One night after John Lackey pitched an eight-inning gem, giving a bullpen that had been recently taxed a much needed reprieve, Felix Doubront caused Red Sox manager John Farrell to get into his bullpen early in the series finale against the Yankees at Fenway Park Thursday night.
Doubront went 2 2/3 innings, giving up seven runs, three earned, on seven hits and two walks, with a home run, one strikeout, and two wild pitches. The Sox sloppy defense didn’t help, with four errors while he was on the mound, including one of his own.
It was the second time in five starts this season that Doubront lasted just 2 2/3 innings, along with his April 8 outing against the Rangers. That was the shortest start of his career – the last seven batters he faced all reached base — which he matched tonight.
Overall, so far this season has been a struggle for Doubront. With this outing his ERA rose from 5.48 to 6.00 while his WHIP rose from 1.547 to 1.750.
Doubront would have been the Sox’ No. 5 starter, but for two reasons: Clay Buchholz, dealing with physical issues and needing more time before he could begin his season, stayed in Fort Myers at the end of spring training to get in a final outing; and having Doubront as the fifth starter and Jon Lester No. 1 would have had back-to-back left-handers starting in some series, which some teams are hesitant to do.
Before his start against the Yankees Thursday, Doubront had made some strides. In two starts – one at Yankee Stadium on April 13, the other against the Orioles on April 19 – he had gone a combined 13 1/3 innings, giving up five runs on 12 hits and five walks with nine strikeouts, for an ERA of 3.38.
Doubront has said in the past confidence and concentration can be issues for him.
“There’s been less thought of mechanics and delivery rather than executing pitches,” manager John Farrell said before Doubront’s outing against the Yankees Thursday, on improvements the left-hander had recently made.
“He’s used the full assortment [of pitches], rather than you go back a couple of starts ago he was so fastball-oriented it didn’t’ work in his favor. I think more than anything he’s gone back to a normal pitch distribution and been more free of mind in his game plan.”
Doubront was not able to carry that through in his latest outing. And the bullpen paid the price again.