Saturday, September 8, 2012
Jays rain on Sox's homecoming parade
By Joe McDonald
BOSTON -- After posting a 1-8 record on their latest road trip, the Boston Red Sox's homecoming wasn't too welcoming.
Fenway Park was nearly empty halfway through Friday's game -- which started late after a 1-hour, 18-minute rain delay -- and the night ended with the Toronto Blue Jays beating the Red Sox 7-5. Boston fell to 1-9 in its past 10 games.
Red Sox starter Felix Doubront lasted only four innings (plus one batter in the fifth) and allowed five runs on six hits, including two home runs. He tossed 84 pitches (54 strikes), walked two and struck out four.
It appears fatigue has sunk in for the left-hander this season, his first as a full-time starter in the big leagues. Doubront hasn't won since July 18. Since then, he's 0-4 in seven starts.
His 135 innings is by far the most he's pitched in one season during his pro career, and manager Bobby Valentine admitted after Friday's loss that the club may decide to shut down the left-hander for the remainder of the season.
"We'll discuss it," Valentine said.
After the Blue Jays scored in the top of the first inning, Toronto's Edwin Encarnacion belted his 38th homer of the season, a solo shot, with two outs in the top of the third for a 2-0 lead. The Jays' Moises Sierra added a two-run homer in the fourth inning for a 4-0 lead.
Doubront was struggling and allowed a leadoff triple to Colby Rasmus in the fifth to end the pitcher's night. Rasmus later scored to give Toronto a 5-0 lead.
Boston pushed runs across in the bottom of the fifth, seventh and eighth innings to cut the deficit, but Rasmus added a two-run homer off Red Sox reliever Daniel Bard in the top of the ninth inning.
Mauro Gomez provided a two-run homer in the bottom of the ninth for the Sox, but it wasn't enough.
LORDY, LORDY, MORTY: Red Sox reliever Clayton Mortensen continues to impress. The right-hander worked two scoreless innings and allowed only one hit with four strikeouts against the Blue Jays on Friday night. In his sixth stint with Boston this season, he's allowed runs in six of 20 outings, while limiting opponents to one run or fewer in five of those games. He's also worked at least two innings 10 times this season.
"Anytime they ask me to take the mound, my goal is to go out there and get guys out," Mortensen said. "I've been pretty pleased with the way I've been throwing. I'm just trying to keep it going. I'm happy with the way I've been throwing, but it's not even close to being over with. We've got to keep grinding, get back on track and start winning some games. I'm just trying to do anything I can to help us."
Even though he remains focused on his task at hand this season, he's also hoping to impress with a chance to earn a spot in 2013.
We may have seen the last of Felix Doubront in '12.
"Definitely," he said. "You try not to think about next year, but at the same point and time, you have to be realistic and I'm trying to establish myself and give myself a chance for next year. I don't think about that too much; it's more or less each day who we're facing and what we're facing. If you try to think about other things, you're going to get sidetracked and it'll show and you'll be a little more vulnerable on the mound."
Before the game, Valentine said, "He's pitched extremely well for us. One of the regrets we've always had is sending him back to the minor leagues because he was a vital part of our team while he was here. He's thrown a lot of innings where he's been exceptional. If he can carry that into next year, he'll definitely have a role."
WEB GEM: Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia turned in the defensive play of the game for Boston in the top of the first inning. Rasmus hit a slow roller to the right side of the mound, out of the reach of Doubront, as Pedroia charged in, gloved it and made a quick, off-balance throw for the out. Offensively, Pedroia hit his 13th homer of the season, a solo blast to lead off the bottom of the eighth inning.
Earlier this week, Pedroia collected his 1,000th career hit, and with his home run Friday night, he collected his 400th career RBI.
"I didn't even know that," he said. "We're trying to come out and play winning baseball. We haven't played well the last few weeks, basically the last couple of months. We've got to try to find a way to put a good game together and come out and build on it."
ANOTHER SETBACK? Red Sox catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia was removed from Friday's game in the top of the eighth inning due to back spasms. He went 0-for-3 before rookie receiver Ryan Lavarnway replaced him.
"I think the rain delay [to start the game] got to him," Valentine said afterward.
Overall, Saltalamacchia has a .225 average with 23 homers and 53 RBIs in 106 games this season.
DOWN ON THE FARM: Boston's Triple-A affiliate, the Pawtucket Red Sox, lost Game 3 of their first-round, best-of-five playoff series against the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees, 4-3 on Friday night. The PawSox hold a 2-1 series lead with Game 4 on Saturday in Rochester, N.Y. In Game 3, the Yankees' Melky Mesa hit a two-run, walk-off homer in the bottom of the ninth. PawSox pitcher Billy Buckner worked 6 1/3 scoreless innings and allowed only one hit with seven strikeouts. Offensively, Mike Rivera and Bryce Brentz each contributed a solo home run, while J.C. Linares added an RBI triple for the PawSox. The winner of this series will face either the Charlotte Knights or the Indianapolis Indians for the Governors' Cup title. Charlotte leads that series 2-1. The PawSox last won the Governors' Cup in 1984.