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.