Ryan Dempster, who on Wednesday joked about wanting to rack up an amazing 30 victories this season, came up short in his Red Sox debut on Thursday. He allowed three earned runs in five innings while suffering the loss in the Red Sox’ series finale against the Yankees.
Overall, Dempster’s first start of 2013 was a mixed bag. He struck out eight Yankees hitters, and he often had them off-balance due to his excellent use of his secondary pitches. Dempster’s splitter and slider were both impressive, and he was able to keep the Sox in the ballgame during his five frames.
Where Dempster ran into some trouble, though, was with his pitch count, which soared to 101 before he exited. The high pitch count was a reflection of Dempster’s impressive strikeout total, but it was also due to some control issues, which seem to go directly against the aggressive approach he showed throughout much of spring training.
Dempster walked four on Thursday, and the Yankees went to eight three-ball counts against the right-hander. New York deserves credit for its patience, but Dempster understands the importance of being more economical going forward.
“I had a lot of swing and misses, and then I was missing, a couple of walks,” Dempter said when asked after the game about his pitch count. “I’m not trying to make them swing and miss. I’m trying to make them hit it. It was just kind of the way it worked out today. And that got my pitch count up there. They did a nice job laying off some pitches.”
Manager John Farrell was fairly pleased with what he saw from Dempster. Although it requires a rather optimistic outlook, Farrell thinks the number of pitches thrown shows a bit of relentlessness.
“He had a very good split-changeup tonight that he got a number of swing and miss to,” Farrell said. “I thought he made a number of good pitches that he didn’t get some calls. He fell behind some hitter’s counts, and didn’t give in. The walks tonight are probably more of pitching to the situation and not giving in rather than just continuing to attack the strike zone on fastball counts.”
Dempster is generally a pitcher who pitches to contact, so Thursday’s outing was a rather unusual one by his standards. At the end of the day, though, with only three earned runs allowed, things could have been much worse if he didn’t bear down when necessary.
Unfortunately for the Red Sox, Dempster ran into a perfect storm. Yankees starter Andy Pettitte threw age out the window and provided eight solid innings before giving way to the great Mariano Rivera.
“[I] got outpitched by the guy on the other side of the field,” Dempster said, referring to Pettitte’s outing. “[I] made a lot of good pitches, and a couple of balls fell in and that was enough to win the game.”
Perhaps most concerning about Dempster’s loss is that it runs his career record against the Yankees to 0-5. It isn’t the end of the world, but it’s a trend that will need to change at some point this season.