BOSTON -- So much has changed in the interim, but it bears reminding that when one of spring training’s raging topics was the back end of the starting rotation, the focus was on Daniel Bard. By comparision, Felix Doubront was an afterthought, at least in the public discourse.
He never was for Bobby Valentine, who took a liking to the Venezuelan left-hander from the moment he threw his first bullpen session in camp.
“He was a slam dunk to make our team, as far as I was concerned,’’ Valentine said after Doubront gave up a run on four hits in six innings, walking three and striking out two, in Wednesday night’s 10-1 win over the Chicago White Sox.
"Felix Doubront has been our most consistent pitcher all year," Valentine added. "I guess coming out of spring training, Vegas would have given you pretty good odds that he would not be the first one on our staff to 10 wins.’’
Doubront is 10-4 with a 4.24 ERA after his 10th quality start, matching the number delivered by Josh Beckett and Jon Lester. The Venezuelan left-hander has profited from the best run support of any pitcher in the big leagues, averaging 8.38 runs per nine innings, and the Sox have scored six or more runs for him eight times.
Doubront spotted the White Sox a 1-0 lead in the first on three singles, the last a two-out hit by Paul Konerko, but after that allowed only Dayan Viciedo’s second-inning single before being lifted after throwing 96 pitches.
“Felix was outstanding tonight," said Cody Ross, who drove in six runs with a pair of three-run homers. “He got himself in a bind early, in that first inning, but he managed to get out of it. He was just dominant after that. He was flipping his curveball over and getting some swings and misses. He was getting a lot of ground-ball outs. He pitched outstanding."
Yes, Doubront said, he is surprised to have 10 wins at this stage, but from the outset, he has exhibited a poise, presence and confidence that he belongs here.
"I always know the team is going to score runs," he said. "We've got a good team and great hitters. I wasn't worried about that, I just kept pitching.’’