First came the exhilaration of late Thursday night, when the 22-year-old right-hander learned he was being recalled from Triple-A Pawtucket by the Red Sox for the second time this season -- and just in time for the start of a weekend series against the Yankees, no less.
But Bowden's emotional roller coaster came full circle on Friday night, when the pitcher trudged off the Fenway Park mound after being tagged for seven runs (all earned) on seven hits in two innings of relief in the Red Sox's 20-11 loss.
Boston summoned Bowden with an eye toward adding depth to its bullpen for the three-game set against New York. Unfortunately for manager Terry Francona and the Red Sox, that plan went into effect a little too soon for their liking.
"When we went to him, we were thinking, 'OK, we'll try to run it out with Michael,'" said Francona, who took the ball from starter Brad Penny after just four-plus frames. "He just didn't have very good stuff tonight. That doesn't mean he's not going to be a very good pitcher. He just didn't have a very good night."
Bowden was optioned back to Pawtucket after Friday's game and a corresponding roster move will be announced on Saturday.
"It's definitely disappointing," said Bowden. "They wanted me to go out there and eat some innings, and that's what I was here to do. I wasn't able to do that and that's very disappointing. I feel like I let the team down and the bullpen down, but it happened, and hopefully it won't happen again next time."
Boston also activated outfielder Rocco Baldelli from the 15-day disabled list before Friday's game, one day after optioning outfielder Brian Anderson back to the PawSox.
Reliever Fernando Cabrera was designated for assignment on Friday to make room for Bowden, who is 4-6 with a 3.20 ERA in 22 Triple-A starts this season.
"We're trying to not just protect our bullpen, but enhance it," Francona said before Friday's contest. "If there's a game where we don't have length -- which I hope doesn't end up happening -- Michael will be in the bullpen. Going forward, it gives us some flexibility about what we want to do."
Francona's worst nightmare came to fruition, as the Yankees flexed their muscles against Bowden in prolific fashion.
"I was getting behind guys, and it was just kind of a snowball effect," Bowden said. "From top to bottom, they have guys who can swing the bat. You have to make quality pitches if you want to get them out. Obviously, I learned today that if you don't, they're going to hit you."
The Red Sox-Yankees rivalry is nothing new for the Illinois native, who fired two innings of scoreless relief against New York on April 26 at Fenway Park.
"That was an unbelievable feeling," Bowden said. "I had never experienced anything like that before. It drove me to try harder to get back here."
In a season that's already seen fellow youngsters Clay Buchholz and Junichi Tazawa crack the Boston rotation, Bowden has done his best to remain patient.
On Friday night, that patience was rewarded -- even if only for a short while.
"You can never assume anything," Bowden said. "I was trying to do everything I could in Triple-A to get here. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't a little disappointed a few times. Who wouldn't be? They needed somebody else in those other situations, and I understand that."
Baldelli, placed on the DL on Aug. 6 with a left ankle contusion, went 1-for-6 in two rehabilitation appearances with Pawtucket earlier this week. He is batting .265 with five home runs and 18 RBIs in 45 games for the Sox this season.
Summoned to the big league club on Saturday, Anderson appeared in three games for Boston, going 1-for-6 with an RBI and a run scored. Cabrera posted a 4.50 ERA with seven strikeouts in four appearances after joining the team on Aug. 9.
John Barone is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.