BALTIMORE -- Felix Doubront would have preferred, of course, to finish his season with a win. But he succeeded in finishing strong.
Doubront fanned 10 in a 4-3 loss to the Baltimore Orioles, giving him double-digits in strikeouts for the second time in as many outings. With no more starts scheduled, Doubront will finish the year with an 11-10 record, and ERA of 4.86 and more strikeouts (167) than innings pitched (161).
Not bad for his first full season in the big leagues.
"I think he showed people he's a good pitcher,'' said Bobby Valentine. "I'm proud of the way he pitched all season and he should be proud of his first (full) season in the big leagues. I think he's a good pitcher. He has strikeout stuff.''
"What I'm seeing,'' added catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia, "is a guy who's really maturing. It's his first year starting, he's a young kid. He's really just starting to mature and starting to go out there and see what he's all about. He knows he's good. He's just to go out there and continue to pitch well and that's exactly what he's done.''
Doubront finished with a flourish. In the last inning of his last start, with runners on second and third with one out, he fanned both J.J. Hardy and Adam Jones to strand the runners and finish with 10 strikeouts.
"Finishing this way was a good way to finish,'' Doubront said. "I had a lot of challenges and a lot of learning. It was a very good season for me, my first full year. I figured some things out for next season.''
The Sox, worried that Doubront was on schedule to pitch a career-high in inning, shut the tiring lefty down for a few weeks in August. He struggled some after the layoff, but in his final four starts, compiled an ERA of 3.07.
"I came to spring training to win that spot (in the rotation),'' he said, "and to finish the season strong was one of my goals. I'm tired, but I'm just going to keep working for next year.''
Valentine noted that Doubront got over a habit he battled earlier in the season, when he had a tendency to get ahead of hitters, then lose them.
He said pitching coach Randy Niemann has been working with Doubront to quicken his tempo, and that, too, has been improved.
"He's worked quicker and looked better,'' said Valentine. "When a young guy improves right up until the last day of the season, I think that's a good thing.