TAMPA, Fla. -- Takeaways from George M. Steinbrenner Field, where pigeons know better than to deface the statue of the former owner that guards the entrance to the park:
* Ask Red Sox left-hander Felix Doubront how high his confidence is when he faces the Yankees and he draws an imaginary line high overhead.
“Right here," he said. “This high. I’m not afraid.
“I respect them, I respect every hitter. But I’m a pitcher, I have to do my job. So it doesn’t matter, I want to go in there, keep pitching and do better."
As we noted in our pregame report, Doubront was Boston’s best starter against the Yankees last season, posting a 2.52 ERA in four starts, all of which went at least six innings. In each of the four starts, he gave up just four hits; the Yankees batted a collective .182 against him.
Extra special to face the Bombers?
“I don’t want to think that," he said. “You know how it goes. Sometimes good. I don’t want to say sometimes bad, and I want to keep it that way."
Against a Yankees team that was missing the usual suspects, most of whom are as banged up as their Sox counterparts -- Derek Jeter (ankle), Mark Teixeira (wrist), Curtis Granderson (arm), Alex Rodriguez (hip, head) -- Doubront encountered more trouble than usual, getting cuffed around during a four-run second inning comprised of five hits, two sacrifice flies, a walk and a wild pitch. That was the only scoring in a 4-0 win that was played in a snappy 2 hours and 17 minutes, or roughly half the time it takes for a typical Sox-Yanks game.
“I felt happy for this outing because I learned a lot," he said. “I threw so many quality pitches, I feel good about it. Just went in, it happened. The big thing is I came out feeling good and made adjustments that helped me."
Doubront attributed his issues to not standing tall enough in his windup. After the game, manager John Farrell, a former pitcher and pitching coach, offered a quick primer on pitching posture.
“When he stands a little bit taller," manager John Farrell said, “it gives his arm a chance to catch up, rather than drifting a little bit and his arm is dragging a hair, and that’s when we’ve seen a number of fastballs to righties really cut. You saw David [Ross] catch some balls a little awkwardly. Just by being a little more erect, with better posture, it just gives him more true rotation on fastballs through the zone.
“I think every pitch can have a tendency to rush," Farrell added. “I think with him, he has a tendency to dive into the plate a little bit and leaves his arm behind. It’s something you monitor and give reminders, but ultimately, when they can do it on the mound, and they’re best self-coached, that’s the ideal situation."
Doubront was lifted with one out in the fifth, having thrown 75 pitches, 48 for strikes.
“I keep learning," he said. “I feel good. My arm feels good. I keep banging the ball down. The adjustment I made, made me happy. From now on, I think I will get that, to stand tall."
If you were watching on ESPN2, you might have noticed trainers looking at Doubront’s foot. Not to worry. “They put the tape too tight on my foot," he said.
* Great work by the Sox relief corps of Andrew Bailey, Joel Hanrahan, Clayton Mortensen and Andrew Miller, who combined to hold the Yanks hitless and without a walk over the last 4 2/3 innings. The only Yankees baserunner who reached against the 'pen did so on an error by first baseman Mike Carp.
* Carp and Daniel Nava split time between first base and left field, swapping out in the fifth inning. Farrell said he is beyond the point of wondering whether Nava could play first in a regular-season game. Lyle Overbay appears to be running a distant third to Nava and Carp, who both look like they will make the team. Overbay has played in just one of the last four games.
* Jackie Bradley Jr., the subject of lots of attention on ESPN2, lined an opposite-field double into the left-field corner on an inside-out swing on his first at-bat, and singled in the ninth.
* David Ross continued what has been a remarkable exhibition by Sox catchers of throwing out baserunners, nailing Melky Mesa attempting to steal second. Sox catchers have thrown out 11 of 23 baserunners who have attempted to steal, a 47.8 percent success rate. Returning catchers Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Ryan Lavarnway combined to throw out just 21 of 129 basestealers last season, or 16.3 percent.