Doubront can't get Sox back on track

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Doubront can't get Sox back on track

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Before Monday night, lefty Felix Doubront had made eight starts following a Red Sox' loss this season and the team managed to win seven of those, with Doubront sporting a 5-0, 2.76 ERA in those games.

But form didn't hold in the opener of the Sox' six-game road trip.

Doubront was shelled for six runs in five-plus innings, matching a career high in earned runs allowed as the Sox' losing streak reached four games with a 9-1 setback to the Texas Rangers.

"What happened was, I left a couple of pitches up," said Doubront, who fell to 10-5 with the defeat, "to the good hitters and they did damage with those pitches."

Doubront hadn't faced Texas before and found out in a hurry why the Rangers' lineup is regarded as one of the strongest in the league.

"They're pretty good hitters," acknowledged Doubront. "They're good and they put the ball in play and score runs."

"He missed with some location," said catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia, "and you can't do that with a team like this. He couldn't get any off-speed stuff over for strikes and he had to rely on the fastball and they're a good fastball-hitting team."

After the four-run third, Doubront seemed to find himself, retiring eight of nine hitters at one point.

Doubront struck out catcher Mike Napoli twice, but the third time he faced him, Napoli ran the count full against the lefty.

"I wanted to show him a different pitch (in that third at-bat)," recalled Doubront. "(With two strikes on him), I thought it was strike three. I tried to throw a curve and it wasn't a strike. Then, I went with my best pitch, a fastball, and he got it."

Napoli drove the pitch deep into the left field seats for a two-run homer, lifting the Texas lead to 6-1 and ending Doubront's night.

"That happens," said Doubront. "We have to keep going and I'm just looking forward to my next start and helping the team better."

Merloni: ‘Missed opportunities left and right’ for Red Sox

Merloni: ‘Missed opportunities left and right’ for Red Sox

Lou Merloni talks about the Red Sox losing 6 out of the last 7 games and if David Price should have stayed in the game for the 9th inning.

McAdam: Red Sox at a loss after excruciating defeat

McAdam: Red Sox at a loss after excruciating defeat

There are still two full months of games left on the schedule and who knows what might happen in that time, or what else might befall the Red Sox.

But for now, it's no stretch to suggest that Thursday's excruciating 2-1 setback in Anaheim constitutes the worst loss of the season to date. The point hardly seems debatable.

Consider:

THE TIMING: This was the start of the longest, and in many ways, most challenging road trip of the season, with 11 games in 11 days. It comes immediately after a homestand that was highly disappointing, featuring a mere split with the last-place Minnesota Twins and a sweep at the hands of the otherwise mediocre Detroit Tigers.

There's been a great deal of attention focused on how many road games the Sox have to play through the rest of the season. Winning the opener -- and snapping a three-game losing streak in the process - would have felt like a strong statement that the club was ready and able to meet the challenges of the schedule.

THE STARTING PITCHER: The loss wiped out a standout performance by David Price, who may well hold the key to whether the Red Sox grab a playoff spot this fall.

Price has been woefully inconsistent in his first season with the Red Sox, alternating between brief stretches of dominance and periods of underwhelming outings.

For a change Thursday night, Price seemed on the verge of winning one of those "statement'' games, when he would make one measly run in the third inning stand up. There have been too many times, given his standing as the team's No. 1 starter, in which Price has pitched just well enough to lose -- like the pitcher's duels in which he came up short against the likes of Madison Bumgarner and Chris Tillman.

But on Thursday, Price didn't buckle. And never mind that he was matched against an aging and depleted Jered Weaver. Price had next-to-nothing with which to work, but he protected the 1-0 lead with a determination he has seldon shown in Boston.

And for his effort to go wasted sets an inauspicious marker for this demanding trip. There was something symbolic about having Price set the tone at the start with a low-scoring, must-have game.

He did his part. Unfortunately for Price, that wasn't enough.

THE WAY IN WHICH IT HAPPENED: Walk-off losses are never pleasant, whether they come on a homer, or a base hit up the middle.

But considering that the Red Sox had the ability to turn Daniel Nava's tapper to first into a game-ending double play, and instead, saw it result in a two-run throwing error on the part of Hanley Ramirez, makes it all the more crushing.

Brad Ziegler, who gave up a go-ahead game-winning homer in the final game of the homestand Wednesday, essentially did his job in the ninth. He got Mike Trout to hit a chopper, which resulted in an infield single. And he kept the ball on the ground and in the infield, with the Sox bringing the infield in with the bases loaded and one out.

Better execution, and the Red Sox walk away with a thrilling 1-0 victory to begin their West Coast trek. Instead, they walk off the field, heads down, with the wrong precedent being set.