Felix Doubront logged eight shutout innings against the Rays on Tuesday. (AP)
The Red Sox continue to show evidence of a flair for the dramatic, as the team claimed its sixth walkoff victory of the young season when Jonny Gomes launched a two-run homer down the left field line and over the Green Monster for a 3-1 victory over the Rays. With Gomes’ blast, the Sox swept a doubleheader from the Rays, shaking off a ninth-inning blown save by Andrew Bailey — who vultured a victory (3-0) — to rally back immediately.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE RED SOX
– Gomes launched the third walk-off homer of his career, jumping on a 1-0 fastball and launching it. He’s now driven in runs in 15 of his last 23 games with a plate appearance.
– For the first time in his professional career at any level, Felix Doubront worked more than seven innings, firing eight shutout innings in an outing that was nothing short of dominant and startling.
Doubront — who had required 104 pitches for five innings of work against the Rays a month ago — needed just 93 pitches to sail through the longest outing of his career. He gave up just three hits — all singles — and retired the last 17 batters he faced. For just the third time in his big league career — and the first time in an outing of more than six innings — Doubront did not walk a batter. Doubront had the most efficient outing of his career. He averaged fewer than 12 pitches per inning, and did not throw more than 13 pitches in an inning all night.
On a night when he had virtually no margin for error, Doubront needed none. The outing represented the punctuation mark on what has been an excellent stretch, as Doubront has allowed three or fewer earned runs in each of his last seven starts, with a 2.81 ERA in that time. Indeed, the only question in the wake of his excellent work was why manager John Farrell elected to lift the left-hander after the eighth inning.
– Daniel Nava crushed a home run into the Red Sox bullpen in the second inning, giving the Red Sox a one-run lead. It was the 10th home run of the season for Nava, who continues to make a strong case for a spot on the All-Star team. It continues to be the best power-hitting season of Nava’s career, especially from the left side of the plate. Nava has eight home runs on the season as a lefty, and was slugging .491 from that side before Tuesday. He later led off the ninth by working a walk off of Joel Peralta, scoring in front of Gomes’ walkoff.
– Jose Iglesias reached first on yet another infield single in the game, extending his hitting streak to 18 games. With Tuesday night’s base knock, 13 of Iglesias’s 40 hits this season have been infield hits. Without the infield hits included, Iglesias is batting .297 on the season.
– It was a marathon performance for Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who caught all 18 innings of the doubleheader Tuesday. He became the first Red Sox catcher to start both games in a doubleheader since John Marzano in 1992. While he struggled in the batter’s box (0-for-6 on the day), he did a good job calling the games for the Red Sox pitching staff, which only allowed one run and nine hits throughout the doubleheader.
– David Ortiz had another strong game at the plate, recording two hits to give him four through the doubleheader. Ortiz’s average, which had fallen below .300 for the first time this season before Tuesday, is now back up to .309.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE RED SOX
– For the third time in four outings, Andrew Bailey gave up a homer. Bailey gave up a solo homer to the first batter he faced, Kelly Johnson, giving him three blown saves in 11 opportunities this year. He’s given up five runs in his last four games. With two outs (and Evan Longoria on deck), Bailey also issued a four-pitch walk to Ben Zobrist, giving the closer 10 free passes in 22 1/3 innings this year, a 4.0 walks per nine rate.
– For just the third time in 21 games, Jacoby Ellsbury failed to reach base, going 0-for-4.