Doubront sharp in Red Sox' 1-0 win over Yankees

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Doubront sharp in Red Sox' 1-0 win over Yankees

TAMPA, Fla. With Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine still trying to figure out who will be his fifth starter, Felix Doubront may be giving him a few things to think about.

The left-hander, who was not involved in the decision as the Sox beat the Yankees, 1-0, threw four scoreless innings Tuesday night, allowing two hits and a walk with three strikeouts and a balk against a fairly representative Yankees starting lineup. He struggled some in the first inning, when he faced five batters Brett Gardner, Russell Martin, Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira, and Raul Ibanez throwing 23 pitches. He gave up a one-out single to Martin, then walked A-Rod, and balked with Teixeira at the plate. But he got Teixeira and Ibanez on groundouts. He then faced the minimum number of batters in his next three innings.

I thought Felix was outstanding, Valentine said. Thought he had really good control of his changeup, which is a devastating pitch for him. Good control and command of his fastball ... His composure was good. He pitched four good innings.

I think its great for him to face that kind of lineup. Competition is always tough at this level regardless if the guys a superstar or not. But to see if he gets a little more excited because its Alex Rodriguez or Teixeira, its good to see.

Doubront, who joined the Sox as an amateur free agent in 2005, has appeared in 23 games for the Sox over the two seasons. But he was slowed by a variety of injuries last season.

If this outing was any indication, he could offer the Sox more this season.

Yeah, I feel very good about today, he said. And I showed what I got. I showed Valentine and the pitching coach Bob McClure that I got something.

Doubront settled in after the first inning.

Everything got better, said catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia. Fastball location got better. Changeup was really good to left-hand hitters that most lefties cant do that. He was doing a great job with that curveball for a strike. Sinker was working well. So his stuff was definitely on tonight.

Doubront impressed other observers as well.

He threw very well, said one scout in attendance. Plus fastball and also plus curveball. Put him in the fifth spot in the rotation.

Brady allows himself to enjoy win: '[Bleep], you've got to be happy now'

Brady allows himself to enjoy win: '[Bleep], you've got to be happy now'

FOXBORO -- Tom Brady can be his own worst critic. That's why last week, after beating the Texans in the Divisional Round to move on to the AFC title game, he wasn't thrilled. He didn't play up to his standards. The offense struggled at points. He wore his frustration like a five o'clock shadow.

Winning is not everything for Brady, most weeks. He has an idea of how he should perform, how the Patriots offense should perform, and when those ideals aren't met, he's generally displeased. 

PATRIOTS 36, STEELERS 17

On Sunday, after beating up on the Steelers, 36-17, that wasn't the case. It was a sound performance, but it wasn't perfect. It was explosive at times, but it shined a light on areas where the Patriots will need to continue to improve. 

Despite its imperfections, Sunday was no time to brood about plays missed or lessons learned the hard way. Screw it, Brady seemed to say. They were going to the Super Bowl. It was OK to smile.  

"It was a good day," Brady said. "I mean, we're going to the Super Bowl, man. [Expletive], you've got to be happy now."

The Super Bowl berth is the ninth in franchise history -- more than any other club -- and the seventh with Brady and coach Bill Belichick. By throwing for 384 yards and three touchdowns on 32-of-42 passing, Brady tied Joe Montana for the most postseason games (nine) with three touchdown passes. 

Brady will also claim the record for Super Bowls played when he and the Patriots head to Houston. And if they win, he'll tie Charles Haley for most Super Bowl wins for a player (five).

Those are lofty numbers made even more significant, perhaps, due to the fact that Brady wasn't allowed to start this season as his team's quarterback. He was asked during Sunday's postgame press conference if it was personally satisfying to get back to the Super Bowl despite having to serve a four-game suspension due to Deflategate.

"Well, that's because of the hard work of a lot of people from my coaches to my teammates to our families that support us," he said. "It takes a lot of people, a lot of hard work and a lot of effort over the course of many months. This didn't start at 6:40 tonight.

"This thing started in April. It really started before that in free-agency when we were picking up guys like [Chris] Hogan and drafting guys like Malcolm Mitchell and guy who were in rehab like [LeGarrette Blount] and [Dion Lewis] and [James Develin] and Nate [Solder]. It's a lot of hard work. There are only two teams left standing, and I'm happy we're one of them."

They're going to the Super Bowl. He has to be happy now.