Every morning, we compile the links of the day and dump them here... highlighting the big storyline. Because there's nothing quite as satisfying as a good morning dump.
Doubront threw 27 pitches, 16 for strikes, in the first inning, allowing the first four batters to reach. He opened the game giving up a single to Brett Lawrie before Colby Rasmus’ 14th home run of the season, on a curveball. Jose Bautista reached on a Will Middlebrooks error, scoring on Edwin Encarnacion’s double. He retired Kelly Johnson on a flyout to Daniel Nava in left field before Yunel Escobar’s single to right, scoring Encarnacion. Rajai Davis reached on a fielder’s choice, erasing Escobar. With Ben Francisco batting, Davis was caught stealing to end the inning.
In all Doubront went six innings, giving up a seven runs, five earned, on 11 hits, a walk, and two home runs, with two strikeouts. In 18 career starts, it was a career high in runs allowed, and the first time he has allowed double-digit hits. The two strikeouts match a career low in a start.
Doubront threw 83 pitches, 61 strikes. His record falls to 8-4 with a 4.54 ERA.
“I think he was trying to throw a lot of strikes and didn’t want to waste a lot of pitches and it seems like a lot of them got hit,” said manager Bobby Valentine. Not that they were all hit hard that’s for sure. I'd say he gave up six or seven hits that were off the end of the bat or jammed, about four of them were hit hard. It wasn’t his best outing but he’ll improve on that.”
Not that I want to say Felix Doubront has turned into Daniel Bard or anything, but the rookie pitcher is struggling. His last four starts have been awful: Over 23 innings, he's given up 17 earned runs, bumping his ERA from 3.75 to 4.54. The strikeouts are still there -- 21 -- and the walks are curiously down -- just four -- but batters are making contact, as they've registered 31 hits. Oof.
Maybe Felix isn't getting the same movement on his pitches. Mabye he's just in a slump. Or maybe, and this would be bad, the league is just adjusting to him now that they've seen a few starts. This happens all the time -- a new pitcher shows up and hitters aren't prepared to face him because they don't know him. Look at Matt Moore of the Rays last year -- he came on the scene last September and the Rays trusted him to make playoff appearances. He went seven strong, giving up just two hits, against the eventual AL champion Texas Rangers.
This year, Moore is having some growing pains, with an ERA over 4.00 and a hilarious 40 walks in 80+ innings. Sometimes the league catches up to you.
If that's the case for Felix, hopefully Salty and Bob McClure and the other starters can help Felix make the adjustment. We can't afford to have another starter lose it for us.
On page 2, the Sox' new utility guy is a lefty masher.
Acquired along with pitcher Zach Stewart, Lillibridge became the jack-of-all-trades for the White Sox. The four-year veteran played every position except catcher and pitcher. This year, he’s played 20 games at first, 16 in left field, six at third and five in center. He hopes his versatility will get him in the Red Sox lineup.
Lillibridge is struggling at the plate. After hitting a career-best .258 with 13 home runs, 29 RBI and 10 stolen bases last year, he’s batting .175 with no home runs this season.
“The opportunities I had with the White Sox, a lot of it was playing in spot starts and I’m hoping I can continue it and swing the bat like I did last year,” he said. “Hopefully I’ll get the opportunity, but I feel pretty good on where I’m at.”
“He looks like he could be a real contributing factor on a winning team,” said Sox manager Bobby Valentine. “Played well last year and he’s hit well against left-handers in his career. Very well.”
Lillibridge owned left-handed pitching last year, putting up a .931 OPS vs. a .757 OPS vs. lefties. With such a lefty-heavy lineup -- particularly if/when Jacoby Ellsbury and Carl Crawford return -- this is a valuable skill to have.
Plus, it upgrades our worst roster spot, currently filled by Nick Punto (the same Nick Punto who swung at a pitchout and then grounded into a double play last night). Hey, contenders? Looking for a gritty vet (read: someone who is terrible at baseball) to add to your championship mix? Come talk to Ben Cherington about acquiring Punto, we'd be happy to help you out.
CSNNE | Farrell lauds Zach Stewart's 'versatility' | Doubront, Sox tagged by Jays in rain-soaked Fenway, 9-6 | Obama thanks Boston for trading Youkilis to White Sox | Herald | Sox can't recover | Kevin Youkilis has answers | David Ortiz deals with reality | Pedro ready to party | A need for right blend | Globe | Red Sox belted by Jays | Ortiz now the last link left | The hot corner is all his | ESPNBoston | Jose Bautista, Colby Rasmus, and JP Arencibia hit 2-run HRs in win | It's Will Middlebrooks' job now | Ortiz has 20 HRs, on rare pace for his age | Kevin Youkilis adjusting to new team | Clay Buchholz remains hospitalized