CHICAGO – Felix Doubront has been working between his last few starts on pitching more efficiently, focusing on putting hitters away when he gets ahead of them, and trying to concentrate on each pitch.
While there have been incremental improvements in his last two starts – most noticeably in his efficiency – Doubront has had nothing to show for them in the win column.
Doubront needed just 85 pitches (56 strikes) to get through six innings Tuesday night against the White Sox. He allowed just two runs on five hits with two walks and three strikeouts. Still, he came away with a loss.
Doubront was matched up against White Sox lefty Jose Quintana, who silenced the Red Sox offense through the first 6 1/3 innings, as the Red Sox lost, 3-1. David Ortiz got the Red Sox first hit with one out in the seventh, a single on a broken bat liner.
Doubront was encouraged by his outing, however.
“Yeah, a lot better than I feel before,” he said. “All my feeling for the breaking balls and even the fastball was really [good]. And step by step I think that I threw the ball well. This is baseball.”
Catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia also saw signs of improvement, especially in Doubront’s pitch efficiency. The left-hander needed 28 pitches in the first inning of his last start, May 16 against the Rays at Tampa Bay. He cut that number to just 11 against the White Sox.
“It’s big,” Saltalamacchia said. “In the big leagues that’s one of the biggest things. You got to be able to throw strikes and you got to get ahead of hitters. At the same time you got a good hitting ball club and you don’t want to just give in on them. You got to use their aggressiveness against them. But this is a team tonight that they’ve been kind of waiting us out a little bit. They were a little more patient. So we were able to go after them tonight and throw a fastball for a strike early. And try and take control.”
Manager John Farrell was upbeat about Doubront's performance as well.
“I think he’s onto something with the adjustments he’s made,” Farrell said. “I thought today was another positive step for him.”
Doubront’s only mistake was a two-out, two-run homer in the fifth from perhaps the least likely member of their lineup. Jeff Keppinger’s homerun, scoring Dayan Viciedo who singled ahead of him, put Chicago up. Keppinger entered the game hitting just .199 with no home runs, the only player in Chicago’s lineup without a homer.
Doubront pitched efficiently, but his struggles when he gets ahead of batters played into the game. With two outs, he got ahead of Viciedo, 0-and-2 before giving up a single. One pitch later Keppinger hit his first home run of the season.
“Not even one mistake,” he said. “I threw a good pitch. Good hitter, he put a good swing on it, hit it out of the ballpark. But I feel good. He just put a good swing on it.”
In his last two starts, he has gone a total of 11 innings, giving up four earned runs.
“Working every day, I’m seeing the results now,” he said. “I think everything is going in the right direction right now. And just looking forward to my next outing.
“That’s what I’m working for. Like I said, it’s going in the right direction now. I just want to keep working.”
Despite the improvements, he has come away with a loss and a no-decision in his last two outings. But, he’s not frustrated.
“No, I’m fine,” he said. “I’m fine. It’s baseball. I think Quintana threw the ball well and the [White Sox] relievers too. They hold this team.”