Aug. 30, 2008
All of this on Ted Williams’ birthday.
Michael Bowden took the mound today for his first MLB start backed by a makeshift Sox line-up featuring the “strongest 160-pound man in Baseball” batting cleanup.
Ellsbury (CF), Lowrie (3rd), Ortiz (DH), Pedroia (2nd), Kotsay (RF), Bay (LF), Tek (C), Bailey (1b) and Cora (ss).
Pedroia would reach safely for the 10th AB in a row and hear the MVP chant.
Bowden did not have it easy.
He faced a ChiSox starting 9 that already poled 185 HR this year.
The 3-4-5 hitters, Quentin, Dye and Thome, have 96 HR between them.
Add to that the sensational rookie Alexei Ramirez (.310/15/60), a still potent 38-yr-old Junior Griffey, and a few other clutch performers, and this was no team of pushovers facing Mr. Bowden.
Bowden was as advertised in terms of a powerful, condensed pitching motion. After walking Cabrera on 5 pitches to start the game, he fired four 92 MPH fastballs to Pierzynski, inducing a 1-3 double play. 5 fastballs later, he grounded Quentin out to third to record his first MLB inning, facing the minimum 3 batters.
Bowden would put up only 5 innings this night. He wouldn’t go unmolested. But he limited the damage, showing great character and composure in tight spots.
In the second, he worked his fastball and a 77 mph cutter to get 2 strikes on Jermaine Dye, but with the crowd calling for the rookie’s first MLB strikeout, Dye smashed the ball 390 ft. to the Garage Door area in dead center. It had HR distance but hit the CF wall 10 ft below the fans in Bleacher 36. Two batters later, Bowden gave up his first run in the majors when Alexei Ramirez stroked a 2-2 fastball on a line before Bay in left and turned on the speed to register a double and an RBI.
With the crowd still waiting for his first K, Mr. Bowden then fed Nick Swisher a fastball and three 78 mph Cutters, striking Swisher out on a cutter in the dirt. Swisher, a very good player, looked like a bad one.
The 2nd inning damage was 1 run. Ramirez was stranded on second. Bowden kept his cool.
Bowden gave up one more run this day. That run almost never scored because Joe Crede, the runner, almost produced an out instead of a triple. Crede led off the 3rd by smacking the 8th pitch Bowden hurled 379 ft to the base of the left center wall. There, Ellsbury caught up with it, and on the ball’s descent, tipped the fly up not once but twice before it fell for a triple. He stuck his glove out at the end and just missed it. Not an easy catch potentially. A great try by the centerfielder.
Crede, who could have been out, trotted in two batters later on Pierzynski’s ground out to Pedroia. 1 run.
Bowden fired fastball after fastball over the course of his outing. He threw about 60 fastballs out of 89 total pitches.
Power Against Power
Bowden disarmed Carlos Quentin, holding the MVP candidate to personal O-for-three before leaving.
Bowden displayed his intangibles in the fifth. After yielding two singles to Cabrera and Pierzynski, and with Dye on deck, he fed the power hitting Quentin four 92 mph fastballs, two of them partially over the plate, two of them not.
On the second pitch, with a 1-0 count, two ducks on the pond, Bowden was not afraid to pound another fastball in letter high to the White Sox slugger.
Power against power.
Quentin couldn’t catch up to it.
Bowden did not get Quentin to chase the pitches out of the zone, but he did make him fly out to Bay on the last pitch. Then he stranded two ChiSox when the slugger Dye flew out to Bay on a ball with HR height to the track.
Bowden never looked to be in serious trouble. He surely put runners on base, yielding 4 hits in the 4th and the 5th, but no one scored.
He was aided by one double play, initiated by him self in the first.
More than a fastball
At the end of the day, Bowden had a fine first outing. His fastball, 5 or 6 mph slower than Manny Delcarmen’s or Josh Beckett’s, had the movement needed to stay away from the heart of the plate and give the White Sox batters conniptions. Although heavy on the heater, Bowden mixed in an effective Cutter (77 mph), Curve (78 mph), and a Change (85 mph). He really made Swisher look bad with the curve in particular.
Licking His Chops
Young Alexei Ramirez stood on deck while Griffey made the last out in the 9th. He was asked what he thought of the kid who started tonight. Alexei smiled sweetly at the questioner in the second row. He looked like a cat licking its whiskers after biting the mouse on it’s hind quarter, but somehow letting it get away. He smirked, but said nothing.
Bowden gets an A+ for cool. He gets an A+ for getting ahead in the count. He gets an A for controlling the rythym of his outing.
He gets a B- for overall performance though, unable to keep the able ChiSox batters off the bases.
We’ll someday see how he does against the Ginger and Mary Anne’s in Baltimore, Kansas City and Seattle.
Ellsbury, Pedroia & Kotsay win it 8-2
Mr. Bowden owes thanks to the self-acknowledged “Strongest 160 pound Man in Baseball”, and a few other mates, for notching his first MLB victory on Ted Williams’ 90th birthday, by a score of 8 – 2.