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For Felix Doubront, a landmark more important than a win

06.19.13 at 6:25 am ET
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Felix Doubront logged eight shutout innings against the Rays on Tuesday. (AP)

Felix Doubront logged eight shutout innings against the Rays on Tuesday. (AP)

Felix Doubront was denied a victory on Tuesday night when closer Andrew Bailey could not preserve the 1-0 lead to which his starter clung so compellingly in a career-best eight-inning effort on Tuesday. Still, while that left Jonny Gomes to make a walkoff winner of Bailey (and underscore the notion that wins and losses do not always indicate how well someone pitched), Doubront’s outing mustn’t go unnoticed.

Until Tuesday night, Doubront had never recorded a single out in the eighth inning as a professional — whether the big leagues or any level of the minor league system. But on Tuesday, he went a career high eight innings, allowing three hits and striking out six.  Tuesday night’s start was his first shutout outing of the season, and even more impressive was the zero under the walk column, something he had  done only one other time this year.

When asked if he did anything different that made him more effective this game, Doubront replied, “Today I wasn’t thinking of mechanics, just focused on throwing this pitch.” Doubront, who is averaging 4.4 walks per nine innings pitched, had command of each of his pitches in the nightcap of the double header, and sailed through the Rays’ lineup for eight innings.

Doubront was extremely efficient, throwing 93 pitches. A pitcher who needed 104 pitches in five innings the last time he faced the Rays (on May 16) never threw more than 13 pitches in any given inning on Tuesday. Indeed, his efficiency made it fair to wonder why manager John Farrell lifted him at a time when his workload remained relatively light.

“That’s Andrew’s job. Felix more than did his work in an outstanding effort on his part tonight,” Farrell said of his decision to replace Doubront with Bailey. “I thought Felix pitched a heck of a game for us obviously, by the eight shutout innings. It’s the deepest he’s gone this year in the eight innings completed felt like he more than did his job tonight. One run spread on the board, go to Bailey, things didn’t work out.”

For his part, Doubront said he was not disappointed by Farrell’s decision to take him out of the game after eight innings. Instead, he was buoyed by both the fact that, in the end, the Sox claimed a 3-1, walkoff win and by the fact that his outing offered a potential springboard to future success.

“It wasn’t disappointing. That’s the game. We trust our closer. That happens. We got the win. That’s important,” said Doubront. “This game gives me more confidence. I needed this. I needed this to get more confident, trust more in my pitches. I’ll go the next game and try to do the same and stay in one page, this page. And stay like that. I’m going to get better results and win games and help the team to win.”

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