You always hear the expression “he only threw one bad pitch” when a pitcher throws an excellent game, with his only blemish being a home run. The problem with this phrase is that the pitcher probably threw a lot of bad pitches, but he only paid for one of them. That wasn’t the case with Altoona Curve starter Rudy Owens tonight, as Altoona fell to Richmond 4-1.
Owens was spectacular, with excellent control and command of his pitches, pitching six innings, and allowing two runs on three hits, with one walk and nine strikeouts. Owens carried a no-hitter in to the fifth inning, before allowing a two out double, which would have been a bloop single, had it not been for the hustle of Richmond shortstop Ryan Lormand barely stretching the play out in to a double. Owens allowed an infield single in the sixth inning on a slow roller to shortstop, which set up his big mistake, a two run homer by Thomas Neal to put Richmond up 2-1 at the time.
Owens wasn’t just good at pitching. He also helped himself out on the hitting side. With the outfield playing in for his second at-bat of the game in the sixth inning, Owens belted a stand up double to the right-center field gap. A Chase d’Arnaud single moved him to third, and Owens scored when Josh Harrison grounded in to a double play.
Owens was spot on with his control, recording nine strikeouts, with three of those looking, and doing a lot of damage with his breaking ball. His fastball was effective, sitting at 90-93 MPH. After seeing some dominating stat lines from Owens recently, I started to wonder if he was ready for a call-up to AAA. Tonight’s performance confirmed that Owens isn’t being challenged at all by AA hitting, and is easily ready to make the jump to the next level.
The Altoona offense didn’t do much tonight. Owens probably had the best hit of the night with his double being the only extra base hit for the Curve. Kris Watts hit a ball to the warning track in the seventh, but a breeze blowing inward possibly prevented the ball from going out. Matt Hague had some hard hit fly balls, but couldn’t manage any hits.
Altoona ran in to some more misfortunes in the seventh inning. With Ramon Aguero on the mound, Altoona had two outs, and Richmond shortstop Ryan Lormand on third. Aguero struck out Aaron Lowenstein, which would have been out number three, but the ball got away from Kris Watts, allowing Lormand to score from third, and allowing Lowenstein to reach first. Lowenstein would score on a single two batters later. Aguero got credit for both runs, although he should have been out of the inning before the runs scored.
The highlight of the night was clearly Owens. I will have video of his outing up next week, along with video of a lot of other prospects at the Altoona level.
Altoona plays Richmond in game two of a four game series tomorrow. Tony Watson makes the start for Altoona, and if his last outing is any indication, Jared Hughes should piggyback that start with Watson.