By Christopher Smith
---- — BOSTON — Red Sox left-hander Felix Doubront made 27 starts during the regular season and wasn’t too keen about the idea of pitching out of the bullpen during the postseason.
Doubront commented during September that it takes him a long time to warm up, unlike relievers who typically get ready much quicker. He insinuated that the bullpen wasn’t ideal for him.
But he gave the Red Sox just what the doctor ordered Sunday in Game 2 of the American League Championship Series vs. the Tigers. He pitched 1.1 scoreless and hitless innings and allowed one walk with Boston down 5-1. He was able to keep the deficit at four runs and that helped Boston go on to win 6-5 to even the best-of-seven series 1-1.
Game 3 is at 4 p.m. today at Detroit’s Comerica Park.
Doubront did make 20 relief appearances for Boston in 2010 and 2011 combined. He recently has drawn on that prior experience to help him now.
“Watching me in 2010, I was young and aggressive,” Doubront said. “Watching video and all that stuff. I feel good. Everything feels good. I’m looking to forward to repeating that (performance in 2010-11) with more experience obviously and more control.”
Like Doubront, starting pitcher Ryan Dempster also was sent to the bullpen for the playoffs.
Dempster didn’t have a great year (4.57 ERA in 32 games, 29 starts), but he was able to help show other Red Sox starters how to get outs without a dominating fastball.
Dempster’s fastball averaged just 89.2 mph this year, according to fangraphs.com.
“Demp has been a guy who really has allowed other pitchers to kind of see what he does and realize that it’s not always, ‘Pitch this way, this way, this way,’ Red Sox catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia said. “You can go against the book at times and still have success.”
Doubront added: “He’s trying to hit the spots with the corners and pitch down. And how he stays calm no matter what happens, you’re watching that and you’re learning from that, too.”
The Red Sox will face 2011 AL Cy Young and MVP Justin Verlander, a right-hander, today in Game 3.
Verlander pitched 15.0 shutout innings over two starts against Oakland in the ALDS. He struck out 21 batters combined over those two starts while walking just two and giving up six hits.
He started against Boston once this year, surrendering four runs, all earned, over 5.0 innings. That start came at Comerica Park.
The Red Sox will counter with right-hander John Lackey. He made two starts against Detroit this year, combing to give up five runs, all earned, in 14.1 innings (3.14 ERA). He allowed just two runs, both earned, over 7.0 innings in his only start at Comerica Park this year.
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