Editor’s note: NESN.com is going to tell the story of the 2012 Red Sox in Bobby Valentine’s words. Each game day, we will select the best Valentine quote that sums up the day for the Red Sox.
Admit it, you got a sinking feeling after watching Mark Teixeira‘s high fly ball sail over the center-field wall, putting the Red Sox in a 3-0 hole before they had even recorded an out.
After watching the Yankees score five and four runs in the first innings, respectively, of the first two games of the series, there had to be that feeling of “here we go again” for both Sox fans and players alike in Saturday’s evening matchup of the doubleheader. In Friday night’s game the Red Sox bats made it close but ultimately couldn’t close the gap. In Saturday’s day edition, they never mounted a comeback.
Well, for the evening game, the Red Sox again put themselves in an early hole, but this time managed to dig out of it, thanks mostly to a resurgent offense and the hang-in-there pitching of Felix Doubront. After giving up that three-run homer to Teixeira, Doubront was largely dominant the rest of the way, never throwing a single bad pitch until a sixth-inning hanger to Andruw Jones.
To hear manager Bobby Valentine describe the situation after Doubront got back in to the dugout after that first inning, the Red Sox knew they were in trouble. But credit Doubront for not getting frustrated, and instead turning that negative energy in to a positive force on the mound.
“After [Teixeira’s home run] he was aces and he was determined,” said Valentine after Boston’s 9-5 win. “I talked to him and said ‘You know we’re going to score some runs. If you want to win, just hold them.’ We scored runs, and he wanted to win and he held them.”
The turnaround for Doubront felt to be a complete 180 degrees. In the first inning the Yankees largely sat back and drove his fastball — which was catching too much of the plate — very hard. But by the second inning, Doubront had figured something out sitting on the bench, and immediately started to feature a diving slider and a big, sweeping curveball. Combined with much better fastball control, the rookie southpaw rendered the Yankees hitters largely helpless. After Russell Martin doubled with one out in the second, Doubront did not allow another hit until Jones’ sixth-inning solo home run.
With the Red Sox rotation in complete disarray, this is precisely what the team wanted — needed, really — out of its young lefty. With the Red Sox season at a crossroads and the team desperately needing a win, perhaps it wasn’t fair to put that on the shoulders of Doubront. However, that being the case, enough cannot be said about his determination to come back and largely dominate after going down early.
Perhaps Doubront can share some of that determination with the rest of the club. One game over .500 and a day away from the All-Star break, that’s a trait the Red Sox are going to need the rest of the way.