BOSTON – If past is a predictive means, there was every reason to think Felix Doubront would throw a strong game against the Yankees Friday night at Fenway Park.
The left-hander entered the game with a record of 3-1 and a 2.17 ERA, pitching quality starts in all six of his previous appearances against New York. He was the first Red Sox pitcher to throw quality starts in his first six outings against the Yankees since Dutch Leonard did so in his first nine starts from 1913-15.
But perhaps the most recent past was more predictive of how Doubront would fare. In his last outing, Aug. 10 at Kansas City, he lasted just four innings, giving up three runs. It was his shortest outing since May 3, when he lasted just 3 2/3 innings at Texas.
On Friday, Doubront went just four innings, leaving the Sox trailing the Yankees by seven runs on their way to a 10-3 loss. Doubront gave up seven runs, six earned, on eight hits and two walks, with two home runs, a wild pitch, and four strikeouts. He threw 78 pitches, 52 for strikes, as his record fell to 8-6 and his ERA rose from 3.66 to 3.95.
In his four frames, Doubront retired just one lead-off hitter, No. 9 hitter Chris Stewart, who grounded out to shortstop in the third. Brett Gardner opened the game with a single to right on Doubront’s second pitch. Gardner took second on Eduardo Nunez’s sacrifice bunt, stole third, and scored on Alfonso’ Soriano’s infield single, before Alex Rodriguez lined into a double play ending the inning.
In the second Mark Reynolds, in his first plate appearance since being acquired by the Yankees, homered into the Monster seats, scoring Vernon Wells, who walked to open the inning.
The first four batters of the third reached base –- Nunez on a single, a Stephen Drew error on Robinson Cano’s ball, Soriano’s three-run home run, and a Rodriguez single –- before Doubront could record an out.
With two outs in the fourth, Nunez tripled off the center field wall, scoring on Cano’s single to right, before Doubront struck out Soriano, swinging at a curveball to end the inning.
That was also the end of Doubront’s outing.
“Mislocation on a few pitches” manager John Farrell said of Doubront’s primary struggles in the game. “Two swings cost us five runs. More than anything just difficulty repeating in the bottom of the strike zone. The last time he pitched here against Arizona [in seven shutout innings on Aug. 4], he was outstanding in the bottom of the zone. And the last two times out it’s been where he’s missed up on the plate. And he’s had to pay for it.”
Doubront succinctly characterized his outing.
“Mistakes, mistakes, pretty much mistakes,” he said.
This was the left-hander’s 22nd start of the season, spanning 132 innings. After 22 starts last season, and 122 2/3 innings, he was shut down for two weeks with what was called a right knee bruise, although he didn’t go on the disabled list, giving the lefty a chance for a breather.
Fatigue, he said, has not been an issue this season.
“No, not really,” he said. “I think it’s not fatigue. I feel like [Friday] I was a little bit off on my mechanics, and I couldn’t find the release point of the ball. My past outing was the same. But have to keep working on that.”
It’s something he’s been working on since his outing in Kansas City, he said.
“Yeah, and today it was close,” he said. “I was throwing the ball more in the zone but not with the deception that I had before. Just have to keep working on that.
“I got four more days to figure it out and try next time to do better.
“My last inning I was feeling good: ‘Oh, I got that back.’ But, like I said, four more days.”