Ryan Dempster and Jarrod Saltalamacchia are two Boston Red Sox who won’t let up in the final two weeks of the regular season, despite the team’s seemingly comfortable division lead.
Saltalamacchia, Boston’s starting catcher, made his feelings known after the club swept a three-game series from the New York Yankees over the weekend as part of its current 17-4 stretch.
The Red Sox entered play Tuesday with a 92-59 record and nine-game lead over second-place Tampa Bay in the American League East.
“We want to win every game,” he said. “We never settle for what [the division lead] is. It’s ‘Go for the next one.’”
'I'm preparing like I normally prepare.' - Red Sox pitcher Ryan Dempster
Dempster, unlike his teammate, appears to be fighting for his job.
The Gibsons, B.C., native is scheduled to start Tuesday’s series opener against the visiting Baltimore Orioles, and it’s not a stretch to think it might be Dempster’s final appearance of the season in the Red Sox rotation.
“I’m preparing like I normally prepare,” the Canadian right-hander told Boston reporters last week. “Nothing has changed.”
Dempster has a record of 8-9 in 28 starts this season with a 4.70 earned-run average, but in 11 outings since July 6 his ERA is 5.66 while he’s allowed 1.60 walks and hits per innings pitched (WHIP).
Jon Lester, John Lackey, Jake Peavy and a now-healthy Clay Buchholz are locks for the rotation in the post-season, leaving Felix Doubront and Dempster battling for a spot on the playoff roster.
Doubront to face Blue Jays
Boston manager John Farrell skipped Doubront’s last turn through the rotation but has said the left-hander will pitch this weekend against the Toronto Blue Jays.
A move to the bullpen wouldn’t be a major adjustment for Dempster, who has appeared in 225 major league games in relief while starting 350 contests. Doubront has pitched 21 times out of the bullpen, including once this season.
Having Dempster available in the late innings would provide Farrell with another right-handed set-up man along with Brandon Workman and Junichi Tazawa.
Dempster saved 85 games as the Chicago Cubs’ closer from 2005 through 2007.
Against Baltimore, Dempster’s 2.01 lifetime ERA is easily his lowest versus any American League opponent. This season, he’s 1-1 with a 2.50 against the Orioles.
Dempster has allowed a team-high 25 home runs this season but didn’t surrender one in a five-inning, no-decision at Tampa Bay on Sept. 11.
Orioles first baseman Chris Davis leads the majors with 50 home runs and has gone deep once against Dempster this season but has also struck out six times in 11 at-bats.
Boston, which has won nine of Dempster’s past 10 starts, faces Baltimore right-hander Scott Feldman (5-4, 3.62 ERA).