The old, slow-working, tightrope-walking Felix Doubront was replaced by a new, quick-dealing, clutch version of the left-hander Wednesday against the Minnesota Twins at Target Field.
Doubront lasted into the seventh inning while surrendering just one run on seven hits. He gave the Red Sox exactly what they needed to take down the Twins 9-4, and he gave Boston a glimpse of what could be a more efficient and effective pitcher if he’s able to build on his new approach.
“He started to get a little bit more of a rhythm. He worked with a little bit better pace overall,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said after the win. “He began to become a little bit more efficient in that third and fourth (innings) and carried it through into the seventh inning. Early on, when he missed, he missed outside the strike zone. He didn’t miss over the plate, and that was probably the difference between last night (when Jake Peavy started) and tonight. He settled in pretty good, became efficient and gave us a quality outing”
Doubront, who struck out five and walked one, is no stranger to quality outings. He surrendered three earned runs or less in 18 of 19 starts from May 16 to Aug. 27 last season before sputtering down the stretch, and he entered Wednesday’s contest on the heels of back-to-back strong performances against the Tampa Bay Rays on May 1 and Cincinnati Reds on May 6. But the quicker pace and increased poise that Doubront showed against the Twins, particularly when he found himself in trouble, was a very encouraging sign for the 26-year-old.
“Sometimes, I go too quick. Sometimes, too slow,” Doubront said of his rhythm Wednesday. “You have to keep the same pace every pitch. … It’s something I’m working on every day and being more efficient with throwing the ball for strikes. I feel pretty good.”
Wednesday’s outing wasn’t without some hiccups. Doubrount allowed the first three hitters he faced in the third inning to reach base, and he gave up back-to-back singles to begin the fourth inning. The young southpaw settled down in both instances, though, and he retired nine in a row at one point until surrendering a leadoff single to Eduardo Nunez in the seventh inning.
“I was pretty confident in those situations and positive throwing the ball and getting outs,” Doubront said.
Doubront, who threw 104 pitches (71 strikes), lowered his ERA to 4.54 while earning his second win. It’s a drastic improvement over the 6.00 ERA he sported when the calendar flipped to May, and things might only get better in time.
Of course, when it comes to Doubront, it’s hard to get too high or too low about one strong effort — or even three in a row. Given the adjustments, however, the Red Sox can at least feel good about Doubront’s current trajectory.