Compared to the rest of the three-game series, the match-up on Sunday between the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees was fairly unassuming. There were not 27 runs scored collectively and the game did not end in walk-off fashion in extra innings. However, two key players for both organizations’ futures squared off against one another.
Mark Melancon was called into the game for the Yankees in the seventh inning of the game, which was eventually won 4-1 by Boston. The right-handed reliever, making his MLB debut, worked two scoreless innings and allowed just one hit and one walk. He also struck out one batter and hit outfielder Jason Bay with a pitch. Melancon, 24, was originally drafted out of the University of Arizona in the ninth round of the 2006 draft, although he could have been a first-round pick if not for an elbow strain that later required Tommy John surgery. Melancon struggled a bit with his control in his debut (12 of 22 pitches were strikes) but he showed excellent velocity and life on his fastball.
From the other dugout, minor league starter Michael Bowden emerged and also pitched the seventh and eighth innings. He had been recalled from Triple-A before the game to give the relievers some much-needed relief. The right-hander did not allow a run, a walk or a hit over two innings. He stuck out two. Only 22, Bowden was able to mix his plus curveball and fastball very effectively to dominate some very good hitters. In most organizations, he would already be in the starting rotation. In Boston, though, the pitching depth affords him the luxury of polishing his repertoire and approach at the Triple-A level, while also providing valuable insurance for situations like that which occurred on Sunday. Bowden was a supplemental first round selection out of an Illinois high school during the 2005 draft.
Bowden was sent back down to Triple-A after the game on Sunday, making room for veteran shortstop Julio Lugo, who came off the disabled list. Melancon will remain with the Yankees for now, with veteran reliever Brian Bruney on the disabled list. Neither player will likely have a huge impact on their respective clubs in 2009, but both are good bets moving forward for 2010 and beyond: Bowden with the ceiling of a No. 2 or 3 starter and Melancon with closer potential.
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