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Closing Time: Felix Doubront’s short outing sets up Red Sox for extra-innings failure in loss to Orioles

06.13.13 at 11:45 pm ET
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On a night when Felix Doubront lasted only 4 2/3 innings and left with the Sox in a 4-2 hole, the Red Sox nonetheless rallied to tie the game and send it into extras against the Orioles thanks in no small part to the outstanding performances of an assembly line of relievers. Franklin Morales (1 1/3 innings), Andrew Miller (2 scoreless frames), Junichi Tazawa (1 1/3 shutout innings) and Craig Breslow (two outs) all came on and kept Baltimore in check, buying time for the Sox to push across a pair of runs to knot the game, 4-4.

But after Alex Wilson — summoned from Pawtucket earlier on Thursday — delivered scoreless frames in both the 11th and 12th innings, the Orioles rallied for a two-out run in the 13th to claim a 5-4 walkoff victory. The game-winning hit came when Orioles slugger Chris Davis blooped a jam-shot — a 93 mph fastball located exactly where Wilson wanted it, on Davis’ hands — into shallow left.

The loss went to Wilson and the bullpen, but the fault lay with Doubront’s inability to offer reliable innings. After all, big league teams entered Thursday with a 64-240 record this year (.211 winning percentage) in games when their starters failed to log five complete innings. The Sox now are 1-8 in such bullpen-battering contests.

To highlight the impact of such short outings: The Sox are 40-19 (.678 winning percentage) when their starters go at least five innings, while their winning percentage drops to just .111 when their starters fail to deliver that modest innings total.

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE RED SOX

— Doubront saw his streak of four straight starts of six innings snapped, on a night when he was hit relatively hard. He labored to a 103-pitch count in just 4 2/3 innings, allowing four runs (three earned) on seven hits — a homer, two doubles and four singles. Though he issued just one walk and struck out five, and got six ground ball outs, Doubront remained winless against Baltimore.

Jacoby Ellsbury went 0-for-5 and saw a number of streaks get halted. His 11-game hitting streak is no more. So, too, is a five-game streak in which he had a hit, scored a run and stole a base — the longest such streak by a Red Sox since Tommy Harper accomplished the feat in 1974. And when Matt Wieters delivered a low-flying laser to second base, Ellsbury had his streak of 18 straight successful stolen base attempts end.

Still, Ellsbury’s speed proved a game-changer in one instance. With runners on the corners and one out in the seventh, Ellsbury hit a potential double-play ball to second baseman Ryan Flaherty. Flaherty’s throw to second was wide, delaying J.J. Hardy‘s relay just enough to permit Ellsbury to beat the relay by a fraction of a step. That, in turn, permitted the game-tying run to cross the plate, whereas a double play would have ended the inning with the Sox still down, 4-3.

Ellsbury also continued a career statistical oddity, reaching base via catcher’s interference in the 10th inning. It marked the eighth time in his career that he has reached base in that fashion. Since Ellsbury broke into the big leagues in 2007, only one other Red Sox — Carl Crawford, who did it once — has reached base via catcher’s interference.

– First baseman Mike Napoli, who slammed his 21st double of the year in his first at-bat, had to leave the game due to illness prior to the bottom of the third inning.

— For the fifth time in 2013, the Red Sox failed to negotiate a walk.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE RED SOX

Mike Carp, filling in for the Napoli, made an immediate impact upon his entry into the game. In his first plate appearance of the game (in the fourth inning), he unloaded on a 2-2 changeup from Kevin Gausman and blasted it for a solo homer to center, the second of back-to-back homers with Carp and David Ortiz. Carp has seven homers in just 96 at-bats this year, with a .333 average and 1.063 OPS.

— Ortiz continues to represent a middle-of-the-order force. He crushed his 14th homer of the year to get the Sox on the board in the fourth, and though he’s hitting just .234 in June, his five homers for the month give him a 1.006 OPS in June. Though he missed nearly three weeks to start the year, with 14 homers and 49 RBI, Ortiz is on pace for 33 homers and 117 RBIs.

— Though it required a bit of good fortune, Will Middlebrooks had his first multi-hit game since May 18, ending a seven-game stretch in which he had no more than one hit in a contest. The Sox third baseman went 2-for-3 with a hard single and a double, though the double came when the Orioles could not corral a wind-blown infield pop-up that fooled even Middlebrooks, who did not initially hustle out of the box before hauling into second just ahead of the throw from Hardy.

— Reliever Andrew Miller‘s combination of a 97 mph fastball and a wipeout slider overmatched the Orioles in the seventh inning. Though he walked a batter with two outs (with all five pitches in the sequence either in or just outside of the strike zone), Miller recorded all three outs by strikeout. He then returned to the mound for a scoreless eighth in which he issued one more walk and gleaned one more strikeout. He’s averaging 15.0 strikeouts per nine innings this year.

— Though he was 0-for-4 with a walk, Stephen Drew had some of his better at-bats in recent games, driving the ball up the middle and to the opposite field, most critically with a bases-loaded sacrifice fly to the fence in left-center against hell-on-lefties southpaw Brian Matusz in the Sox’s game-tying two-run rally in the seventh. Prior to the sac fly, Drew and his brother, J.D. Drew, were a combined 0-for-7 with six strikeouts against Matusz.

Read More: alex wilson, felix doubront, Jacoby Ellsbury, mike carp
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