kouzmanoff. Bowden threw five pitches (four fastballs) and on the fifth offering, Kouzmanoff lined a shot to right field to score the winning run as Oakland walked off with a 5-4 victory.

In the clubhouse following the loss, Bowden sat at his locker in full uniform, biting his lip and staring into his stall. After a bit of a cool-down period, the young hurler talked about his brief outing.

"It was up in the zone and he did what he should have done to it," Bowden said. "I just made a bad pitch."

In his previous outing, Bowden worked a perfect ninth inning, including two strikeouts, against the Texas Rangers on Sunday at Fenway Park. He knew when he took the ball with two outs in the 10th inning Tuesday that he needed similar results.

It didn't happen.

"You have to be aware of the whole situation and I knew what was going on," he said. "I knew what my task was and that was to get that hitter out. Obviously I didn't do it."

Prior to his recall, Bowden was 6-3 with one save in 20 games (16 starts) for the PawSox. His last four Triple-A outings came as a reliever because the parent club knew it needed help in the bullpen.

"Had he not performed the way he did out of the bullpen in Pawtucket, we probably wouldn't see him here," said Red Sox pitching coach John Farrell. "He's been very solid out of the bullpen. He's throwing strikes and he's had swings and misses, which he showed in the at-bat with Kouzmanoff. His overall development not only has been positive, but it's been consistent in that role to the point where we don't have any hesitation to use him in a tight spot like tonight."

Bowden said he felt no added pressure given the situation he came into Tuesday.

"I felt good. I felt calm and I felt relaxed," Bowden said. "I felt like I had the situation under control. It was just one bad pitch."

Farrell said there were a few different options in that situation. Bowden could have elevated a fastball inside or he could have thrown a slider. Because Kouzmanoff did not chase a slider on the previous pitch, the Sox and Bowden decided to go with a fastball in.

"He threw the fastball where we were intending to go," said Farrell. "Obviously, late in a game like this, knowing Clay [Buchholz] will be limited tomorrow, [Scott] Atchison is a guy we wanted to stay away from, and Kouzmanoff fisted a ball off the opposite way.

"There's no second-guessing what [Bowden] was attempting to do. Both he and [Dustin] Richardson came in and made pitches in key spots."

Red Sox reliever Ramon Ramirez, who worked 1 1/3 innings, had one out in the bottom of the 10th when he allowed a single to Daric Barton. Ramirez was then called for a balk by plate umpire Bob Davidson, leading the Red Sox to intentionally walk Kurt Suzuki.

"It was interpreted by Bob Davidson as a balk," said Farrell.

Asked if he thought it was a balk, Farrell said, "In real time? No. With the benefit of hindsight? Apparently [Davidson] saw something that was not consistent with [Ramirez's] other set positions."

"I looked at the tape and I stepped off. Everyone saw it," Ramirez said. "But that's the game."

Ramirez was lifted in favor of the lefty Richardson and the A's countered with pinch-hitter Adam Rosales. On the sixth pitch of that at-bat, Rosales checked his swing on a pitch that was called a ball, which sent Farrell into a frenzy that got him ejected. Richardson struck out Rosales on the next pitch.

"I saw a pretty full swing," Farrell said. "Obviously there was a difference of opinion."

Richardson had done his job when Bowden was summoned to face Kouzmanoff.

The Red Sox are 3-8 this season in extra-inning games, including a 1-5 mark on the road.

"Who cares?" said outfielder Mike Cameron. "It's all about winning. I don't care if we win in 15, 12 or nine. We got an L so it doesn't matter. The disappointment is we lost the game tonight. We have a chance to turn it around tomorrow."

It didn't help that Boston stranded 12 runners, including the bases loaded twice.

Joe McDonald covers the Red Sox and Bruins for