Doubront keeps on rolling

Doubront keeps on rolling
July 19, 2013, 11:45 pm
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Felix Doubront is stepping up in a time of need for the Sox, posting a 1.83 ERA along with a 3-0 record in his last six starts.

(USA Today Sports)

BOSTON -- Just as there seems to be no timetable for Clay Buchholz' return to the Red Sox rotation, there also seems to be no specific date on which Felix Doubront will slow down.

To say that the lefty has stepped up in a time of need would be an understatement. Because after Friday night's 4-2 win over the New York Yankees at Fenway Park, Doubront improved to 7-3 on the season, and has improved his ERA from 6.40 on May 8 to now 3.76.

Doubront lasted 6.1 innings on Friday night, allowing two runs (one earned) on three hits, three walks, while striking out five on 93 pitches.

"As we've seen over the last 11 times he's been on the mound for us, he's working six and seven innings each time out, with low runs," said Red Sox manager John Farrell after the win. "And probably in the last five or six of those starts, he's come out and got into the rhythm of the game much earlier than maybe the first half of the season or first month-and-a-half of the season.

"He gave us an opportunity to win. He kept the game in check. Just another very solid effort on his part."

Doubront allowed runs in the fourth and the fifth. The run in the fourth cut Boston's lead to 3-1 and was the result of an errant pick-off attempt by Jarrod Saltalamacchia as Brett Gardner attempted to steal third. The throw went into left field, and Gardner scored easily.

Then in the fifth, Christ Stewart doubled deep to left-center and Lyle Overbay scored to cut the Red Sox lead to 3-2.

Those two innings -- combined with several other factors -- forced Farrell to take Doubront out of the game with one out and nobody on in the top of the seventh, as Boston tried to hold onto a 3-2 lead with the Yankees having their seven, eight, and nine hitters due up.

"Fifty pitches combined in the fourth and fifth inning,"said Farrell, "he has a clean sixth, a hard-hit [ground-out] by Overbay to lead off the seventh, all the right-handers coming. I didn't think they'd go to Hafner in that early part of the game. I just felt like the right-hander was the call to make right there. Felix had more, but had done his job. And on conditions like tonight, where it's kind of boiling out there, I felt like we were going to piece it together the rest of the way."

Doubront is 3-0 with a 1.83 ERA over his last six starts. He has also allowed three earned runs or fewer in 16 of his 17 starts this season, including each of his last 12 starts since May 16. His 12 straight starts allowing three earned runs or fewer matches the longest such single-season streak by a Red Sox left-hander in the live ball era. He is the first Red Sox pitcher with a single-season streak of that kind since Pedro Martinez went 14 starts in a row while allowing three earned runs or fewer in 2002.

"I think it's probably just as much repetition and innings under his belt," said Farrell about Doubront's continued success. "He certainly gained a lot of confidence over the last couple of months. He's trusting his fastball a lot more on the plate, and not trying to be so fine. And he's got a four-pitch mix working that he's used right out of the gate in games, to not only establish the fastball, but he uses other stuff to allow him some breathing room inside the strike zone. He doesn't have to try and be so pinpointed by just trying to establish his fastball solely."

And because of that, Doubront is showing no signs of slowing down. And he's done more than just pick up the slack for the injured ace, in Buchholz, and the struggling lefty who is expected to be an ace, in Jon Lester.