BOSTON -- It wasn't Felix Doubront's night, that's for sure. What was unfortunate for him, was that he had to deal with Washington Nationals phenom Bryce Harper.
The 19-year-old center-fielder finished the game 3-for-5 with three RBI, two runs scored, and a triple shy of the cycle.
"Harper was amazing," said Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine afterwards. "Everything he did out there, including catching that ball that Salty hit in the gap. It was the first ball hit hard there, and he came out of nowhere to catch that.
"He hit some pretty good breaking balls off of left-handers, one for a hit to left, and one for a ground-out to short that he almost beat out. He was very impressive."
Doubront struck Harper out in the first inning, but by not having his best stuff, the Nationals' top of the order figured him out after the first time around. Harper smashed a two-run homer to deep right-center in the fourth inning that gave the Nationals a commanding 6-2 lead, and he added the seventh in the sixth inning, putting a ball the other way off Rich Hill.
But by the time Doubront was taken out, even before that seventh run was scored, the damage had already been done.
"Felix was off, obviously," said Valentine. "He wasn't ahead of hitters. He pitched a little more tentatively than he's pitched most of the year. He was working his curve ball early in counts, rather than his two-seamer. He was just a little off tonight, for sure.
"He was working with what he had tonight. Espinosa and Harper gave him some problems."
The Pablo Sandoval redemption tour is underway as the former World Series MVP tries to revive his career after two disastrous seasons with the Red Sox organization.
In an interview with ESPN Deportes, he admits to being “complacent” during his first two seasons in Boston after signing a five-year, $95 million deal.
"My career had fallen into an abyss because I was so complacent with things that I had already accomplished," Sandoval said. "I did not work hard in order to achieve more and to remain at the level of the player that I am and that I can be."
After dealing Travis Shaw to the Brewers, Sandoval is expected to be the Red Sox primary third baseman in 2017.
"I am not taking anything for granted," he said. "I am here to work hard. I'm not thinking about the position or not. I am starting from scratch, and I am here to show what I can do on the field."
The 30-year-old says he’s following a “really strict routine” this offseason, and it shows. In a recent photo, Sandoval appears noticeably thinner. Sandoval says his wife giving birth to “Baby Panda” has served as inspiration.
"Watching 'Baby Panda' grow up and that he gets the opportunity to see his father play in the majors for seven, eight more years, to get back to the success I had, that's my motivation every day," Sandoval said. "The people that I surround myself with now and my family, they are the key to my success. This has been a life lesson."
Could John Henry sell ownership of the Boston Red Sox anytime soon, or does he want to keep winning? Shaughnessy, Merloni, and Tanguay debate.