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Closing Time: Felix Doubront stellar again as Red Sox shut out D-backs

08.04.13 at 4:55 pm ET
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Felix Doubront tossed seven shutout innings on Sunday. (AP)

Felix Doubront tossed seven shutout innings on Sunday. (AP)

He may not be getting as much attention as his rotation-mates, but Felix Doubront continues to throw one gem after another. The Red Sox southpaw cruised through seven shutout innings Sunday, striking out five while allowing just five baserunners to pick up his eighth win of the season as the Red Sox beat the Diamondbacks 4-0 to take the weekend series.

Doubront has now allowed three runs or fewer in 15 straight starts dating back to May 16, the longest such stretch by a Red Sox lefty in the live ball era (since 1920). It’s the longest such stretch by any Red Sox starter since Tim Wakefield accomplished the feat in 17 straight starts in 1995. Doubront has a 2.55 ERA during this run, which began after he was skipped in the rotation following back-to-back starts in which he allowed six runs.

“It’s been in him this whole time,” said catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia. “He’s really stepped it up for us and become one of our top pitchers, and at a good time. We need this.”

Doubront needed just 70 pitches to get through the first six innings, facing two batters over the minimum to that point. He ran into a little bit of trouble in the seventh, as Paul Goldschmidt reached on a Brock Holt error to start the inning and Cody Ross singled to left with one out. Between those two at bats, Doubront reached for his abdomen at one point, but stayed in the game after a warmup toss. He got out of the jam by striking out Wil Nieves and getting Gerardo Parra to ground to short.

“Felix quickly got back into a number of counts,” said manager John Farrell. “First-pitch strikes were a little elusive, but he was able to go to a breaking ball or changeup to get the timing back in his delivery, and he still maintained a lot of efficiency. A couple key double plays that he was able to get. He had a number of fastballs that they chased up for some strikeouts. Just kind of a workmanlike, solid, seven shutout innings for him.”

The game was scoreless through four and a half, but Jacoby Ellsbury got the Red Sox on the board with a sacrifice fly that scored Stephen Drew in the bottom of the fifth. Dustin Pedroia followed with a double that plated Holt. The Sox added two more in the sixth on back-to-back RBI singles from Ellsbury and Shane Victorino that drove in Saltalamacchia and Drew, respectively.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE RED SOX

– The bottom of the lineup continued to contribute. Eight and nine hitters Drew and Holt led off the fifth with back-to-back singles that started the rally that eventually chased Diamondbacks starter Brandon McCarthy from the game. Drew wound up scoring on Ellsbury’s sacrifice fly, while Holt scored on a Pedroia’s double. The bottom of the lineup was at it again the next inning. Saltalamacchia led off the sixth with a single, Drew followed with another single, and then Holt moved both of them over with a sacrifice bunt. Saltalamacchia and Drew both ended up scoring.

The Red Sox have now gotten 22 runs and 19 RBIs from the bottom four spots in their order over the last nine games. Drew is leading the way with a .406 average, .473 OBP, .719 slugging mark, 1.192 OPS, three home runs, nine RBIs and seven runs scored during that span.

– In an odd move, the switch-hitting Victorino batted righty in his final four plate appearances of the game, all against righties. It paid off, though. Victorino hit lefty his first time up and struck out swinging. He switched to righty his next time up and got hit by a pitch. Then he recorded an RBI single hitting righty in the fifth. Even after McCarthy left the game, Victorino continued to hit righty against Josh Collmenter (also a righty), against whom he singled up the middle, and Heath Bell, who hit him with another pitch. It is worth noting that Victorino’s decision to turn around came after his left hip slammed into the grandstand fence in foul territory down the right field line while he attempted to make a leaping catch.

– Pedroia worked an eight-pitch at bat before ripping an RBI double down the left-field line in the fifth. Historically, long plate appearances have favored Pedroia, as he is now hitting .352 with a 1.067 OPS in plate appearances of eight pitches or more in his career.

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE RED SOX

Mike Napoli continued to struggle. He went 0-for-5, including 0-for-4 with runners in scoring position, and struck out three times. In the bottom of the first, Napoli came to the plate with two outs and runners on first and third following an error by Parra, but he couldn’t make the Diamondbacks pay for the mistake as he struck out swinging. In the fifth inning, he had the bases loaded with one out, but popped out to first. In the sixth, it was a fly out to center with runners on first and second to end the inning. Sunday marked a bad end to a bad homestand for Napoli, as he wraps up the seven-game set (during which he started six games) with a .176 average, .568 OPS and eight strikeouts.

Matt Thornton left the game with an apparent injury after facing just one batter in the eighth. Thornton gave up a leadoff single to Tuffy Gosewich and got to a 1-2 count on Didi Gregorius before departing.

Read More: Dustin Pedroia, felix doubront, mike napoli, Shane Victorino Print  |  Email  |  Bark It Up!  |  Digg It
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