FORT MYERS, Fla. – Making his third Grapefruit League start, left-hander Felix Doubront went four scoreless innings, giving up two hits and a walk with four strikeouts, as the Red Sox beat the Twins, 5-0, Friday night.
“My arm felt pretty good,” Doubront said. “Little bit off in the first inning but I figured it out later, hitter after hitter. My control was a little bit off, but I finished strong. I worked with more tempo and finished strong.
All my pitches… they worked today. I had a feel for my curve, change-up, a little bit off with fastball but I look forward to my next start to correct it with the bullpens in between.
In 8 2/3 total innings this spring, Doubront has allowed two earned runs, for a 2.08 ERA, with seven hits, four walks, and 11 strikeouts. He threw 68 pitches Friday night, 42 for strikes.
“[His] stuff continues to get more sharp each time out,” said manager John Farrell. “I thought he showed the ability to make an adjustment from one pitch to the next. And as he got deeper into the number of pitches thrown I thought there was better feel and touch to the overall mix of stuff. So another progressive step for him.”
The Sox have worked with Doubront to make pitch efficiency a point of emphasis. Something that remains an on-going quest.
“It is, and yet there were a number of times early in those first couple of innings where he’d get ahead in the count and you’d look up and it’d be 3-and-2,” said Farrell. “So that’s one of the areas that we’re looking for him to continue to attack the strike zone, not to be too fine. I think he got into that third and fourth inning, that overall command started to improve.”
Doubront walked lead-off batter Aaron Hicks, who also had one of the two hits off the left-hander, a one-out double to left in the third. The only other base runner Doubront allowed was Brain Dozier, who doubled with two outs in the second.
“Just trying to throw three or four pitches per batter,” Doubront said. “In the beginning, it was difficult doing that. I just want to go after it and throw more strikes. That’s what we’re working on now. We’ve talked about less pitchers per batter. Last year was a year of gaining experience and throwing hard and hit the spots. This year with more experience I want to throw the ball down there. That’s what I’m looking forward to.”
The Red Sox scored a run in the first when lead-off hitter Jacoby Ellsbury doubled, taking second on Jonny Gomes’ infield single, and scoring when Dustin Pedroia grounded into a double play.
Jarrod Saltalamacchia’s first home run of the spring – batting left-handed, to right field, off Twins starter Liam Hendriks -- added two more runs in the fourth, scoring Mike Napoli, who reached on a fielder’s choice.
Boston added two runs in the eighth off Brian Duensing, as Shannon Wilkerson led off with a bunt single, advancing on Daniel Nava’s single to center and scoring on Heiker Meneses’ double. A sacrifice fly by Daniel Butler scored Nava.