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Doubront takes a loss but continues progress

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff  May 22, 2013 01:06 AM

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CHICAGO — Brian Cashman, the general manager of the Yankees, once said his team plays 162 one-game seasons because of all the scrutiny they receive.

The same is true of the Red Sox, maybe even to a greater degree because there isn't a second major league team in the city. Everybody — fans and media — tends to overstate the importance of one game, one series or even one week.

The story tonight at U.S. Cellular Field was that the Red Sox lost, 3-1, against the White Sox. The Red Sox didn't get a hit until the seventh inning and were held to four overall.

That's the quick and dirty version: The Sox didn't hit, so blame the offense.

But if the Red Sox are in contention three months from now and Felix Doubront is a productive member of their rotation, what happened tonight might be looked back on fondly.

Franklin Morales long ago recovered from the spring training back injury that landed him on the disabled list. But the Red Sox have kept the lefthanded reliever on a minor league rehabilitation assignment building up the durability necessary to work as a starter.

Left unsaid was whom Morales would replace in the rotation, but it was clear the Red Sox were concerned about the viability of Doubront. The 25-year-old lefthander reported to spring training in poor condition and his performance reflected that when the season started.

His velocity was down, his location erratic. The Sox skipped one of Doubront’s starts earlier this month and embarked on a program to rebuild his skills and confidence.

Doubront took the loss tonight. But the long-term implications were positive ones. Doubront went six innings, giving up two runs on five hits. He walked two, struck out three and averaged an efficient 14 pitches an inning.

As the Red Sox were being no-hit into the seventh inning by Jose Quintana, Doubront kept them within a few swings.

“I think he’s onto something with the adjustments he’s made,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said. “I thought today was another positive step for him.”

Doubront (3-2) has allowed four earned runs on eight hits over 11 innings in his last two starts and struck out 10. That dropped his earned run average from 6.40 to 5.61. His velocity has trended up, too.

“Working every day. I’m seeing the results,” Doubront said. “Everything is going in the right direction right now. Just looking forward to my next outing.”

Also:

• The White Sox have nine runs on 15 hits in the two games of this series. All nine runs and 13 of the hits have come with two outs.

• Dustin Pedroia's hit streak ended at 12.

• Jacoby Ellsbury walked and had a single in his last two times up. Maybe that's the start of something.

• Two of the best starters in the American League were scheduled to meet in the series finale on Wednesday. But only Clay Buchholz will make the game. White Sox ace Chris Sale was scratched because of shoulder tendinitis. Chicago will go with lefthander Hector Santiago instead.

Sale is 5-2 with a 2.53 ERA.

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