By Jeff Louderback
At 24, this is the first year that Felix Doubront has pitched in a major league starting rotation. The rookie left-hander is starting to show signs of weariness and perhaps could use a breather. The Red Sox have been known to have their starting pitchers skip an outing during the summer to preserve their arm strength for the long term. After Monday night’s performance, Doubront seems to be an ideal candidate for this.
Doubront served up four first inning runs, including a two-run home run by Colby Rasmus, and was charged with seven runs (five earned) and 11 hits over six innings in Boston’s 9-6 loss to Toronto in the opener of a three-game series at Fenway Park.
The Red Sox battled back to tie the score at 5-5 – the big hits being David Ortiz’s two-run home run in the first and Adrian Gonzalez’s two-run single in the fourth – but Doubront surrendered a two-run home run to J.P. Arencibia in the sixth for a 7-5 Blue Jays lead.
Matt Albers entered in the seventh and coughed up a two-run dinger to Jose Bautista to give Toronto a more comfortable 9-5 advantage.
Doubront fell to 8-4 with a 4.54 ERA. He has allowed four or more runs in three of his last four starts. Considering his mix if plus pitches and his ability to dominate opposing hitters, it would make sense if the Red Sox opted to skip a start and perhaps temporarily call up Zach Stewart, the pitching prospect Boston received from the White Sox in the Kevin Youkilis trade. Summoning someone like Justin Germano, who has pitched well at Pawtucket, would require designating him for assignment after the spot start since he is out of options.
The Red Sox are now 38-35 and tied with Toronto in the American League East. Both teams are 6.5 games behind the New York Yankees.