Doubront proves himself in season's final start

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Doubront proves himself in season's final start

BOSTON -- Felix Doubront feels he has something to prove. And as the 2012 season nears its end, the 24-year-old left-hander is proving that he didn't need to be shut down early, and that his innings did not need to be limited in just his first full season as a starting pitcher.

On paper, Doubront did not factor into Sunday afternoon's decision at Fenway Park (Junichi Tazawa got the win), but the Red Sox defeated the Baltimore Orioles, 2-1.

Doubront did, however, have a rock-solid outing, striking out 11 Orioles and allowing only one run in seven innings. He became the youngest Red Sox left-hander to record 11 strikeouts in a game in the DH era.

"Felix was terrific," said Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine. "Eleven strikeouts, throwing strikes, competing the whole time."

Doubront took a no-hitter into the fifth inning, where back-to-back hits to lead off that inning put runners at second and third with no outs.

A Manny Machado bloop single into right field scored one run that tied the game at 1-1. But Doubront responded with two strikeouts and a ground out to get out of the jam.

"That really was the key to the game, I thought," said Valentine. "Giving up one run when there's second and third and no outs. It gave us a chance to scratch our way back."

Doubront threw 112 pitches, and when he left the game after seven innings, it remained a 1-1 game. So while Doubront didn't pick up his 12th win of the season, he pitched like someone who deserved it.

He also showed that he didn't need to be shut down early.

"He just wanted to prove that these innings aren't something for us to be concerned with," said Valentine. "He's a good pitcher, and ya know, he had some hurdles to get over. And if he's not pitching, he can't get through those hurdles. And I've seen him get through them and continue to get better."

Quotes, notes and stars: Betts has first career five-hit night

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Quotes, notes and stars: Betts has first career five-hit night

BOSTON - Quotes, notes and stars from the Red Sox' 6-3 loss to the Kansas City Royals

QUOTES:

"We continually do a great job in creating opportunities and I'm confident that (the struggles with men in scoring position) will turn.'' - John Farrell

"When you start off with a five-run spot in the first, that's a tough deficit to overcome.'' - Steven Wright.

"That's how it goes sometimes. Sometimes, we score when we're not expecting to and then when we need to score, sometimes it doesn't happen.'' - Mookie Betts on the team going 4-for-15 with RISP.

 

NOTES:

* The loss was just the third in the last 13 series openers for the Red Sox.

* The game marked the first time in 20 home games in which the Sox never led.

* Boston was 4-for-15 with runners in scoring position.

* The first four hitters in the order were 13-for-19 (.684). The fifth-through-nine hitters, however, were just 2-for-21 (.095).

* Mookie Betts (five hits) leads the majors with 55 multi-hit games.

* Dustin Pedroia has reached base in each of his last eight plate appearances.

* David Ortiz's double was the 625th of his career, passing Hank Aaron to move into 10 place in MLB history.

* Ortiz leads the A.L. in doubles (41) and extra-base hits (72).

 

STARS:

1) Eric Hosmer

Hosmer cranked a three-run homer into the Monster Seats four batters into the game, and the Royals were off and running with a five-run inning.

2) Ian Kennedy

The Royals starter wasn't dominant, allowing nine hits in 5 1/3 innings, but he bailed himself out of a number of jams and limited the Sox to just two runs.

3) Mookie Betts

Betts had his first career five-hit night and knocked in two of the three Red Sox runs, though he also got himself picked off first base.

 

First impressions: Royals' five-run first inning dooms Red Sox in 6-3 loss

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First impressions: Royals' five-run first inning dooms Red Sox in 6-3 loss

First impressions from the Red Sox' 6-3 loss to the Kansas City Royals:

 

Steven Wright recovered nicely after the first inning, but the damage was done.

Wright's last five innings featured just three hits allowed -- one in the infield. But the first inning did the Red Sox in -- two walks followed by a three-run homer, then a single and a two-run homer.

Whether this was a matter of rust for Wright -- who last pitched three weeks ago Friday night -- or an early inability to command his knuckleball is uncertain.

The fact is, Wright dug an early hole for his teammates, and he had the misfortune to do so against a team with the best bullpen in baseball.

To his credit, Wright kept the game somewhat within reach thereafter, but the five-run head start proved too much of a jump.

 

It's time to worry a little about Jackie Bradley.

Bradley was just 7-for-40 in the just-completed road trip, and things didn't get any better on the first night of the homestand.

In the first, he came up with two on and two out and struck out swinging to strand both baserunners. In the third, he came to the plate with runners on the corners and, again, struck out swinging.

We're seeing the same kind of slump that Bradley fell into in previous seasons, where even contact is hard to find, with nine strikeouts in the last 16 at-bats.

Problem is, with Andrew Benitendi on the DL, there aren't a lot of options for John Farrell with the Red Sox outfield.

 

Trying to get Fernando Abad and Junichi Tazawa back on track in low- leverage mop-up didn't work.

Tazawa had a perfect seventh, but gave up a monster shot into the center field bleachers to Lorenzo Cain to start the eighth.

Abad entered, and while he did record a couple of strikeouts, also gave up a single, a walk and threw a wild pitches before he could complete the inning.

Getting some work for the two was the right idea, given that the Sox were down by three runs at the time. A good outing might help either regain some confidence and turn the corner.

But not even that could be accomplished Friday night.