If at the conclusion of the regular season you had Felix Doubront pegged as the winning pitcher in Game 4 of the World Series, you either checked out around Sept. 1, took a leap of faith for the sole purpose of being a jokester or were under the influence of heavy narcotics — perhaps all of the above.
No one could have foreseen Doubront’s World Series contributions. This isn’t to take anything away from Doubront, who had a fine regular season within the Red Sox’ rotation. It’s just that Doubront’s bullpen breakdown in Game No. 162 made it entirely possible that the lefty wouldn’t even make the Red Sox’ ALDS roster, let alone turn in two huge relief performances in the Fall Classic.
Doubront gave up five earned runs on five hits and three walks while pitching in relief on the final day of the regular season in Baltimore. Exactly four weeks later, Doubront stepped to the podium in St. Louis rocking a flashy sweater after providing the second of back-to-back crucial relief appearances in the World Series.
Doubront threw 25 pitches in two scoreless innings in Game 3 on Saturday. He was the first pitcher out of the Boston bullpen after Jake Peavy was lifted for a pinch hitter in the top of the fifth inning, and he helped keep the Cardinals off the scoreboard as the Red Sox tied the game 2-2. The Red Sox eventually lost the game 5-4, but Doubront’s effort was a bright spot on an overall shaky night for the Boston ‘pen.
John Farrell wasted no time in turning to Doubront again in Game 4. Mike Carp pinch hit for Clay Buchholz in the top of the fifth inning, and Doubront came on to provide 2 2/3 innings of one-run ball. The only run charged to Doubront came when Matt Carpenter connected on an RBI single off Craig Breslow with two outs in the seventh inning
“Felix would probably be up there as one of our MVPs of the night along with Jonny [Gomes],” catcher David Ross said after Game 4. “That guy really shut the door when we needed it most. We needed to put up some zeros and he did just that.”
Doubront threw 32 pitches in Game 4. He gave up just one hit, didn’t walk anyone and struck out three. The 26-year-old now owns a 1.29 ERA (one earned run in seven innings) over four appearances in his first trip to the postseason, and his work in Games 3 and 4 of the World Series were of the utmost importance.
“I prepared myself to go more than two innings, at least, knowing that I threw two innings yesterday and today was a different day,” Doubront said after Game 4. “I think all the excitement and adrenaline that I want to pitch, and I want to be in the game, I want to be a part of the team to win the game. I was just relaxed and doing my job. When I got the opportunity, I was so focused in. Just focusing on getting outs.”
Doubront, who appeared to break down toward the end of the regular season, suddenly looks like the pitcher who became one of the Red Sox’ most consistent starters for a 15-start stretch between late May and early August. He’s aggressively pounding the strike zone and seems to be totally in control.
“He’s so efficient,” Farrell said. “He doesn’t panic. He stays very poised. In this setting, he throws a lot of strikes.”
Obviously, Doubront is a far cry from where he was back on Sept. 29 at Camden Yards. And the Red Sox are closer to a World Series title as a result.