Lefty earns win with 2 2/3 innings of relief after Buchholz's early exit
ST. LOUIS -- Felix Doubront obediently took his seat in Busch Stadium's interview room late Sunday night, as one of few long relievers ever to grace a World Series podium. The assembled media promptly asked nine questions. Seven went to the bearded teammate seated to his left, Jonny Gomes, whose three-run homer highlighted the Red Sox's Series-shifting 4-2 win, and Doubront -- Boston's equivalent of an effective left tackle in Game 4 -- spent most of his 10 minutes staring at the ceiling.
His impact, however, was not lost on his teammates.
"Huge. Huge," Doubront's catcher, David Ross, said. "Felix probably would be up there as one of our MVPs of the night, along with Jonny. That guy really shut the door when we needed it the most. We needed to put up some zeros when we get on the board, and he did just that. That was great."
Doubront bridged the gap to Boston's late-inning relievers after ailing starter Clay Buchholz exited after four innings, with the 26-year-old Venezuelan left-hander pitching 2 2/3 innings of one-run ball, ultimately playing a big part in knotting the World Series at two games apiece.
Heading into this month, Doubront had thrown 973 career regular-season innings as a professional -- including the Minor Leagues -- and only 33 of them had come out of the bullpen. With the Red Sox paring their rotation down to four in the playoffs, though, Doubront has done his best work as a swing man.
He is, essentially, the reason Boston has had a chance in the last two games despite getting only four innings from each starting pitcher.
In relief of Jake Peavy on Saturday night, Doubront threw two one-hit innings and used up 25 pitches to turn the game over to Boston's usual end-of-game bullpen arms. But he knew that wouldn't be it. Buchholz started Game 5 with an achy shoulder and a fastball that was a few ticks slower, and there was no chance manager John Farrell was going to let his starter face the Cardinals' lineup a third time through the order.
Road warrior reliever
Three of Felix Doubront's four appearances this postseason have come away from Fenway Park
With the score tied in the fifth, Doubront needed a repeat performance to keep the Red Sox from sinking to a 3-1 hole.
His rubber arm was ready.
"I prepared myself to go two innings, at least, knowing that I threw two innings yesterday and today was a different day," said Doubront, who has now notched seven innings of one-run ball in these playoffs. "I think it was all the excitement and adrenaline. I want to pitch, and I want to be in the game; I want to be a part of the team and win the game. I was just relaxed and doing my job. When I got the opportunity, I was so focused in."
After the Red Sox tied it up on Stephen Drew's sac fly in the top of the fifth, Doubront pitched a 1-2-3 inning in the bottom half, striking out two. In the sixth, after Gomes' three-run homer, Doubront twirled another clean frame. In the seventh, he recorded the first two outs, then gave up a double to pinch-hitter Shane Robinson and was replaced by Craig Breslow, who gave up Matt Carpenter's RBI single that went for the only run charged against Doubront this month.
"He's so efficient," Farrell said of Doubront. "He doesn't panic. He stays very poised. In this setting, he throws a lot of strikes."