In his first career start for the Red Sox, 22 year old Felix Doubront was forced to endure a long wait in the dugout as his offense piled up runs in a big fifth inning. Despite a healthy lead and the substantial layoff, Francona sent him back out for the sixth. The result wasn’t good, and though Boston ended up holding on to its big lead, Doubront’s stat line was certainly the worse for wear.
Flash forward to Friday night at Fenway, where an hour rain delay broke into play as the third inning wound down. Again, despite the layoff, Francona sent his starter back out. Again results weren’t good.
To be fair, this loss isn’t on Tito’s decision, and the point of the story is more to question his thought process than assign blame. But for the second time in 3 starts, Francona seemed oblivious to the fact that starters don’t tend to respond well to long periods of in-game rest.
On Friday, however, he also didn’t have the luxury of a lead. Doubront allowed 2 runs in the first after his own throwing error helped leadoff hitter Elvis Andrus safely reach second. An infield single by Ian Kinsler put Texas on the board, and after he advanced to third on a walk and a flyout, Neslon Cruz drove him in for the 2-0 advantage.
Boston struck back against Rangers’ starter Colby Lewis in the bottom of the second, putting the first four hitters on base. Kevin Youkilis doubled and scored on a J.D. Drew single. Adrian Beltre singled, and Danial Nava walked to load the bases. After Bill Hall went down swinging, a Lewis wild pitch tied the game at 2, but Boston was unable to extend the inning as the 30 year old righty struck out the side.
Play was halted as the bottom of the third closed, and the game was suspended for an hour. When it resumed, Doubront managed to pitch around a Bengie Molina double and get out of the fourth unscathed. A Beltre solo shot in the bottom of the frame actually gave the Sox a brief lead, but the edge wouldn’t last.
Doubront came apart in the top of the fifth. A single by Michael Young. A wild pitch. An infield hit by the slow-footed Vlad Guerrero. Another Doubront throwing error. The lack of control was enough for Tito, and Doubront got the hook in favor of Fernando Cabrera.
The change didn’t really work out.
Cabrera walked Cruz and David Murphy, pushing across another Texas run. He then surrendered the big blow– a grand slam by Bengie Molina that out the Rangers up 7-3. Guerrero was Dubront’s run while the other 3 were charged to Cabrera. Doubront’s line closed at 4.2 innings, 4 runs (2 earned) on 7 hits and 2 walks, and 5 Ks.
Cabrera manged a scoreless sixth, and in the bottom of the inning a walk to David Ortiz, another Youkilis double, and a Drew sac fly led to Boston’s final run. Texas added 1 more of its own off of Ramon Ramirez. Bengie Molina tripled– yes, plodding catcher Bengie Molia hit a triple…one that completed the cycle. He was pulled for pinched runner Jose Arias after injuring his quad, and Arias ultimately scored on a Michael Young sac fly, setting the 8-4 final.
The Red Sox can still earn a series split. They’ll get their chance at Fenway on Saturday, when John Lackey takes on the newest Ranger.
You may have heard of him. His name is Cliff Lee.