BOSTON — Death, taxes and Ryan Dempster keeping the Red Sox in the game. Anyone else have any more guarantees?
Dempster’s first season in Boston hasn’t been flashy. He hasn’t really turned in any jaw-dropping performances, and there was a three-game stretch in which he lost his way a little bit. But for the most part, the Red Sox know exactly what they’re getting when Dempster takes the mound, and his fate is generally decided by what version of Boston’s offense shows up.
Unfortunately for Dempster, the Red Sox’ bats were held in check on Wednesday, and he suffered the loss while the Rays took the series finale 6-2. The defeat dropped Dempster’s record to 4-8 this season, but that ugly mark doesn’t reflect the overall job that the 36-year-old has done.
“Seemingly, there’s a guy on each staff that might be pitching on the wrong day, and that’s probably been the case with Ryan on a few occasions,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said, “but that’s something completely out of his control, but yet at the same time we’re in a position to win most every time he walks to the mound.”
Dempster allowed three runs on eight hits over six innings in Wednesday’s loss. It was a decent performance all-around, especially considering he settled down nicely after giving up two runs on three hits in the first inning. In the end, Dempster was victimized by a two-out, go-ahead single from Ben Zobrist in the fifth inning, and Tampa tacked on late to nail down the win.
On another night, Dempster’s effort might have been enough to earn a victory. That can be said for a few of Dempster’s outings this season. The right-hander went through a three-game rough patch in the middle of May, during which he gave up 15 runs and walked 11 batters in a span of 12 2/3 innings. Aside from that, however, he’s typically been the same guy start after start.
“A guy that’s going to come in and we’re hopeful of 190-200 innings,” Farrell said of Dempster’s production. “With the exception of that three-start stretch that we’ve talked about a couple of times, he’s going to throw the ball over the plate, he’s going to make the opposition beat us and he’s been a source of dependability for us.”
Dempster has contributed five straight quality starts dating back to May 28, yet run support has often been an issue. Wednesday’s two-run effort by the Red Sox offense marks the eighth time in Dempster’s 15 starts this season that he’s received two runs of support or fewer. The veteran has allowed three earned runs or fewer in five of his eight losses.
It’s clear that Dempster isn’t focused on such numbers, though. While we can sit here and consider him a hard-luck pitcher, he’s more focused on improving so that the losses start turning into wins, regardless of the offense’s performance.
“Yeah, I wish we were winning more of the games that I start,” Dempster said following Wednesday’s loss. “That’s all I care about is that the day that I pitch we’re wining and we’re not winning those right now, so I’ve got to keep working hard, keep trying to make better pitches and get better every time out and go out there and give us a chance to win.”
Dempster keeps giving the Red Sox a chance to win. But the chances keep falling by the wayside.