By Ryan Hannable
BOSTON — After allowing six runs on four walks in 2.2 innings three starts ago against the Yankees, Allen Webster has turned things around.
The 24-year-old has strung together three straight quality starts — the latest being Tuesday against the Angels when he went six innings allowing three runs on seven hits, while walking two and striking out three, taking a no-decision in the Red Sox’ 4-3 loss to the Angels. For a young pitcher who was boo’d off the mound three weeks ago at Fenway, he’s turned things around.
“I feel pretty confident right now on the mound,” said Webster. “I just have to telling myself to trust my stuff and let them put the ball in play.”
Webster had just one bad inning — the third — when the Angels sent seven men to the plate and scored the three runs. Kole Calhoun singled to tie the game at one then Mike Trout tripled to put the Angels ahead 2-1. Finally, Albert Pujols reached on an infield single after the Angels challenged a spectacular diving stop at third base from Will Middlebrooks, but the throw from his back was just a split-second late, giving the Angels a 3-1 lead at the time.
The third inning has given Webster issues this season as he has a 23.14 ERA in the third this season.
“I just left some balls over the middle – hung a slider to Trout and he got a triple off that. They got a few from there,” said Webster.
From there Webster calmed down and cruised as the Angels had just one hit against him after that inning and he retired the last five hitters he faced.
“I thought tonight was another step forward for [Webster],” manager John Farrell said. “He gets about a three hitter stretch where they squared up a couple of pitches that stayed up on the plate, but six solid innings of work. I thought he settled in after the third inning pretty well.”
Control will always be the issue with Webster as coming into Tuesday’s start he had a six walks per nine innings ratio in the majors. Although he’s allowed at least two walks in the three starts since the Yankees outing, he hasn’t let them hurt him and he’s developed a new approach to force the hitters to put the ball in play.
“I just tried to do the same thing I did before, which is let them put the ball in play and let the defense do the work,” said Webster.
Webster has an opponents batting average of .223 — the lowest among Red Sox starters.
For Webster, who throws fairly hard — in the mid-to-upper 90s with his fastball — has arguably the best raw stuff among the rising Red Sox pitching prospects, but it’s the command that has held him back. If he can build on his recent consistency there is no question he has the stuff to be in the Red Sox’ starting rotation to open 2015.
“It’s good to see him backup outings in a positive way and build some momentum and some confidence on his own right,” Farrell said.
What do you think of Allen Webster of late? Leave your thoughts and opinions in the comment section or on Twitter @RyanHannable.