ARLINGTON, Texas -- Just over a month into the season, Felix Doubront is experiencing a bit of a dead arm. On Friday night, against the Texas Rangers, that spelled trouble for Doubront and the Red Sox.
After working out of trouble in each of the first three innings, Doubront finally fell victim to the combination of diminished velocity and too many Rangers baserunners, allowing a career-high six runs in just 3 2/3 innings, leading to a 7-0 shutout defeat by Texas.
Doubront allowed eight hits in the first three innings, but was able to limit the damage until the fourth. That's when Adrian Beltre drove a double to left-center, clearing the bases and spelling the end of Doubront's night.
"He was lacking a little bit of a finishing pitch,'' said John Farrell. "I think he had nine guys with two strikes and eight of those guys got on base. A number of their hits came with two outs in an inning, so it wasn't just a matter of finishing off an individual guy, it was also (not) finishing an inning.''
"There's nothing to say,'' shrugged Doubront. "One of those games. I tried my best, but nothing happened. You just put this game behind and move forward.''
Doubront bemoaned his ability to put away hitters with two strikes, and a relentless Texas lineup keep reaching base and creating opportunities against him.
"It was hard to put them away with two strikes,'' he said. "It was a bad situation for me today.''
Catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia saw it from another perspective behind the plate.
"I think we had trouble getting ahead of guys,'' he said. "Putting them away is one thing, but we've been trying to tell him, and all the pitchers, that when you get two strikes, you've got one chance to put them away. We don't want to go from 0-and-2 to 3-and-2. They just kind of waited him out, took some pitches and when he made mistakes 3-and-2, they hit them.''
Either way, Doubront seemed to tempt fate one too many times. He had a baserunner thrown out in the first and stranded another. In the second, he left runners at the corners, and two more baserunners were left on base in the third.
But he couldn't dodge the Rangers forever, and with one one already in, Beltre's ringing double drove home three more. Until that at-bat, Beltre had been just 4-for-34 (.118) with runners in scoring position this season.
A year ago, Doubront regularly threw his fastball at 95 mph or above. But Friday night, he didn't throw a pitch above 91 mph.
"It's a little bit of a concern,'' said Farrell of the diminished velocity. "Physically, he doesn't express any restrictions or any tightness or any soreness. When he tries to get his better velocity, that's when he loses command. I know he'll acknowledge the ball's not coming out of his hand as it's been in the past.
"If (a physical issue existed), he wouldn't be going out there. But still, we know that his fastball lacks some of the consistent power that we've seen in the past.''
"I have to keep working on that,'' said Doubront of the dropoff in his fastball velocity. "I know it's pretty much down five miles per hour. We have to do something about that. It's weird, man. I can't explain it.''
Beyond the dip in his fastball velocity, the lack of arm speed is also shown with his curveball, which Farrell described as "big and loopy.''