No pitcher is invulnerable. No matter how good one has been all year long, on any given night they can falter and produce a shocking game that leaves their team with almost no chance to win.
Such was the case with Felix Doubront last night, who put an ugly stain on what had been a season of success by allowing six runs in four innings against the Washington Nationals.
What's a bit odd about Doubront's start is how it progressed. Often enough these disaster starts are apparent from the first inning. While Doubront did start the first off by allowing a wall ball double, anyone watching the first couple of frames would have been hard pressed to predict a disaster. He would strike out Bryce Harper and Michael Morse to escape the first-inning jam, and then pick up two more in the second against Xavier Nady and Tyler Moore.
But, come the third, Doubront simply seemed to lose control. After throwing a first-pitch strike to Danny Espinosa with one out, five of his next seven pitches would go for balls. A two-seamer over the plate cost him a double to Bryce Harper, he turned a 1-2 count into a 3-2 count against Ryan Zimmerman by again missing his spots, walked Michael Morse, and then hung a cutter to Ian Desmond for a two-run double.
Perhaps in the fourth he was just trying to get the ball over the plate after a long third. Either way, the results were no different. Three runs in on hittable pitches. Not Doubront's usual M.O.
Unfortunately for Felix, he's not the guy who's been able to pitch really deep into games, so six runs in four innings effected him more than it would most pitchers. His ERA ballooned from the 3.75 area up to 4.34, taking a lot of the sheen off of his season. Still, it would be good not to forget what he had done for the team before that game. One bad start does not erase two months of exciting performances, even if it effectively does just that in the stat line.