Red Sox Live Blog: Felix Doubront Struggles As Sox Drop Series Opener to Indians 5-3

Red Sox Live Blog: Felix Doubront Struggles As Sox Drop Series Opener to Indians 5-3Final, Indians 5-3: It didn’t take long for Chris Perez to put the Red Sox down in the ninth, and the Indians take the first game of this four-game series 5-3.

There were two big stories in this one for the Sox. The first was the puzzling start from Felix Doubront. The left-hander’s workload this season is getting up there in terms of innings and pitches thrown, and he may be starting to hit a wall. For the second straight start, he came apart in the fifth inning, and it cost him dearly in this one.

There was also the lack of clutch hitting, with Boston leaving runners on all night, and failing to come up with a big hit when they needed it most. Give credit to Ubaldo Jimenez and the Cleveland bullpen, but the Sox once again failed when it mattered most, dropping them to three games under .500 to start this pivotal 10-game road trip.

End 8th, Indians 5-3: The Indians, who play at Progressive Field, fittingly added an insurance run in the eighth.

A Jason Donald fielder’s choice was able to bring home the fifth Cleveland run of the night and make things a little more difficult for Boston in the ninth.

The Red Sox will send their 8-9-1 hitters to the plate against Tribe closer Chris Perez with just three outs to extend this game.

Bottom 8th, Indians 4-3: The Indians are looking to make things even more difficult for the Red Sox in the ninth, and they’re well on their way right now.

A pair of singles to open the bottom of the eighth inning has the Tribe threatening for more, while simultaneously ending Junichi Tazawa’s night.

Bobby Valentine is electing to bring in Craig Breslow with runners on first and second and nobody out.

Mid 8th, Indians 4-3: The Red Sox have had some opportunities to bring a run or two around, but they haven’t gotten that big hit yet, and they’re running out of time.

This time, they had runners on first and second with just one out, but Vinnie Pestano was able to strike out Jarrod Saltalamacchia (his third K of the evening) before getting Will Middlebrooks to hit a lazy fly ball to right to end the inning.

The Sox are now 1-for-13 with runners in scoring position, having left seven runners on base.

For what it’s worth, Adrian Gonzalez’s night is over. He was hit by a Pestano fastball. It appeared to hit him in the thigh, and he was lifted for a pinch runner in Nick Punto. He’ll stay at first base.

End 7th, Indians 4-3: Junichi Tazawa came on to pitch the seventh and got himself into what could have been some trouble, but the righty worked out of the jam.

Tazawa got the first two men he faced, before allowing a single and a walk. He narrowly avoided adding to the Indians lead when Michael Brantley ripped a ball down the line that was just barely foul. He was then able to get Brantley to straighten it out slightly, just enough to roll over a ground ball to Adrian Gonzalez at first base.

For now, the Red Sox trail 4-3, with Vinnie Pestano coming on to work the eighth. He’s been pretty good as of late to say the least, giving up just one run in his last 26 games.

Mid 7th, Indians 4-3: What a disaster.

With one out and a runner on second, Carl Crawford hit a ball to shortstop that should have been harmless enough. However, some awful base running from Pedro Ciriaco ends up costing the Sox.

Ciriaco, for whatever reason, decided to run despite the fact that the ball was hit in front of him. He was eventually tagged out after a short rundown, and Crawford, who looked to take the extra base in the process, was thrown out at second base. That’s 6-5-6-4 for those scoring at home.

That’s just an awful way to end an inning.

Top 7th, Indians 4-3: A questionable pitch choice ends the night for Ubaldo Jimenez.

Jimenez was making Pedro Ciriaco look awkward with sliders, but Jimenez then left a fastball up in the zone, which Ciriaco laced to right field for a double.

That ends the night for Jimenez, who is pulled in favor of Tony Sipp with no outs and Ciriaco standing at second in the seventh.

End 6th, Indians 4-3: Andrew Miller has done his job so far out of the Red Sox bullpen.

The tall lefty got the Sox out of the fifth with limited damage and followed that up with a dominant 1-2-3 inning in the sixth that was capped by a strikeout of Lou Marson.

Ubaldo Jimenez returns to begin the seventh inning, having thrown 101 pitches through six.

Mid 6th, Indians 4-3: The two starters switched roles in a heartbeat.

A half inning after Felix Doubront imploded, Ubaldo Jimenez strikes out the side for the second time in this game.

That gives Jimenez 10 strikeouts, his 12th career 10-strikeout performance. He looked dominant in doing so in the sixth, but he’s right around 100 pitches, so his night may be over.

We’ll have to see if Manny Acta sends him back out there in the seventh after the dominant showing or turn things over to his bullpen.

End 5th, Indians 4-3: Andrew Miller does a nice job of limiting the damage, but he can’t keep the game tied.

Michael Brantley greeted him with a sac fly to left that gave the Indians the lead, but Miller was able to get Shelley Duncan to bounce back to the mound to limit the damage.

Nonetheless, the Indians now lead 4-3 after five.

Bottom 5th, 3-3: That happened fast. Felix Doubront, who had retired nine in a row, just came unraveled in the fifth inning.

Doubront struggled in the fifth inning the last time out against the Twins, and he did so again in this one, not even escaping the inning.

Doubront’s issues with command reappeared, and he ended up throwing 33 pitches in a mess of an inning. He’s chased after giving up an RBI single to Carlos Santana, a single that leaves this game tied at 3.

It looked so promising for Doubront who was simply dominant for the last three innings leading up to the fifth, but he just totally lost it, and because of it, the Sox lose the lead.

Andrew Miller comes on to try and get out of a bases-loaded, one-out jam.

Mid 5th, Red Sox 3-1: We’ve already touched on Ubaldo Jimenez’s issues when it comes to holding runners, and that problem came back to bite him again in the fifth.

Jacoby Ellsbury stole his third base of the evening after a single, and then he was a pest at second base, clearly distracting Jimenez.

The righty was able to strike out Carl Crawford, but his luck ran out after that, as Dustin Pedroia lined one back up the middle to bring Ellsbury around to score and give the Red Sox a 3-1 lead.

Catching Jimenez must be one of the worst jobs in baseball. You have a guy on the mound who has funky mechanics to begin with, and his electric stuff is not only difficult to catch, but it can sometimes lead to baserunners. Then, of course, those baserunners are often turned loose, and catchers are left practically defenseless more often than not. That’s certainly been the case in this one, at least.

End 4th, Red Sox 2-1: The first inning is beginning to feel like a long time ago for Felix Doubront.

He’s settled down and settled in very nicely and has command of all of his pitches right now, particularly his curveball.

He just tossed another 1-2-3 inning highlighted by a strikeout of Shelley Duncan on a filthy curveball.

Doubront is really showing that offspeed stuff in the second time through the lineup, and that all starts with being able to throw that fastball for strikes early in counts to set up the slow stuff. He looks very good right now.

Mid 4th, Red Sox 2-1: So yeah, we saw a different Ubaldo Jimenez in the top of the fourth.

After allowing a leadoff single to Dustin Pedroia on a fastball down the gut, Adrian Gonzalez followed with a blast to right field for a two-run home run.

In his last 41 games, Gonzalez is hitting .404 with 38 RBIs over that stretch. Those are definitely the numbers you’ve come to expect out of a hitter like Gonzalez, who is one of the game’s best when he’s right.

Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Will Middlebrooks added singles, but Jimenez wiggled out of the jam with a strikeout and a groundout.

End 3rd, Indians 1-0: For all its complexities and intricacies, baseball is at its root, a pretty simple game. If you throw strikes as a pitcher, you will get batters out more often than not.

Felix Doubront just turned in a big inning in the third thanks to his improved command of the strike zone. The southpaw threw 11 pitches in the third, nine of which were strikes.

He’s also mixing the soft stuff in more the second time around the lineup, featuring the curveball and change up much more. He went curve, change, curve to strike out Shin-Soo Choo to open the frame.

Mid 3rd, Indians 1-0: This looks nothing like the struggling Ubaldo Jimenez the Indians have been sending out there every fifth day as of late.

Jimenez has got his good stuff so far, as he just breezed through another inning. His fastball command is real good so far, and that’s allowed him to work ahead, which of course, sets up his secondary stuff. His stuff is still really, really good, but battling bouts of wildness has been what’s brought Jimenez back to earth in the last few years. So far, so good on that front, though.

The Red Sox, however, do have their first hit after Pedro Ciriaco hit a ringing line drive by old friend Brent Lillibridge at third base and into left field for a single.

End 2nd, Indians 1-0: Felix Doubront is playing with fire.

The southpaw continues to fall behind virtually every Indians hitter, as evidenced by the fact that he went to a full count on the last three batters of that second inning.

Luckily for him, however, he’s made pitches when he had to. That was the case when he was able to paint a 95 mph fastball on the outside corner to set down Jason Donald to get out of the second inning. It looked like Doubront may have gotten some help from home plate umpire Tim Timmons, but Doubront won’t complain, that’s for sure.

Mid 2nd, Indians 1-0: OK, so this looks like the Ubaldo Jimenez who dominated baseball a few years back.

The lanky right-hander looked phenomenal in the second inning, striking out the side with an array of pitches.

While he did mix it up, it was the fastball Jimenez leaned on for the punchouts. He’s throwing downhill so far and keeping the ball down in the zone. He was able to get Cody Ross and Will Middlebrooks looking with a pair of nasty fastballs on the corner, but also showed the ability to change eye levels and get Jarrod Saltalamacchia to chase a fastball out of the zone.

End 1st, Indians 1-0: If the Red Sox could somehow avoid having to play the first inning, they might be right in the thick of the pennant race.

Alas, they have to play the first inning, and that’s been a major problem this season.

It was an issue again in this one when Felix Doubront fell behind Jason Donald 2-0 to open things before Donald deposited a fastball into the right-field seats for a leadoff home run.

Doubront got into some more trouble, allowing runners to reach second and third, but he was able to strike out Shelley Duncan looking with a 93 mph fastball on the inner half to escape further damage.

The Sox have now been outscored 92-70 in the first inning this season. If you’re looking for positives, though, they have outscored opponents 73-47 in the second inning. The good news is that the second inning is about to start.

Mid 1st, 0-0: Adrian Gonzalez is on fire right now, particularly with runners in scoring position.

So, when he came to the plate in the top of the first, a runner on third and two outs, one would think that Ubaldo Jimenez may pitch around him.

They went right after him, however, and Gonzalez hit a weak dribbler to third on a 92 mph fastball, and Jimenez got out of the inning unscathed.

If you’re looking for positives, Jacoby Ellsbury stole two bases without a throw. Then again, you or I could probably steal on Jimenez. So, yeah.

7 p.m.: Cleveland starter Ubaldo Jimenez used to be pretty good. Remember that?

Well yeah, he’s a far cry from that dominant stretch of about two years in Colorado, and he’s never really had luck against the Red Sox.

He’s 0-1 with an 11.70 ERA in two starts against the Red Sox, including a brutal start on May 11 this year. The righty lasted just 4 1/3 innings, allowing seven earned runs, thanks in large part to five walks.

Those are his regular season numbers, of course, not including his loss in Game 2 of the 2007 World Series.

6:45 p.m.: First pitch is approaching, and to help you wait it out, here is some reading material for you.

There hasn’t been much to be happy about lately for Red Sox fans, but Will Middlebrooks continues to impress.

Larry Lucchino checked in this morning with Dennis and Callahan, and he said that this mess isn’t the fault of Bobby Valentine.

Baseball America’s Minor League Tools Survey had some praise for both Ryan Lavarnway and Jackie Bradley Jr.

6 p.m.: We’ll have more on some matchups and things of that nature in a little bit, but just wanted to pass along one quick lineup change.

It looks like Jason Kipnis is a late scratch, and Jason Donald will be filling in both at second base and in the leadoff position.

Here’s the new Cleveland lineup which looks a lot like the old Cleveland lineup, right down to a Jason leading off.

Jason Donald, 2B
Asdrubal Cabrera, SS
Shin-Shoo Choo, RF
Carlos Santana, DH
Michael Brantley, CF
Shelley Duncan, LF
Brent Lillibridge, 3B
Casey Kotchman, 1B
Lou Marson, C

3:45 p.m.: Another update. This time around, we’ve got the Red Sox lineup.

Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
Carl Crawford, LF
Dustin Pedroia, DH
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
Cody Ross, RF
Jarrod Saltalamacchia, C
Will Middlebrooks, 3B
Mike Aviles, SS
Pedro Ciriaco, 2B

Felix Doubront, P 

Yes, that is Dustin Pedroia at designated hitter for the series opener against Cleveland. It’s the first time he has ever started as the DH, and he technically has one career at-bat as a designated hitter, which came in a pinch-hitting role.

If you’re looking for positives with the Red Sox right now, and there aren’t many, perhaps you can take solace in the play of Adrian Gonzalez.

The Red Sox first baseman continues to lead the league in batting average with runners in scoring position, hitting .423 (47-for-111) in those at-bats. He’s upped that to a .535 mark since June 20. Gonzalez also has 27 RBIs since the All-Star break, which is good for second in the bigs behind just Buster Posey’s 30. He’s been on fire during August, too, hitting safely in each of the team’s eight games, batting .484 (15-for-31).

So, yeah. That’s good at least, right?

3:38 p.m.: It’s already been a busy afternoon with the news of the Indians making a coaching staff moving coming down.

There’s also some Red Sox news, and while it may seem somewhat “minor” now, it should encourage Red Sox fans.

Xander Bogaerts, who is Baseball America’s No. 2-ranked prospect in the Red Sox system, has been promoted to Double-A Portland. 

The promotion might come as a surprise given Bogaerts’ age (19), but not given his production. He’s torn up the Carolina League, hitting .302 with 15 home runs and 64 RBIs. The shortstop has also posted a pretty impressive .883 OPS in 104 games with Salem.

Bogaerts already has fans hoping he could be the next Nomar Garciaparra in Boston, and the number he’ll wear in Portland may further those comparisons. 

 

3:24 p.m.: There’s actually some more Indians news to pass around.

Cleveland pitching has been awful this season, and the club apparently decided that it was time to make a change in that department. The Indians announced that they have fired pitching coach Scott Radinsky and replaced him with Ruben Niebla. The latter was the pitching coach for Triple-A Columbus during the past two seasons.

Only the Colorado Rockies have given up more runs than the Indians this season.

3:14 p.m.: Here’s how the Indians will take the field for the series opener.

Jason Kipnis, 2B
Asdrubal Cabrera, SS
Shin-Shoo Choo, RF
Carlos Santana, DH
Michael Brantley, CF
Shelley Duncan, LF
Brent Lillibridge, 3B
Casey Kotchman, 1B
Lou Marson, C

Once we know the Red Sox lineup, we’ll pass that along as well.

1:30 p.m.: The Red Sox need to start winning baseball games — a lot of them — and they need to start doing it soon.

They’ll get a good chance this weekend when they invade Cleveland for a four-game series against an Indians team that has struggled mightily as of late. The Tribe was able to topple the Twins on Wednesday afternoon, and only then did they end an 11-game losing streak.

Things haven’t been as bad for the Red Sox as of late, but they haven’t been much better. Boston stumbled through a 4-6 homestand, and they head out on the road sitting two games below .500 and falling further and further from the playoffs.

They’ll turn to Felix Doubront (10-5, 4.56 ERA) on Thursday night at Progressive Field, as the left-hander looks to get this 10-game road trip started on the right foot. He’ll be opposed on the Cleveland side by Ubaldo Jimenez (8-11, 5.29)

First pitch is slated for 7:05 p.m. ET, and be sure to tune into NESN coverage beginning at 6.