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Student beats the master? Felix Doubront inspires visions of Andy Pettitte in beating him

07.20.13 at 12:34 am ET
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Red Sox pitching coach Juan Nieves predicted an exciting second half of the season from southpaw Felix Doubront. And so far, he is right.

Doubront turned in another strong outing Friday night against the Yankees at Fenway Park, going 6 1/3 innings and allowing just two runs (one earned) on three hits while striking out five, leading the Red Sox to a 4-2 win.

The left-hander’s success against the Pinstripes should come as no surprise. Coming into Friday’s game, in nine career appearances (five starts), Doubront was 2-1, including a save and a 2.52 ERA. With the win on Friday night, Doubront is now 2-0 against the rival Yankees in 2013; in six career starts (all since the start of last year), he has a 2.17 ERA.

In each of those six starts, Doubront has delivered a quality start, holding the Yankees to three or fewer runs while pitching at least six innings. The last Red Sox to turn in quality starts in each of his first half-dozen outings against New York? That would be Dutch Leonard, who reeled off nine straight quality starts against the Yankees at the start of his career — from 1913 to 1915.

Manager John Farrell was pleased with another strong Doubront performance in the series opener.

“As we’ve seen over the last 11 times he’s gone to the mound for us, he’s working six or seven innings each time out. Low runs. And then probably the last five or six of those starts, he’s come out and gotten into the rhythm of the game much earlier than maybe the first month and a half of the season,” said Farrell. “Gave us an opportunity to win. Kept the game in check. Another very solid effort on his part.”

Doubront cited his consistency as a key factor in his success on Friday night.

“Consistency. I think being consistent, throwing strikes and make the hitters swing, that’s the biggest thing.” Doubront said. “I threw all my pitches to get outs. And just being more consistent. Just trying to keep going deep in the game and keep my team in the game, too.”

At this point in his career, Doubront has drawn comparison to his counterpart on Friday night — Andy Pettitte. Both are lefties with sturdy pitchers’ builds, with a slight wrap in the windup, causing a challenging deception for the hitter. While they may differ drastically in age, Nieves can see the comparison.

“Oh yeah, [he looks like] Pettitte, definitely because of the frame and stuff. Not only overpowering guys but also able to spin their breaking balls, which is really nice,” Nieves said of the similarities of the two.

Pettitte also agreed, when asked of the comparison, and was extremely impressed by Doubront’s stuff.

“Well he’s got a good arm and good stuff. He’s able to throw all his pitches for strikes, he uses his change-up well. He runs the ball in on righties, so I can see where they [Red Sox] would say that,” Pettitte said of Doubront. “He’s got a real good change-up, and that’s something early in my career I feel like I really didn’t have that much. He’s left-handed and has good velocity and he’s a good kid. He has a bright future ahead of him if he can stay healthy, that’s for sure.”

That future might be starting to take shape. Doubront is now 7-3 with a 3.76 ERA, with a 3-0 record and 1.83 ERA over his last six starts. He’s allowed three or fewer earned runs in all but one of his 17 starts this year, and has reeled off 12 straight starts without giving up more than three earned runs. That run is tied for the longest by a Red Sox left-hander in the live ball era (Bill Lee also had 12 straight starts of three or fewer earned runs in 1973), and it’s the longest by any Sox starter since Pedro Martinez made 14 straight starts in which he gave up three or fewer earned runs in 2002.

Doubront, who is 16 years younger than Pettitte, has the Red Sox organization and pitching coach Nieves extremely excited about the future — especially if he continues to stymie the Yankees.

“We have a diamond in the rough and it could be very exciting to watch over the next couple years.” Nieves suggested. “I’m excited.”

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