BOSTON: Throw a left-handed starter at the Indians and the opposing team has a 67 percent chance of winning the game.
That’s what the Red Sox did Saturday night in their 4-1 win at Fenway Park.
Some day Felix Doubront might win a Cy Young Award, then again maybe not. Right now, he is a fledgling starter with a live arm who had the good fortune to be facing a team whose lineup is vulnerable to lefties.
Manager Manny Acta tried to inject some right-handed punch into the batting order, but Lou Marson and Shelley Duncan began the game with batting averages of .053 and .213, respectively.
Asdrubal Cabrera and Carlos Santana are switch hitters, so that helps a little, but everyone else bats from the left side, exclusively.
“We’ve done better versus left-handers than last year,” Acta said, then alluding to the fact that most starters are right-handed, he added, “That’s the chance we are taking.”
Of course, Acta did not put together the large group of players from which he chose 25 in spring training. That is the job of General Manager Chris Antonetti. At any rate, there’s not a whole lot anyone can do about it now.
“We couldn’t get any offense going against Doubront,” Acta said. “He was pitching to both sides of the plate. … He just neutralized all of the left-handers and even our switch hitters.”
Maybe if Tribe batsmen had seen him before?
“Doubront leads their team in strikeouts,” Acta said. “He’s got good stuff. He deserves a lot of credit. It has nothing to do with not seeing him.”
The Indians’ starter was Zach McAllister, called up from Triple-A Columbus in the wake of an injury to Josh Tomlin.
As in his first start of the season last Monday in a makeup doubleheader against the Chicago White Sox, McAllister pitched well enough to keep his team in the game. In fact, he earned his first big-league win a week ago at Progressive Field, giving up four runs (two earned) in six innings.
McAllister demonstrated just about the same level of effectiveness against the Red Sox as he did against the White Sox, allowing four runs in seven innings and never putting himself in danger of giving up the big inning.
“He did a very good job,” Acta said. “He kept us in the game for seven innings. He showed a good fastball and didn’t get rattled in this place.”
Mike Aviles’ bloop double to lead off the third began a rally that included Dustin Pedroia’s one-out RBI double and David Ortiz’s run-scoring double right behind Pedroia’s. But McAllister retired Adrian Gonzalez on strikes and Will Middlebrooks on a ground ball to short-circuit the threat.
The Sox got to him again in the fourth for a run on a leadoff single by Daniel Nava, who stopped at third on Jarrod Saltalamacchia’s ground-rule double and scored on Aviles’ line-drive sacrifice fly.
McAllister got more effective as the game wore on. He struck out the side in the sixth, but there was one problem: He gave up a two-out homer to Cody Ross.
“He’s a big, strong kid,” Acta said. “I can see him being a durable guy who throws 115-120 pitches. He doesn’t lose stamina as the game goes on.”
Added McAllister, “I just had better rhythm the last couple of innings. I had a little more conviction behind my pitches.”
In seven innings, Mc- Allister yielded four runs, eight hits and no walks, striking out eight, five in his last two innings. He also threw plenty of strikes, 80 out of 112 pitches, 71 percent.
The Tribe’s only run off Doubront and his successors was an accident. Marson led off the sixth inning with a bloop double to right and moved to third on Michael Brantley’s bouncer to the right side. Jason Kipnis followed with a ground ball to Gonzalez at first. He cocked his arm to throw, looked at the bag and saw … nobody.
Doubront watched the play unfold for a second or two before making a dash to first, but was way late. Kipnis was credited with a single, and Marson scored.
Until the sixth, Doubront gave up only one hit, a single to Travis Hafner with one out in the third. Hafner tried to turn it into a double and was thrown out by Ross.
Doubront was excused after the sixth, having thrown 109 pitches, allowing three hits and two walks and striking out five. Andrew Miller, another lefty, retired the side in the seventh, striking out two.
The Tribe did get to face two right-handers, Vicente Padilla and closer Alfredo Aceves, who retired all six batters they faced. For the season, the Tribe is batting .263 against right-handers and .217 against lefties.
Tomlin will miss at least one more start, which means Mc-Allister doesn’t have to gas up the car and go back to Columbus for awhile.
“That’s the exciting part,” he said.
Sheldon Ocker can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.