NEW YORK -- When the Red Sox had pitching coach Juan Nieves work with Felix Doubront on the side two weeks ago, skipping him for a turn in the rotation, this was what they were hoping would result from the extra work.
After the second inning, that is.
Doubront began slowly -- in terms of both tempo and results -- but righted himself in time to pick up his first win since April 27, limiting the New York Yankees to a single run over six innings of work in the Red Sox' 11-1 dismantling of the Yankees Saturday night.
He walked three of the first nine hitters he faced and was working at an overly deliberate speed in the early going. But when he picked up the pace, the results got better.
"We've seen a number of times before,'' said John Farrell, "that it takes him those first couple of innings to find his way, settle in and find a rhythm. And as the night went on, his tempo and pace picked up. He threw a lot more quality strikes within the strike zone. He's making steady progress each time he walks to the mound and tonight was another step.''
Doubront had to work out of a two-on, two-out jam in the first, then, after two outs, had runners at first and second in the second before getting Brett Gardner on a tapper in front of the plate.
After that, he was far sharper.
''I think it was him understanding and knowing where he was going to be able to throw the ball and command it,'' said Farrell. "He didn't miss many pitches to the arm side, which was the case in the first couple of innings. He started to get a very good curveball in the strike zone that guys were taking for strike three and swing over as well.
"Tonight was a four-pitch mix for him. But attacking and getting ahead with his fastball -- that sets the tone for the at-bat.''
Doubront went all of May without collecting a win and seemed in jeopardy of losing his spot in the rotation only a few weeks ago. But since being skipped and working with Nieves, he's pitched six
innings in his last three starts and hasn't allowed more than two runs in any of those three starts.
"I felt real good today,'' said Doubront. "A lot of things that we've been working on on the side, I put together tonight and you saw the result. (Faster) tempo was a big part.''
It didn't hurt that Doubront seems to pitch well against the Yankees. In five career starts against them, Doubront has a 2.32 ERA.
"The adrenaline,'' said Dobrount when asked why he responds against New York. "Facing those guys, I have respect for them. But the adrenaline and having in my mind the (need) to win the game. There's a lot of things going on in my mind that make me be confident. I like the challenge and I try to do better every time.''
Doubront believes he's now turned the corner and can forget about his struggles earlier in the season.
"This moment, against the Yankees, is (already) past,'' he said. "The other games that I had before, that's in the past. I'm looking forward to my next start and being successful.''