Dylan Owen's last start was Tuesday in Columbus and it ranks as probably the worst in the Buffalo Bisons' modern era: Three innings, 13 runs (all earned) on 11 hits with five walks thrown in as part of a 21-3 beating.
For three innings Sunday against Norfolk, Owen gave up no runs, no hits and two walks. The right-hander didn't get a decision in Buffalo's 4-2 win, allowing two runs in 4 2/3 innings. But the outing was nonetheless a major feel-good moment for the Herd's jack-of-all trades on the mound.
"The whole point of baseball is to have a little short-term memory about bad things," said Owen, 25. "This game can be humbling. You just have to keep your head on your shoulders. Everybody has their bad starts but that one was really bad. You have to put it out of your mind."
Owen has made 15 appearances for Buffalo this season, including six starts. His ERA overall is 5.19 but as a starter it was 1.62 until Tuesday's disaster. The Bisons were short in their bullpen as the parent New York Mets were using six starters in the wake of Johan Santana's no-hitter and the callup of Chris Young off injury rehab. Manager Wally Backman told Owen he needed 85 pitches out of him and Backman finally pulled him after 78.
"He sucked it up, took it on the chin for the team and to come back and bounce back the way he did was good," Backman said after Sunday's game. "You never want to leave a guy out to the wolves like that. To do it and see the end result, it hurts me just as much as it probably hurts him."
"I knew I had to eat up innings and we were short in the bullpen," Owen said. "It was my problem pretty much. I couldn't get the ball down and it seemed like every pitch I threw they were hitting."
Owen did a better job keeping the ball down Sunday, striking out two and getting six of his other 12 outs on the ground. Two double plays behind him also helped. The way things shake out right now, Owen will stay in the Buffalo rotation and that's what he prefers.
"I enjoy starting," he said. "It's easier to keep a throwing program and keep a routine that really helps you out. It's definitely a great opportunity here."
Backman earned a quick thumb for his second ejection of the year in the fourth as Matt Tuiasosopo was called out at first base on an overrule by third-base umpire Sean Barber. First-base ump Kelvin Bultron initially ruled shortstop Blake Davis' throw had pulled Bill Hall off the bag at first and Hall missed a sweep tag attempt. Barber said the tag was made.
"It's a tough call. I don't know if he's out or not out," Backman said. "There's a guy 4-5 feet away and a guy who's 90 feet away. When I saw [Norfolk manager Ron Johnson] go out and argue the call, I knew I'd be in trouble if they reversed the call. To me, that's the first base umpire's call and you don't want to show your comrades up and I thought that's what happened."
The Bisons had scored just one run in the previous two games and one in 23 innings stretching to Thursday until Fred Lewis' two-run single in the third.
The teams have split the first two games of the series, which continues tonight at 7 (TWC 13, Radio 1520). Jeurys Familia starts for Buffalo. The game will be shown nationally on SportsNet New York, but that broadcast is blacked out locally.