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Doubront was borderline dominant for six innings, limiting the Rays to just one hit and striking out five while allowing three runs. His command was once again periodically an issue — he walked five — but outside of the third inning, he held the playoff-hungry Rays in check.
“I just want to finish strong,” Doubront said. “I think for now I’m getting back my confidence. Today, just one tough inning and I handled that and came back doing the best I can, and gave the guys an opportunity to score and win the game. That was pretty important for me.”
His final line would’ve been even better, but he walked the bases loaded in the third before Ben Zobrist plated two with a single to center. An Evan Longoria sacrifice fly then completed Tampa Bay’s scoring.
Still, Doubront delivered his second straight quality start, and he recorded his first victory in exactly two months. His last win came on July 18 against the White Sox.
Herald | Felix Doubront aims to finish strong
Borderline dominant? I don't think so, Tomase.
Five walks is five walks is five walks. I would rather see five hits and one walk over six than one hit and five walks. But something about the "1" in the H column looks impressive.
Doubront was not impressive. He's too unsteady, he loses focus, he throws a million pitches every game, and he works so slowly that he puts the entire team to sleep.
The coverage of Doubront is all over the place this morning. Tomase calls him "borderline dominant", the ESPN headline said he "battle[d]", and the Globe is somewhere in between.
What it comes down to is that Doubront is a bit hard to evaluate. He throws a good fastball and shows the stuff of a productive pitcher at times. But we have an entire season sample that says he can't find the plate. He also tires around 50 pitches seemingly every start; this start he recovered and threw good innings 4-6, but he hits the same road block every time out there.
If Doubront is going to be a good pitcher long-term, he needs to find some control, and he needs to find some stamina. Will that happen in Boston? Hard to say. On the one hand, he's a cheap, young arm; a rare commodity around here. On the other, does he show the upside to warrant being a project on a team that is expecting to turn around and contend in 2013?
On page 2, his potential '13 rotation-mate John Lackey is making progress.
John Lackey threw two simulated innings this afternoon from the mound at Tropicana Field.
Facing teammates Guillermo Quiroz, Ivan De Jesus, Daniel Nava and Mauro Gomez, Lackey threw 27 pitches plus warm-ups. Based on watching from the press box, Lackey looked pretty good. He retired six of the eight hitters he faced and seemed to have pretty good hop on his fastball. Lackey didn't throw any cutters.
The righthander will next report to Fort Myers and is scheduled to start an intrasquad game on Sunday. That will essentially end his pitching for the season.
Based on what he has done to this point, Lackey should enter spring training without any restrictions. He had Tommy John surgery last Nov. 1.
Globe | Pre-game notes from the Trop
I know, I know, it's John Lackey. But still, progress is progress, and the more pitching options we have next year the better. Plus, Lackey's contract looks better as a result of his injury, which tacked on an additional year at the veteran minimum, meaning he has three years and $35 million remaining, rather than 2/34. If he can make progress and look healthy, he's a more attractive (read: less horrendous) trade option (Hey LA, Kershaw looks banged up, want a replacement?) if the Sox want to unload him in the offseason.
Herald | Alfredo Aceves' time may not be up | When adding bat, it's OK to think big | John Lackey keeps looking better | Globe | Doubront is able to hang in | Red Sox' Ryan Lavarnway learns art of catching | ESPNBoston | Rays' playoff hopes take hit after Red Sox rally | Doubront battles, breaks winless stretch | CSNNE | Doubront settles down, earns first win since July 18 | Sox win again in Tampa Bay, 7-5