Even though starter Clay Buchholz suffered the loss after allowing seven runs on seven hits and four walks as Toronto cruised to a 14-1 win, Doubront seemed disinterested when he was handed the ball with two on and no outs in the sixth inning.
The starter-turned-reliever faced 10 Toronto batters, recording just two outs and allowing six runs on six hits, including a three-run homer by the Blue Jays’ Melky Cabrera.
In the clubhouse after the game, Buchholz answered questions about his poor start, but Doubront simply answered “no” when asked to talk about his performance.
“I don’t think that he’s disinterested. He’s capable of more. We’ve seen that. Three of the last four outings out of the bullpen have been very good,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said of Doubront. “Tonight, obviously not the case. On a night when you’re hopeful that you’ve got an opportunity to stretch him out a little bit, get multiple innings, that wasn’t the case.”
Doubront was 2-4 with a 5.19 ERA as a starter before Farrell decided to move the left-hander to the bullpen on June 24. Doubront wasn’t happy with the decision, and even suggested a trade could be the right move, but the Red Sox told Doubront they needed him in the bullpen, especially after the club designated fellow lefty Chris Capuano for assignment.
Farrell told Doubront at the time that in order to return to the rotation he needed to pitch his way back there.
He certainly didn't take a step in that direction on Monday.
“No matter what role you are, you’re accountable to pick up your team, as a starter, as a reliever or whenever that phone rings, you’re accountable for it,” pitching coach Juan Nieves said. “I think he tried really hard, unfortunately the cards were not dealt his way.”
Asked if a possible trade scenario was affecting Doubront’s pitching, Farrell said he hopes that’s not the case.
“Because if you’re a pitcher, regardless of the role that you’re in, you’re asked to go out and execute pitches,” Farrell said. “This is still a staff that’s got competition within it. There are others that have moved ahead of him in the rotation and opportunities present themselves coming out of the bullpen. He’s been effective in the past coming out of the bullpen, but if the role is not sitting well and effecting his pitching then there needs to be a different focus to realizing his potential and his capabilities.”
During that horrific sixth inning, Nieves visited the mound and told Doubront to attack the strike zone and mix in all of his pitches.
“It’s key to stop the fire right away and execute, execute, execute,” Nieves said. “We always talk about making one pitch at a time and executing that pitch.
“It has nothing to do with where you pitch or when you pitch, if you’re healthy your teammates need you in those situations and we all are accountable for every pitch we make.”
Last week, the Red Sox traded starter Jake Peavy to the San Francisco Giants. Rubby De La Rosa continues to pitch well as a starter for the Red Sox, and Allen Webster, who was recalled from Triple-A Pawtucket and made his 2014 season debut in a win over the Tampa Bay Rays on Sunday, is scheduled to make his next start against the New York Yankees on Saturday at Fenway.
If Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington decides to deal ace Jon Lester prior to Thursday’s trade deadline, Doubront likely moved further down the pecking order of potential starters on Monday.
“He’s been told there are some guys who have pitched better than he has and he’s had enough chances, so right now there are other guys who have surpassed him in that starter role and he has to prove himself back,” Nieves said. “This is a game that you’re always competing. You’re always competing for who the best guy is out there. No matter what position you’re in, you’re always trying to pick up your teammates and pitch the best you can. Everything else will fall in place.”
As for Buchholz, he allowed a season-high seven runs in five-plus innings, which was the most he has allowed in an outing since Oct. 1, 2012 against the Yankees in New York. The right-hander issued four walks for the second consecutive game, following a span of 35 2/3 innings when he allowed only one walk.
“Overall I felt pretty good,” Buchholz said. “Command, location of a couple pitches that got hit. Got a couple of ground balls that would have done us some good, just out of reach of a couple of guys. They hit the pitches that I missed with.”
With the loss, the Red Sox continue to fall deeper into the AL East cellar. The players continue to say all the right things, but it has to be tough not knowing what your roster will look like come Thursday afternoon.
“I think when it comes to that everybody thinks of it as a business and there’s nothing you could do -- or if you express your feelings any differently -- rather than just come to the field and try and win that day,” Buchholz said. “Everybody hears about it, it’s everywhere we’re at. Obviously we know.”