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KC@BOS: Webster strike out five over six in MLB debut

Allen Webster's average fastball velocity during his first Major League start on April 21: 95 mph.

"He throws hard," Red Sox catcher David Ross said afterward. "So that's always fun."

Webster, a key ingredient in the Red Sox's blockbuster trade with the Dodgers last season, will make his second Major League start Wednesday, taking the roster spot of Joel Hanrahan, who was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a right forearm strain Tuesday.

Felix Doubront, originally scheduled to pitch Wednesday, was moved to the bullpen -- a move that will likely be temporary, according to manager John Farrell.

Webster, 23, tossed six innings against the Royals in a spot start earlier this season, holding them to two earned runs while striking out six. In 20 innings with Triple-A Pawtucket, Webster struck out 26 batters while walking six and posting a 2.70 ERA. He's allowed just one home run.

"[It helps] just being able to know I've done it before," Webster said. "Now it's just go out there and do the best I can to help us win."

The soft-spoken right-hander was particularly impressive considering how he was used. Two thirds of the pitches he threw were fastballs and changeups, while none of the sliders and cutters thrown were of the back-door variety. Ross, who caught Webster that night, was trying not to push the youngster too hard in his first career start.

But he believes Webster has quite the ceiling.

"He did everything I asked him to do," Ross said. "It was really nice, flipping 0-0 curveballs in there, which is a sign of a veteran pitcher. Throwing his changeup when maybe they're looking for it, but throwing it out of the zone. High heaters. He cut one off the plate to a righty, a fastball off the plate, which was smart of him.

"He definitely has the stuff. When you're talking about the Boston Red Sox young guys, you want to make sure they got all the seasoning they have. I think that's why he was sent down so early in Spring Training."

While Farrell anticipates giving the rotation spot back to Doubront, who has been pitching with an average fastball velocity two to three mph slower than those he threw last year, the Red Sox view Webster as a key part of their future.

The Twins will also see one of their young pitchers on Wednesday, handing the ball to left-hander Pedro Hernandez, the 24-year-old who has posted a 3.92 ERA in 20 2/3 innings this season.

Hernandez has allowed two homers in three starts, and with the Green Monster at Fenway Park posing an easy target for right-handed hitters, Twins manager Ron Gardenhire explained what lefties have to do to be successful.

"You have to be able to pitch in and out," Gardenhire said. "If you constantly stay outside and over the plate, they'll eventually get you. You have to be able to come in hard and set it up."

Red Sox: Injuries come in bunches

Hanrahan joined Andrew Bailey on the DL on Tuesday, and before the Red Sox could get a look at the back end of their bullpen without both of their closers, David Ross and Will Middlebrooks sustained injuries.

The two collided in the top of the fifth inning, when Middlebrooks made a sliding catch against the wall in foul territory. Ross was going all out for the ball as well, and his knees appeared to slide into Middlebrooks' ribs. Middlebrooks left with "right side pain," while Ross left with a left quad bruise.

Pedro Ciriaco and Jarrod Saltalamacchia replaced Middlebrooks and Ross at third base and catcher, respectively.

Twins: Controlling the running game

The Red Sox have yet to attempt a stolen base against the Twins through the first two games of the series, and for good reason.

The Twins are tied for first in the Majors with a 56 percent success rate in throwing out attempted basestealers this season. Joe Mauer, who gunned down just 14 percent (9-for-65) last year, has connected on 60 percent (6-for-10) of his tries this year.

Gardenhire believes much of the credit belongs to the pitching staff, which is doing a better job out of the slide-step with runners on base.

"It's one of the things we preached in Spring Training," Gardenhire said. "Last year, we couldn't hold runners. And it was giving extra bases and leading to one run here and one run there in close games. And that's just not acceptable."

Worth noting

• Junichi Tazawa will fill in as closer for the Red Sox, though Bailey could return as soon as May 14, having last pitched on April 28.

• David Ortiz is working on a 27-game hitting streak, a career high.

• Ryan Doumit hit his first home run of the season on Tuesday night. After hitting 18 homers in 484 at-bats last season, Doumit was homerless in his first 83 at-bats this year.

• The Twins have lost five straight one-run games.

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