Sox hope Doubront's pitching is contagious

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Sox hope Doubront's pitching is contagious

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.

Sox may have finally found their everyday third baseman for the postseason

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Sox may have finally found their everyday third baseman for the postseason

BOSTON — As has been well-documented, the Red Sox have tried any number of solutions at third base this season, with eight different players getting starts at the position.

Travis Shaw has the most starts of anyone, with 99. But with three games left in the season, it's become apparent that Brock Holt is being viewed as the likely starter in the post-season.

Holt started all three games in the recent series in New York and was the starter Friday night against Toronto, too.

"You look at the consistent quality to the at-bats," said John Farrell, "and they've been there for him. That's not to say the other guys aren't important to us. But this is the time of year where you're looking to put the best, current lineup on the field and his versatility has shown up a number of ways. He's a confident defender at third base and his skill set is a little bit different from the other guys.

"So against righthanded pitching, that could be the guy we're going with."

Holt came into Friday hitting .319 (22-for-69) in the last 24 games.

Shaw, meanwhile, has been streaky to a fault. In the second half of the season, Shaw has posted a slash line of .195/.260/.362.

"We've seen (the streakiness both ways) in short spurts," Farrell said. "He does have the ability to carry us. But we're trying to get there and we're at a point in the year where every game is meaningful. That's not to say you turn your back on what he did earlier in the season. But we're looking for sparks somewhere."

What's more, Farrell had Holt hitting second in the lineup, in an effort to produce more offense. The Sox were limited to just eight runs in the three-game series at Yankee Stadium, and over the last 11 games, scored more than five runs just once.

Holt hit second, with Xander Bogaerts dropped to sixth.

"This is to create a little bit of a spark for us offensively," explained Farrell. "We've been grinding a little bit. And also, (we want) to create a little more (left-right) balance up and down the lineup."

TIME TO PLAY

As the final few regular season games of his career wind down, David Ortiz acknowledged that it's becoming increasing difficult to focus on the games with all the tributes and ceremonies going on.

In the final 11 days of the season, Ortiz will have had five pre-game ceremonies held in his honor -- and it would have been six had not Ortiz asked the Tampa Bay Rays to cancel the ceremony they had planned in the aftermath of the death that morning of pitcher Jose Fernandez.

On Thursday night, Ortiz has his family on the field for a pre-game celebration hosted by the New York Yankees.

Minutes later, he had to step in to the batter's box against CC Sabathia. Sometimes, it's hard to flip that switch and be emotionally ready to compete.

"I'm not going to lie to you -- it has (gotten harder)," said Ortiz. "We're already in the playoffs, so for the next three days, I don't really have to worry about it. But the best thing about it is that once we get into the playoffs, there's not going to be all these distractions.

"I like to mentally focus when we play, especially when I'm playing for a reason. We work extremely hard during the regular season to get into the playoffs and once we get there, I don't want to blow that off. It's not easy to (do all the ceremonies) and play baseball at the same time. It can be a distraction."

Friday’s Red Sox-Blue Jays lineups: Porcello goes for win No. 23

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Friday’s Red Sox-Blue Jays lineups: Porcello goes for win No. 23

The A.L. East-champion Red Sox, still fighting for playoff position, field their usual lineup as they open David Ortiz's final regular-season series tonight (7:10) against the Toronto Blue Jays at Fenway Park.

The Red Sox (92-67) are two games behind the Texas Rangers (94-65) in the race for the best record in the A.L., with the Cleveland Indians (91-67) a half-game behind Boston.

Rick Porcello (22-4, 3.11 ERA), the likely Game 1 starter in the ALDS, will try to add to his Cy Young Award resume tonight. He’ll be opposed by right-hander Marco Estrada (9-9, 3.53).

The Blue Jays and Baltimore Orioles (both 87-72) are tied for the A.L. wild-card lead with the Detroit Tigers (85-73) 1 1/2 games back.

It’s the final regular season series for Oritz, with ceremonies planned to honor the retiring Red Sox DH prior to each of the final three game this weekend. 

The lineups:

RED SOX

Dustin Pedroia 2B

Brock Holt 3B

Mookie Betts RF

David Ortiz DH

Hanely Ramirez 1B

Xander Bogaerts SS

Jackie Bradley CF

Sandy Leon C

Andrew Benintendi LF

Rick Porcello P

 

BLUE JAYS

Eziquiel Carrera LF

Josh Donaldson 3B

Edwin Encarnacion DH

Jose Bautista RF

Russell Martin C

Troy Tulowitzki SS

Justin Smoak 1B

Kevin Pillar CF

Devon Travis 2B

Marco Estrada RHP