The Red Sox fell to the Oakland Athletics 3-5 Tuesday night behind a Jekyll and Hyde start from Felix Doubront.
Equal parts dominant and disastrous, every at bat for Felix Doubront seemed to either be hard contact or a strikeout. The first inning was a perfect example of this, as a walk and two singles scored a run in an inning which saw Doubront strike out the side.
Doubront would avoid damage for the next couple of innings, but had things really fall apart in the fourth. With two on and two out, a double scored one run and set up a two-run single by Jemile Weeks to give the Athletics a 4-0 lead. One wild pitch later, and it was 5-0.
The Sox were able to get one run back in the bottom half of the inning, but couldn't take advantage of leadoff runners in the fifth or seventh innings, leaving them still behind four runs entering the ninth thanks to strong relief efforts from Scott Atchison, Rich Hill, and Matt Albers.
Boston did manage to make a game of it in the ninth, with Mike Aviles plating two runs and representing the tying run at first base. Unfortunately, with two outs to go, the Red Sox couldn't finish the job. Lars Anderson was left in to strike out (more on that below), and Dustin Pedroia could only ground out weakly to second to end the game.
An Odd Night For Felix: Rarely has a pitcher bounced back and forth between unhittable and untenable in any single outing. When Felix was able to locate his fastball and get ahead in the count, his changeup became an incredible weapon that led to strikeouts both looking and swinging. When he couldn't rely on the changeup, or to a lesser extent the curve, it was just all too easy for batters to wait for that fastball to wind up in the zone, or take the walk if it didn't. On the whole, it's kind of what you might have expected from this matchup. Doubront is all about swing-and-miss stuff, after all, relying on it to put batters away, and the Athletics don't swing and miss terribly often.
Rich Hill Strong: A good sign for the Red Sox bullpen, as Rich Hill records five outs in six at bats, striking out three batters in the process, including two lefties. The Sox could really use a strong Rich Hill this year.
A Costly Injury: With one out, two on, down two in the ninth, the Red Sox had to turn to none other than Lars Anderson for a crucial at bat against a left-handed pitcher. Warming before the at bat was Kevin Youkilis, but it seems as though the third baseman just could not get comfortable enough to head to the plate. An unfortunate "what-if" scenario.
Back Under: The Sox are now 0-for-2 in opportunities to jump above .500, not including the first game of the season. Last year the hump came in getting to .500. Hopefully this doesn't take them so long as that did in 2011.