Doubront surprising Sox with his consistency

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Doubront surprising Sox with his consistency

BOSTON It wasnt until just a few days before the Red Sox broke spring training to head north for the season that Felix Doubront was informed he had won a spot in the rotation.

Now, after beating the Tigers, 7-4, at Fenway Park Monday afternoon, he leads the staff in wins with five and leads the starters with a 3.86 ERA.

Doubront (5-2) went six innings, giving up two runs on four hits and a walk with six strikeouts, snapping the Tigers four-game winning streak, and moving the Sox back to .500 (24-24).

I dont know that Id be surprised because I thought we were going to, out of spring training, have an offensive team that would give him a chance to win some games, said manager Bobby Valentine. But I didnt expect this kind of consistency, and every time he comes out of the game he thinks he could pitch more.

Doubront needed just 11 pitches to get through the first inning. He ended the inning by striking out Miguel Cabrera, swinging at a 93-mph fastball. He struck out Cabrera again in sixth, this time swinging at a curveball. With six strikeouts, Doubront is average 9.48 strikeouts per nine innings.

The outing was Doubronts sixth quality start of the season, behind only Josh Becketts seven on the staff. He has held opponents to two or fewer runs in six of his 10 outings, including each of his last four starts since May 12.

He did a great job, said catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia. Just really went after these guys. Had a good fastball going. Just kind of pounded them away. Couple of non-damage home runs so no big deal. But he did a real good job.

Hes been consistent. You know what you're going to get from him every time out. Hes going to go after guys with his fastball and when he falls behind its usually with his fastball. So its not anything to really work on. Just got to continue going after them and grinding.

The two runs Doubront allowed came on solo homers one by Delmon Young with one out in the second, the other by Gerald Laird with two outs in the fifth. Entering the game, Doubront had given up just four home runs no more than one in a game over his nine previous starts, spanning 50.0 innings.

Those were mistake pitches, Doubront said. That doesnt affect me at all. I knew I threw the pitch bad and theyre going to score two home runs. But the big thing is realize what you do and just work on what happened and keep throwing.

Doubront threw 95 pitches, 64 for strikes, a respectable 67 percent strike rate.

First of all, you have to understand his stuffs tough to hit and so he gets ahead in the count and then they fouled a couple balls off, Valentine said. So theres pitches that are going to be thrown and he doesnt like to throw necessarily down the middle when hes ahead. But weve been talking about that 1-ball, 2-strike count and he had about another seven of them today. Thats pretty good. Wed like him to get one-pitch outs but its tough. His ball moves so much they get paralyzed off the first pitch. It takes some time for the hitter to kind of figure out what it is theyre swinging at.

For Doubront, it was just his 33rd big league start. He believed it was his best of the season. But, he knows its still a learning process.

Every outing Im learning more how to approach the hitters and today was, I think, I was more focused, he said. Throw the ball for strikes, get the hitters out quickly. Thats the result, that I was throwing the ball where I wanted.

Quotes, notes and stars: Red Sox make 'outstanding comeback' vs. Rangers

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Quotes, notes and stars: Red Sox make 'outstanding comeback' vs. Rangers

Quotes, notes and stars from the Red Sox’ 8-7 win over the Rangers:

QUOTES

* “(Matt) Bush has tremendous arm, but what we’ve seen . . . I don’t know that there’s anyone that throws a hard enough to get it by Mookie [Betts]. Just lightening bat speed . . . The dugout erupted when he caught it.” - Farrell said on Betts’ ninth inning homerun.

* “It was an outstanding comeback. Just a tremendous character win tonight by our guys. The work that our bullpen did tonight was just outstanding. ” - John Farrell said following the comeback win over Texas.

* “Koji comes back after a couple of rough outings and was vintage Koji here tonight.” - Farrell said on Uehara striking out the side in the ninth to earn the save

* “The homerun. Without that homerun, you don’t get to that wild pitch.” - Jackie Bradley said on what the Red Sox dugout was more excited about in the ninth.

* “Winning, to me that’s everything. I definitely want to go out there and throw the baseball better. I want to win myself. But at the end of the day I want the Red Sox to win.” - David Price said following the Red Sox win, despite his inability to keep the game close throughout the duration of his start.

NOTES

* David Ortiz extended his hitting streak to 10 games with his fourth inning single. He’s now 12 for his last 36 during his 10-game hitting streak.

* Sandy Leon’s ninth inning double was his 12th hit of the year. He’s now 12-for-22 (.545) to start his 2016 campaign. Four of his hits are doubles and he also has four RBI. 

* David Price’s 2.1-inning start is his shortest with Boston yet. The lefty gave up a season-worst 12 hits -- the most hits he’s given up since May 8th last season in a 6.1 inning start.

* Hanley Ramirez’s two-run homerun marks his third in the last ten games.

* The Red Sox improve to 22-3 when Jackie Bradley Jr. hits a homerun following his 13th homerun of the season.

STARS

1) Mookie Betts

Betts had over three hours between his two base hits, but his second proved the most important. He launched a 2-0 fastball into left center, tying the game in the ninth.

2) Jackie Bradley Jr.

Bradley laced a homerun into the right field second deck to put Boston in striking distance at 7-4. In addition to knocking in two runs, he scored in the ninth after he walked, starting the ninth inning comeback. 

3) Koji Uehara

Despite struggling of late, Uehara was called on to close and struck out the side to seal the win. He was the final piece of the 6.2 innings of relief from the bullpen that came in one of Boston’s biggest wins of the year.

Nick Friar can be followed on Twitter: @ngfriar

First impressions of the Red Sox’ 8-7 win over the Rangers

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First impressions of the Red Sox’ 8-7 win over the Rangers

First impressions of the Boston Red Sox’ 8-7 win over the Texas Rangers:

Boston’s offense is always in striking distance.

The Red Sox had an uphill battle from the get-go thanks to David Price’s tough outing.

But somehow they took advantage of Texas’ equally bad pitching—that just happened to be more spread out than Boston’s bad pitching.

If Jackie Bradley Jr. doesn’t earn a walk, or Sandy Leon doesn’t fight tooth and nail for a two-out double in the ninth, that Mookie Betts homerun can’t happen.

The Red Sox need another long outing from Steven Wright.

Obviously they’d prefer a strong performance -- but the knuckler may need to bite the bullet if he’s off Saturday night.

Boston’s bullpen has been used and abused of late, and needs some rest following the Chicago series and a 2.1 inning outing from Price.

Price continues to struggle against the Rangers in his career.

Even when he was able to walk out of the first with just the one run after a bases loaded double play, but couldn’t clamp down with two outs.

The biggest reason he struggled wasn’t his velocity—although it seemed down most of the night—but his location. He left a lot of pitches up in the zone and Texas is not the team you can do that with.

Although Price was bound to have a rough start, this start went worse than anyone could’ve anticipated. To say this was a bad start is putting it nicely.

Texas gave him a nice wake-up call. He still has room to grow.

Matt Barnes had a solid performance.

It wasn’t his best, but given the situation, he did well. First off, the Rangers are a very hot team and swing early in the count. Barnes left the ball up time after times, but only surrendered the one run.

Additionally, he entered the game far earlier than he’s used to -- in the midst of a blowout where his team was on the wrong end. That’s not an easy thing to walk into for a reliever, especially one who’s used to pitching late in tight ballgames.

He gave Boston a chance when the offense started to gain momentum.

Hanley Ramirez’s power continues to show.

Although he’s not hitting at the rate he did to start the year, Ramirez laced another homer against the Rangers Friday night.

This homerun may have been his most impressive, coming on a 1-2 slider away, driving it to straightaway center -- the deepest part of the ballpark.

Boston just saw what they look like when they almost blow games.

All season the talk around the league has been how explosive the Red Sox lineup is.

Well, the Rangers offense is right there with them. The league’s hottest team didn’t waist any time scoring, and had 15 hits before Boston pitching recorded an out in the fifth inning.

Although the Red Sox outslugged Texas late, they saw what a potent offense outside the AL East can do -- and how bad pitching can undo all of that.

Nick Friar can be followed on Twitter: @ngfriar