Doubront solid until troublesome fifth

April, 15, 2012
4/15/12
7:37
PM ET
[+] EnlargeFelix Doubront
Jim Rogash/Getty ImagesFelix Doubront pitched four scoreless innings before leaving in the sixth with the game tied at 4.
BOSTON -- When Felix Doubront was slotted into the Red Sox rotation, it came with the understanding that he was still growing into the role. Although his second start of the season did not end the way he would have liked, Doubront feels as if the growth is continuing.

“This is my second outing. I’m gaining confidence in every outing, and I’m learning from that,” he said after getting a no-decision in a 6-4 win over the Tampa Bay Rays on Sunday. “The next outing is going to be different. Everybody knows. That’s a big thing about being a starter.”

When he reflects back on the good, Doubront can look at the first four innings of his outing. He kept the Rays off-balance with a very good curveball and mid-90s heat, recording the bulk of his career-high seven strikeouts. Doubront carried a 4-0 lead into the fifth. That’s when a few location issues and some tough luck turned his line into a much more ordinary one.

The Rays hit back-to-back singles with one out. Carlos Pena then ripped a shot down the right-field line that was ruled foul, then confirmed following a review. That forced Doubront to wait around as the umpires made their call.

Forced to face the dangerous Pena again, Doubront surrendered a two-run double that center fielder Jason Repko nearly grabbed with a dive in the gap. The ensuing RBI double by Evan Longoria got over the head of Cody Ross, who took a poor path to the ball.

Manager Bobby Valentine took everything that occurred in the fifth inning into account when assessing his left-hander’s performance. He also was mindful of one decision he would like to have back, sending Doubront out to start the sixth and watching him lose his lead on a solo homer to Luke Scott.

“A couple of balls eluded us there in the fifth and then he had the long delay that he had to stand out there for the review,” Valentine said. “Then we had the eight-pitch inning [against Rays starter Matt Moore]. Probably shouldn’t have sent him back out there.”

When it was all over Doubront had given up four runs on nine hits in five-plus innings. He walked only one.

“He was good. I thought he threw the ball really well,” catcher Kelly Shoppach said. “Nice and composed out there. Got in some tough spots a couple times, but there’s some pretty good hitters over there. They were able to scratch across a couple runs, but other times he was able to get out of it.”

The next step in Doubront’s maturation process figures to take place this weekend against the Yankees at home.

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