DUNEDIN, Fla. — With R.A. Dickey and Steven Wright on the mound to start the game and Tim Wakefield in the stands, much of the talk at the Red Sox-Blue Jays game was about knuckleballs.
Then Allen Webster came in for the bottom of the third inning.
The 23-year-old righthander, who was part of the Dodgers trade last summer, allowed an RBI double. Then he struck out Jose Bautista (swinging) and Edwin Encarnacion (swinging) to end the inning.
Webster started the bottom of the fourth inning by striking out J.C. Arencibia (swinging) and Brett Lawrie (swinging).
According to the stadium radar gun, Webster hit 99 with his four-seam fastball. His turbo two-seam fastball and changeup are above-average pitches, too.
“That was pretty fun to watch,” said Will Middlebrooks, who had a nice view from third base. “He has great stuff.”
Said John Farrell: “He was impressive, very impressive.”
The four consecutive strikeouts didn’t get Webster too excited. The North Carolina native, speaking so softly that it was hard to hear, said it was just a matter of getting into his mechanics.
“When it started out my heart was racing, the first start of the year,” he said. “I finally got settled down.”
Farrell took the long trip here to see Webster and Steven Wright pitch.
“That’s really special,” Webster said. “But you still have to go out there and do a good job.”
Webster threw 130.2 innings last season and 145 in 2011. Unlike Rubby De La Rosa, who will be monitored closely after throwing only 13.2 innings last season post-surgery, Webster can be turned loose.
Webster is likely to start the season in the Pawtucket rotation. Based on what transpired today, he could be at the front of the line for a promotion once a need arises. The ability to strike out four hitters like that in a row is not something you see all the time.