Closing Time: Felix Doubront's poor start too much for Red Sox to overcome in loss to Rangers

April 08, 2014 - 5:25 pm
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The Red Sox harbored high hopes that this might be the year in which Felix Doubront took a significant step forward, that he emerged with the sort of dependability that could make him a staple of the rotation for some years to come. He showed up in spring training in improved shape as compared to the start of the 2013 season, and so the Sox thought he might be in better position to harness his well above-average pitch mix every five days. "We're expecting that he somewhat evens out some of the peaks and valleys he experienced a year ago," manager John Farrell said before Tuesday's game. Hours later, Doubront plunged into canyon. The left-hander submitted the shortest start of his career, lasting just 2 2/3 innings in which he allowed five runs on six hits, walked three, struck out two and threw just 53 percent (31 of 59) of his pitches for strikes. Unquestionably, his night was made worse by some defensive inefficiencies, but Doubront showed little ability to bounce back from them, as when he walked back to back hitters after Grady Sizemore broke in the wrong direction to turn a potential third out into a double. Doubront's mound struggles resulted in too great a deficit for the Sox to overcome, as their attempts to rally in the late innings proved an act of futility in the face of an insurmountable obstacle. The Sox endured a 10-7 loss to the Rangers, the team's fourth in five games this homestand, and renews questions about whether the talented 26-year-old will ever emerge as reliable enough to solidify completely his place in the rotation. WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE RED SOX -- The Red Sox grounded into five double plays, coming within one of the team record (reached three times, most recently on July 18, 1990). Thus did the team fail to capitalize on the fact that it had the leadoff runner reach in each of the first seven innings. Dustin Pedroia grounded into a pair of those, marking the fifth time in his career that he's had two DPs in the same game. Four of those have come since the start of the 2013 season. He went 1-for-5 one day after going 0-for-5. -- The Red Sox continued to struggle to convert balls in play into outs, a trend that has become commonplace at the start of the season. The Sox entered the game having turned 66 percent of balls in play into outs, tied for the third worst mark in the majors. -- Xander Bogaerts went 0-for-4 and stranded six runners. -- Reliever Burke Badenhop yielded four runs on five hits (three doubles and two singles) to wipe out virtually any shot the Red Sox had at a comeback. WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE RED SOX -- Jackie Bradley Jr. once again made a considerable impact with further signs of his offensive maturation. With the bases loaded and one out in the bottom of the seventh inning, with the Sox trailing, 9-2, Bradley helped to change the complexion of the game with another significant hit. After falling behind, 1-2, he refused to chase a pair of offerings from reliever Jason Frasor before he unloaded on a full-count 91 mph fastball, driving the pitch high off the Wall for a two-run double. Bradley is now 5-for-8 (.625) this year with runners in scoring position; the rest of the Red Sox are 9-for-62 (.145) in such situations. He later added a single to improve to .400 (8-for-20) this season. -- In a potential prelude to his move to the Pawtucket rotation (at a time when the Red Sox will need to make a roster move to clear a spot for Craig Breslow), Brandon Workman was dominant in long relief, retiring the first nine batters he faced (three on strikeouts, four on groundballs) before permitting a run on two hits in his fourth inning of work. -- Mike Napoli had his second straight three-hit game against his former club, collecting a trio of singles (including one of the run-scoring variety). In his last four games, he's now 9-for-19. -- A.J. Pierzynski, who entered the game as, far and away, the most free-swinging player in the majors (offering at 81.6 percent of pitches he saw), showed some gains in selectivity, swinging at just nine of 18 (50 percent) of pitches that he encountered, and, for the first time of the season, getting to a three-ball count (indeed, he hadn't taken as many as two pitches out of the strike zone in any at-bat) before tapping a full-count RBI single up the middle in the seventh inning. That was one of three hits for Pierzynski, who in the span of two games against the team with whom he spent 2013 has six hits to jump his average from .125 to .333. -- Jonny Gomes provided the Sox with a pair of walks and an RBI single from the leadoff spot. His two free passes matched the number of walks the Sox received from the leadoff spot in the first seven games of the season. -- Grady Sizemore collected three hits, all against left-handers, with two coming against Rangers starter Martin Perez (one on a slider, one on a fastball) and one (a double) coming against a cutter from reliever Neal Cotts. The center fielder is now hitting .364 with a .440 OBP.

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