Don’t spend too much time trying to wrap your head around that piece of philosophical gold. It’s actually quite simple. Doubront has consistently proven that the Red Sox are in for some painstaking innings when he’s on the mound — that’s the predictable part. What’s rather unpredictable is the end result, and more specifically, whether he’s able to survive those laborious innings.
Doubront entered Friday’s game against the Rangers with a perfect 3-0 record. He wasn’t lights out in any of his four starts, by any means, but he did exactly what the Red Sox needed him to do. The left-hander gave Boston at least five innings every time out, including 6 2/3 frames in each of his last two starts, and he didn’t allow more than three runs in any of those outings.
From that standpoint, Doubront was evolving into a steady back-end starter. The problem is that the red flags that were raised last season haven’t been taken down yet, and Friday showed exactly what has the potential to happen every time Doubront takes the mound.
All too often, the left-hander finds himself mired in a lengthy inning. His control seemingly comes and goes, which prolongs at-bats, elevates his pitch count early and, most importantly, puts him in jams that are difficult to escape.
To Doubront’s credit, he has shown an ability throughout his young career to escape those jams. It’s a tough way to go about pitching, though, particularly because the potential for disaster is so high. And against a team like the Rangers, who are among the American League’s elite, pitching in such a manner can prove costly.
Doubront gave up eight hits and backed himself into a number of full counts through the first three innings of Friday’s loss, yet the Red Sox found themselves down only 1-0. It looked as if Doubront was in the midst of another one of his magic acts, performing great escape after great escape, but the left-hander played with fire again in the fourth inning and he got burnt.
Ian Kinsler and Elvis Andrus hit back-to-back singles with two outs to drive in the Rangers’ second run, and Lance Berkman walked to set the table for Adrian Beltre‘s bases-clearing double. Doubront exited after just 3 2/3 innings, and the book closed with him surrendering six earned runs on 12 hits.
“Overall, the lack of a finishing pitch. I think he had nine guys with two strikes and eight got on base,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said after the game. “It wasn’t as much finishing off an individual guy as it was finishing off an inning and it ran the pitch count up.”
Doubront was one pitch away from getting out of that fourth inning, and admittedly he would have been out of trouble if home plate umpire Mark Carlson didn’t botch a check-swing call on Kinsler. The Rangers didn’t let him off the hook, though, and the result was disastrous.
The scary part for Doubront and the Red Sox is that such a result could become more common if the young lefty doesn’t become more efficient. He has survived in the face of adversity more often than not, but Friday’s blowup is a harsh reminder of what can go wrong when walking a tightrope against a good offensive team.