Ryan Dempster Looks to Capitalize on Favorable Matchup As Red Sox Vie to Finish Off Rays

Ryan DempsterThe Red Sox provided the best kind of winning over the weekend, taking Saturday’s game with a 10th-inning infield hit and cruising to Sunday’s victory behind a top-shelf performance from Clay Buchholz.

On Monday, as Fenway Park and all surrounding Boston locales celebrate Marathon Monday and Patriots’ Day, Ryan Dempster will get a chance to cap off the Sox’ strong series while also making some headway of his own.

While Boston’s starters have been phenomenal so far this season, Dempster has missed most of the parade. He lasted just five innings and gave up three earned runs in his debut and then saw his second start go south as well, leaving after five innings and watching closer Joel Hanrahan give up the Sox’ lead in the ninth.

Dempster (0-1, 3.60 ERA) has notched 15 strikeouts in those mere 10 innings, though, and he’s had success in the past against several members of the Rays. Former Boston first baseman James Loney (3-for-19), designated hitter Kelly Johnson (1-for-11) and Yunel Escobar (1-for-9) have all struggled against Dempster. The Sox righty hasn’t seen the Rays since 2008, but with the Tampa Bay lineup as weak as ever — especially with runners in scoring position (0-for-17 this series) — Monday could be Dempster’s day.

The Red Sox batters face Jeremy Hellickson (0-1, 6.35 ERA). He is 3-2 with a 4.47 ERA in 10 starts against Boston in his career, and he’s been especially effective against a few Red Sox players penciled into Boston’s Monday batting order: Jacoby Ellsbury (3-for-17), Dustin Pedroia (5-for-22) and Will Middlebrooks (1-for-9).

Hellickson has looked less sharp than usual to start this season, and the Red Sox — who have controlled this series despite not breaking out for oodles of runs — could take advantage of him in the early innings. Hellickson has given up four of his eight earned runs in the first inning.

Here are the lineups for the Red Sox and Rays.

Boston Red Sox (7-4)

Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
Shane Victorino, RF
Dustin Pedroia, 2B
Mike Napoli, 1B
Jarrod Saltalamacchia, C
Will Middlebrooks, 3B
Stephen Drew, SS
Jonny Gomes, DH
Jackie Bradley Jr., LF

Ryan Dempster, P

Tampa Bay Rays (4-7)

Desmond Jennings, CF
Ben Zobrist, RF
Evan Longoria, 3B
Matt Joyce, LF
Ryan Roberts, 2B
James Loney, 1B
Yunel Escobar, SS
Jose Lobaton, C
Kelly Johnson, DH

Jeremy Hellickson, P

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