BOSTON If pitching is contagious, perhaps the last two outings are what the Red Sox starters need to catch.
Felix Doubront handcuffed the Indians Saturday night at Fenway Park, going six innings and giving up one run on three hits and two walks with five strikeouts. It was the second quality start of Doubront's seven outings this season, as he improved to 3-1, with a 4.46 ERA.
I thought once again Felix Doubront was terrific, said Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine. Ahead in the count most of the night, and his fastball was alive, his breaking ball was very good. Did what he had to do to get us in a winning position.
Along with Clay Buchholzs performance Friday night, perhaps the Sox starting pitching, which at times has been horrendous this season, is beginning to recover. Buchholz went 6 13 innings, giving up four runs, three earned on eight hits and three walks with no strikeouts and one hit batter.
It was just the second time Sox starters have posted back-to-back quality starts this season, first since Jon Lester and Josh Beckett did so on April 28 and 29 in Chicago.
Yeah, I think that's a 100 percent true statement, said catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia of the possibility of good starting pitching being contagious.
If you watch the guy before you and you see him go after guys and attack them, and you got to be the same way. You cant be afraid to make contact with the strike zone. You cant be afraid of anything. You just got to go out there. Thats what we did the past two nights.
Doubront threw 109 pitches (66 strikes), his third-highest pitch total this season, behind 111 in his last start on May 7, and 110 on April 26. Those three games account for Doubronts three wins this season, as he improved to 3-1, a new career high in wins, with a 4.46 ERA.
With his second quality start in seven outings this season, he won his second straight start.
He just neutralized all of our left-handed hitters and even our switch hitters, said Indians manager Manny Acta.
We couldn't get any offense going against Doubront. He was pitching to both sides of the plate.
He now has 37 strikeouts in 38 13 innings this season, for a team-leading 8.69 strikeouts-per-nine innings. It was his fifth start with at least five strikeouts. No other Sox starter has more than three such outings.
I got the plan a couple of days ago, Doubront said. It was what I expected. It worked for me. I was keeping the ball down. They have many lefties. I was throwing in. My breaking balls were working.
I did the plan.
Its been a month of learning for Doubront.
Every start challenges me, he said. I always try to do my best and learn.