High pitch count gets best of Doubront once again

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High pitch count gets best of Doubront once again

BOSTON -- Three quarters of the outs Felix Doubront recorded Tuesday night were by strikeout.

Unfortunately for Doubront and the Red Sox, that translated into just 12 outs.

In the shortest outing of his career, Doubront fanned eight, but with 94 pitches after four innings, he was done early in a 5-3 loss to the Oakland A's (By comparison, Oakland starter Jarrod Parker 98 pitches, but lasted 6 23 innings).

"That was a little different Felix," said Bobby Valentine. "He never really had his two-seamer tonight. Tonight, he was behind virtually every hitter. He tried to battle through it without his real bread-and-butter."

High pitch counts have been an issue for Doubront in virtually all of his previous starts this season, but Tuesday night, was different, according to Valentine.

"This was not what we've seen the entire time with his pitch count," the manager said. "His pitch count was up today because he was behind in the count. Normally, we've seen him get ahead in the count and not (be able to) put the guy away. He'd be one ball, two strikes then go to 3-and-2 and get some foul balls before (he got the out) and have the pitch count accumulate.

"But today, the strike zone was a little elusive."

Part of the problem was the cold, raw weather conditions which made getting the proper grip on his two-seamer tough at times.

"I couldn't feel my grip sometimes," said Doubront. "I left a couple of balls out over the strike zone. I was behind the hitters a lot of time and it's important to throw the first two pitches in the strike zone."

Doubront was nicked for a run in the first thanks to two singles, a wild pitch and a walk.

He managed to strand Kila Ka'aihue on third following a leadoff double in the second, and retired the side in order in the third before the A's erupted for four runs in the fourth.

First impressions: Royals' five-run first inning dooms Red Sox in 6-3 loss

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First impressions: Royals' five-run first inning dooms Red Sox in 6-3 loss

First impressions from the Red Sox' 6-3 loss to the Kansas City Royals:

 

Steven Wright recovered nicely after the first inning, but the damage was done.

Wright's last five innings featured just three hits allowed -- one in the infield. But the first inning did the Red Sox in -- two walks followed by a three-run homer, then a single and a two-run homer.

Whether this was a matter of rust for Wright -- who last pitched three weeks ago Friday night -- or an early inability to command his knuckleball is uncertain.

The fact is, Wright dug an early hole for his teammates, and he had the misfortune to do so against a team with the best bullpen in baseball.

To his credit, Wright kept the game somewhat within reach thereafter, but the five-run head start proved too much of a jump.

 

It's time to worry a little about Jackie Bradley.

Bradley was just 7-for-40 in the just-completed road trip, and things didn't get any better on the first night of the homestand.

In the first, he came up with two on and two out and struck out swinging to strand both baserunners. In the third, he came to the plate with runners on the corners and, again, struck out swinging.

We're seeing the same kind of slump that Bradley fell into in previous seasons, where even contact is hard to find, with nine strikeouts in the last 16 at-bats.

Problem is, with Andrew Benitendi on the DL, there aren't a lot of options for John Farrell with the Red Sox outfield.

 

Trying to get Fernando Abad and Junichi Tazawa back on track in low- leverage mop-up didn't work.

Tazawa had a perfect seventh, but gave up a monster shot into the center field bleachers to Lorenzo Cain to start the eighth.

Abad entered, and while he did record a couple of strikeouts, also gave up a single, a walk and threw a wild pitches before he could complete the inning.

Getting some work for the two was the right idea, given that the Sox were down by three runs at the time. A good outing might help either regain some confidence and turn the corner.

But not even that could be accomplished Friday night.